Restoration, A rewrite in 3-D
I’m a lover of architecture and history but my least favorite is twentieth century. I seem to be a minority here; everyone who has seen the picture of our house has truthfully proclaimed how they love it! I thought it was kind of a clumsy little house. I prefer the clean lines of a traditional 18th or 19th century colonial: symmetric, generous, graceful. None of which are attributes of our early 20th century Craftsman Bungalow.
When I first saw it, I wanted to walk on by. And I did walk on by, everyday for three weeks, noticing that every day I disliked it less. It was growing on me. Fast-forward, we bought it. Our realtor introduced us to Dawson, an historical restoration specialist.
I should introduce you first, to my husband Dave, the partner in this restoration. We’ve been married 55 years, and have been best friends since we were 13 and 15 years old. We don’t have the answer to the question, “What would I do without you?” We’ve no idea what that would be like! We’ve lived in many places, in different style houses, and did some work on all of them. This historical restoration, however, is something new for us.
Dave is a pragmatic mathematician. He worked most of his life for IBM, then became a realtor/broker after retirement. He loves houses and seeing their potential. I wouldn’t call Dave the creative type; more left brain. He doesn’t readily see details. But what he does see, far better than I, is the foundation of potential. He’s a smart guy, valedictorian, top in his field, an above average vocabulary that doesn’t include vulgarity, and decidedly short on adjectives. When we look at the same room in a house, I describe the color, the moldings, the details. I notice how the light changes and what kind of windows. I imagine what kind of living went on in the room, what kind of history it hides. He will pace off the size and comment on the shape. He didn’t notice the draperies, but he can tell you where all the air ducts are. He knows if the windows are in good shape. He can figure out what was original, what was added. Then he knows what should be done.
The inspection shows the house to be “built like a fortress.” Even the 15-year-old the addition is over built. It has some old knob and tube wiring that needs to come up to code, but no roof leaks, no mold, no foundation issues. There will be no surprises, we’re told.
We can do this, I say. It’s like editing. Well, actually, renovation is more like editing. Restoration is more like the rewrite. Start taking out some of those commas and postscripts that seemed like a good idea at the time. What can you remove that doesn’t negatively impact the vision? What’s important? How can we best restore this masterpiece back to its original self? And that begins today.