Book by it's cover.

palimpsestMarch 17, 2013

We looked at this house today. The listing is pretty specific and does not try to soft-pedal the condition of the interior. The stretchy camera does, however make these tiny rooms look large. It is historically registered for the exterior.
I posted these last year when I first saw the listing because of the disconnect between in and out.

Among the highlights not shown in the pictures: all plastic dropped ceilings in the bathrooms so the whole thing lights up. (Doesn't work well)

Glittered popcorn ceiling texture applied all over the stairway walls. It's not exactly the modern popcorn, it looks more like Christmas snow.

Wood look Masonite paneling inside the shower. Inside the shower. That's not a typo. It goes with the "patchwork" wall to wall carpet in there.

It's priced about right for the $200K of work it needs peeling away all the layers and starting over.

That's some kind of Masonite paneling in the kitchen. Note the carpeted baseboards and the glitter on the LR walls.

That's a molded plaster fireplace. We looked at another house with it's twin. It's wired to the wall like a picture.

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Heavens, IâÂÂve always wanted carpeted baseboards!.......NOT! What were these people thinking?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:06PM
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All I can say is, ohhhh my! Probably not what you want to hear, pal.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 6:07PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I can just hear the real estate agent's just problem...quick fix...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:09PM
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Actually the agent at the open house, who was probably pretty low on the totem pole to baby sit this one, sat at the kitchen table and when we walked in said something like "Well, the front is the only decent part, the rest of this place needs to be gutted."

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:28PM
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So are you considering this or another real fixer upper?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 7:42PM
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Well, it does have a lovely cover except for that storm door. Thank heavens there are ordinances to protect the historic nature of the exterior. I hate to think what the owners might have done to that.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:20PM
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Oh, yeah, it would have been covered in fake stucco! I think you could at least save those cute curtains in the DR. I don't care for the wallcovering though. Doesn't go with the carpet, sorry.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:32PM
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Fori is not pleased

But what is under the paneling and the carpet? Does it still have the walls in the right places? Does it lack all original woodwork?

Is it trashed or just tacky?

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:58PM
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I don't think there is anything original-original except maybe the floors under layers of things and the plaster on the perimeter walls. The real flue is under the mirror next to the fireplace. The stairs are the original configuration but there is a white wrought iron handrail.

I am assuming the original millwork was all removed to put up the paneling and to put in the suspended ceilings..It has rectangular sparkly mosaic tile waincotting in the vestibule that may be thinset right on the original marble or slate. There was a portrait of JFK in the living room that was probably marketed after his assassination and hung at that time which may give an indication about the last time this house was really touched.

This is the type of house that is attracting people because of the price--who then run out the door when they realize that the could put almost the purchase price again into the renovations. If it was bigger I would have considered it. But, you're actually looking at the entire house in the shot from the LR into the kitchen. It's very shallow.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:48AM
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It always amazes me when I see a home like this that has too have been lived in so long without any updates to the ultra tacky decor. Thankfully there are plenty of people out there that can see past this sort of thing to what the possibliltys could be.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 9:50AM
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There are cultural norms and influences for this type of thing.

I found a Trenton Tile Cameo tile in a trashcan along with a couple other Cameo tiles and a figural tile I couldn't rescue. They were actively tearing out a full tiled vestibule and trashing tiles people will pay hundreds of dollars for. This was in the last ten years.

Similarly, I was looking at a four unit conversion of a house with a client looking for an investment. The current owner showed three of the units off proudly. They were neat and clean but had dropped ceilings, grey commercial carpeting,with rubber cove base, big box store cabinets and finishes in the kitchen and bath.

The fourth had beautiful wood floors and millwork, an older kitchen with metal cabinets, and a bath with colored wall tile and mosaic floors. It was loaded with character. "I am embarrassed to show this one, because I never got around to fixing it up" he said.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:30AM
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Oy caramba ...

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Fori is not pleased

I'm sure most (not all) of the stuff we're doing to houses will look at least that bad in fifty years--if our homes haven't been torn down and replaced entirely by then. :)

Maybe we oughtn't judge so harshly. (but yeah, it's awful!)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 12:22PM
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That depends. I don't think that glitter enhanced ceiling texture sprayed grotto style over vertical surfaces, let alone on a ceiling was ever in good taste. There is really nothing done with any sense of quality in the entire house. It's worse than the pictures.

I agree though, there is a tendency to do things so they look current, but a fair amount of "current and updated" is not in good taste. Even in these forums. It looks okay now because it is current and popular, but not necessarily because it looks good--if you know what I mean.

But if you remember the split level house I posted a few weeks back with the high 1950s-60s baroque interiors, I didn't have much bad to say about that house. It was a taste of the vulgar sort even it's day, but it was very well executed for what it was, and I think there is always a place for that. And that house was built and furnished as such, which is also different. (This is the trashy, wannabe version of that--and done in the "wrong" house, so to speak. )This was probably a typically Federal period house when this was "modernised". It may not have been in great shape, but those houses were generally victims of benign neglect for most of their lives, which is why there is a fair amount of original detail to be seen today. (In houses that were left alone even though they were "dated".)

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 12:35PM
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What amazes me is how these people are living in million dollar houses.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 1:23PM
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That's why I often advise looking at older books and magazines for inspiration. You can tell right away which ideas have had lasting quality.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:24PM
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By default they are living in a $350K piece of property, but at this point most of it is in the tiny piece of real estate the property sits on. Actually this particular house probably has little more value than the bare lot would, which is why it is so cheap.

In my neighborhood, entry-level for a house is about $450K and I could no longer buy the house I bought a few years ago for under $500K even though it is still in bad shape in my opinion. When I went to insure it, my agent, who lives where I grew up remarked that it was unusual (to her) that such an expensive house would be worth so little in a structural sense. Where I grew up the rare $500K house is a fully restored near-mansion, on a piece of ground that has almost no value without a house on it, kind of the opposite.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Are you a habitual house-tourer, or are you really thinking of selling the house you haven't finished reno-ing? These homes appeal to me more, but I was looking forward to learning about the brutalist style via your project.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 10:49PM
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I would say more a habitual house tourer. But I do like older houses generally and if something came along that really caught my eye and met a number of criteria and it was from before 1850 or so, I would at least consider selling the 1963 house.

The 1785 was in the wrong neighborhood for us and the cost of renovations a bit much. This house is very affordable so the overall budget would be more reasonable, and the neighborhood would work a bit better, but it is really much too small. It's hard to tell that something is too small when it lists 5 bedrooms though--until you see it.

I am actually looking forward to renovating the modernist, but I won't stop looking at other properties until I have actually lived in it and have started it's renovation process. Then, I will be involved in it and want to live in it at least for a while, maybe for good. I can't beat it's location.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 11:12PM
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it looks nice from the outside..... ( i wouldn't guess that glitter sprayed walls would be inside that house!! :(

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 8:45AM
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