green living

Our House | Before + After

Three years ago, almost to the day, we made a bid for a century-old house on a corner in the Museum District.  Standing in the front yard, waiting for our turn to go inside the property facing foreclosure, I knew it was meant to be our home.  It took four months to close on what was called a “short sale.”  We took another six months to finalize architectural plans, sell our former home, and gather the finances to begin renovation and restoration.  John and his team spent about a year getting the inside to the point that we could leave the apartment we rented and officially live in the house we had affectionately named “Honor’s Corner.”  We spent an additional year completing the exterior of the home and other projects outside.

This summer has brought a real slow down around here.  We finally just live here.  The construction mess is gone and for the most part the house has settled into the block.  We still get an occasional knock on the siding as passersby, heading to Carytown, try to determine our siding material but for the most part we are just another house on the block.

We have tried to gather photos that best represent the transformation of our home.  Because we opened up the interior, it is impossible to get “Before & After” photos that line up perfectly but you can get the general idea.  Many thanks to Mallory for helping me get this culminating post together and thanks to you for following our journey.  It’s really been meaningful to share this transition with family and friends.



final shot




The wall between the front and center rooms was removed so the living room now opens directly into the kitchen.


We removed the fireplace and added French doors opening to the side porch.




We relocated the stairwell to the center of the house to make room for a foyer, shoe bench, powder room, and coat closet.stairs2






The kitchen and a full bath were at the rear of the house.DSC_0481

We added a row of windows in the kitchen, reconfigured the bath, and made a 1st floor master suite.DSC_0145




The former mud room retained its purpose but we added a laundry area with cabinetry. The hole leads to the cat box!DSC_0535


This is the center room at the top of the stairs.DSC_0722


The attic was opened up in the center of the house to highlight the interesting roof angles and flood the space with natural light.
A loft was added to provide space for additional family members and visitors to sleep.  It houses a full size bed!


better flex room



my room





Beforeep before

Afterep after2







IMG_1838 (1)


Photographs used throughout this blog post are courtesy of Mallory, Alferio Productions, and Adam Goldsmith Architectural Photography

The Calm after the Storm

Maybe now is the calm between the storms.  It’s been two weeks exactly since we held our open house and accepted a contract.  It’s been about a week since the home inspection was completed and no repairs were requested!  In exchange for minor corrections, we have been asked to leave the window treatments and a custom area rug.  I actually made about half of the curtains specifically for this home so it’s works out best to leave them anyway.

I am more relaxed now about our living situation which means everyone else can relax too!  Except for our 14 year old chocolate lab/mutt mix.  Throughout the two week process, poor old Luci was walked around the neighborhood and loaded in and out of the car more times than she is accustomed and now has pulled muscles in her back and pelvis.  She is on pain medicine and we are charged to carry her up and down the stairs when she needs to go out.  She doesn’t like this one bit and wiggles and squirms to get free from our strategic cradle hold.  I am the first one up in the morning so I get the 7AM shift.  Pretty soon I will be taking her pain meds!  Thankfully, Zach has been home this week for spring break and has cheerfully hoisted her in and out throughout the day and evening.

The pieces of the puzzle are beginning to fall into place though it’s difficult at times to know which piece fits first.  With the contract on our current home, we know how much cash we can offer to the project up front.  What we are not sure about is the amount of money the bank will loan us for the construction.  The architect has turned over the plans to the builder who is currently pricing the project.  The bank is waiting for the pricing to be done before they will send an appraiser to the house.  The appraiser than takes the plans and the budget and goes into the house to determine it’s estimated value at completion.  Until that is done we can’t do a thing to the structure, so no demolition.  They have said that they will finance 80% of that figure with us providing a 30% down payment.  We are trying to guess what the appraisal will be so that we can set a realistic budget and make decisions regarding design elements like doors, windows, cabinets, counter tops and flooring.  We want information from the bank to make our decisions and the bank needs information from us to make their decisions.  It’s an awkward dance.  It would be so much easier if money was not a factor.  Such is life.  It looks like the best decision is to wait until we have cash in hand from the sale of our current home to start construction.  Our buyers can’t close until May because their buyers can’t close until May and their buyers can’t close until May and so on down the buying-selling line.

Meanwhile we are finalizing a working contract with Hollyport Ventures, our LEED consultant firm, who will oversee the project.  Our point man, Richard, will file the necessary documents for the LEED process and keep us straight in regards to building materials, regulations and certifications.  Richard and I are two peas in a pod.  He and I get very energized about the project and greatly anticipate the first swing of the demolition sledge hammers.  Patrick on the other hand is cautiously jazzed and waiting for all the pieces and parts to slowly fall into place.  I have this image in my head of Richard and me standing on the edge of the pool as kids, waiting for adult swim to be over and the lifeguard (Patrick) to blow the whistle so we can dive in!  Meanwhile John and Michael are nearby, watching to be sure the pool doesn’t collapse from all of our splashing.  I would love to compare the Meyers-Briggs personality types of all the team members.  I bet Richard and I are the same and Michael and Patrick are the same.  Don’t get me wrong in my light-hearted characterization of Richard.  He is professional and meticulous and I love that his enthusiasm for living green infiltrates every conversation.  At the end of our meetings I am convinced that our team will transform Honor’s Corner into an amazing home for our family.  In any case, no one is jumping in before the whistle is blown and we still have a lot of details to work through before we can get going.

Three realities of the past week:

1.)  We will not be using my dining room table in the city.  We had considered storing it and having someone possibly modify it for us later.  Our buyers have asked to purchase the table and chairs with the house.  It thrills me to know that it will stay behind us and support another family through it’s highs and lows.

2.) It’s time to find us a temporary place to live.

3.) Patience truly is a virtue.

Michael and John at the house discussing price schedules.