A century-old home in Brookside gets a ‘Down to Earth’ renovation

Photography by Nate Sheets

Converting a three hundred-pound water trough into a bathroom sink was just one of the challenges that made the renovation of this Brookside home truly one to remember.

“We, along with the homeowners, wanted to make a statement in the powder room,” says Tara Davis of Cicada Company, the design and construction firm behind the renovation. 

“Luckily, Kyle can figure out how to build anything,” she says of her husband and business partner Kyle Davis, who turned the small but hefty drainless trough into a useable sink. The stone sink definitely makes a statement.

The Davises, who co-founded the Cicada Company, worked diligently with the homeowners of the century-old structure in Brookside to keep the integrity of the house while making it unique, modern and livable. 

“To me, this project is a mixture of the old and new, and much of the inspiration comes from using organic materials,” Tara says  of the two thousand square-foot house. She and her husband worked within the home’s original footprint but modified the floor plan to fit a more modern lifestyle, such as turning a hallway into a pantry.

The result is a comfortable and clean space that honors the home’s history with many original details left intact throughout the house, such as glass doorknobs, doors, interior trim and wood floors.

They nicknamed this house “Down to Earth” because of the neutral colors, layers of textures and use of organic materials throughout.

In this case, the homeowners contacted the Davises before they purchased the house and asked the design duo to take a look to see if they thought it had potential. “The homeowners really liked the location, but it didn’t have enough bathrooms and a few other things, so they didn’t think it would work,” Tara says. “But I said, ‘We can add bathrooms.’”

“We walked through it, the layout was great,” Kyle says. “It had great character. We knew we could successfully renovate this home.” The complete renovation also consisted of all-new plumbing, electrical wiring and insulation. It is very important to the integrity of the project that all aspects of an older home be upgraded, Kyle says. “We don’t want to put all this work into just making the surface look good.” The homes need to function, too. 

Living room

The clean white plaster walls in the living room contrast with the home’s original dark brown trim. Although many of the home’s traditional elements were left untouched, the Davises decided to completely redo the living room’s painted brick fireplace.

“We framed out and built a new façade over the old fireplace and created a little wedge,” Kyle says. The result is an organic, almost sculptural-looking centerpiece for the living room that blends in with many of the organic furniture and art choices.

Powder Room

Photography by Nate Sheets

The Davises chose to paint the small guest bathroom a Burnt Sienna shade to make it pop and stand out from the paler, more neutral colors of the rest of the home while still keeping with the house’s natural feel and rustic elements, such as the rough-edge stone sink.

To install the garden trough turned sink, Kyle custom-designed metal brackets that seem to cradle the fixture and bolted them into the wall studs directly behind the sink to secure it into place. To make it functional, he also had to drill a hole and create a drain. The warm and worn brass faucet was originally just a spigot that a garden hose would attach to with an on and off valve. To make it work for the bathroom, Kyle installed plumbing in the wall that creates the perfect warm temperature. So without any adjusting and with just one twist of the spigot knob, pleasant lukewarm water is released, just right for washing hands.


Photography by Nate Sheets

Although they worked completely within the original floorplan, the Davises made several modifications to open the kitchen up and make it more functional, including removing a wall and turning a hallway into a pantry. 

A natural light wood color similar to the hardwood floors was chosen for the kitchen cabinets, and textured subway tiles in varying natural colors were installed vertically for the backsplash. The Davises chose brass hardware that will develop a natural patina over time.

“We want a timeless and durable design that will age well,” Tara says.

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