Lofty Ambitions

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Inspired by coastal and cottage accents, a creative duo transforms a former bachelor pad into a fashionable family dwelling. 

William and Allison Rhangos’ golden retriever, Luther, welcomes visitors at the side door of what appears to be just another building downtown. The door, though, is a work of art in itself — sleek and spare with nickel hardware like a wooden boat and shaded from the morning sun by a navy awning. Just inside, a basket holds skateboard decks, another clue that this is not just another business, but a family home with a contemporary style and a playful spirit.

The Rhangoses and their three children — Kate, 13, Bella, 10, and Alex, 7 — have resettled in the 4,400-square-foot loft following a two-year renovation. William bought the 1911-era building 15 years ago when he was a single guy looking for an investment and an interesting place to live. Its former life as a Goodyear Tire warehouse and storefront had left much of the upper level intact and open, a blank canvas for him to add a bedroom, bath, office and small kitchen in half of the footprint. He rented the bottom floor to a doctor.

One to Grow On

After he met Allison and their family grew, they decided to consolidate their other real estate and develop “one really great space,” said Allison. They chose the close quarters of the urban loft lifestyle because of its walkable distance to the kids’ school, the eclectic downtown vibe and the opportunity to create a rooftop garden — a natural project for William, who co-owns the outdoor living surfaces firm, Savannah Hardscapes, with his brother Jonathan.

“I am more of a cottage dweller,” confessed Allison, who has a master’s degree in historic preservation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. That cottage-style influence is evident in the distinct and intimate spaces she’s created in the expansive space.

Uplifted Urban

The stairs land in an open main living area where 11-foot ceilings reach four feet higher through natural, exposed rafters, lending a rustic aesthetic to industrial bones for a warms but spacious room. A bank of windows overlooks Broughton and Lincoln streets — eye-to-eye with SCAD’s Jenn Library — yet none of the radios or traffic sounds disturbs the peaceful interior. No conversation from the patrons waiting for a table at the Melting Pot below drifts upward.

Cowhide-covered chairs tweak a formal dining area — a nod to Allison’s college years in Texas. A hammock large enough to hold the entire family hangs between two sturdy columns. A lounge area near the fireplace invites quiet conversation, while a Persian rug delineates the “living room.” A graphic pillow winks, more evidence that the Rhangoses don’t take themselves too seriously.

Sliding vintage barn-style doors — stripped bare — mark the entrance to the study just off the main living area. Walnut walls hold volumes of well-loved reads.

“Great bookshelves were a real priority for us,” said Allison, who likes to nestle in the cream sofa and escape.

The wall-less kitchen acts as the heart of the home, overlooking all the activity. Its uncomplicated lines are accented by countertops and backslashes engineered from VitraStone. The surrounding surface resembles terrazzo tile with pink oyster shelves embedded within. Thanks to Allison’s love of the water, seaside accents like this have made their way into details throughout the home. A walnut wall flanks a swank black leather banquette off to the side near the stairs — reminiscent of Allison’s days in the restaurant business.

Hallways lead off of both sides of the kitchen area — one to the children’s wing, the other to the master suite. Core functions, such as an office with a communal computer, a guest bath and storage have been moved to the center of the loft with the freight elevator, leaving windows and doors to stream light into the interior spaces. A new utility room features a table on wheels — an island Allison salvaged from her sister-in-law’s kitchen remodel that acts during the day as a folding table, and as a buffet during evening get-togethers. The original heart pine floors — replaned and restained — tie all the rooms together.

Kids’ Stuff

The children enjoy their own lounge area, complete with television, overstuffed blue recliners repurposed from the doctor’s office after it closed, and a galvanized tub filled with festive costumes — a favorite of Bella, who is involved in productions at the Savannah Children’s Theater.

“It’s become kind of a fun summer party house for the kids and their friends,” said Allison.

Alex’s trapezoid-shaped bedroom showcases a bunk bed with steps accented by colorful cowboy boots. The kids’ sleepovers almost always end up here, said Allison. Caribbean blue subway tiles bring color to his bathroom, which features a unique vanity to address the odd-shaped room as well as storage challenges. William and Allison collaborated with the late Bill Owens of Architectural Woodworking Designs and his protégé Harley Ashbaugh to craft custom solutions throughout their home that not are both utilitarian and design conscious.

Kate’s and Bella’s rooms, decorated in bright tropical shades of lipstick pink, turquoise and palm frond green, are connected by a shared bathroom. Shimmering beach glass tiles cover the walls. The Art Deco period inspired the custom white vanity. A brilliant dandelion chandelier hangs from the ceiling like a piece of contemporary art.

A Work in Progress

“William and I have a weakness for art,” Allison confided, sharing that one of the main goals for the renovation was to create more wall space for their collection, which includes colorful paintings and pottery by their children. She often changes where pieces hang in the home, depending upon what she wants to see when she wakes up in the morning or how it looks when a new work arrives.

“I’m not a house finisher,” said Allison. “I’m always moving stuff around.”

The Rhangoses’ Stats

Owners: William and Allison Rhangos

Location: National Historic Landmark District

Year built: 1911 with multiple additions and alterations (former Goodyear Tire storage area above retail store)

Year purchased: 1993

Square footage: 4,400

Accommodations: Four bedrooms, three and a half baths

Time to renovate: Two years

The Rhangoses’ Referrals

Architects: Ted Kloss and Gwyn Duggan Design Associates

Tile/flooring: Reve Surfaces

Paint: Miller Painting

Windows/doors: Sam Peters for Release Marine

Kitchen design: Reve Surfaces

Bath design: Reve Surfaces/Waterworks

Lighting design: Gale Singer for Circa Lighting

Landscape and hardscape design: Savannah Hardscapes

Carpenter: Bill Owens and Harley Ashbaugh

Plumber: Bowen Plumbing

HVAC: Gerrald’s Heating and Air

Appliances: Billy Wood, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Audio/Visual: Apogee Custom Electronics

Art: Kim Iocovozzi Fine Art