Home Tour: Funky wood-sided house on Warner Street suits Molly Wellmann perfectly
'All I need are my shoes, booze, cats and a bar'
Brent Coleman | WCPO contributor
5:00 AM, Oct 21, 2016
7:30 PM, Feb 21, 2017
CINCINNATI -- The funky, late-1970s house at 431 Warner St. has a lot to hold: two big personalities, several dozen cocktail shakers, a wall of more than 200 pairs of shoes and two active kitty cats.
The boxy, wood-sided house is the home of bar and restaurant owner and Cincinnati queen of cocktails Molly Wellmann and her soon-to-be husband, free-spirited tattoo parlor owner and nationally-known artist, Tim "Bee" Gundrum -- not to mention their two furry pets, Charlie and Tuna.
The energy Molly and Bee bring to the house he bought eight years ago is a good match for its unusual design, one done as the senior project of a student at the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.
The couple admits their place isn't much to look at from the street, but it sports a sunny, simply laid out interior, as well as two skyline-view decks and a private backyard with a hot tub pavilion and a gate to Fairview Park.
The 3-bedroom, 2½-bathroom house has just 1,500 square feet of living space, but with its two-car garage and house-wide rear decks, it seems much larger.
"I've been in a lot of 2,000-square-foot houses and they seem a lot smaller than this," Bee said.
Because it feels so big and is so white on the inside, he dubbed it the Ice Palace. All he told Molly when she moved was "Don't melt the Ice Palace!"
Molly said there was no way that was going to happen because "all I need are my shoes, booze, cats and a bar."
And what a bar she has. What looks to be a 1920s, Mission-inspired hutch next to the living room fireplace is actually a two-piece bar. Its top cupboard hangs on the wall, and its sideboard rolls out to reveal a well-stocked liquor counter and sink -- and to make room for Molly.
The bar was a gift from some of the folks who staff the Wellmann Brand establishments: Japp's, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, Neons, Myrtle's, Bottle & Basket and Melt.
"I was just blown away," she said, recalling the moment she laid eyes on the bar. "This is so freaking cool. I love it so much. When I'm having parties, this is where I am. No one else gets behind here."
Cincinnati kids adventures
Like Bee, Molly Wellmann was born in Good Samaritan Hospital, graduated from a public high school (Colerain for her, Scarlet Oaks for him) and spent a number of years (12 for her, 9 for him) working in San Francisco. The couple, in fact, had mutual friends there and said they would have crossed paths had she not been working nights.
Bee, who owns four Beellistic's Tattoo parlors in Greater Cincinnati and is active in the international tattoo community, purchased the Warner Street house in 2008 after years of looking at "typical brick Cincinnati houses." He and Molly knew each other when they were in other relationships and came together in June 2013 during a time when she bartended at big parties he hosted for friends and fellow tattoo artists.
The first time Molly was in Bee's house for a party, she opened a kitchen cabinet and saw six Wellman Brand glasses she knew he had taken from her bars. Right then, she said, "I knew he had a crush on me." And she liked his funky house.
"I didn't expect it to be so modern and the view to be like this. I'm such an old-fashioned girl, but I was excited about it," she recalled.
Make room for her shoes
By September 2014, when Molly moved in, Bee had made numerous improvements to the place, such as upgrading the stairs with stainless-steel railings and new flooring (the leopard-print carpet leading downstairs was left over from one of his salons), replacing the rotten-wood back decks with weather-tolerant ones, laying wood-grained laminate flooring on a bias in the great room, redoing the interior of the garage, clearing the overgrown backyard and adding a covered hot tub.
Molly has worked with Bee to make a number of improvements to the house, most notably to the fireplace (a blend of stacked white quartz and black granite) and master bathroom (new shower with charcoal ceramic tile and vertical glass tile accent strips).
Then there's her "shoe closet," which actually is a lower-level guest bedroom with full bathroom.
"We have people here all the time, tattooers who come and stay with us from around the world," Molly said, none of whom, she said, has complained about the neatly organized shelves of shoes.
"There are a little over 200 (pairs), maybe 203, and I have another pair coming," she said turning to Bee. "And he's like, ‘Molly, you only have two feet!'"
If Molly's signature on the house is her wall of shoes, Bee's is the garage. Employing a black and red theme, he painted the floor with a non-slip compound and installed cabinets along two walls in the two-car man space.
His hot tub set-up is Bee's second signature. After clearing out 4-foot-tall weeds and trimming back the honeysuckle, Bee found a hidden landscape that included a patio and pathway that descends down to Fairview Park. The enclosed canopy he created was the perfect place for a hot tub, he thought.
The eight-person, lighted tub and skylighted pavilion he purchased at Watson's, however, couldn't be brought in through the house or its narrow sideyard, so he had to rent a big crane that reached above several high trees in order to lower the tub into the yard.
The job required the operators to set the crane on park property, which Bee said upset a parks official. He remembers shrugging and saying, "Then give me a ticket." But the officials didn't, and all was good.
When the temperature rose into the high 90s this past summer, Bee said, he and Molly beat the heat by dropping a few 50-pound bags of ice into the water after cooling it as much as possible. The Ice Palace got its ice tub.
New kitchen to come
The couple said they have several projects to go before the house is complete, the kitchen being the main one.
They have decided against having a big wedding and taking a honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands in February. They'll spend the money on a kitchen remodel instead. They plan to tear down the peninsula that separates the kitchen from the dining and living areas as well as a partial wall on top of which Molly displays most of her cocktail shaker collection. A closet in the adjoining room that Molly uses as her office will be closed off on one end and opened on the other to give more space to the kitchen.
Design-wise, they said they will carry over the fireplace surround's black granite with blue specks -- blue is Bee's favorite color, Molly said -- to their new countertops. They will install white cabinets to the ceiling, gray ceramic tile that matches the laminate in the living room and all-new appliances.
Molly said she is more than OK with having to box up and stow away her shaker collection. "It's time to purge," she said.