February 18, 2005

Renovation Porn (or, "Thank God We're Not Doing That!")

Living in a hundred-year-old house naturally leads to thoughts of restoration and renovation.

So far, we're purely small-time renovators. We've changed some light fixtures. We've replaced almost all of our normal light switches with period-look pushbutton lightswitches from Classic Accents. We've replaced some of our el-cheapo brass interior doorknobs with glass knobs from Emtek (purchased at HomeAnnex.com -- we looked near and far to find a source for glass knobs that wasn't charging exorbitantly outrageous prices, and HomeAnnex was by far the lowest).

A pressure to Do Something more elaborate has been building; our most likely candidate is the back bathroom, marked now by its warping and separating Pergo-knockoff floor (who puts a wood product like that in the bathroom?) and corroding el-cheapo brass (sense a theme here? A lot of the replacement hardware is of the 'what was on special at Home Depot that week?' variety) fixtures. We'll probably make it over using an age-appropriate turn-of-the-century 'sanitary' look -- with white hexagonal tile on the floors, white beadboard or "subway tile" up to mid-torso level on the walls, and period-looking fixtures (white porcelain with nickel or chrome).

Our timetable is pretty lax; so far we've mostly been looking at books and Web pages, occasionally saying "oooh, I like that". We've already bought some fixtures that we like -- a mirror, a glass shelf, a wall-mounted drinking glass/toothbrush holder -- that are now sitting in their boxes. I guess that once we acquire a critical mass of boxed-up fixtures (or something that's too big to ignore, like a new sink), then it'll be time to begin.

And being a geek, thoughts of renovation lead to (endless amounts of time wasted ...) browsing the Web, where I've found a community of old-house-bloggers. Seeing these people at work has given me a newfound thankfulness for the solid condition of our house -- we have the luxury of contemplating a bathroom remodel right out of the box, rather than beginning by replacing our foundation or rewiring the entire house. Although I have to admit there's a certain amount of envy involved, too -- it seems like it would be a lot of fun (albeit the really-hard-work kind of fun) to take a house down to its bones and undo the legacy of generations worth of bad remodeling. But I know that if we were taking on a project like that, we probably wouldn't be living in Southern California; it's not that there weren't plenty of bungalow fixers on the market during our housing search, it's that the fixers were priced a hairsbreadth below the already-fixed! In an area where you're already blowing all your cash on the house, you'd have to pick pretty carefully (or be independently wealthy) in order to have enough money left over to properly take apart and reassemble the house afterwards, too.

(Some of my favorite old-house blogs so far: House In Progress [their house came with 70 years worth of junk inside -- check out their "What on Earth?" section!], Casa Decrepit, 1912 Bungalow, and Fixer-Upper. Also interesting/useful is the message board on the Web site of American Bungalow magazine. [We've become subscribers!])

Posted by Kevin at February 18, 2005 09:20 AM

The title of the entry made me crack up, especially since I used to hide my houseporn from Aaron for the first year after we got married.

Until I wooed him to the dark side :)

I am so jealous of your expat gig in Gmbh. I haven't been to Hamburg, though I've been around southern Germany a few times. Northerners would laugh at my poor grasp of Schwäbisch. Though I wouldn't care because I'd BE IN GERMANY! Which would be way cool.

Love the site. Love the name.

Posted by: jm at February 18, 2005 07:48 PM

Thanks for noticing our humble site. :-)

And fortunately, I didn't have to hide anything from Shelby; we pretty much started off on the same page, as far as renovation-lust was concerned ...

Posted by: Kevin at February 21, 2005 11:01 AM
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