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If These Walls Could Talk

As much as I am passionate about home renovations, they do not come without their challenges.

When it comes to renovating a century home, the planning stage is muddled by a major set of unknowns about what is lurking behind the walls. There are typically no designs to reference and the people who had a hand in the planning and construction are no longer with us. Until you open everything up you can’t say for sure what you’re dealing with. Having a fluency in homes and renovations, I find it fascinating to peel back the layers of plaster and drywall to expose the past and all of the surprises that lay waiting from generations gone by.

As we opened up the rooms we were delighted to find structural steel within the walls. Although this limits the flexibility of the layout, it does speak to the quality of the original construction. Trademarked with the corporation stamp ‘Dorman Long’, we were able to trace the steel back to its origins in Middlesbrough, North East England, where after the company was established in 1875 it quickly became one of the major steel producers of its day.

Other treasures that we uncovered were a hidden window and a hidden fireplace – both big wins. On the downside, the foundation of the addition has a huge hole in it, but we can deal with it.

During our initial meetings we were struggling with how to work with the main floor layout. It is a classic scenario of figuring out how to merge a 1900’s family and entertaining flow with the modern day demands on a home and the space within its walls. The entertaining rituals of those days no longer exist. We entertain a lot, so we are mindful of how the space functions both for our family and our guests.

Regardless of the many options we reviewed, it became abundantly clear that there was no other option but to open it up. Also on the chopping block were our notions of having a main floor office. We scrapped that idea, instead opting for a larger entry with a fireplace and window seat.

The adventure continues!

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