Renovating a Montgomery County Dream Home
A client, for whom we’d done a previous renovation, had an eye out for their dream home for quite some time. When they found it, it fit their checklist perfectly. It was an early-1950’s, colonial-style house that shared its rear property line with a park. It had all the desired features and was well located for easy commutes to their jobs and favorite places of leisure.
Once they’d moved in, they took the time to get to know the place before they started planning any renovations. This was a fruitful step in the process, as it allowed them to sort out not only what they wanted to change but also what needed to be repaired.
Urgent Items First
We started with the bathrooms, making sure we had a good foundation without any leaks. This is key with older homes where a small leak can cause an enormous amount of damage in a short period of time. We are one of the only certified installers of KBRS leak proof shower pans in the Maryland/D.C. region, and installed these in the bathrooms. The client also reported issues with doors not closing correctly upstairs. We discovered a large crack in a foundational block wall that was most likely the cause of the door-frame misalignments. Later in the project, we were able to repair that crack while gutting the kitchen.
After shoring up the urgent items, we made some preliminary drawings showing how we could extend the dining room into the kitchen and add an island. Central to their renovation was the client’s desire to open up the kitchen, which they felt was too cramped, and needed an eat-in space. They had also noticed some leaking in that area, so this was a good place to make some changes.
The Kitchen And Surrounding Areas
A screened-in porch was renovated and adapted into their formal dining room. We pulled up the wood floor in the old dining room and repurposed it in the new one; a budget-friendly reuse of materials. We also opened the kitchen to the family room to provide more space and turned the back side of the kitchen into a mudroom. Previously, people entering the kitchen from the outside door would track too much dirt into the cooking space. The new mudroom abated that problem and also provided cubby spaces where the kids could unload their belongings or deposit dirty shoes.
For the kitchen cabinets, we installed a combination of semi-custom and stock cabinetry and modified them to the client’s specifications. We installed marble Cambria countertops and accented this with a subway tile backsplash, as well as recessed and undercounter lighting. The result was a very tailored look.
Making It Cozy
We soon discovered that the outdated boiler wasn’t performing well. The clients were running the heater non-stop and the house still felt drafty and cold. When we replaced the boiler, we had to pull up the floors and even out the joists for a flat foundation for tile. So, we turned that into an opportunity to install hydronic floor heating. Powered by the new boiler and water heater, the hydronic heating brought heat to areas that were previously cold, and with the addition of spray foam in the attic and improved ventilation, we took the home from chilly and uncomfortable to cozy and efficient.
For the bathrooms, we executed some custom design work. Medicine cabinets were built into the walls and then new trim was matched to the original trim to make it all look seamless. The client chose modern colors and fixtures and tasked us with blending them in while retaining the original character and style of the home. For example, in one bathroom, we kept the existing radiator and simply sunk it into the wall, keeping the style but gaining more usable space. We also added a window at one end of a very long, narrow shower, to bring in natural light. Technical details, such as moving toilets for better room layouts, increased convenience but preserved the colonial feel of the home. The use of slender lengths of tile, running the length of the bathroom, made it feel roomier.
To round out the renovation, we ended the project with some renovation work on another bathroom and a laundry room. All in all, the homeowners got a fresh start in their “new old” home and could sleep soundly knowing all the hidden problems had been addressed.