The brightest thing I saw on the Fire House when I found it was the prominent red tag on the front door declaring that the home had been ‘CONDEMNED.’ It was vacant and run-down and pulling down the property values of everything surrounding it. It was an eye sore and a Pig’s Ear and twelve months after starting, it had been transformed into the most valuable house on the street. Not only was the Fire House no longer a neighborhood liability, but several of my new neighbors credited me with making their homes more valuable. I’m no home appraiser, but I sure agree that the neighborhood was better than when I started because the ugliest house on a highly-visible corner had been fixed up. The outside was clean and bright and the driveway, sidewalk, and landscaping were all more distinct and well defined.
The brightness and improved appearance from the street initially got people’s attention. Strangers knocked on the door, clearly curious to see how things looked on the interior and the responses were a huge payoff after the year long project. The common living space of the Fire House’s interior underwent the most radical makeover. The conversion of the garage into a den and the addition of the master suite (both by previous owners) had made valuable square footage in the Fire House into little more than extra wide spaces for foot traffic. This inefficient use of valuable space had been the biggest challenge when I reworked the living area on paper before I started. I relocated the back door, extended one hall and added another hallway to establish a more efficient flow within the ranch house. I made the original living room (which had been like a gigantic foyer) a dining room, I converted the laundry room into a breakfast/eating area, and made the dining area from the original home into the hall leading to the new back door (which was next to the new laundry room). In addition, I opened up the main living space by re-framing the area over the den as a cathedral height ceiling (twelve feet) and by adding columns in lieu of solid walls when possible. This openness was the most dramatic change on the inside with the refinished heart pine floors being the second dramatic difference that grabbed people’s attention when they walked through the front door. There wasn’t much that needed done on the bedrooms and bathrooms of the Fire House. They all received new carpet and fresh coats of paint, but little more.
|The view from the den looking up into the kitchen.|
|The view from the kitchen looking down into the den.|
And finally, besides finishing this house within budget and receiving my Certificate of Occupancy on schedule I must also report that there was no trace of smoke odors when the renovation was complete. And a few months after completion, the Fire House was featured on thisoldhouse.com as a monthly winner of their Your Old House contest.
|This was the corner of the Fire House that was totally obscured by overgrown bushes.|
|The back corner of the house with the new, relocated back door and deck.|
Jump to The Fire House - Before
Jump to The Fire House - During