OHJ February 2020

OHJ February 2020

OHJ February 2020

Editor's Letter: Surprising, whimsical, unpredictable

Last week I went to a real-estate open house because the listing said the interior was “remarkably intact.” It is, and what a treat! The house was built in 1920 as a “summer camp” on the water. It feels more like a turn-of-the-century house. The owner had done a meticulous job upgrading for year-round use while preserving the house’s integrity. He insulated walls from the outside so that the rustic interior still has exposed stud walls and original beadboard. The kitchen is a throwback—with a soapstone sink and a restored 1920s Glenwood range and not much else. A small back-hall added behind the kitchen holds the refrigerator and an extra oven. The pantry, the rustic granite fireplace, the stairs, and the original bathroom remain as built.

The house has a whiff of Victorian steampunk about it, too. Converted to gas, a 19th-century cast-iron parlor stove with a filigreed grille was added to take the chill off in shoulder-season weather. The ceilings are open, with joists exposed, as they have always been. So plumbing for a new, second upstairs bath is visible; the piping is exquisite in copper and brass. The many antique light fixtures throughout run from beautiful to downright odd.

In the itty-bitty powder room added under the stairs, a tiny antique sink with an impossibly delicate faucet and spigots caught my attention. The owner found it in Norway. A different teeny antique sink occupies the water closet off the master bedroom. Every detail of that house reveals its owner’s dedication and delight in the restoration, which he’s been at for decades.

That’s true, too, of the Fort Worth bungalow featured. The entire house is a revelation: a colonnade and plate rails replicated from clues left in the house; a breakfast nook framed by brackets. But once again I was smitten with the bathroom sinks!

Old houses with good owners so often are full of original bits and the unexpected. Repurposing is often whimsical. It’s the unpredictability that makes old houses so darn interesting.

~ Patricia Poore, Editorial Director of Old House Journal

Look below to see stories from this issue.

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