4820 is not shining just yet.  First, the many, many layers of this house must be peeled back, stripped away and examined, so it’s story can properly be told.  I have approached this process of peeling back the layers just as I try to approach life.  Peel back one layer at a time in order to miss nothing.  Be open to what I find and don’t accept anything on face value. 

When I first saw the house last summer, I was appalled by the tiny kitchen and the route through the house to get to it.  It was accessible from outside or by skirting through the foyer, the dining room and the breakfast room.  There was one small window above the sink, set so high that there is no doubt that a small woman could not even see the back yard. 

Now that the layers have been peeled back, I can asess that at one time, the kitchen was much larger and open to the hall, as it should have been.  Chances are, there was not a powder room on the first floor, as many lived this way in the 30’s.  We discovered a drain for a toilet in the basement and back then, a service toilet in an unfinished area of the house and a bathroom upstairs were typical amenities.  At some point, a pantry was likely closed in to create the powder room and the opening to the hall was closed in to provide a place for more cabinetry. 

The newer framing indicates that the kitchen was remodeled, closing in this entrance from the hall.

The new kitchen will be accessed from the dining room, the back hall, as well as from the main hall.  It will be open and airy and will serve as the heart of the home.  Just as a well used kitchen should.

In the upstairs bathroom we had decided to remove the heavily cracked wall tile and leave the grey on grey on red basket weave floor tile.  When the demo guys went to knock off the wall tile, they found a layer of white subway tile under it.  We will either cover it with the new tile, or knock it off and start with a clean slate. 

 The music room, as the previous owner called it, is bright and cheerful now that the arch is removed.  We are squaring off all the arches to create larger, taller openings on the first floor.  While the arches drew me to the house in the first place, practicality reigns and they are no more.  In this particular area, we will duplicate the design on this side, facing front, and the other entrance to this room, facing the back hall.  

The entrance to what we will call the Sitting Room, before.

The tile floor was on five inches of concrete and it all had to be removed.  Now the new space is in a much better position to shine. 

I am thinking about re using the columns we are replacing in the den area and integrating them into the cased opening design.  For me, the key is to highlight the leaded glass windows and the bright light that will come through them. 


Now the opening is wide and allows light to flood in from the back of the house.

There are layers being peeled away outside too.  It isn’t pretty, I will warn.  The brick masons have harvested thousands of brick from the side and back exterior walls.  These bricks are stacked and ready to use on the new garage and kitchen bump out.  The brick used to build this place was irreplaceable and because it is truly a paver,(no holes), we expected it to come off easily.  It did, in fact, and the integration of old and new should be virtually seamless.

 It has been fun peeling back, layer by layer, this old house.  I must admit that I am ready to start rebuilding and creating the layer that will represent our family’s time here.