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Posted by on Nov 8, 2011 | 2 comments

A Small House with a Big Heart and a Handy Owner

A Small House with a Big Heart and a Handy Owner

We met the owner of our next house tour while out and about at First Thursday on the Avenue back in September. What we didn’t know at the time was that she is a big time DIY’er and not afraid to tackle a woodworking, electrical, gardening, culinary, or craft project.

Walking in the front door, you see the first of many projects — this custom-built radiator cover. She built this herself with scrap wood. No directions were needed, she just looked at other covers as a model and “winged it.” It turned out great and doubles as a shelf for family photos. Kind of makes me wish I had clunky old radiators in my house!


The rowhouse (one of a set of five) was built in the 1930s and the entire set was gutted and rehabed in 2004 with refinished hardwood floors, neutral paint, and updated fixtures.

The kitchen was completely updated during the renovation, treated with granite counter tops, travertine floors, and cabinets that make use of every inch in the room.

We love this pass-thru window to the dining room. You get the privacy you want in the kitchen but you can still talk to your guests on the other side. Order up!


Instead of recessing the electrical box into the wall, when the house was rehabbed, the contractor built a ledge around the box. The result: the perfect spot for little containers and the salt and pepper shakers. Who doesn’t love a little ledge?


Storage is an unending battle in small spaces. In this house every nook and cranny is used, including this shelf to the left of the refrigerator.


And, this triangle-shaped corner cabinet for small appliances.


Another useful feature — these pull-out drawers make it easy to reach large pots and pots.


Through the kitchen, you’ll find a bright and sunny screened-in porch. Oh how I would love to sit here and drink my morning coffee watching the sun rise and my kids play.


The view of the garden below is spectacular, especially with the autumnal hues on the trees.


The ceiling fan keeps it cool on hot summer days.


The deck itself is made from Trex (very safe for the little ones) and there are screens attached to the under side to keep pesky bugs from crawling through the cracks.



Under the deck, you’ll find a handy work table just waiting for the next project.


With the help of a landscape designer, the owner created a perfect outdoor sanctuary — in fact it’s also a certified wildlife habitat — with curved pathways, a mix of evergreens and perennials, and lawn decorations from San Francisco and the Pacific Northwest.




The backyard also features an eco-friendly rain barrel. The owner learned how to make this herself at a course she took with her son-in-law. The barrel is an upcycled pickle container.


I’m so in awe of the owner’s organizing work. Right inside the basement door she attached tags for each plant in the garden on the wall — genius! I usually throw those out by mistake or lose them, but here each plant’s name and instructions for care are readily available.


On the opposite wall, what every DIY’er needs: a neatly organized shelf for tools and hardware.


The utility room continues back quite a ways, with every square inch carefully designed for storage. There’s a spare freezer where the owner keeps meals already prepared for when family arrives. You’ll even find canning supplies the owner uses to enjoy summer’s tomatoes and peaches during the cold winter months.

From the outside, you might think this house has a standard square shape, but there are well-crafted nooks and turns throughout including this nook at the top of the stairs which seems like it was designed just for a bookcase like this.


The windows in the master bedroom also have their own thoughtfully designed nooks, with treatments made by the owner.


In the bathroom, the tile is new but has a vintage and timeless quality. It’s crisp and clean and bounces off light from the full-sized window.


This charming rowhouse, just steps from the Avenue, has also seen its share of natural disasters. The plum tree (pictured below: far-right corner) fought a mean battle with Hurricane Irene this past summer. Uprooted but not lost, we’re crossing our fingers this mighty tree will continue to thrive.


The travertine tile in the kitchen took a hit during the recent earthquake — this crack spans several tiles.


A tough little house with a big heart and a handy owner — we’re so glad we could take this tour. Can’t wait to find out what the next DIY project will be.

Posted by Katie
Photos by Leslie


  1. I just adore the radiator cover! I have huge window heat/ac units with really blah wooden covers, and I’d love to build something more like this at least for in the living room. I’ll have to remember this and try to “wing it” myself!

  2. I love the bathroom floor!! Would you be able to tell me brand and color of the grout used on the floor and walls? Thank you!

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