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Old-House Journal December/January 2012

Old-House Journal December/January 2012

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Editor’s Note
December is one of my favorite months—when snowy vistas surround us, and we can snuggle up with a cup of cocoa in front of the hearth. Maybe you use your fireplace as your primary heat source, or maybe you use it as a supplement to radiators or a furnace (I’ve done both). Maybe, even, you’re one of many old-house owners who can’t use your fireplace at all because the chimney stopped working decades ago. If so, take heart—there are plenty of modern paths to getting your fireplace functioning again, or making it operate more efficiently. We’ve created a list of fireplace options for you. On a related topic, if you’ve ever considered adding a forced-air system to an old house (whether for heating or cooling), you should check out our story on mini-duct HVAC systems, technology that’s made updating old house systems much less intrusive.

Woodwork is one of the most defining features of any old house, and restoring it can present one of the greatest challenges. I remember well the weeks I spent stripping glossy white paint off built-in bookcases in my first old house, a 1905 Foursquare in Pittsburgh. I wish I’d known then about the approach homeowners Ryan Knoke and Montana Scheff took on their Minneapolis house. Their smart work in stripping paint and rebuilding missing moldings, then staining them to match original samples, is a testament to the old-house work ethic. Their techniques can help your house shine, too.

Speaking of a house that shines, be sure to check out our story on the restoration of the Byrne-Reed House in Austin by Humanities Texas. You won’t believe your eyes when you look at the before pictures—the house’s original features had completely disappeared beneath a mask of 1970s “updates.” But thanks to solid detective work by the architectural firm Clayton & Little and determination on the part of Humanities Texas, this architectural gem has been returned to its pre-remuddled splendor. Now that’s a story to warm you by the fire.

Demetra Aposporos, Editor-in-Chief of Old-House Journal

In This Issue:

5 Ways to Transform an Old Fireplace

Thumbnail image for 5 Ways to Transform an Old Fireplace A new breed of historic-minded fireplace inserts can help you get the home fires burning again, efficiently.
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An Easy HVAC Retrofit for Old Houses

Thumbnail image for An Easy HVAC Retrofit for Old Houses A high-velocity, mini-duct HVAC system can bring an old house up to date with minimal damage to its historic fabric.
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Eichler Homes in Northern California

Thumbnail image for Eichler Homes in Northern California Exploring California developer Joseph Eichler's homes and popular mid-century modern designs.
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Historic Retreats: Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel

Thumbnail image for Historic Retreats: Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel With a storied past and updated glamour, Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel dominates the city’s social scene.
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Minneapolis’s Historic Park Avenue Neighborhood

Thumbnail image for Minneapolis’s Historic Park Avenue Neighborhood Discover the charms of this turn-of-the-century neighborhood, courtesy of two local homeowners who lead a highly popular walking tour.
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Postwar Mid-Century Modern Communities

Thumbnail image for Postwar Mid-Century Modern Communities These 5 neighborhoods offered postwar families cutting-edge design against a suburban backdrop—and they're still beloved today by fans of modernist design.
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Preserving a Civil War Landmark

Thumbnail image for Preserving a Civil War Landmark For two generations, a Tennessee family has preserved the 19th-century riverfront house that served as a backdrop for a key Civil War battle.
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Seamless Addition to an Atlanta Tudor

Thumbnail image for Seamless Addition to an Atlanta Tudor A Tudor house gets a well-executed street-facing addition that hews to the past.
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The Remarkable Transformation of the Byrne-Reed House

Thumbnail image for The Remarkable Transformation of the Byrne-Reed House For one old house in Texas, a determined restoration project removed an unsightly outer shell to unearth the incredible gem hiding beneath.
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Tips for Finishing Old-House Woodwork

Thumbnail image for Tips for Finishing Old-House Woodwork These Minneapolis homeowners stripped, painted, and dye-stained their woodwork with professional results—and you can, too.
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