Over a four-year span, Acheson Builders completed major remodeling -- inside and out -- of this classic 1920s home in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Arlington Boulevard
Historic Home Refresh
– Part 1 –

All photos by Jeff Garland, architectural photographer.

Our company, Acheson Builders, has long histories with many repeat customers in the greater Ann Arbor area, but one particular house on Arlington Blvd is worth having a close look. First we were tasked with replacing vintage windows. Soon thereafter, major remodeling was requested. Expand current living space, add purpose-built rooms and storage, design entire outbuildings, come up with a creative redesign of the outside living areas. Acheson Builders came through again and again, in these areas and more, to help the owners achieve their dreams of a beautiful, functional home that could meet their family’s changing needs and lifestyle.

First in a series of three articles. Read Arlington Boulevard Historic Home Refresh – Part Two, or Part Three.

Architectural elevation drawing of portions of the second floor of 1505 Arlington Blvd, showing remodeling changes -- walls to be removed, walls to be added, many other changes.
1505 Arlington Second Floor Addition and Remodeling plans by Jim Acheson, Acheson Builders, Inc. — NOTE: shaded walls are the new walls,  and the dashed lines are walls that were to be taken out.

Built in 1926, this charming custom home sits on a corner lot hidden amidst luscious gardens. After buying the home in May 2018, the new owners selected Acheson Builders to replace all the windows with quality wood windows, the challenge being to maintain the original style while preserving existing openings. Of the half-dozen or so builders that the owners tried to get in touch with, we were the only ones to return their call.

Despite a full building schedule, we sent our designer down to meet with the owners and see how we could help. They liked our approach, and had friends who highly recommended us, so they were willing to patiently wait for us to finish up other projects. It was a year and a half before enough time was open, and a letter of intent was signed with Acheson Builders in October of 2019 for the design and development of the 2nd floor re-modeling. It was the first of a series of updates and upgrades they wanted to make to their home.

The Arlington home’s historic style, which attracted the owners in the first place, needed to be maintained, however with a growing family and modern needs to be met, they also needed to optimize the home’s existing floorspace. A skillful redesign of the upstairs was called for to create more bedroom and living space. Acheson Builders was able to carve out more footage by moving a few walls and expanding the existing dormer. The expansion of this dormer made a huge difference in the livability of this home — adding enough room for a second bathroom upstairs, and an entire guest suite, as well as enlarging the daughter’s bedroom. 

Top image: BEFORE remodeling, single multi-pane dormer; bottom image: AFTER remodeling, a new expanded dormer adding new space to the second-floor living space.

Families grow, kids and visitors need more space, carving this out of an existing layout is no small task. Without a good plan, solid goals, and a career remodeler with deep experience such as Jim Acheson, a homeowner might eke out a new room or wedge a bathroom in someplace, but with an uninspired floor plan. With imagination, we came up with a cost-effective way to reorganize the space on the second floor. The addition on the second floor involved expanding the size of a dormer, and moving some walls. Surprisingly, this added enough square footage to allow for a larger bedroom for the daughter, a remodeled bathroom, a guest bedroom with a closet, and a new bathroom with a shower, to create a guest suite.

New guest room made spacious with ample windows, attached bathroom.
Newly added guest bedroom with adjoining bathroom.

The handsome new guest suite features a wall of windows, generous closet space, and striking molding that ties it to the rest of the house. 

Toilet, vanity with stylish sink bowl, hexagonal white floor tiles that extend into the glassed-in shower enclosure.
The accompanying bathroom has hexagonal floor tiles that extend into the new shower. A lovely marble-topped vanity and wall sconces make for an elegant touch.
High-ceiling upstairs bedroom with gently sloping high ceiling, exposed brick on one side, double window overlooking backyard, a single bed, love seat, box filled with dolls.
Cozy spacious young girl’s bedroom after Acheson Builders’ remodeling.

The daughter now has a pretty new bedroom painted in a fairytale shade of pale celadon green with a romantic chandelier and insulated windows framing a wonderful second story view. Not just a bedroom, but a private aerie to call her own. The bedroom features period panel molding in keeping with the original home.  

Boy's bathroom with custom two-sink cabinet, red airplane fixtures for drawers and cupboard.

The kid’s bathroom also was upgraded during this phase. The new light-filled bathroom has a custom-built blue double vanity. Red airplanes door handles provide fun pops of color. The Cole & Son Macchine Volanti wallpaper, featuring a whimsical array of hot air balloons, continues the aeronautical theme. The hard-wearing hexagonal floor tiles are a stylish and handsome choice that brings all the frivolity and bright colors down to earth.

The resulting second story upgrade met the goals so well that when the owners were considering remodeling their basement, they chose Acheson Builders again.

Continue reading in the second installment of this three-part series, about the next phase on the Arlington home improvement, where the kids get an indoor playspace and the adults get a workout room.  The laundry and utility area also receive an upgrade. OR skip to the third article in this series, all about remaking the backyard into a entertainment and outdoor barbecue kitchen + patio space . . .