Abstract Builders LLC helped Ken and Sue Leininger of Sand Creek live a beautiful life in their family farmhouse. The simple structure has been in the Leininger family for almost 100 years. Ken and Sue love their historical home, but wanted to refresh the kitchen with modern touches that celebrate the past. After working with Teena and Robert Hill in 2015 to renovate their living room, Abstract Builders was their choice when they were ready to redo the kitchen. "Our old kitchen was gutted from rafter peak to dirt floor," said Ken. "Teena is the design guru behind all this. She spends hours researching appliances, furniture, lighting, color, trim – everything that goes into the 'look.' My guiding input to Teena was simply, 'Do not let this new modern space forget it's rural DNA.'"
Ken's grandfather bought the property in 1922. The farm passed to Ken's father in 1948 and he farmed the land until 1981. Ken left for college and became an engineer for General Motors. Although he didn't want to farm the land on Ridgeville Road, he felt the fields whisper to him. "I never shook the chemistry of country life," Ken said. "This was home." Sue grew up on a family farm nearby, so when Ken wanted to move back to Sand Creek from Utica in 1981 to raise their family, she was on board. Ken's 90-minute work commute for more than 20 years was a challenge, but it was worth coming home every night to the farm and made retirement an easy decision.
In 2015, Abstract Builders renovated the living room of the farmhouse, eliminating a small attic to raise the ceiling. Wood beams taken from the outbuildings became a focal point, along with the addition of a beautiful stone fireplace. "It took somebody like Teena to help us see what was possible," said Sue.
In December of 2018, Rob Hill and son-in-law Robert came into the kitchen and started work. "I tell my friends that the boys build what Teena dreams," Ken said. "The construction area was separated from our living area by a heavy sheet of translucent plastic taped to the doorway. Day after day we happily tolerated the construction music of power saws, hammer drills, roto-zip and country western music from Q95. I joke that it's like living in a townhouse with very thin walls and noisy neighbors. But these neighbors are friends! This was an altogether very agreeable experience."
During the cold and snowy winter, the Leiningers kept warm in their living room and were nourished by Teena's homemade cooking. From chicken soup to turkey chili to stuffed pork chops, Ken and Sue enjoyed many delicious meals with Rob and Robert. "We just love Teena," said Sue.
The renovation lasted about 14 weeks – exactly what was planned out before the work began. Teena addressed all of the main concerns Ken and Sue had with their original kitchen design. Ken now has a large window over the kitchen sink to enjoy evening sunsets while sitting at the island. "My largest pet peeve was traffic flow," he said. "It's much more open now. For the first time ever, there's a flat floor. They took it down all the way to the dirt and reconstructed it square and true."
History accents the modern look of the kitchen – a reminder of farm life from 100 years earlier. Wood from the outbuildings brings warmth, and the newly-created bedroom, beloved by the Leiningers' grandchildren, gains privacy with a barn door that still bears the mark of a cattle horn. Teena helped Ken recognize the beauty of what he saw as just "old."
Now enjoying modern conveniences and beautiful views of the farm, Ken and Sue are thrilled with their renovated farmhouse. "I like that it's functional," said Sue. "It's helped me get organized." "We've got a clean start," Ken said.
For more information on how to transform history or create a new beginning, visit Abstract Builders, LLC on Facebook or call Teena and Rob at 517-403-6456. Serving Lenawee, Jackson, Washtenaw and Beyond