Before & After: A 1952 Midcentury Becomes a Wondrous, Wheelchair-Accessible Home
On the morning of June 15, 2016, while riding his bike to his office in Indianapolis, Indiana, Derek Lavender had a tragic accident that damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. After months of rehabilitation, he and his wife, LeAnne, began looking for a home to accommodate the couple's new needs.
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"After Derek’s accident, we were quickly thrown into the world of accessibility," says LeAnne. "It's amazing what you don't notice until you have no choice but to notice it. We had no idea how many homes built in the ‘80s had sunken family rooms, or all the bedrooms upstairs, which just wouldn’t work for us." Finally, after looking at more than 50 properties, they eventually came across a 1952 ranch-style home that had potential for a wheelchair-accessible renovation.
They purchased the house, which they named The Quarry on account on its limestone foundations, and began working to transform it. Scroll ahead to see the fascinating "before" and "after" photos.
"We were initially drawn to the home because of its charm and location. The fact that it was only two bedrooms and below our budget just added to the appeal," says Derek.
They converted the two-car garage into a master suite. Because Derek’s main needs were to have everything on one level, the couple raised the floors of the master suite and then added a new garage. This way, once Derek pulls into the garage, he can seamlessly enter the house, which now has zero thresholds.
The biggest challenge for the couple was building the fireplace. When the crew demolished the ceilings, the Lavenders discovered that the chimney was built crooked, so they worked with a concrete team to come up with a new design that featured a cutout.
The original house had doorways that weren’t wide enough for Derek's wheelchair, and one of the bathrooms wasn’t wheelchair-accessible at all, so they vaulted the ceilings and opened the walls to create more space.
Now, the 2,600-square-foot renovated space in which Derek can lives comfortably and move around with ease.
The living room was painted in dark Iron Ore paint by Sherwin Williams to help disguise the TV and add a little division to the spaces.
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For the dining room, they saved some of the paneling from the renovation and had these patched on to the new vaulted ceilings. "We love how the paneling really pulls in the midcentury vibe of the original kitchen cabinets," says LeAnne.
In the bathroom, the wood shelving gives the space a more luxurious feel.
Along with a beautiful home, this renovation also led to the founding of Lavender Accessible Design, LeAnne’s consultancy business.
"Being new to the accessible-world, we were researching and coming up with ideas on the fly. If we were to ever do this again, the experience of living with a wheelchair for longer than six months would certainly be in our favor," she adds.