About My House
The restoration of my home resulted in a career change and a quest to guide others in proper restoration.
My house, a late Queen Ann, was built in 1910 and by the time I found it, it was in bad shape after many years of neglect. Fortunately it still had all original features -- most importantly, the original windows and no plastic siding. On the interior, all woodwork was painted and floors were carpeted.
My restoration was also featured on HGTV's Restore America.
What I Did
I began with lots of research. It was important to do things right and find qualified people to learn from and do what work I could not do.
On the interior, I stripped all woodwork and mixed my own stain to give the wood an aged look but not hide all the grain.
Everyone has a period parlor, but the kitchen is usually most impressive. Kitchen cabinet doors were cut out and glass installed. A large period sink, nickel plated faucet, and wood counter was installed. I purchased a 1931 gas stove. I redid my new refrigerator to resemble an Ice Box.
On the exterior, the roof needed to be replaced but it was important to find someone to remake the Pole Gutters system, as this was a character defining feature.
Unfortunately I did not have the original rail on my wrap around porch. The current rail was to code and proportionally wrong (about 8" higher). The top of the rail should not be higher than the window sill. I hired a contractor to remake a new railing NOT to code but historically correct and install it secretly to avoid a permit. Only in a historic district is this permitted.
Soon after I began my restoration, I returned to school part time enrolling in Drew University's Historic Preservation Program. A position with the state and a title of Sr. Historic Preservation Specialist followed.
I also set up a website www.oldhouseguy.com to assist old home owners in their restoration and caution them from making mistakes that most people make to their home. There are more before and after photos there.
Tips and Tricks
- Just because someone has experience working on old homes does not mean that they are qualified. You will most likely need to train the people you hire.
- Only consult an architect that specializes in Historic Preservation or you will be sorry.
- Remember your house will live on longer than you will. Respect and preserve its history and original design for future owners. If it no longer fits your needs it is best to move on to a larger, etc. house.
- When stripping paint, you will never remove it all. Some will remain in grooves and dents. Touch it up with brown acrylic paint to match the wood.