So I thought it might be fun to display some of the before and after pictures of our home. Looking back I’m really not sure how we fell in love with this old house but I vividly remember within a couple of minutes of being inside looking at each other and saying, “I love it, let’s find a way to make this work”.
She sure wasn’t much to look at, this 1927 English Tudor had once been converted into a duplex and then some efforts were made to turn it back into a single family residence.
Unfortunately these pictures of the front of the house don’t show how over-grown the landscaping was around it but try to envision this little ragged looking house sitting up on a small hill, basically hidden behind vegetation. This was one of those houses that you drive by everyday and never notice it, or at least I never did.
We cleared out the brush, added a portico and made a few aesthetic changes. We wanted to try to keep the original look of the house but also enhance its character and make it stand out a little.
Now the backyard was horrendous. While we hoped it would give us a secure and flat area for the boys to play, we literally couldn’t walk through it due to all of the overgrowth and briers. Our neighbors told us it had been at least 8 years since anyone had paid even minimal attention to it.
We knew the back of the house would need to be removed so having enough area in the backyard to expand the footprint and not eat into the boys’ play area was extremely important.
We ended up expanding the back of the house by approximately 24′ and then adding a deck with parking underneath (rare to have covered parking in our area) which ate up another 26′. Fortunately there was still room for the boys to have a nice grassy play area in the back for soccer, football or whatever – I’ll add pics of the play area in the future.
Now back to when we first viewed the house. No offence to anyone but think “Hoarders”, maybe even Hoarders on Steroids. Seriously, it was difficult to even walk through the house due to all of the boxes, piles of clothes and I’m not even sure what else. It literally smelled like cat urine although that shouldn’t come as a surprise since everywhere we looked we would see a cat or a kitten. I guess if there was a silver-lining resulting from our whole nightmare of a renovation it’s that we were forced to tear out all of the plaster walls as well as the HVAC duct work, being that the house was basically exposed to the elements for months – nothing like a little fresh air to get rid of that smell.
When entering the house one of the first things we noticed were the two fireplaces.
The owners at that time were using one of the front rooms for a den and the other for “storage”. It’s hard to tell but both were decent sized rooms which actually presented somewhat of a dilemma as to how best to use them.
Originally we planned to cover up the fireplace in the first room to give us a coat closet as well as to reduce its size since we were going to use it as the foyer; however it just never felt right so we ended up embracing its size as well as the fireplace along with raising the ceiling.
While keeping both fireplaces, we made the adjacent room our dining room.
The original kitchen threw us a few creative curve balls. Keep in mind that the house was once a duplex, however even after the demising wall was removed by one of the prior owners it remained somewhat of an overly large and nonfunctional kitchen.
The kitchen(s) did have the benefit of receiving a lot of natural light which we wanted, however because of the way we wanted to layout the rest of the house and the limitations created by the original structure, we ended up keeping the kitchen in this general area and saying goodbye to having a kitchen window.
Instead we strove to make this area the heart of the house which to us also made sense being that it would basically be in the center of it. Everybody always ends up in the kitchen anyway, plus with 2 growing young boys this will probably soon become their favorite room. While we put seating on one side of the island we also created a little informal dining area which in the future can also be utilized for homework assignments.
One of our original “wants” was to have a great room which opened up to a deck area. Since this couldn’t be achieved within the original structure we had to make this part of the addition. At the same time we also opened up the passage between the kitchen and the great room to create a more open feel and to increase the flow.
When we first viewed the newly framed deck it looked huge, actually ridiculous. We wanted the ability to park 2 cars under it as well as to have an enclosed room to keep lawn tools, bikes, scooters, etc… but I never envisioned how it would look 10 feet in the air. Sticking off the back of the house, it sort of looked as if our house was sticking its tongue out. However J had an idea which ended up creating my favorite room in the whole house and took care of this nuisance. As you may know from previous posts, a couple of days after we first saw this house J’s father was tragically killed. We never got to share with him our initial excitement with finding it or any of the heartaches & breaks along the way. There were numerous times when we missed not being able to lean on him for advice or even to celebrate the few & sporadic victories. He was a big part of our lives and J & him had an unbelievably close relationship. Like us, he loved being outside however J wanted a room that would remind her and us of him that could be utilized almost year-round, something that was warm & inviting which incorporated the outdoors.
So there it is, a house that throughout its renovation tried us on every possible level. However as I look back at the pictures and reflect on all of the changes made as well as the finished product what I’m most proud of is the lesson we learned. We had a dream, a vision, and despite all of the many obstacles and challenges tossed our way we continued to focus on bringing it to fruition. There were so many days and weeks when I questioned my intentions and sanity, when I truly didn’t think there was a way to make this all come together but it did. It took everything we had and more, but we found a way. I look forward to the day when I share this story with our boys, hoping to inject some sort of motivation inspiration but knowing in the back of my mind that it will probably be met with an eye roll or a dazed stare.