Couple turn ‘chopped-up’ rental property into personal residence with big open spaces | News, Sports, Jobs


photo by: Mike Yoder

Conrad Altenbernd and Judy Green purchased the 1872 house at 1701 Vermont St. in 2001, then spent two years gutting and remodeling before moving in.

When Conrad Altenbernd and Judy Green purchased the house at 1701 Vermont St. they intended to use it as a rental property. The previous owners had used it as an apartment complex for 40 to 50 years, and Altenbernd and Green planned to do the same.

“When we bought it, it was a rental property and there were lots of rooms, closet space and bathrooms. It was really all chopped up,” Green says. “At some point we pivoted and decided to make it our personal residence.”

The couple bought the house in 2001 and gutted it — getting rid of rotted wood and old paneling, taking down walls and removing bathrooms. The renovation took two years. In 2003, they finally moved in, and they have lived there ever since.

The original brick chimney of the 1872 home at 1701 Vermont St. is exposed in the living room, which also features several antique furniture pieces passed down from Green’s family. The dining room is visible at right, beyond the brick chimney, and through the living room window at center the greenhouse is visible.

Now the house has one bedroom, one full bathroom, a half bathroom and large areas of open living space.

The fact that the house had been used for multiple apartments is not readily evident, as few vestiges from the building’s previous use remain. The downstairs includes an open living space, a half bath, a kitchen and a small screened-in greenhouse. The open living area is nestled at the entryway and includes ample seating and a few antiques. Adjacent to the entryway is the greenhouse, where plants are able to thrive in the colder seasons.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A small greenhouse is attached to a corner of the house at 1701 Vermont St.

“In the winter it’s nice to look through there and see everything,” Altenbernd says. “It’s real old on the outside of the house but really new on the inside. It’s real different in here. There’s no baseboards. There’s no trim. It’s all smooth finish.”

Near the staircase leading to the second story is an open area that the couple use to display sailfish mounts. ALtenbernd’s son caught one of the fish, and Green’s brother caught another.

“The fish were all in their basements, and I’d go visit them and say, ‘Man, where’s that big fish?’ I said, ‘Hey, you give me that fish and I’ll display it and tell everybody the story,’” Altenbernd says. “One (fish) was in the basement and their kids were coloring the side of the box with a crayon; I kind of rescued them.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

During a remodel of the 1872 home, after the couple bought it in 2001, they created a two-story open space, which now features fish caught by family members and antique bicycles. Photographs of the fishing trips and of the relatives who caught each fish accompany the pieces.

Altenbernd curated two red antique bikes that hang on the wall in the open space near the staircase.

“Conrad is the collector for sure, so having the space to display collections is nice,” Green says. “We had the opportunity to hang these big fish. My brother caught one, and there’s a picture of him catching the fish, so there’s family history, and Conrad had a place to display his bicycles. It’s nice. It kind of just opens up the space. This is kind of just the fun area.”

The wall near the fish is painted an ocean blue. And nearby is a half-room minus a door that is Green’s sewing room and the guest room when friends and family visit.

The upstairs also has an open-area living space. On that floor, the bedroom and the second living room sort of blend together, with no walls or doors to separate them.

photo by: Mike Yoder

The owners of 1701 Vermont St. say they spend most of their time on the second floor, which is one large open area with a bedroom and this TV room.

“If somebody really wanted to make it a formal bedroom, you certainly could, but we just don’t like doors,” Green says.

In the upstairs living room is a small bookshelf from Green’s childhood, with just a few books on display.

“We don’t have anything that’s very valuable; it’s all just sentimental stuff that my grandpa built, stuff like that,” Green says.”(Conrad) had a big collection before we met. I had a big collection before I met him, then we got married … and for a lot of years, we went to auctions; that’s where we bought our bedroom set is in an auction. So you collect for a while, then you don’t have room to collect, so you start to disperse.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

The northwest corner of the house at 1701 Vermont St. features a covered patio with a laser-cut aluminum piece in the shape of Kansas as the 34th state and highlighting Lawrence.

A lot of the couple’s collections are on display in the garage, which they also use for occasional hangout space.

“This is the real aesthetic in here,” Green says, laughing. “I think we’re good about grouping our collections. We have all our champagne stuff in one corner; we have oil paintings in one place.”

The couple have a back patio, complete with a TV, that they also use as living space.

The house was built in 1872 and has undergone extensive changes through its near 150-year existence. Of those changes, Altenbernd is most fond of the open area by the staircase.

“That’s my favorite part of the house,” he says. “I see my bikes and my Mickey’s girl — she’s been with me longer than Judy; not everybody has (a space) like that.”

photo by: Mike Yoder

The northwest corner of the house at 1701 Vermont St. features a covered patio with two laser-cut aluminum pieces in the shape of Kansas and highlighting Lawrence. In a second-floor window, upper left, is an old clock from Judy Green’s family.

photo by: Mike Yoder

Conrad Altenbernd acquired an old Cook’s Paints sign, which hangs above the staircase to the second floor at 1701 Vermont St.

photo by: Mike Yoder

The bright kitchen at 1701 Vermont St. has a large skylight above the sink and a half-wall opening to the dining room. While not a large kitchen, the space is efficient with a center island and access to numerous kitchen items.

photo by: Mike Yoder

A half-wall between the kitchen and the dining room creates a more spacious feel at 1701 Vermont St. The dining room is also open to the living room in the home’s open floor plan.





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