These Are The Things

Our before-and-after photos of the Bryan-Wells House end with the outside. Even before walking through the front door, we knew this house needed an immense amount of repair. After decades of neglect, we knew much of our budget would be spent on things you wouldn’t notice later, like a foundation overhaul, asbestos removal, new framing, rotten-siding repair, roof replacement, all new plumbing, HVAC, and electricity, and more.

When looking through the photos of this transformation, we all see the beauty. The colors, the fixtures, the original materials…these are the things that sell a home. But, it’s the things that you don’t see that were the most painful, most time consuming, and most costly. These are the things that make the house strong, functioning, and alive! These are the unseen things that a new family will rely on to work each and every day for years to come.

These before photos represent a house waiting…not dead, just dormant. The after photos, we believe, show a new life…a happy life!

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A fire escape is supposed to save you, no kill you. All gone!

We’d like to meet the guy that added the plastic stutters around the front door.


No more squatters!


A much happier space for a cook out.

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Don’t you love that original chimney?

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Removing the old carport opened up so much space for a big backyard in the city.

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Thank you for indulging us as we look back on this huge restoration. Jennifer and I are mighty proud to share it with you!

The Master Retreat

Welcome to the master bedroom and bath at the Bryan-Wells House. As we mentioned in our last post, we turned an adjacent bedroom into the en-suite bathroom. We walled-off that bedroom’s door from the hall . And, we busted open the closet wall in the master bedroom to create the entry into the new bathroom.

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See the closet which is now the entry into the master bath.

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Jennifer and I spent a ton of time working on this bathroom layout. Here, you’ll see the wall to the left is now part of the closet. A new wall was created to create the closet and line the vanities.

The vanities and shower floor and walls feature Italian Carrera marble…just like the other two bathrooms.

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The square area between these two windows was the perfect area for a walk-in shower.


We kept the fireplace in the bathroom. There are six fireplaces in this house, four with tile downstairs and two less-formal upstairs. They were all coal burning and very shallow. Today, they are non-working and sealed off, but the future homeowners may want to bring one or more fireplaces back to life. Having this fireplace in the bathroom brings character and romance to the room…a good spot for some candles.

The closet door was removed and the wall was enclosed. The closet was turned into the laundry closet accessible from the hallway. And, as mentioned before, that bedroom door was enclosed. The entrance to the walk-in closet is now to the right of the fireplace.


The custom-built closet wraps around three sides.



Tomorrow, we’ll walk around outside.

Let’s Go Upstairs

When we purchased the house, the upstairs was used as a separate residence. There was a separate entrance to the right of the front door which brought you right into the stairs. Those stairs were walled off from the bottom floor.

One of our favorite things about this house is the three original windows that followed the stairs upward. Now these windows are visible from the downstairs foyer.

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Once you get to the top of the stairs, you can see the door at the bottom to the outside. That wall was rebuilt with new framing and plaster. Today, it appears that the door never existed.


At the top of the stairs, you enter a large upstairs “foyer” with doors to the bedrooms and kids bath. Check out the new door to the left in the “after” picture. That’s now a laundry closet which accommodates a full-size stackable washer and dryer.


Here’s a view of this area looking back to the stairs.

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Get ready for another disgusting bathroom transformation. This was the source of all the water damage. We rearranged the footprint to make better use of the space. The bathtub/shower is now along the wall with the window.

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The bedroom to the right upstairs was used as a kitchen. It also featured another door to the outside…a fire-escape down the side of the house.

We removed numerous layers of linoleum to reveal beautiful hardwoods. And, we expanded the closet with two six-panel doors reused from other areas of the house.

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The entrance to the second bedroom upstairs was awkward with an angle that reduced the size of the room. We reframed this area to make it more square…and spacious. (Note: We closed in the entrance to another bedroom adjacent to this one to create an en suite bathroom for the master. More on this tomorrow.)

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Tomorrow we’ll reveal the master suite!

Downstairs Bed and Bath

Check out the before-and-after photos of the downstairs bed and bath. We also included some new photos of the kitchen.

Downstairs Bedroom

We saved all the original 6-panel solid wood doors throughout the house.

As you can see, we had another drop-ceiling to remove. Today, you’ll see the restored v-groove ceiling.

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We were able to keep the tile on the fireplace surround, but we had to replace the broken tile on the hearth. The plaster walls were repaired perfectly as well.

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Downstairs Bathroom

This room won the award for ugliest, grossest room in the house. Now, it’s a masterpiece!

The Carrera Marble floors and vanity plus the cast-iron claw-foot tub make it a retreat for any guest.

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Check out the latest photos of the kitchen! See how the wood panels all tie-in together.


Make It A Double: You’ve Got To See This One

We were so busy yesterday with the open house, I failed to post before-and-after pictures like I promised. So, today we’ll double up.

Check out these transformations in the dining room and kitchen. Wow!

Dining Room

We encountered lots of water damage in that left corner due to a water pipe break on the other side of that wall. In addition to structural, plaster, and floor repairs, we enlarged the door opening to the kitchen to make the space feel open. We salvaged a lot of the v-groove wood under the chair rail.


The hideous vinyl windows were were replaced with high-quality wood windows that matched the original windows of 9 panes over 1. These windows were approved by the Historic Preservation Office (HPO).

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We decided to remove the two doors on the right to keep the flow open. The glass pane door was used as the pantry door. The door to the left of the fireplace was used as a closet door upstairs. We replaced it with a glass door to offer a view of the reading nook in the Foyer.

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Luckily, we were able to keep the tile intact in this fireplace. The hearth was covered in grime. With many hours of elbow grease, it now shines!


All of the ceilings on the main floor revealed the original v-groove. Some ceilings were covered in ornate wall paper with awful glue. Years later, a grid-panel drop ceiling was added. After sanding and repairing the ceilings, they are now bright and fresh.

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The Kitchen!

As we mentioned in a previous demo post, Jennifer and I removed three walls in the back of the house to create one large room for the kitchen. Here, you’ll see photos taken from about the same spot in the house. We believe this kitchen area pre-dated the house and was used as a neighborhood grocery as early as 1900.

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The back corner of the house, under sheetrock, we found a chase made of tongue-in-groove wood panels. Under those panels is the original kitchen chimney. In the “after” photo, you can see the chase just as we found it. Throughout these photos, you can see we incorporated that same wood material in the kitchen island and vent hood. We tried to reuse existing materials found in the house whenever possible.


When we removed the sheetrock in the kitchen, we found the original v-groove wood. It’s now painted as a feature wall.



These windows looked out to the backyard. We removed them to create French doors to lead out to the deck. We removed the wall to the left of those windows to create an entry to the mud-room, another entrance to the house.


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This door originally led to the back porch (where we found the sleeping squatter). The glass door we removed from the dining room is now in place of this door leading to what is now the pantry. We converted the back porch to heated-square feet for use as the mud room and pantry.


No more wall!


The view from the hall.



The view from the kitchen to the adjacent bathroom.

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As we mentioned above, we reused original materials throughout the house. Here’s how we used those materials in the kitchen.

Corbels found in the foyer are now used as brackets for the island.

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Tongue-and-grove panels pulled down from the ceiling were used to build the island and vent hood, which match the fireplace chase.


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Stay tuned tomorrow for the downstairs bedroom and bath.

Before-And-After: Porch and Living Room

We restored the original porch railings and balusters. Much of the porch floor was salvaged too. This porch is so massive, you have to see it to believe it. (The historic home next door is being restored currently.)


The front room to your left as you walk in the front door features a fireplace. We salvaged the tile surround but had to replace the severely-cracked hearth tile.

Jennifer and I removed the ceilings in this room since we created a new bath on the floor above. The plumbers needed access to run the plumbing. That ceiling included a layer of wide tongue-and-grove boards, v-groove wood, and a drop-grid ceiling.  The wide boards were used to build the custom island and vent hood in the kitchen. The v-groove wood ceiling was used in other areas of the house that needed repair.

The massive cracks in the plaster were repaired beautifully.