Maybe you missed the event:
The first annual Virginia Amateur Sports Kitchen Tour, a fundraiser aimed at benefiting the group’s Lighten Up program for weight loss and fitness. It featured six kitchens, all the work of Carter’s Cabinet Shop, and welcomed the curious and idea-seekers during a seven-hour visitation on April 1.
After the tour, guests voted online for their favorite.
The winner: Dick and Donna Koch’s Southwest Roanoke City home, a gorgeous modified ranch designed by E. Paul Hayes, a founding partner of Hayes, Seay, Mattern and Mattern. Set on 4.2 acres at Montague Lake, the home was built in 1952 for Bob and Kathryn Mills Main.
Meant For Each Other
The way to the home’s rebirth began around five years ago.
The Kochs (pronounced Cooks) were living in Crownsville, Md., after a move from Atlanta. Manager for a power company and an avid bicyclist, he was on a cycling trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway, with Donna acting as the support driver, when on the second night of the five-day trek, they discovered the Roanoke Valley.
They felt an instant attraction. To the valley and the mountains.
Then, two years later, they spent a weekend here. That was the clincher.
“We fell in love with the area and the people,” Donna recalls. “Everyone was so nice, and there was such a friendly atmosphere. We decided this was where we wanted to retire.”
With that in mind, the Kochs set out to find a house that fit their retirement objective: a not-so-laid-back departure from the ordinary golf-and-travel routine.
“What I wanted when I retired was to have something to do,” says Dick, who has built two new houses and completely renovated another. “I wanted a house to remodel.”
In May ’04, they started looking.
After a short disappointment, they found the Main home, then owned by contractor George Baron, who had begun demolition to the extensive basement. It was exactly what Dick had in mind.
Once again, “It was love at first sight,” recalls Donna, a Georgia native.
A spacious 5,200 square feet, the house included living room, dining room, kitchen, den and three bedrooms on the first floor, as well as a now-glassed-in porch overlooking the lake. On the lower, walk-out “terrace floor,” there’s the rec room, snack kitchen, laundry, maid’s room, furnace room and shower room, emptying out to a spacious patio leading to the water. There are also four fireplaces: one each in the living room, den, enclosed porch and rec room.
The Kochs bought the house and moved in on Oct. 1 that year.
Coming Back To Life
From the beginning, the couple had their hands full.
“First we refinished the hardwood floors,” says Dick. “That took 10 days. We had to remove the carpeting and, to sleep, we put a mattress down on the kitchen floor. When the [refinishing] smell got bad, we went to a motel.”
There was a myriad of challenges: Baseboards that had to be duplicated in spots to camouflage the home’s radiant heating system. Water damage that needed repair above the den’s fireplace before the Kochs could bring vitality to the room with a splash of deep redbrick color as they finished their first project.
They set themselves a goal: to have both the nine-foot high dining and living rooms with their eight-inch moldings painted by Christmas, though there was more water damage at the living room mantel and over the windows. To make matters worse, the house was barren, devoid of the furnishings they’d sold with their Maryland home. It was a situation which would stymie most women; it didn’t faze Donna.
“The furniture was ordered, but it wasn’t in yet,” she recalls. “Still, we did have rugs. So I sat on the floor in the living room, looked at the Christmas tree and pretended I was sitting on my sofa.”
More Good Things Ahead
With renovation of the bedroom area in mind, the couple consulted Roanoke architect John Fulton, who urged the Kochs to tackle the kitchen first and consult with Carter’s Cabinet Shop on the project. They agreed.
Soon Dick was hard at work. He gutted the area down to the studs, in some places exposing the outside through holes in the brick. Next, the Kochs ordered appliances at Ferguson Bath, Kitchen and Lighting Gallery so they’d know sizes before Lee Ann Carter designed the kitchen. Among their choices: a double refrigerator and freezer, double oven, warming drawer and stovetop, all by Viking.
Then came the new plan.
“Lee Ann knew exactly what we wanted,” Dick says, “and she pointed out that the space had great angles.” Angles that now include storage areas.
To brighten the space, the Kochs selected maple cabinets with autumn white glaze, emerald pearl granite countertops from Johnson’s Granite of Greensboro, and walls of apple green. To make cooking a joy, the plan includes an appliance garage; a lift-up, fully attached mixer; pullout spice and towel racks, and swing-out corner cabinet.
Fulton and his wife, Cathy, created the lighting plan, and Dick pitched in with wiring for all appliances. He also reinsulated the walls, applied and finished the dry wall, put in the kitchen’s hardwood floor, and assembled five pieces of trim to match that in other parts of the house.
The entire project took three months.
“We started in February 2005 and finished that May,” Donna says, “and for that time, I cooked downstairs while the remodeling was going on.”
But the mess and confusion don’t bother either of the Kochs.
“If you don’t see dust,” Dick points out, “there’s no progress.
Before tackling the next area, the Kochs bought another house, renovated it and resold it in six weeks. The point: to generate more funds for their home improvement projects.
Just ready for the doing was the first-floor powder room, a ‘50s combination of pink and black tiles. Dick gutted the area, going through three inches of concrete in floors and walls to put in new insulation and stunning tiled floors and walls contrasted with new fixtures and a black pedestal sink.
Of course, there’s more ahead: Turning two bedrooms into one for a smashing new master suite facing the lake rather than the street. Creating two bedrooms downstairs where the maid’s quarters-laundry room and shower areas formerly occupied the space. Restoring the rec room and more.
With much of the work behind him, including repairing the slate roof and substituting round columns for the original wrought-iron ones, Dick is optimistic about the time when all will be as he sees it in his mind’s eye.
“My original finish goal was two years,” claims the Alabama native, “but I’ve changed that. Now, I’d say I’ll be done in about two-and-a-half to three.”
Just about the perfect time to see what other wonders a determined man can make in the “lazy” days of retirement. With or without a contest.