Sometimes a house finds you, as opposed to the other way around. Such was the case with this cedar-shake, modified saltbox-style cottage tucked away at the end of a Hyde Park street. It found current owner Paula Grulee in 1986 just after her husband had died; she went on a whim to visit the place after learning it would soon be on the market. Five months later, Grulee, with a young daughter in tow and an uncertain future, bought it.
Back then the side porch wasn’t yet enclosed and the exterior shakes were still the dark originals. And Grulee, a former schoolteacher with a penchant for art who’d been studying for her real estate license, decided to change courses altogether and become an interior designer instead. Operating first out of a small home office, Grulee’s business grew to include multiple employees and took over the home’s entire basement, including a tandem two-car garage. Now, almost 35 years later, with the design of two U.S. embassies under her belt and a client list boasting some of Cincinnati’s biggest names, this self-taught interior designer is both retiring and downsizing.
The home was built in 1945 by the Albert Loring family, who frequently vacationed in Massachusetts. Before that, Grulee says this lot was the site of an apple orchard and a clay tennis court. Today, its interiors have been neutralized for selling, but some of Grulee’s signature southern-inspired style still shines through in the soft blue-and-white palette accented with pops of bold color, white paneled walls in the living room, and imported Dutch tiles in the kitchen. She also made a big impact on the home’s layout and footprint by adding on a light-filled family room and deck, expanding the kitchen, installing some strategically-placed skylights, reconfiguring the home’s second floor, and building a pergola over the front door. The resulting structure is much larger than it looks. It’s also no longer just a house, but a home—one that, by now, has found itself yet another lucky owner.