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Historic home transformed into $4.25M wellness spa

Updated May 30, 2024 - 9:12 am

It truly is a gift to see beyond what is and envision what could be — especially in home renovation.

Interior designer Ashley Dowd showcased that talent during her extensive transformation of a dated 1986 estate into a wellness retreat.

“The house hadn’t been touched,” Dowd said. “It had pink everywhere: carpet, tile, wallpaper, curtains and fixtures.”

Dowd, the owner of Shelter Modern Design, was contracted to renovate the home on Tioga Pines Circle in the historic Section 10 neighborhood in late 2021.

“The investors who bought the house were going to flip it,” she said. “As we walked through the home, I immediately had in my head what needed to be done.”

The entire renovation took eight months to complete. Dowd’s vision involved modernizing the home while staying true to the architect’s intent. Her first order of business was to eradicate all the pink. Dowd’s strategic vision led to removing walls, moving doors and repurposing spaces. Halfway through the project, Dowd made an unexpected decision.

“I knew we were going to buy it,” she said. “It had a good feel to it. I liked the high ceilings, the big yard, and how it connected to the outside. So, I started gearing things toward my taste.”

Patterning the home to her style, Dowd integrated exclusive wellness amenities into her design. She selected custom features that enhanced the property’s comfort, functionality and overall appeal. One key in fulfilling her goal was converting a unique two-level primary bedroom into a combination upper game room and a lower fitness area.

“It was the most awkward bedroom I’ve ever seen,” Dowd said. “But now, it feels like the right use of the space.”

Dowd’s husband, then fiancé, Greg Dowd, designed the fitness room. He commissioned all the gym parts to be custom-chromed. It features a variety of free-hand weights and exercise machines, including a treadmill and a dedicated area for stretching. Dowd brought in an engineer to inspect the floor to ensure it could accommodate all the weight of the equipment.

“It took a lot of effort to do that,” Dowd said. “But it looks really nice.”

A bath adjacent to the gym showcases luxurious spa amenities, such as a marble steam shower with dual showerheads, an infrared sauna, a soaking tub with a marble surround and a double vanity. It even features an oversized closet.

“I made Greg lay on the floor in the dust so I could trace his body,” Dowd said with a laugh. “I wanted to see how big I should make the bench in the shower. I knew he would want to kick back on it.”

Merging three other spaces created an elegant, voluminous primary suite. The suite’s amenities include a wet bar, fireplace, sitting area, private balcony overlooking the entire property, oversized walk-in closet and resort-style bath. The primary closet became one of the project’s most challenging areas, requiring tearing down the wood framing and starting over. Dowd originally designed a smaller closet under construction when her listing agents, Michael Moed and Alex Adabashi at huntington &ellis, made a significant design recommendation.

“Michael and Alex suggested I should upgrade the closet size and integrate the smaller bedroom attached to it,” Dowd said. “I was trying not to mess with that bedroom, but opening that wall made much more sense. Now it’s a huge closet.”

On the main level, Dowd reconfigured the second primary suite by moving the door and opening the space. It features an oversized closet and a separate massage room with a professional table. Its luxurious bath contains a soaking tub, dual vanity and oversized walk-in shower.

“This room was changed a lot,” Dowd said. “I had to figure out how to connect the spaces and make it more functional.”

In addition to integrating wellness into the design, Dowd meticulously transformed and updated every nook and cranny of the estate, marking it as Dowd’s most ambitious renovation project. She estimated the project cost more than $1 million.

Reconfiguring the floor plan resulted in a highly functional space by integrating the formal living room, dining room, gourmet kitchen with a breakfast nook and a casual great room.

The formal living room features a central marble accent wall with a linear fireplace, which showcases a stylish wood slate paneling accent wall on the opposite side. In the dining room, Dowd purchased a solid wood table that can convert into a pingpong table.

“It’s a beautiful piece of furniture,” she said. “It checked both boxes: It gave us a formal dining table, and if you want to have a frat party here, you can bring the boys over to play pingpong.”

Her neutral color palette complements the modern design, integrating gray, black and white elements with hints of camel and blue. She integrated high-end finishes, designer lighting, refined furnishings and custom cabinetry. French Oak wide-plank hardwood flooring and large-format Italian porcelain slabs throughout the home create a warm, elegant aesthetic.

“One thing that Ashley did in the design is there is no spot in the home where it’s unusable space,” said Michel Moed with the Moed Team at huntington &ellis, a Real Estate Agency. “It’s all usable, and that’s hard to find, especially for this size of home.”

A significant task involved transforming the home’s exterior by removing all the decorative enhancements.

“It was overstimulating on the outside,” Dowd said. “There were columns and rivets and every type of thing attached to the home’s surface. I wanted to create a classic-looking exterior.”

Minimizing the front façade and constructing a striking ribbon-styled driveway transformed curb appeal. The dirt backyard offered a blank canvas. Dowd developed an ample green space and sports court, and she had the pool/spa resurfaced.

The last major exterior project involved an 8-ton crane lifting a mature palm tree over the entire house into the backyard, replacing a dead tree.

“It was quite the undertaking,” Dowd said. “The tree was heavier than we thought it would be.”

After completing the extensive renovation project, the couple purchased the 10,246-square-foot, two-story estate in 2022. Upon assuming ownership in June, they spent the next six months finishing details, such as painting, adding decorative lighting and purchasing high-end furnishings in preparation for hosting their January 2023 wedding. The lush exterior became the venue for the couple’s nuptials, an intimate ceremony attended by family and friends.

After living in the property for more than two years, the couple decided to list it at the beginning of April. In just under 30 days, the property sold for $4.295 million. It was initially listed for $4.85 million through Michael Moed with the Moed Team and Alex Adabashi with the Adabashi Group at huntington &ellis.

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