Ashland man transforms ho-hum townhouse into elegant bachelor pad
In search of new digs after deciding to downsize, Jerry Kenefick purchased a unit in Ashland’s Glenn Vista Estates and transformed a ho-hum townhouse into an elegant bachelor pad.
The lean, fit 83-year-old, a retired certified financial planner, owned a mixed-use building on A Street with commercial units on the main floor and a 3,300-square-foot residence on the second floor. He sold it in 2018.
“I was tired of managing the building — calls during the night, etc. — and I had too much money tied up in the building,” he said.
Preparing for the move took longer than he thought. The biggest challenge of the remodel was taking it on without a general contractor.
“I thought the project was going to be simple. Boy, was I wrong. I spent about two to three hours a day for five months — coordinating, reviewing, making changes and more.”
Attention to details was his modus operandi, so Kenefick thought he had it nailed when he created a remodeling spreadsheet, complete with delivery dates and timelines.
“And then the drywaller had an emergency, which meant the painter had to be rescheduled, and the tile installer had to change his dates, which caused the floor guy to and on and on.”
Kenefick says vendors did their best to accommodate him, but contractors did not have lots of empty dates on their calendars.
The inspiration for the remodel was his home in the A Street building, which he built in 2007 and named after his wife of 44 years, Beverly. She died of cancer in 2005.
“I had really enjoyed the place, so I decided to replicate it on a smaller scale.” The townhouse is about half the size.
Why Glenn Vista Estates? Jean Conger, a friend who lived in Glenn Vista, told him about neighbors who had lived there for decades.
“I thought that if people liked the development that much, it must be a good place to live,” Kenefick said. “The unit is within walking distance of downtown Ashland. That is a plus for me.”
The townhouse has open spaces and good light, but the finishings were a bit tired and not his style.
“Everything — carpets, cabinets, light fixtures — said, ‘an old person lives here.’ I am over 80, but I don’t feel old. So I decided to completely redo the unit.”
One of the first things you notice when you enter the house is the flooring, a beautiful, exotic hardwood. The color is a luxuriant reddish-brown with flecks of gold.
Kenefick chose Brazilian Merbau hardwood from Mastercraft Wood Floors of Medford for the entire main floor, the stairs and the landing at the top of the stairs. Merbau is harder than red oak with excellent dimensional stability. It does not swell or shrink with changes in humidity.
“I had the same flooring in my A Street building,” he said, “and it held up extremely well. It is easy to clean and maintain.”
He installed new carpeting in the upstairs bedrooms, choosing a cream-colored blend in a closed-loop style.
The carpet flows into a large walk-in master closet where Kenefick had low-rise shelving built for his shoes and sweaters. A cushioned chair provides a place to sit while pulling on socks and shoes.
The bathrooms were a partial gut job.
In the upstairs Jack and Jill bath, shared by the master and guest suites, the preformed acrylic tub/shower combo gave way to a large step-in shower with travertine walls, tile floor, a tile accent strip, and glass doors. Travertine also was used for the countertop and floor.
In the downstairs bath, Kenefick replaced the slide-in tub enclosure with a new tub and tiled surround. The tub is water-jetted and has air jets as well.
“The plumber recommended that I bite the bullet and pay the extra money to get the air jets. It has been well worth it. I get the best massage in town in my own tub.”
The dull cabinets in both baths needed a makeover. After a cleaning and oil treatment, they look like new.
Distinctive pieces accessorize the upstairs landing — a recovered antique chair next to the master bedroom entrance, a small table and chairs with a chess set at the ready under a window.
The crown jewel of the townhouse is the main floor, with a sense of spaciousness belying its modest square footage.
The living room is filled with natural light from a large, arched, east-facing window. Ambient light from the west-facing windows on the second-floor landing that looks down on the living room adds to the airy feeling — as does the two-story high ceiling.
Two matching sofas provide an inviting conversational area. They face each other with an antique Asian trunk serving as a coffee table in between. The sofas had been used in separate bedrooms in his previous home.
The fireplace was completed renovated.
“It was ugly,” Kenefick said. “My carpenter designed and installed a mantle, and my tile person finished the job. We used the same tile as the kitchen countertops, tying the whole area together.”
There is another design connection, thanks to a suggestion by friend Cindy Barnard. The Craftsman box motif of the new fireplace mantle was replicated on the end of the breakfast bar that faces the living area.
The dining table Kenefick used at his A Street home was too big for the townhouse and had to be replaced.
“Cindy and I went to House to Home Gallery in Medford to see what we could find.”
The store accepts “gently loved furniture” on consignment and specializes in one-of-a-kind pieces. They found a table and chairs that fit the bill.
“I have several Asian pieces that I love, and this table had an Asian flavor,” Kenefick said. “It came with two leaves, which makes it flexible, and was in excellent condition.”
The seat cushions, multi-angled to fit the chairs, were covered in a bright red Chinese motif material. He had them recovered in a neutral shade.
The kitchen is open to the dining and living areas, but in the center of the unit with no windows.
“The cabinets were dark, the floor was linoleum, and there were track lights which barely shed enough light to cook by,” Kenefick said. “The refrigerator and stove were about 30 years old and were dark with age.”
“Dark” was the operative word, so he decided to lighten things up. The cabinets were painted white, new white appliances were installed, and about twice the LED lights replaced the dim track lights. New countertops completed the new look.
“Cindy had some handmade cabinet door pulls that are exquisite,” Kenefick said. “She had used them in a number of her kitchens over the years, and had extras stored away. She allowed me to ‘long-term borrow’ them, and they add elegance to the kitchen.”
He decided to paint the townhouse walls the same color used in his previous home. For some of the rooms, the painters added white to create lighter shades of the color when the original color seemed too dark.
Near the downstairs bathroom is a third bedroom, which Kenefick has outfitted as an office and TV viewing area. A plush hide-a-bed sofa provides extra sleeping space for guests when needed. And it’s his Plan B master bedroom if he finds the stairs too difficult to negotiate in the future.
New LED light fixtures, switches and outlets throughout completed the remodel.
Kenefick was a busy guy during his working years. Today, in retirement, he is happy with his more relaxed schedule, and delighted to be able to put up his feet in his comfortable new bachelor pad.
Reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at firstname.lastname@example.org.