The shady back alleys of Williams Creek were busier than usual with hikers, joggers, and strollers this year as residents who would normally travel spend more time at home. Whenever Diana Mutz and Howard Schrott get out of the car, a neighbor thanks them without exception for saving Notre Château. Your house is now sitting nicely and properly lit at the gate of the neighborhood.
The brick-and-clapboard cottage anchors a corner of Williams Creek Boulevard and Pennsylvania Streets across from the mansion with the manicured rolling front yard that looks like a horse farm. The castle is something special even by Williams Creek standards, designed for himself and his wife in 1965 by the well-known master builder OC Winters. However, the next owners turned the yard into an overgrown blackberry bush and two inches of moss had accumulated on the roof. Then Suzanne Kasler, a famous Atlanta interior designer with connections and clients in Indianapolis, bought it and planned to tear it down in what seemed like a tragedy to many. Mud and scrap rode in like white knights out of nowhere, and all is well.
The two weren’t even looking for an apartment.
Trash and scrap met through butlers; She was on the Jordan College of the Arts Visitors Committee, and he’s the eponymous alum and trustee behind the Howard L. Scrap Center for the Arts, which was completed in 2013. They were perfectly happy in their house on the north side, but Mutz’s agent knew she would want to see Notre Château when it came on the market. Mutz always wanted a European-style picture book, and there aren’t many in Indianapolis. Schrott liked the idea of buying a seat together.
When Mutz saw separate bathrooms for herself and her in the owner’s suite, she was sold.
Although the house and property were in severe decline, there was a lot more to love: garage doors that you can’t see when you drive into the driveway, plenty of wall space for your large art collection, a sensible layout. The floors didn’t creak. The crawl space was about seven feet high which would make the renovation easier. There was only one coat of paint on the intricate ornamentation. Thoughtful details that were expected in the home of a design professional have been preserved. The owners’ closets are full of adjustments. A footrest is built into a lower shoe tie drawer, and a closet with flat shelves keeps Mutz’s purses in their drawstring pockets.
The renovation team consisted of interior designer Randy Veatch from Rowland Design, landscapers Walton & Vetor and general contractor CC Brandt Construction. Outside, arborists cleared about 75 percent of the trees and vegetation that had completely consumed the grass. Walton & Vetor rebuilt the curved stone wall depicted on the original plans, adding plantings, patios, a lawn, irrigation and lighting. “I wanted to play the whole cottage theme,” says Mutz. “It’s kind of a specialty, of course, but neat. Now it’s lucky when I come home from a walk and see this place like Narnia. “
Inside, work revolved around modernizing the home, adding drama, and placing artwork. The walls didn’t fall for several reasons. For one thing, more walls mean more space for works of art. Believe it or not, an open concept doesn’t work for everyone, especially empty nests. “It’s a multitasking way of life,” says Mutz. “At this point in our life we want the comfort of separate rooms.”
They prefer to entertain in the spacious but intimate rooms on the main level right in the entrance area: a living room on the left, a library straight ahead, a dining room on the right, and a screened porch off the living room and library. The layout feels a bit formal by today’s standards, but Veatch likes that – one of his favorite shells is an entrance door that leads straight into a room.
The decor balances the traditional floor plan with unabashed modernity. Veatch’s vision was to cast Hugh Jackman in The Music Man Revival – unexpected and exciting. Purple and teal wall colors envelop the room, paneling, ceiling and everything. Underfoot, creamy Italian tiles are crossed with stripes of walnut in hues pulled from the original parquet floors in adjoining rooms. Craftsman Mark Williams carefully cut and routed each piece of walnut to create a dimensional design. A monolithic, glossy white quartz fireplace slams against the blue-green walls of the library.
It takes a skilled hand to make that much look into an art collection rather than competing with it. Veatch had the full confidence of its customers. They weren’t sure about the teal color but it was the designer and now they love it. Room by room, Mutz points out features that Veatch has brought to the table – in some cases literally. “Little did I know I was getting this amazing table made out of wood that was harvested from a building in Kentucky,” says Mutz of the custom piece of the dining room. “I didn’t know I wanted to have benches. Did I want shades of purple on my chandelier? I think so. “
He knew the couple wanted lights on the back of the shelves in a new glass cabinet that would create a sexier look than front lights.
And illuminated clothes rails in all closets, less obtrusive than turning on a light in the early morning hours.
And a special pillow that mimics a ball gown, with a train on one end, lined with a silk Chanel scarf.
And a modern Sputnik style chandelier in her bedroom. And the bed has been moved back into an alcove for a little coziness in the room, as the bed is near the entrance to the room.
Schrott knew one thing he wanted: the original wet bar, retrofitted with lighted wood and glass shelves on the ceiling, inspired by the bar in the Firebirds Restaurant near their former home.
Most of all, they wanted to save this extraordinary home. “You can’t build this house today. In this house there is no way to find the craftsmen for the details, ”says Mutz.
“It would take years and a lot of oversight,” admits Veatch.
“I’m walking around here thinking how did you do that?” Says scrap. He talks about the remarkable craftsmanship that Winters has achieved. But what the homeowners and their team have achieved also inspire an equal amount of awe.