Mary loves home improvement projects. In her last home, she and her husband Chris renovated the kitchen, updated a bathroom, installed a new bathroom, built a floating deck, added custom built-in cabinetry to a basement home office, tore down walls to open up a closet, and made cosmetic enhancements throughout.
After 5 years, they have declared their duplex officially done. Along with their two kids, two dogs, and a cat, they have sold their house and are ready to embark on the next big project — updating and renovating a classic Del Ray fixer-upper.
But it’s not so easy. The circa 1930s house they bought needs a lot of work and they have one week from when they settle on the new house before they have to be out of their old house.
The move-in to-do list is long: there’s no air conditioning, the only bathroom has a rotten floor beyond repair, and the kitchen is worn out and dingy. You can only access a second floor bedroom through an unfinished attic space, all the walls need repair and paint, the roof leaks, there are some wildlife issues in the backyard, and there is significant structural problems due to termite damage. Nothing they can’t fix in a week, right?
Mary is an architect and project manager at Harry Braswell, a local general contracting company. She has designed all the updates to the house and will oversee the construction.
From the outside, this house is as cute as can be. They will enjoy many good times just hanging out on the front porch watching neighbors head to the local restaurants and shops along the Avenue just a block away.
The crew is already making the porch experience even more enjoyable by installing outdoor ceiling fans and a swing.
But if you look closely, you’ll see there are urgent structural issues – these damaged columns support the second level.
Chris shows me how the termite-ravaged wood literally flakes off in your hand.
But on a happier note, look at that front door. What a charmer!
The glass panel detail is replicated on the interior windows too.
Let’s also ooh and aah over the fireplace — winter is starting to look much cozier now.
Both sides of the fireplace boast built-in bookcases. Give it a few more days and those shelves will hold books and family treasures, not drills, levels, and random construction equipment.
And don’t mind that pile of duct work. It’s just for the new air conditioning. If next summer is as brutal as this year’s, they will be thankful for that costly yet cool upgrade.
An archway leads into the dining room. The floors, blanketed by plaster dust, are in pretty good condition. They’ll just need a buff and a cleaning after all is done.
The kitchen. It’s dated and we’re not sure if the appliances work. Only quick cosmetic fixes are planned for now as they eventually plan to pop out the back of the house and add a new kitchen and family room.
I do have a weird fascination with this ceiling fan bulb cover. Maybe Mary will let me do something with it when they eventually renovate.
The kitchen leads out to a small deck, which so far seems stable. Chris has already moved over an outdoor table and chairs, a quiet place to make a few calls and emails to the long list of vendors and contractors they are juggling this hectic and frazzled week.
The deck overlooks an overgrown, yet large, backyard. It’s probably about twice as deep as this photo shows. Lots of room for kids to work off some excess energy and perhaps hone their landscaping skills.
Just watch your step going down those stairs.
Also on the main floor, there are two spacious bedrooms and the only bathroom in the house. The gutted bathroom was being renovated when I visited so I did not get a photo.
In one of the bedrooms, they are storing two vintage chairs they purchased at an estate sale held by the previous owner. The rocker and mid-century lounger hiding behind it will be fabulous given new seats and a polish of the hardwood. I’m looking forward to seeing how Mary transforms them.
The small bedroom on the second floor will be used as the master bedroom, but it is accessible only though an unfinished area. To fix that and also to create more usable square footage, they are installing drywall, carpeting, and built-in storage units along the perimeter. I imagine quite a nice nook for reading, playing games, or lounging around.
The ceiling is tall enough for an adult to stand, but be careful along the slopes.
Will they get critical updates finished in time for move-in day (three days from when these pictures were taken)? There’s a lot to do in such little time, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Chris and Mary. They’ve got the energy, the expertise, and the desire to turn this worn out house into a warm and welcoming home for their family to enjoy for many years to come. Follow along as we track their progress in this Del Ray dream house.