I just measured a new project this week, one that I can’t wait to get started on: a giant, lovely house on Cleveland Street that has been a boarding house for who knows how long. It’s remarkable in many ways, including its age, size, and siting. But what really has me all wound up is the original architectural detail that has survived with so little damage all these years. The folks who were living here were not taking particularly good care of themselves or their things, and yet they did not hurt the tile, the mantles, the crazy staircase… you get the feeling that the house did its best to take care of them, and they the house.
The new owners have been clearing out garbage and doing some light demolition since I was last there, and have reported some pocket doors still tucked into walls and crazy hidden closets – so I’m sure there will be other discoveries. But until then:
the future office of 4/1 Design – popping in a sign was the least I could do.
4/1 Design & the whole family have just relocated across town to Old North, after at least a year and a half of searching for the perfect spot. One of the major needs was a proper office space, and with a little tweaking (read: moving a door or two), we will soon have just that. Along with the door will come a great meeting space for clients, good storage, and some physical separation between business and family that is crucial for really working at home.
At the moment, however, there’s mass chaos going on, including installation of a full HVAC system. It replaces the multiple forms of heating that remain from when the house was a duplex, and will bring in air conditioning for the first time. After that, the office door will happen, then a few more projects over the course of the year to make the house really ours (paint! light fixtures! getting rid of that horrible ceiling fan!).
Going through this process for myself is of course made easier by my familiarity with the world of renovation, but just like any of my clients there is a point where I have to trust that I’ve hired the right people, given the right direction, and that all of the dust and disruption is worth the effort. It is, surely, but for the next few weeks I will need regular reminders of that fact. Part of the way I’m doing that is to snap photos of parts of the house that I already love, like the morning light coming in our bedroom window, which can serve as inspiration for what’s ahead. Because it’s going to be wonderful.
I love before and after photos – I don’t know anyone who doesn’t, come to think of it – so here are a few from two recent projects that are almost ready for their final photos. As is, I ran through and took pictures to complete the tax credit applications for each house this week, and can’t help but share. In both cases, I am struck most by the light inside – let the sun shine in:
This simple bungalow in Trinity Park was hiding – behind big bushes and a shy paint color.
The bushes have stayed, but that blue isn’t hiding anymore!
An enthusiastic do-it-yourselfer had built in a loft over the kitchen, which felt dark and dated. and short, given the 7′ head height.
Believe it or not, this is taken from nearly the same spot as the last photo. The back door, on the left, did not move.
Meanwhile, over in Duke Park, this extraordinary house built in 1926 had been home to the same family since its construction. When the last passed away last year, a new family took it on – and has updated it delicately, leaving all of the grandeur and removing… well, the dust and carpeting!
The stair hall – certainly grand before, if a bit dingy.
And after – the crystal chandeliers, woodwork, floor, moldings were all there and just needed to be spiffed up.
The tiny kitchen, clearly not often used, was built for an era when only the help would bother with an oven.
Now it opens up at the other end to a new breakfast nook, made from the enclosed rear porch, complete with a banquet. The light is really amazing…
I cannot wait to have each of these spaces photographed properly and add them to the portfolio. Each home has so much personality, and our work has brought them up to date in a big way without removing the historic details that charmed each family in the first place. Victory!