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At Home: An architect’s residence in Bexley

Anne Evans Anne Evans At Home: An architect’s residence in Bexley
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Every day, many people appreciate an architect’s work, but it is not often you get a glimpse into one’s personal residence. Dorri Steinhoff and Joe Kuspan are lucky to have done both.

After living in the Short North, where they fixed up a home and sold it faster than they thought, the couple needed to find a new place quickly. With a young family, Bexley was on the top of their list. They had found a beautiful horse stable that needed work, but the conditions on it changed before they were able to purchase it and sadly, it was later demolished.

Through a friend, they heard about the Noverre Musson house. The house had been on the market and then was taken off, but they approached the owner and made an offer.

“My husband fell in love with the bones of the house and how well it adapted to nature,” recalls Steinhoff. Their offer was accepted and the house was theirs.

HomeportNoverre Musson was an architect who lived from 1910 to 1988. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture from The Ohio State University and after graduation worked for Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin under a Frank Lloyd Wright Fellowship. He worked on over 500 buildings in Columbus, notably, the Drake Union and Hopkins Hall at The Ohio State University, the Ohio School for the Deaf, First Church of the Nazarene, and personal residences. He won an award for the Frank Middleton home in Colonial Hills, Worthington.

For his personal residence, Musson chose a wooded lot in Bexley for his home. It was built in 1965 with floor to ceiling windows and open balconies to display the wooded views. The exterior is shingled in weathered wood, blending it in to the surroundings and allowing the red inverted triangular pediment atop the entryway and pointing to the redden brass plate door to the home, to stand out.

Although now the home is surrounded by three high density planned complexes, the home and it’s smaller companion home to the east continue to feel secluded.

“I love the natural setting and how it incorporates nature,” says Steinhoff. “You don’t feel like you’re in suburbia.”

Being an architect himself, Kuspan was excited to take on the project of updating and restoring the home. The couple worked to keep the home true to itself, but reworked the footprint of the kitchen, and added a cast concrete fireplace to the foyer. Previously, you were able to open the front door and see clearly through the back, which made the main living space drafty.

The foyer with the fireplace the couple added. The room has a huge skylight which was previously able to be opened to allow rain to fall directly into the room. The couple felt the clear glass of the skylight was too harsh for every day, replaced it, and adjusted the room for every day living.

The kitchen before the renovation.

The original butcher block countertops find new homes as a work station and eat-in kitchen.

This family loves color!

Looking into the living and dining rooms before the renovation.

The living room is the family's favorite place to spend time.

The home is about 4,000 square feet and has three bedrooms and three and a half baths. The children’s rooms are on the main level and doors were added for privacy. Kuspan designed a pivoting door to close off their daughter’s bedroom. It’s made of wood with lead buckshot on end to weigh it down. The cutouts and glass balance the weight while fitting in with the home’s feel. Local wood sculptor Ralph Williams crafted it.

This huge door was designed by Kuspan and built by Ralph Williams.

Williams also crafted the large dining room table that Kuspan designed, and several other pieces throughout the home. The couple also has many pieces of art by Williams’ brother Roger on display.

The dining room table incorporates elements of the Fibonacci Series. The series is also found throughout the home.

To help heat the home, the couple added a high efficiency soapstone wood stove from Denmark. Clerestory windows line the main rooms and keep the home cool in the hotter months. They also fill the home with light while providing privacy and leaving plenty of wall space for art.

The soapstone stove from Denmark, left and the pizza oven, right.

“I like the fact that its like an art gallery,” says Kuspan about the home. “It’s an open plan, relatively, and you feel like you’re in a gallery.”

Along with works by Roger Williams, the couple have pieces by Chas Krider and outsider artists such as Howard Finster.

When it was originally built in 1965, the mid-century modern home was only one story. Musson decided to add a second story to it sometime in the mid-1970s. It’s built out of pine wood layers and floats above the first story on beams.

Steinhoff and Kuspan turned the space into a master suite. It has beautiful views, gorgeous travertine marble, and cheery green glass mosaics. Mexican river stones lead into the shower. The entire space is open and lets nature inside. When the doors are open, it feels like a sophisticated treehouse for grownups. Ralph Williams also worked magic in this room, building wardrobes and bookshelves into the walls. There’s also access to the roof where the family is able to have a small container garden.

Looking into the master suite.

A view toward the master bath. No doors block the light, yet the space still feels intimate and private.

Looking across the bathtub toward the shower. Mexican river stones accentuate the entrance to the shower.

Outside, the couple has several spots for relaxation in the backyard and side yard. Off of the kitchen, Bill Yerkes of bonoPIZZA designed a pizza oven which sees quite a bit of use.

Although this house has fit them pretty well the past twenty-four years, and they are finally nearing completion of the renovations, the couple feels it might be time to move on. They recently applied to have the double lot the house sits on split into two and hope to build their own architectural dream home on the other half.

A view of the master suite addition.

This house stands out while simultaneously blending into the landscape.

At Home is a monthly column on Columbus Underground focused on urban home remodeling and style as well as older home renovations and unique homes in Columbus. If you would like to have your home featured in the At Home series, please send me an email at [email protected].

Homeport Home Ownership

NoBo on Long Condominiums

[At Home is sponsored by Homeport Home Ownership’s NoBo on Long Condominiums. Inspired by the historical architecture of the King Lincoln District, NoBo on Long embraces today’s contemporary lifestyle and is ideally located just minutes from Downtown, Franklin Park, and Port Columbus. Units 143 – 149 are uniquely designed for space, style, and convenience. These sophisticated one-bedrooms include open living space floor plans leading to a second story private terrace, standard wood flooring and a large walk-in closet in the master bedroom. Unit 1066 is the last remaining gorgeous renovation of a historic 1890s luxury brick duplex with full bay windows. It combines historic architectural detail with modern style and convenience with a large, open concept great room, 2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, and dramatic 10 ft. ceilings. Call (614) 221-8889 x363 or stop by Homeport Home Ownership at 734 E. Long St. M-F 9-5 or by appointment.]


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