Anna Rosenfeld didn't even want to look at the 8,400-square-foot home in Pepper Pike when she found it online.
"It was too big, and it didn't flow well," says Rosenfeld, a doctor who was returning to Cleveland with her husband, Dr. Aleksandr Rovner, and their two young children from a stint in Erie, Pa.
It was a house custom-built for a couple who loved to entertain. The dining room accommodated dinner parties of 40, living areas had few walls for separation, and only two bedrooms were functional. The house was all wrong for a family with children.
But they liked what Pepper Pike had to offer — lots of green spaces, large yards for their children to play and close proximity to their synagogue — so they toured it on a whim.
Once there, Rosenfeld saw potential in the dramatic open foyer and multilevel decks and balconies overlooking a wooded lot. The stone and wood fireplace and brick-surrounded range added to the home's ski-lodge feel, and the lower walkout level had a second full kitchen.
"It needed a lot of work," she says. "I had to convince my husband it was doable."
Beginning last May, Rosenfeld and Rovner took the leap toward turning this all-wrong-for-them house into their dream home.
The couple invested several hundred thousand dollars into defining spaces that had previously been open. They split the massive dining room into a smaller dining room and study, salvaging the original room's built-in cabinetry to create an entertainment center on the lower level.
Keeping the open floor plan was important to them, along with the original rough cedar and stone architectural accents.
"They make the house look timeless," she says. "[But the changes] allowed our kids to feel they have rooms they can use while we have space to entertain and host our families."