The New Old House

I just moved into my very own house, built in 1954. I searched a long time for a house with good bones that hadn’t been totally remodeled at some point and still had a bunch of the original features. This was pretty hard where I live because we’re in a tough sellers’ market with very little stock and high demand for move-in ready houses. I was competing with a lot of flippers (one place had 20 other offers, TWENTY) and lost out on a couple of amazing time-capsule houses that I know will sadly be gutted.

Eventually I won out and I finally found a diamond in the rough by going a little further out from the city than I originally intended; but whatever, it’ll be the next hot market in 5 years, right? The house was a rental for many years; it turned out to be a good thing because most landlords don’t care to invest in remodeling, they just paint over everything between tenants and layer new stuff on top of the old. At least that what I think happened in this house, a lot of the original, interesting features are there, they’re just buried under layers of paint. Who paints natural slate floors? Insanity. My dream is to restore it to its 1954 mid-century glory. Or maybe not glory, but at least modest retro coolness. I’ve got some work ahead of me!  I’ve included the pics of the initial conditions below (all the furniture in these pictures are the staged pieces from during the sale).01front

The post and beam style really got me. The attached garage was originally a car port, all the neighbors still have theirs. A thought crossed my mind of turning it back into a car port. Is that crazy? I live in the Pacific Northwest, the weather here is much milder than my native Wisconsin so I think the car would be fine and I’ve always loved the look of carports. I’ll probably leave it alone, though, if for no other reason than because my stuff has less chance of being stolen.


02living room

A painted over fireplace with painted over slate in front. And a mirror on top which of course has been painted over. What would possess people to paint a mirror? Removing all that paint from the brick and slate will be a beast of a job. Also, I wish that pink couch was mine.


04dining room and kitchen

Dining area with awesome little fireplace/brazier feature. To save on heat bills they spray-foamed the flue shut, but the caps are in place up top so I think the chimney is usable and in good condition. I may cut the foam out and get some of those spring caps on the chimney to stop the air flow. I’m not sure what they’re actually called. Above what I’m from now on calling the brazier is painted over wood paneling or bead board. Not sure if it’s original (probably not), but I’m also not sure what could have originally been there.


The original cabinets- painted over and with updated hardware. There’s something weird happening in the corner by the fridge. That’s where my water heater is and it looks like it used to be a tall skinny heater enclosed in the corner, fitting in with the line of the cabinets but later they replaced it with a short, fat one and they ripped out the old enclosure and built a new one out of plywood. Then tiled the lid on top to make a super awkward little sot for a microwave (or whatever). I think I’d rather have it the way it was and forget the microwave, but then again, I do love me some hot pockets and no one has time to bake those things in the oven. The backsplashes are the ubiquitous white subway tile seen everywhere, so on-trend right now but not true to the time period of the house. The appliances are all new, obv, but that’s a neat old Nutone fan in the ceiling and the light over the sink appears quite old. I hate the faux-stone laminate, I can’t wait to get a fun patterned laminate in blue or green! The kitchen works really well for now, though, and I’m envisioning quite a lot of work in stripping those cabinets and quite a lot of money swapping out fixtures, so the kitchen is probably a couple years out from getting touched. I’ll slowly collect the materials I’ll need as I see them become available on ebay or whatever. I may or may not have already purchased a milk-chocolate brown NOS porcelain sink with huddee ring that will sit in a closet for awhile.



08family room

This back sun room is puzzling. It seems like an addition because the doors between from the dining area are legit outside doors and the foundation changes at that point from having a crawlspace to being a slab foundation, but the overhead ceiling beams continue uninterrupted from the rest of the house (the joist between lengths is inside the fireplace brick enclosure which also houses my furnace) and some of the hardware seems old, like a built-in Nutone exhaust fan and a pebbled glass, metal framed window in the half bath. I’m guessing the addition was added sometime relatively close to the original build like the 1960s or maybe was even a mid-build add-on or customization? If the room is not original, then either the beams were swapped out for longer ones, or maybe the beams were always there but they were originally part of a covered outdoor atrium/sunroom/three-season porch sort of thing that was later fully enclosed. UNCLEAR.


09wet barHere you can see the wet bar. The pocket door on the left leads to a little half bath that has a small washer/dryer unit. It looks like the laundry room was originally bigger and they just cut through the wall to make a wet bar. Because everyone needs a wet bar, that little sink like 10 feet from the regular sink in the kitchen saves me soooo many steps when I need water while entertaining, because , you know, most guests want tap water and not soda or beer or a mixed drink. Just straight up tap water. If you step inside the wet bar area and look up, the ceiling goes up and there’s a high window and an exhaust fan, more evidence that there used to be a bigger bathroom back there. I’d love to get rid of the wet bar and turn the whole area into 3/4 bath and laundry room. The squared-off  bit in the right corner is built-in storage, some accessible from the inside, some from the outside of the house (pretty cool if you ask me!)



14bathroomThe bath was obviously redone, but it’s at least an inch step up into the bathroom from the hall so I’m really really hoping that under that beige crap fake stone tile floor is some lovely pastel tile waiting to come out. It’s probably just 60 years of layers of vinyl flooring, but I can dream, can’t I?
So there ya have it. I didn’t show the bedrooms because those are actually untouched. There are hardwood floors under the front living room carpet and what may or may not be really gross old linoleum or vinyl under the dining room carpet, but the rest is a mystery. I’m hoping to make friends with some of my older neighbors so they can tell me what it used to be like! Unfortunately before I can get into any of the cool stuff I need to take care of some other problems first, like RATS



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