Posted in Historic Homes, Real Estate

2004 Kitchen!!!

One of my favorite rooms to design is a kitchen.  It really is the heart of the home, particularly when you can achieve an open floor-plan.  The kitchen in 2004 is another of my dream kitchens.  We did need to raise the windows up just a bit to accommodate the counters.


The existing kitchen was closed off and we wanted it open and historic.  We were able to donate the cabinets and appliances.  It amazes even me that we were able to turn this space into the kitchen below.  We replaced the stove but it is located in roughly the same spot, between the two windows.

2004 kitchen after 2

2004 kitchen after

The custom vent hood, historic shelf brackets, and classic styling really lend themselves to this amazing kitchen with separate prep sink.  It’s hard to believe that’s a 36″ stove, the kitchen is massive, but creating a custom vent hood makes the scale fit into the room with the 12′ ceilings.

Posted in Historic Homes, Real Estate

2004 More before and After

It’s hard to believe this is even the same space.  What was previously an abandoned kitchen became a luxury master suite bathroom.

Before and After for the master bedroom… we added the fireplace with a custom built mantle.  We made the fireplace surround and hearth in slate out of old slate pieces that were found on-site.  Even though a raised fireplace like this wouldn’t have been the norm of the time, I felt that with this being a bedroom, I wanted the new owners to be able to enjoy the fire if they were in their bed.

Before and after for the front parlor… the after is completely unrecognizable from the before (thank goodness).

This is what became the dining room.  The previous owner had partially closed it off and was starting to add a bathroom between the rooms.  We opened it up into the dining area of the double parlor. We added a fireplace here as well.

What had been a closed off room and the kitchen was opened up and became a great room.   The wall that is showing in the before pic was removed and another window was added to create a bank of windows into the yard.

2004 great room after 2

Here is a better view of the great room where you can see all the way to the front of the house.



Posted in Historic Homes, Uncategorized

2004 Before and After

We were faced with a challenge when it came to the stairs.  They were beautifully built, but over the years, the entire staircase had sagged.  This was a problem, but also an opportunity to both properly support the stairs and add a half-bath and some storage.  As you can see, we framed under the stairs, adding support, propping them back up while adding some architectural components as well as functional space.

IMG_0268 Here’s a different view of the area of the staircase we had to frame to support the stairs.  Overall, I think it’s an improvement.


The area between the double parlors there was previously a fireplace, likely a coal burning fireplace that would heat the home.  It also serviced the second story and continued out through the roof.  Sadly we could not put that back so we created this Eastlake transom between the two rooms out of various architectural pieces that we found in the house and were no longer installed (before we got it).  I think the effect is stunning and a great focal point for reminding everyone of the Eastlake styling on the exterior.  We did have to buy a few bits and pieces and made a few and were able to install this. Note we added 3 fireplaces inside the home and all were gas.  For heat, the home had 2 new HVAC systems installed.





Posted in Uncategorized

2004 Floorplan restoration

When a home has been around for over 120 years, various owners may adapt the floorplan to suit their needs of the time.  2004 was no different… it was originally built as a grand home by a wealthy family but over the years as the neighborhood changed and became more densely populated, it was converted to a multi-family home.  It had been partially converted back to a single-family home when we got it, but its floorplan was a maze and a mess.  It was challenging to figure out how to honor the home’s original design while also modernizing it and making it very livable in the 21st century.

Since hiring an architect has never been in our budgets for these kinds of projects with their razor-thin margins.  The process of making a floorplan functional, historically accurate and workable for today’s families is a process of digging through the home to see how it was originally designed.  In the case of 2004, it was built in the 1890s but it had been converted to units in the early 20th century.  Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell which framing came first in these instances so we look for all the clues.

The above floorplan is close to what we started with.  The previous owner had worked up a plan for how he wanted the floorplan to flow for him and his family.  Below is what we ultimately ended up with.  We concentrated on making the front of the downstairs with the Foyer and double parlor (i.e. Living Room and Dining Room) look like it might have originally been built while the back included a more casual living space including a great room which you wouldn’t have found when the home was built.  We even eeked out a mud-room at the back door complete with bench, shelves, charging stations, etc.

2004 Floorplan After2004 Floorplan after 2



In addition to the fact that we could easily observe 2 front doors next to each other, we also see where 4 separate electrical meters were located.

2004 framing 5

In the 1890s they would use regular wood as sub-floor material since there was no such thing as ply-wood.  Much of what was remaining in the home was not in good condition so unfortunately in this area, we had to put new flooring in.  We actually did save this diagonally laid sub-floor in one of the downstairs rooms.  It is made from the same cherished, expensive heart pine that the formal area’s flooring was made from and came out looking good.

2004 Framing

The framing from the 1890s is non-dimensional lumber, meaning that they were inconsistent in width.  They were a standard measurement on one side, but the other was not consistent in width.  You can also see that the tooling on the wood is different.  In the early 20th century, you’ll see saw marks but in the older framing, you can often observe marks created by hand tools.

Moldings and door casings not only gave us clues about the original floorplan but they also dictated the molding plan.  When you walk into most spaces, there are moldings around windows, doors, where the walls meet the floor (base molding) and even crown molding (where the walls meet the ceiling).  In my opinion, molding is the most important and least noticed component in a historic home.  Even though people don’t generally notice it specifically, it’s what gives a space a historic element.  In this home, we were able to save the door casings, although a few had to be moved.  When it came to the base moldings, we had to recreate our based on what we found in the home.  By combining multiple moldings available, we were able to recreate what was originally built even though much of the original couldn’t be saved.

We can even see where there were additional kitchens because the previous owner left a few sinks and cabinets in various rooms.  These were great clues.  Sadly we were unable to utilize the old sinks with drainboards so we donated them to our architectural salvage shop.

I personally LOVE going through an old house as it’s being partially gutted.  It’s not dissimilar to being an archeologist.   Not only do we get to see how people lived in the past, but we get to appreciate their workmanship and designs.  Often the designs on these homes are classic and timeless.

Posted in Historic Homes, Home Renovation

2004 Exterior

2004 elevation before2004 Elevation After

Before and After photos of a New Orleans project home that we restored.  This home was originally built in the 1890s in the Milan neighborhood of New Orleans.  Over the years it had been converted to a multi-family and when we worked on it, it had been partially converted back but had been neglected over the years.  It’s done in the Eastlake Victorian style and we poured our hearts into truly honoring this home so it could be enjoyed and loved for another 120 or more years.

2004 corbels beforeVersion 3

Every small detail in this home required tender loving care and often complete reproduction of its lovely historic detailing.  Above are just a few of the brackets (also known as corbels) that needed to be replaced.  One key to reproducing historic details is to re-make them using the same tools and methods that they used in the 1890s.

16503330017_232fcb3348_h2004 garage and side after

Since the needs of families living in a home today differ so greatly from how a family may have lived in a home years ago, it’s always a challenge to find ways to bring those valued components into the 21st century, like with the garage we added.  Certainly, an improvement over the rotten storage sheds.  One detail that I loved was our addition of a covered breezeway between the garage and the back door.  I always imagine myself living in a home I’m working on and what a delight it would be to bring groceries into the kitchen from the garage, even in the rain.  Not sure if you noticed, but the window configuration on the back of the house changed also.  We ended up removing one of the windows because it didn’t work with our floor plan alterations (we turned that area into a shower/bath combo).

We felt that the new owners would want a fence surrounding the property.  Our budget was not in line with wrought iron which would have been the traditional choice so we had to come up with something that would fit the budget as well as lend itself to the home’s dramatic and unique styling.  We were able to purchase cedar fence pickets at a good price and customize them.  As you may notice, we did make a compromise on the labor costs and did leave out some of what I had envisioned as a simple hole saw detail.  I was going to do it myself but once we ripped the pickets and configured it, I saw that it looked great without the additional work.  We were able to custom make the 4×4 toppers and it all came together really nicely in my opinion.

In a lot of ways, a historic renovation can be more demanding and detailed than building a brand new home.  Even the sidewalks and walkways must be addressed.  There is an unbelievable number of details that must be given proper attention.  When our foundation sub-contractor leveled the house (the foundation had settled in spots over the years creating a visible lean to the left), he had to brace much of the interior framing to stabilize the whole thing and ensure the whole house doesn’t fall over.  This is a much more difficult process if the plaster or drywall is in place because it will undoubtedly crack (which we’ve seen first-hand on another project).  It’s such an interesting process as he hooks up all the piers to a pneumatic leveler and lifts certain portions over others.  The workers then rebuild the foundation in the areas needed while the house is suspended over them.  In the meantime, as we re-worked the plumbing system, we had to trench to the city connections and lay all new sewer and supply lines to the house.

Posted in Historic Homes, Real Estate, Uncategorized


1928 elevation before copy

This home was built as a “double” (aka duplex) in the early 1900s.  The brick facade was likely added in the 60s as was popular at the time.  No transformation we’ve done is as dramatic as this one, known as 1928.

1928 elevation after

I’d say it’s kind of unbelievable that it’s even the same house.  This was also our only seemingly haunted house.  The gentleman who owned it before us did pass away.  We did turn this into a single-family home with a separate entrance for the office area.  Perfect for working out of your home.

This is another home that had us doing absolutely EVERYTHING and it would have been easier to build from scratch.

Posted in Animals, Daily Life

Meet Cosimo

It was Fall and we found ourselves living back in New Orleans, admittedly not the safest place to live.  The one thing that we had talked about in relation to living here again was the need to have a large dog.  Not only do we love giant breeds dogs but the criminal element here is less than sophisticated and largely afraid of dogs or at least respectful enough of them to find an easier target.   We can’t have a 3 dogs (technically 2 dogs but 3 because we have custody of my Mom’s dog Sampson), I expressed time and time again.  When November came around, Bazil, our grumpy old Clumber Spaniel was hardly able to walk up the steps to our front door.  We figured that Bazil was hardly capable of offering the security we hoped for.

I found myself visiting rescue organizations on the Internet.  Petfinder is such a great resource.  We were hoping to get lucky finding a big hearted Mastiff or giant mixed breed of some type that needed a new home.  Our hunt did not turn up any dogs that met our criteria.  I started finding myself at Newfoundlands websites again… but in New Orleans???  Too hot!  Still, they are the best dogs in the world.  One day I came across an ad for Newf puppies in North Carolina and what struck me about these puppies were that they were brown and white Landseers.  Not a breed standard but gorgeous none-the-less.  The sire was named Murphy (oh how we loved our Newf Murphy – the best dog ever!) and there was one puppy that had a Harry Potter like white lightening bolt on his head and I fell for the little guy.

The next thing I know it’s Early January and we were headed to the airport to pick up our new pup.  He was 12 weeks old and arrived on an earlier flight than we expected so we all piled into the car in a rush.  What a character!  He chose his own name from a list of many on the way home from the airport.  The names kept flying from all of us but he consistently reacted positively to Cosimo.  Who are we to argue with the fluffy bundle of joy?  Since then he’s acquired many, many nick-names like: Kitty, Cosi, Moe, Cosi-No-Moe, Cosi No No, and Cosi Mo Toe.  Thankfully he answers to all of them but I think he prefers Kitty.

One thing that I wasn’t expecting was a bit of sibling rivalry between Sean and Cosi.  Still, the boys really love having a new friend in the house (even though previous destruction of kids toys keeps him banned from the boys bedroom).  We were also very happy that Cosimo likes the water… he is the first of our Newfies that likes the water.  He likes it so much that on our first trip to Audubon park, he enjoyed actually sticking his face in the water which is unheard of.

One thing that we noticed right away as Cosi grew and grew is that he does not have a typical double coat that our other Newfs had.  In addition to that, he is WAY more energetic than our Abie or Murphy were.  He’s also more athletic, lanky (appears to be all legs at times) and needs to be kept mentally occupied.  A little research turned up the fact that in Europe, Landseers are considered a different breed and Cosi has much in common with their version of the breed.  Overall, we’re happy he’s more comfortable in the NOLA heat without the double coat, he is MUCH easier to wash and dries very quickly and the energy level (although still less than most dogs) is enough that he easily keeps up with the kids.

One thing that I enjoy about my Kitty (which also drives me crazy at times) is that it seems that I have a tail.  I can be walking through the house or yard, look behind me and there is my tail.  It looks just like Cosi’s tail.  Oh yeah, because he follows me everywhere, he sleeps next to my side of the bed and he loves our family.  He’s 9 month’s old now, weighs 100 pounds and has truly found his prefect family as we have found our perfect dog.
Check this out if you want to learn about the breed: Landseer ECT