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Refreshed condo satisfies Lowes

Rich and Jan Lowe love the natural tones of gray, black, brown and copper that are a part of their countertops and backsplash. (Submitted photo by Rich Lowe)1 / 4
Rich and Jan Lowe had a goal of making the kitchen in their turn-of-the-century condo look more contemporary and be as functional as possible for the couple. (Submitted photo by Rich Lowe)2 / 4
With the assistance of Scott and Greta Kraft, the Lowes selected a granite countertop that worked equally well in both bathrooms and the kitchen. (Submitted photo by Rich Lowe)3 / 4
The guest bathroom at the condo of Rich and Jan Lowe; the new mirror and higher vanity made for more accessible living for the 6-foot 3-inch Rich. (Submitted photo by Rich Lowe)4 / 4

WORTHINGTON — For Rich and Jan Lowe, the decision to downsize happened in a whirlwind.

After 23 years of living in a 1940s-era home on Smith Avenue, the retirees viewed and purchased their Lake Street condominium within the space of a couple of weeks at the end of May 2017.

“Then our daughter Lesley was married in Colorado the next month, and Rich had hip surgery in July,” recalled Jan.

With all that activity, it’s no wonder the Lowes found it necessary and convenient to enlist the help of professionals to refresh and update a few elements at their new abode.

“We contacted the Krafts [of Kitchens and Baths by Greta] because we wanted new countertops in the powder room and master bath,” said Jan.

“And we needed to modernize the kitchen a little.”

At 6-foot 3-inches, Rich instantly discovered the mirrors in the condo’s two bathrooms were utterly useless to him, as they were installed beneath overhead light fixtures and positioned to accommodate a lower-height vanity.

“He had to duck his head to see in the mirror,” laughed Jan. “And with the lighting on top, we couldn’t move the mirror either.”

With the Krafts’ assistance, the Lowes selected a granite countertop that worked equally well in both bathrooms and the kitchen.

“We didn’t remove or change any walls,” said Scott Kraft, “but we put in new vanities, countertops, mirrors with lights on either side and installed a linen cabinet in the master bath for storage purposes.”

To keep costs down, the Lowes opted to retain the kitchen’s existing oak cabinetry, even though Jan says her normal preference is painted woodwork.

“But the oak looks great with the wood floor, and we added a three-inch crown molding at the top and a one-inch molding at the bottom to update the cupboards in the kitchen and laundry room,” Jan mentioned.

With a goal of making the kitchen in the turn-of-the-century condo look more contemporary and be as functional as possible for the couple, the Lowes applauded the Krafts’ idea of installing an expanded countertop with enough seating space for five bar stools.

An updated backsplash of custom-cut slate that incorporated an accent strip with stone and copper tones was also part of the project.

“We extended the countertop to provide an improved workspace and more seating,” said Scott Kraft.

“One of the matching stools is backless so it can be pushed under the counter as I work on that side preparing food,” noted Jan.

The Lowes love the natural tones of gray, black, brown and copper that are a part of their countertops and backsplash.

“It’s very pretty, and we went with a cream-colored cabinetry in the bathrooms,” said Jan.

The color scheme also works well with the stainless, fingerprint-resistant kitchen appliances.

Jan introduced a similarly toned, custom-made rug from In-Weave of Hawarden, Iowa, to the kitchen space.

“It picks up the colors of the granite and slate while protecting the floor in my workspace,” said Jan. “It’s washable, reversible and perfect.”

As retirees who relish traveling, the Lowes are enjoying the lower maintenance afforded by condo living while appreciating having enough space available to store and exhibit some of their treasures.

“We sorted through a lot of belongings as we moved, and we tried to simplify things a bit, but we are still very comfortable having our Asian pieces, travel souvenirs, things found in nature and ethnic treasures that we’ve brought home from our travels to decorate,” said Jan.

“The top of our kitchen cupboards hold vintage birdcages, a branch with a bird’s nest and now-petrified eggs and dried blackberry lilies from my former beloved garden; you’ll find bowls of shells, fossils and rocks at my house.”

The Lowes also display several wood block prints in their kitchen area that were created by artist Clif Karhu, a Worthington native who relocated later in his life to Japan.

Still, with two grown daughters and their spouses, two young granddaughters, some health concerns and an ambitious travel schedule, the Lowes were exceedingly grateful for the expert assistance they received from the Krafts.

“Rich and I appreciated the direction Greta and Scott gave us after they heard what we envisioned for the remodel,” said Jan. “They took us shopping for materials [like tile, backsplash, countertop, flooring and hardware] which was so valuable in moving our project along,” said Jan.

“They know what works and what to look for, so that was wonderful — because otherwise, I’d be in that first tile shop, still looking,” Jan continued.

“They guided us when we needed it, but they were willing to follow our wishes, too.”

The project wrapped up last spring, so the Lowes have been able to concentrate on other aspects of their lives.

Although Jan in particular misses the garden she cultivated at their Smith Avenue residence, other elements of their new residence make up for its loss.

“We have a wonderful lake view — it’s an unbeatable location with stunning sunsets — and even though that wasn’t part of our initial consideration, it’s a joy to open our blinds every morning and see the lake,” said Jan.

“We love our new home and have been very happy here.”

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