This sprawling 1977 California, Ohio, estate looked vastly different before Karen Moning purchased it six years ago. “The whole house needed to be gutted. It was last updated in the ’70s,” says Moning, a New York Times bestselling author of urban fantasy novels. She has since invested $600,000 into renovations and cosmetic updates, including converting the home from oil to natural gas heat; resealing the chimneys; adding a laundry room (with heated floors); and replacing all light fixtures, soot-covered wallpaper, and shag carpet.
In 1994, the original homeowners, Douglas and Jayne Elslager, built a $1.8 million addition, featuring a great room, solarium, basement, and master suite, and they gifted Moning a photo album highlighting their progress. “You can tell that it was an absolute labor of love for them,” she says. To unify the home’s two halves, Moning had the original crown molding re-pressed for the addition. She also planned to expand the kitchen (which she spent $47,000 updating), but “lost the heart” after the family members who lived with her passed away. Those sad memories are partly why she’s decided to sell. And though she’s “ready to move on to something sunnier,” she says she’ll miss soaking up sun in the solarium on a cold winter day; admiring the peacocks, wild turkeys, and foxes that visit regularly; and hosting holiday parties in the great room, which features a stunning stained glass dome that originally belonged to a church in Piqua, Ohio. “I think 100 years of prayers funneled up into the dome; there’s just some crazy good energy here,” she says.
Moning hopes a family with children will move into the five-bedroom home, which sits on a private five-acre lot overlooking the California golf course and two Cincinnati Water Works reservoirs and boasts 8,000 square feet of finished living space, a nine-car garage, and three full and two partial baths. Other notable features include the front lawn’s massive Haddonstone fountain; two antique fireplaces imported from Europe; and the master suite’s coffered ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and massive bath featuring a stained glass window above the jetted bathtub. Whoever the next homeowners may be, we think they’ll appreciate both the Elslagers’ and Moning’s labor of love.