I am a veteran Certified Kitchen Designer, Certified Aging in Place Specialist and Graduate Interior Designer with 35 years experience. With the education and experience in the field my hobby is enjoying architecture and studying old homes. I hate to see what is being done to many beautiful structures and want to help preserve them. Many of my clients think that the only way to go is "building new". My goals have always been to help them learn and understand the value of preserving and enjoying our past.
My husband and I are avid camping people. In our travels we have been able to study and enjoy architecture all across North America.
Tell us about your old-house experiences and dreams:
We bought a 1925 bungalow 11 years ago. We had been looking for a bungalow of some type. Most had been "reworked" and in my estimation "trashed." We were shown this little jewel. We walked in the Front door and said that we would take it. The realitor just about fainted. He had yet put the for sale sign in the Front Yard. The owner was a widow who had lived in the home since the early 1950's. There were goofy things done inside and out but,........ the bones were there and intact. It had been lovelingly taken care of so we knew we wanted this house.
In the 11 years since we have owned it. we have competely stripped ALL of the woodwork (6 layers of paint) and either stained and finished to the original or painted in some cases. Even the door knobs, hinges and locks were painted. Now all are breathing again.
We took up all of the carpeting and discovered the original wood floors. We refinished them.
We completely redid the kitchen. The orgininal cabinets were still in the basement. We used that as the style and idea for the new one. Yes, our new kitchen has the technology of the 21st. century but it has the look of 1925. We we first finished the kitchen folks came in thought I had only added one new cabinet ( I make my version of a Hoosier cupboard). At first I was depressed then realized that we had done such a good job at making it look old that we fooled everyone.
Since then we have redone the diningroom, liviningroom, hall, bedroom/office. People are blown away at how it looks.
We totally gutted the outside several years ago and we selected products that we could afford but, that would give us the look of what we envisioned the orginal would have looked like. We took off 3 layers of siding in the process. Much to our supprise we had selected for the new siding the "exact" color of the originial. I designed and drew out the columns that I wanted for the front porch and had to fight the contractor to get them. "He knew best and was going to do it his way." I finally said, " You will do what I want or you won't be doing it." We have had so many people litterly stopping and thanking us for making the house look like it should. We even have had peole walk up with paint swatches trying to match our colors for their home.
The front porch is not done yet as we again would not let anyone put up a bannister that was not architecturally appropiate.. Hopefully this years project.
Our home was nominated for a city wide home tour last year. We were the smallest house and many people who came through the home said that we had the best house in the tour. To us that said a lot. Oh, all the money raised for the tour was given to a shelter for abused women and children.
Hi Gail - after we strip all the paint, we find that the old varnish has kept the old stain in good shape. I usually give it a quick coat of red mahogany stain (the original color, best we can tell), then tung oil. Before the tung oil, I fill any little holes with the oil-based, pre-colored putty. Seems to work well.
Do you have fir trim as well? What have you used?
Some people say to use wax; we have used lemon oil to freshen it up. It's not a finish, but it soaks into the wood and moisturizes it and brightens it up. You can always tung oil again, though - I think that's my favorite thing about it.
We also re-did our kitchen in a vintage style - folks visiting always think it was original. It feels really right for the house. We get loads of comments about the open shelving - people love it. We did all the design & work ourselves - what a job! Fun though. I'm glad you're doing that kind of work; I think a lot of people think they want everything new, but when they experience something authentic, they really respond to it.
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