Above picture is from 1938.

P and I have taken on a project that many have labeled as crazy. This c. 1920's Spanish Revival was a foreclosure that had been vacant for about 2 years. This blog is my attempt to document our renovations of what was once a grand old house. Maybe someday it will be again. Someday.

31 January 2011

Wall repair

During our renovations, we found some old termite damage.  While repairing this damage, we were able to open up the existing 24" door opening to a 32" door opening.  This should add some light and easier access from the hall to the kitchen.

new wall after repair

new wall in progress

view from hallway into kitchen with newly expanded doorway

30 January 2011

Hall ceiling removal

Due to water damage from years of roof leaks, the ceiling plaster in the downstairs hallway and stairwell needed to be removed.  This allowed us to check for damage to the upstairs floor joists and evaluate the plumbing situation in the master bath from underneath.  The removal process was dusty and exhausting, but we're hopeful that this is the last of the plaster removal.  We'll now be able to more easily update the master bath plumbing and more easily gain access to the wiring for the upstairs.

View of hallway from outside

plaster removal

floor joists

a dusty job

cutting out the wire lath holding plaster

N.H. in her personal protective equipment

21 January 2011

New Windows

There are 25 windows in the house.  They are 85 year old steel, casement windows that, while cool with their wavy glass and historic appeal, are inefficient and drafty and are difficult to open.  We knew when we bought that new windows would be a necessity.  In round one of new windows, we replaced seven of the 25.  We replaced all the front windows and the windows in the kitchen.  We now have to save up for round two and three (and possibly four...).  The new windows are great.  We decided to go back with casement windows in order to stay with the character of the house.  They cost a bit more, but we both think they will be worth it in the long run.  We also splurged and got the double pane, low-e glass to hopefully help with the utility bills.  Perhaps the best feature of the new windows is how much quieter the house is.  The interstate is just a low rumble.
upper windows removed
 front windows removed
upper window
Amityville Horror
kitchen windows removed
new kitchen windows
new front windows

16 January 2011

Master Bathroom demolition

Intern BL removing closet hardware
Friday we started demolition of the master bathroom and adjacent closet.  We are tearing out the wall between the existing master bath and the closet for the adjacent bedroom in order to make the master bath almost twice as big as it currently is.  We will loose a little bit of space the the adjoining bedroom/office, but I think we're doing alright with space.  Our goal is to also move the washer/dryer into the master bath and out of the basement.  P says she doesn't want to do laundry with the ghosts.  I say we train the ghosts to do the laundry.  We'll see.

Master bathtub/tile

Master bath sink vanity

Removal of wall between closet and bath

12 January 2011

I hate plaster.

Maybe not as much as birds, but I do hate it.  What's even worse is plaster under a leaking roof.  And we have both.  No problem, we'll just tear it out.  Did I mention that plaster is like brittle, dusty concrete?  So far we've removed the plaster from most of the kitchen (walls/ceiling), the master bedroom ceiling and the upstairs ceiling in the hallway/stairwell.  The benefits of this upstairs is we get to add recessed lights and insulation.  The benefits downstairs is a new kitchen.

10 January 2011


The house appears to have always had central heat.  One giant system lived in the basement and heated the whole house.  In the 60's, central air conditioning was added and the system was split (one for the first floor and a new separate system in the attic for the second floor).  The system in the basement has been replaced since then but the attic system is c. 1968.

 Due some termite damage (another post) we removed floors on the main level.  Since we had the floors out, we decided to relocate the registers in the living room, dining room and kitchen.  It involved jack hammering out the concrete slab under the old wood floors and digging two feet deep trenches across three rooms.  It was a lot of work, but it should make the house much more comfortable by minimizing cold/hot spots caused by poorly placed registers.  
trench filled in with new duct work
large pile of dirt from trench excavation

open trench in living room   
trench with new ductwork

08 January 2011

The Kitchen

P's vision for the kitchen doesn't include anything seen here.  Especially the tile.  So the demolition of the kitchen begins.  P is removing tile from the walls.  There was even tile behind the cabinets.  We've picked out cabinets and have a dream of marble counter tops.  We hope to make that happen.

The Before

We bought this huge, old 6-bedroom, 3-bath Spanish Revival as a labor of love.  Here is what we fell in love with.  Well some things we love.  Some have their day's numbered...
Solid concrete mantle

master bedroom with fireplace and master bath
front door
living room with exposed beam ceiling
Ruins of old servant quarters