Home of the Month | July 2017

Home of the Month, July/August 2017
800 27th Ave. N.

A House with Personality and Promise, Fulfilled

As Bebe Ocano summarizes it succinctly, “A cookie-cutter house is never going to be for me.” Along with her husband Chio, children Mariana and Lucas, and dog Coco, Bebe has embraced the challenges, difficulties, pleasure, and fun of turning the house with personality, at the corner of 27th Avenue and 8th Street, into a functional, gorgeous, and distinctive living space, all in the space of less than two years.

Front of house 7-17

Working as a Realtor, Bebe encountered the house several years ago, when it was available for rent. One of her clients was interested, so even though the 1915 home deeply appealed to her, Bebe linked the client to the owner. After about 18 months, when she knew that rental contract would be up soon, she contacted the owner and asked about any interest in selling. Chio was less compelled; the house had suffered some poor upkeep, and he did not quite see the promise that Bebe did. “Are you sure about this?” he asked, but Bebe assured him that she knew just how great it could be. But even still, after they completed the purchase, she barred him from even seeing the place again for two weeks, giving her time to paint all the walls white and to deep clean the entire house. Getting back to a foundation of white walls was central to Bebe’s vision. The home has stunning, utterly distinctive ceiling beams running throughout, and to highlight them, the surrounding features needed to provide a clean grounding.

Beams 7-17

By painting everything white—including the backsplash in the kitchen, after applying a primer for glass—the house gained a brighter, lighter feel. She also removed most of the window hangings, to let plenty of light in. The brighter space then provided an ideal backdrop for the wealth of framed art throughout the house, much of it painted by Bebe herself.

Kitchen 7-17

Once the white interior walls were set, and the family moved in, around October 2015, the real renovations started. Within the first few months, the Ocanos moved a partial wall about two feet into the living room (which includes what was, in the past, the front porch), such that it took on a simple rectangular shape, rather than featuring an alcove.

Living Room

Living Room

Living room after 7-17

Those two feet, put on the other side of the wall, became a new closet for the master bedroom. In addition, the family added wood floors throughout much of the house, changed out all the light fixtures, and sodded the back yard. But in one of the most creative and remarkable transformations, Bebe fixed an issue that likely had plagued previous owners for years. The three-bedroom home had space for both kids, but to access the third bedroom, Lucas would have had to walk through his sister Mariana’s room, each time he wanted to get in or out. It wasn’t livable, so Bebe took a close look and found a solution. By extending the hallway and adding a new door, she made the closet in Mariana’s room a little bigger (though the bedrooms themselves lost a few square feet each), and even more important, created separate entryways into
each room. All of this happened within the first few months of the Ocanos taking up residence. More recently, they also replanted the front yard (notably, even though the main door to the house is on 8th Street, the mailing address and thus official front of the house is on 27th Avenue). Next they painted the house a deep gray, a color that Bebe knew she wanted from the start. But when she stopped by Sherwin-Williams to order the color by name and requested exterior paint, the clerks gave her a strange look. “You can’t paint the exterior of the house that color,” they cautioned. But Bebe knew what she wanted, and she knew the deep, rich color would look terrific. As is often the question (at least in my mind), just how did she know? According to Bebe, when she encounters a layout or a color or a structure that doesn’t quite work, “I just look and see a solution. That’s actually how I started in real estate. Every time I would go to a house with my friend, who is also a Realtor, I would say, ‘I would knock this down, I would move this,’ and my friend said, ‘Bebe: You have the vision. You should be in real estate!’”

Art 1 7-17

This strong sense of what will look best serves her both in her real estate career and in her art and painting. That devotion to art is long standing; she studied graphic design in her native country of Guatemala. Therefore, another notable project at the Ocanos turned the small garage into an art studio, with bright light streaming in from French doors. A small air conditioner keeps it cool, and though the washer and dryer currently take up space, the Ocanos plan to build a small room off the main house soon, to move the laundry facilities there.

Art 3 7-17

Many of these projects would have gone much slower without the help of another Crescent Heights fixture, Tim Groves. He helped with the studio, a small storage shed built to look as if it is part of the main house, and the painting. According to Bebe, he can help with literally everything, which is a good thing, because she always has more home improvement projects in mind. At one point, she notes, she and Chio discussed how, with so many things to be done to the house, maybe it would be preferable to find or build a new house that they could make exactly as they wanted from the start. But in that case, they figured they would need to leave Crescent Heights, and neither of them has any desire to do that. This is home—filled with personality, with not a single cookie-cutter fixture to be found. In this sense, one of the oldest houses in our unique neighborhood is also one of the most iconic, representing all that’s great and appealing about finding a place of one’s own.

Art 2 7-17

—Elisabeth Nevins
Photo credits: © Bebe Ocano

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