Few people want one House that has been the same for 40 years – the same. Wish list doesn’t usually include burgundy walls, aqua moldings, and a 1,400-square-foot loft that no one thought could be turned into usable, habitable space. But all of this liked Tiffany Skilling, an interior designer, and her husband Jon. “I wanted a house that was untouched,” she says. “You can’t find much of that in Meridian-Kessler. Many houses have been renovated several times over the years. It was fun keeping the integrity but updating for us. ”
Notably, Tiffany and Jon are only the third owners of their 1920s residence. It hadn’t been touched since Jimmy Carter took office, but that also meant it didn’t feel like everyone and their mother lived here. The couple wasted no time in bringing the English Tudor style into the 21st century. On the day it was closed, Tiffany and Jon tore out a makeshift screened porch outside the door. “It’s been a lot,” says Tiffany, referring to the total number of renovations they’ve done. “But it was worth it.” Worth the time. Well worth the money. It is worth having the contractor touch every room. It is worth living exclusively on the first floor for two and a half years.
It’s hard to imagine that Tiffany, Jon, and their daughter and son all live on the partitioned ground floor, or that the second floor with three bedrooms and two bathrooms was nothing more than exposed rafters and cobwebs when they pulled in even a “proper” staircase – just pull-down stairs like the ones Clark Griswold defeated over the Christmas break. Since “real” stairs require more square meters and therefore careful planning, Tiffany and Jon turned to the architect Chris Short from Haus Architecture. He made plans for the first and second floors before the Skillings even closed the house. “He’s so innovative and very collaborative,” says Tiffany. “He was also patient with me because I did multiple iterations of ‘I don’t know; I think I want the stairs here. ‘And he says,’ Tiffany, no. This is the only way we can get everything we want upstairs ”- a master suite, a bathroom for Jack and Jill and a bedroom for each child.
Since the children’s rooms are roughly the same size, there was no argument about who has the bigger one. Both children also have a storage compartment – a secret room built around the rafters of the house and perfect hiding spots when playing “spies”. Each room also has a gallery wall, one of Skilling’s most popular decorative elements. They display Skilling’s collections all over the house. “I collected that [oil paintings] over several years, so the gallery wall is really meaningful to me, ”says Tiffany. “It was really fun finding all of the parts and it was worth the wait. I always tell people that waiting is so nice. “
However, the artwork does not have to be in a frame or on canvas. Sometimes it’s an architectural feature, like an incinerator that the Skillings turned into a drawer for keys and sunglasses, or an old phone booth that they turned into a charging station for iPads. It is the exposed brick in the kitchen that expresses the name of a brick maker in Indianapolis. And the crown molding – most of it original and none of it aqua colored – that covers the walls. The original French doors as well as the limestone fireplace and the arches, doors and doorknobs are retained.
The historical features complement Tiffany’s modern sense of style, which includes a pink Wayfair ottoman, pattern mix, gold lights, CR Laine swivel chairs, and lots of blue, her favorite color. “Don’t think that just because a house has a particular architectural style, you can only buy the art and furniture that you would expect in this room,” advises Tiffany. “Part of what makes a house a home are those special details.” Imagine buying an old house and building a new house into it.
Photos by Tony Valainis