Our little renovation - 1850 Mansard Victorian

kpaquetteNovember 18, 2008


I'm new here. :-) I have been reading through threads trying to glean what I can! We bought our house in Newport, RI in July, thinking we'd just put in a new kitchen and bath and throw up some new paint. We knew some things would need to be replaced, like the furnace, and that some exterior repairs were needed - but of course it was much worse than we realized once we moved in.

It's turning out to be a total gutting. Not what we wanted either from a preserving standpoint OR a budget standpoint ;-) but...we are trying to do it in a way that preserves or enhances the character as much as possible, while updating it for today's conveniences and energy efficiency.

I'm documenting the renovation on my website - though not nearly as thoroughly as Leasa! Since this is our second house and we had to move out for the renovation, I'm relying on pics from my contractor until I can get back myself (next week.)

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Hmmm...my link didn't post - here it is:


Here is a link that might be useful: Kim's Site

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 1:06PM
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Kim...Beautiful house!! I spy with my little eye an Ikea sofa!! lol. We have the exact same one in our loft. I also spy with my little eye a kitty in the sunroom. My cats LOVE the sunroom too. Well, at least in the spring/summer/fall they do.

I am with you that sometimes it is better to gut than to work with what is there. As long as you are sensitive to the original architecture. And by what you have done so far with the historical board approving all your changes, I am sure everything will be done with taste and class. You HAVE to keep us posted with pics. When I look at all these fabulous houses in this forumn, I get soooo freakin itchy to start on my own reno's on my 1932 Colonial/Georgian. I so far have only done the windows(but have only been here for 5 months), and should be starting the rest in the spring, but only if I have the funds. If anyone wish's to donate to my fund.....lol

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 11:29PM
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oh ya...one more thing....salvage that clawfoot.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 11:32PM
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very cool. Good luck with it!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 12:17AM
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Beautiful house - & one I'm sure you'll enjoy! But out of curiosity, why was a total gut job needed?

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 12:26AM
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We are salvaging the clawfoot!

Well, we were absolutely victims of knowing when to say when. ;-) Originally we intended to just do a new kitchen and bath, and paint. it ended up being a total gut because:

The walls upstairs were the original horsehair plaster and were in realllllly rough shape. They were wallpapered, and peeling off the wallpaper also took of gigantic hunks of the plaster. The parts that weren't wallpapered that were still original (mainly the stairway and upstairs foyer) were so wavy and poorly patched over the years, off the lath, cracked, etc etc that it didn't seem worth saving. The downstairs was not wallpapered but some was horsehair, some wasn't, and what was horsehair was in the same rough shape. So at the least it looked like we were taking down the horsehair and re-plastering.

Then it was discovered that we still had alot of knob-and-tube in use, which almost cost us our homeowner's insurance. We had to remove that. When we started to do 1 room, it was discovered that a single plug in the dining room had been spliced for lights literally all over the house. Some in the basement, some upstairs. It was crazy. Further digging found the electrical was just crap and really unsafe. So, we thought, we're taking down the plaster, the walls are gonna be open, we'll rewire...what else should be do?

It had no insulation. We could have left the walls and blown in insulation, but that isn't nearly as efficient as batting or foam.

We were adding a half bath downstairs (actually, the whole renovation revolved around working in this half bath. The house is only 2 br 1 ba now, and that was tough when guests came, or our elderly parents came as they could not manage the treacherous staircase without help.)

The plumbing was also a mess. You should have seen it in the basement - 150 years of plumbing technology crammed together. Again, since the walls would be open....

we wanted to add AC. We are doing the high pressure mini duct system - again, since the walls were down, so much easier. ;-)

The adding of the bath and replacing the staircase with something safe (and code) changed enabled changes to the upstairs layout to make it more efficient. There was alot of wasted space before, which sucks in a 1200 sq ft house. When we start moving walls, the floors come into question.

The floors were in reeeealllly rough shape. The previous owner had large dogs and besides the fact they were 150 years old, they were completely gouged out in places. Other places had large patches (we couldnt' figure out why, some of the patches were in places that made no sense.) They were not tongue and groove, so there were big gaps between the boards (they were 3" pine) which made keeping them clean a nightmare. Between all those things, they really just weren't that nice. So we are replacing them with at least historically accurate (we wish we could afford salvaged wood.)

(incidentally when they started the demo it was discovered that the floors upstairs were laid directly over the joists, with no subfloor,which explained their bounciness.)

The moldings upstairs were just plain basic flat boards - nothing of character. They will be replaced with something a bit more ornate but not over the top. Downstairs, the living room moldings are gorgeous and they are being saved. We are having them duplicated for the dining room, which had moldings that were OK but not as ornate. The dining room door moldings and others around the house were severely chewed by the aforementioned dogs.

The interior doors were in rough shape. there are only 6 in the house. 2 were actually coming apart (cracked badly) and missing pieces of wood (parts of the panels). Perhaps they could have been puttied and glued. 2 were too small. former closet doors that had been sawed down for some reason. the ceilings are 9', it's not like there wasn't room for them. Since all the other moldings were going to be new, we decided to go with new doors that are exact reproductions of the originals.

Basically the house needed all new systems, and new plaster (we are doing skim coat) so given that and the fact that what was there wasn't really that nice to begin with, we thought it would be best to start fresh, doing repros, and keeping what little we could. We are trying to be very mindful of doing what would be period, even though things will be new. We hope it won't feel like walking in to a "new" house when we're done.

SHEESH that was long. sorry LOL

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 7:34AM
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