Tanya Bower-Johnson sells homes for a living.
Her husband, Mark Johnson, remodels homes for a living.
One might think they’d get enough of staging and gutting homes during the day, but the couple just can’t stay still.
They had completed an extensive remodeling job on their Southern Hills home when they felt a tug to explore a home six houses down that had just come on the market.
The mid-century ranch was all original, down to the mahogany woodwork and hardwood floors. It was ripe for a makeover.
Tanya says she was particularly drawn by the home’s ornate double front doors.
“That whole mid-century vibe just kind of attached itself to us,” Tanya says.
As they looked around the house, “Mark is like, ‘That wall can come down and that wall can come down.’ I thought, this is fun,” Tanya recalls.
The couple bought the home in August 2019, rolled up their sleeves and with the help of son Gus, now 9, got busy.
“That’s just our comfort zone,” Tanya says.
They’d hit a pretty good stride just as the pandemic hit.
“Mark said we have plenty of time to do this project because we’re not going to be working. We gutted it and real estate literally exploded because everybody was off work and decided, ‘Let’s go buy a house,’” Tanya says with a laugh.
Despite their hectic schedules, Tanya says she spent countless hours online, surfing for fresh ideas and inspiration. Pinterest, she says, became a bit of a dirty word for Mark.
In designing the home, the couple opted for bold color and flooring choices while retaining elements of the home’s original design, such as the stone fireplace.
Tanya says her selections of grasshopper green for the front doors and Caribbean blue in the master bathroom raised painters’ eyebrows. “But when it came together, I loved it,” she says.
In the kitchen, Tanya and Mark opted for a sleek design that gives a nod to mid-century decor but is firmly 21st century.
She says kitchens in the 1950s and ’60s didn’t feature as much hardware as modern kitchens tend to have. “I wanted the stove and the refrigerator to be the jewelry of the kitchen and I didn’t want hardware to take away from that.”
Tanya considered turquoise appliances but decided on a sleek white line instead.
“People are like, ‘White appliances? That’s so ’80s,’ but these are cool,” she says.
The couple kept the hardwood flooring throughout most of the home, but made some bold decisions elsewhere.
The hex tile in the kitchen flows into the hardwoods in the living area and terrazzo tiles imported from Spain were installed in one of the bathrooms. But the floor in the sunroom was by far the boldest and most difficult.
Tanya had seen some gorgeous epoxy floors online and thought it would be cool to have a floor that looks like a piece of turquoise.
She says the team they hired to tackle the job were thrilled with the idea for the project, but ran into trouble with the execution.
“It took four attempts,” she says. “The first one had too much copper. The next one wasn’t quite right. The third time, it was perfect. But we left the windows open and it rained that night.”
Fortunately, the fourth time also was perfect.
Tanya says when it comes to design, it pays to be bold.
“Just try it and if it doesn’t work, change it. Like with paint, if you don’t like it, you paint over it. You just throw something at the wall until something sticks,” she says.
But with their home complete, Tanya expresses a familiar restlessness.
“We’re looking for another one,” she says with a laugh, adding that they intend to continue to call Southern Hills their home. “We really like the bones of the houses in this neighborhood. The lots are big, so you’re not on top of each other … I’m pretty sure we’ll stay here.”
If you would like to suggest a home — a friend’s, a family member’s, your own or a client’s — email Jan Peterson at [email protected] In our quest to showcase the widest variety of homes possible, we will occasionally feature homes on the market. In order for listed homes to be considered, they must be furnished and the owner must consent to an interview. Addresses of homes are published only if the home is listed on the MLS or if requested as part of a homes tour.