Location: Ardmore, Pennsylvania
This handsome stone colonial, built in 1920, is in a part of Ardmore that was pretty run down at one point but has since enjoyed a revival. The house, unfortunately, was in sorry disrepair.
If you looked at the house online, it was beautiful. Outwardly, it appeared very nice, but almost as soon as they bought it, our clients realized they were in for some very serious problems. They had the home for five years before they brought us in. During this time, they had repaired a few things, installed new floors, and had addressed some of the structural issues.
What they asked us to do initially was a complete renovation on the kitchen and three existing bathrooms, and then to find a place for a powder room on the first floor.
There was a two-story porch on the side. The lower level was enclosed and, it was pretty shabby. The upper area was an open porch. Our clients wanted to completely enclose the upper porche and turn the whole thing into living space.
The most significant and challenging part of the whole thing was the overall condition of the house.
Everywhere you turned, you were facing major problems. For instance, as we opened up walls to start working on the porch, framing was rotted out and falling apart.
The biggest design challenge was that the kitchen space was incredibly difficult and weird.
Our design team, including a kitchen specialist and an interior designer worked diligently on it together until we created a layout that worked.
There was an awkward little back porch that had been turned into a laundry room. It was utterly trashed by the time we came along. Beyond that, there was a Bilco door with steps to the basement. Although ripping it all out seemed like the easiest plan, you would end up having to redo everything completely at a large cost. At times it seemed like an endless process of trying to figure out how to get a kitchen into this space.
With a lot of group input, we ended up with design that worked out very well. Probably the coolest thing we did was to remove the back door that went to the former porch/laundry room, and ran the cabinets across the face of the opening. We made one of the cabinets into a hidden door that looks like a floor-to-ceiling pantry cabinet, but if you open it, it’s actually a door to a full walk-in pantry.
On the two-story porch, everything was rotted out. Even the stone walls were deteriorated, and had to be rebuilt. There was also a lot of very pretty millwork, both interior and the exterior, and Greek style columns. Most of it was badly damaged, so we recreated the columns to the clients’ specifications to make it look a little less ornate.
On the second floor, the porch was an open area. We put in hardwood floors, new windows and millwork, and made a beautiful little sitting area out of it. The first floor had a quarry tile floor that we kept and refinished.
We put in a brand-new back door leading into the kitchen, and a new entry pad, giving them a new way to get into the house from the garage.
There were nine windows on each floor. Very big, double hung, really gorgeous. They wanted to keep all of them, but some had to be removed due to their condition. We were able to reuse the sashes from the ones we removed to repair some of the damage. This was quite challenging.
Additionally, we redid the second-floor bathrooms and a third-floor office, and one bedroom on the third floor that we added some tricky moldings. We also had to put very low and long closets into the eave space. We found a place on the first floor to tuck in a new powder room as well. It was a very challenging project that was definitely a labor of love for us and the homeowners.
About The Homeowners
Our clients were a couple in their forties with a five-year-old son. Both attorneys, they were living in Harrisburg, each with their own home. A few years ago, they decided that Ardmore was where they wanted to be and bought this house, although they weren’t living in it yet.
They would come out from Harrisburg on weekends and spend time there, look at things, and try to figure out what they wanted to fix; but the problem was, every time they dove into something it would just turn into a bigger problem. They were at the point where it was either do it right or just get rid of it.
Ultimately, they really loved the house, so they made the decision to bring in our team to do the work. We were happy to turn that dream into reality. In the end, we are as thrilled with the result as they are. They can now look forward to moving in and enjoying the fruits of our collective labor.