Before and After - Did they kill the charm

sushipup1July 15, 2014

This article is on the SF Chronicle website. Before and after pictures of a large family home in the City. Did they ruin it?

Here is a link that might be useful: Good or bad remodel?

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I don't think the old house retained a lot of charm. But they didn't really restore any of it either.

I think they came up with an attractive but generic house that could be large new construction almost anywhere.

I agree that some of it looks hodge podge, but some of those spaces in particular weren't strong rooms in the original. The best rooms are the ones that had good architecture that they didn't quite suppress completely with blandness.

I don't think its a bad job, and they didn't destroy any vintage charming kitchen or bath features in the process, but I think they could have come up with something with a bit more character.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:51PM
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I don't think so. I would not have opened it up quite so much, and I certainly would have chosen different cabinetry for the kitchen...but the kitchen before certainly didn't have any "period charm!" I know the painted woodwork will drive many nuts...but I personally dislike heavy, stained, woodwork. I can appreciate it in a historical context, but I could never live with stained woodwork, I feel it chops the room at the top and bottom, and the darkness would depress me. All in all...I would have made different decor choices, but I don't fault them for needing to lighten it up.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 8:55PM
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I'm not a fan of opening up and modernizing old homes. That being said, the part of San Francisco gets a lot of fog so it's probably a nicer space to be in when it's open and bright.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:45PM
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May stand alone but I love the remodel, not every detail but most of it.

I especially like how the stained glass transoms were transformed with white makeover although the one thing I'd miss are those diamond lattice windows. Maybe not practical but so striking wouldve tried to somehow save / incorporate them.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 10:42PM
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I don't think they ruined it. I think that happened in the 60s. Did they do the best they could have? Not in my opinion.

Maybe it's because the photos were taken from a realtor listing, but I think maybe I'd be able to appreciate the before and after better if they were taken from the same angle.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 11:23PM
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I will never understand why so many think if you white wash everything, it will look good. Everything pretty much blends into everything else leaving all character gone. Granted some of the trim was already painted over,but had it been me making the decisions, I'd have stripped and stained all the wood trim and installed more period appropriate bathrooms and kitchen cabinets.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:07AM
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Yeah, as amberm145 says, I'd say this house got butchered long ago, and I'd bet more than once. The Sunset was traditionally a working class neighborhood.

I used to live at 31st and Judah and I loved my 1930s (rental) house. Parquet floors, plaster walls, original high/vaulted ceilings, lots of non-90' angles. It looked nothing like the before pictures here, with the exception of the kitchen which had also been remodeled from whatever was at hand (though mine nicer). Loved the handmade tiled shower; thank god they didn't tear that out. We even had the weird rooms which is pretty common in the Sunset where the first floors were often completely open garages and later converted to (quirky) living space.

Of course, nothing in that area looks much like it did in 1911. It's very close to UCSF and UCSF looks nothing like it did back then.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Changing Physical Landscape of the Sunset District: The Late 1800s through the Mid-1900s

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:31AM
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It definitely needed some help to start with. I am 50/50 on painting wood. Sometimes it looks better and sometimes it does not. It is a nice home and they did a great job. I would have remodeled the kitchen to fit the time period and would not have gone so modern. Same idea with the baths. I like the way they transformed the bedrooms and living spaces. However, it is very stark white.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 6:17AM
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I agree that it's now a generic house and It would fit into any new subdivision.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:01AM
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robo (z6a)

I'm completely missing the charm from the before photos.The trim overload in the before picture would have slain me so I appreciate the white in the after. That bath kills me though, it's nice enough for my house but totally inappropriate for that house. Looks like a flip without much care/cost gone into the finishes.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:35AM
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I wished they would have put just a tiny bit of color on the walls so the trim would stand out. It would be interesting to see what it looks like without the furniture.

I hate what they did with the porch but fixing those diamond windows may have been cost prohibitive.

There is definitely a disconnect between the exterior and the new interior. But there wasn't much charm to start with so I can't really fault them for taking the easy way out and going with the style of the day.

This post was edited by deee on Wed, Jul 16, 14 at 7:46

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:43AM
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I love the brightness. That said it is sad all that wood work has been painted. The charm of the diamond windows is a huge loss. The kitchen does not belong. The old one needed gutting, to be sure, but the new one is a huge mismatch. I think there is way to update but not strip a home of its charm. They missed the mark.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:43AM
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Living room:
Do NOT like the new fireplace vs. old, or that the (original?) trim is gone. The new front door looks like the kind I can buy for just over $100 at your nearest big box, but the old one wasn't great either.

Kitchen: well of course that's a massive improvement!

NOPE to the eat in area losing the cool windows. The other sunroom was nothing special though.

As much as I like vintage bathrooms, it looks like that one's time was up. I see the signs of trouble around that shower. The new one strikes me as generic though.

In general I'm not a fan of losing all of the original trim, windows, doors, and hardware. I see new hollow core ones in there, where solid core paneled doors once were and a lot of the wood is gone. To me that's a big part of what makes a place what it is. The author is right - it seems very Home Depot, off the shelf to me. It's a challenge to update something while keeping the character and whoever did it may have tried but did not succeed.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:16AM
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Replacing the diamond windows ruined it for me.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:18AM
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Painting all the wood trim white is a big mistake. It looks wonderful now but will require so much upkeep to keep it looking nice. It would have been nice if they stripped the wood and stained it a lighter color.

I love the way the interior looks so bright and fresh but there are some things that just look cheap. For example most of the light fixtures, and it looks like they threw some old blankets on the porch to cover the tile.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Well, I don't think it had that much charm to begin with. Overall, I like the remodel, but it's nothing special. Should have kept those diamond windows in the sun room. I'm also not crazy about the bathrooms. However, I like white and wood.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:21AM
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Sadly, the remodel includes the most generic choice for everything. We were discussing on the other thread making neutral choices for large items and personalizing with accessories and art, but this house has absolutely nothing that couldn't come from a big box store. I don't think the before version was particularly nice as it was too dark and some of the rooms didn't make sense, but the remodel is overly bland with middle-of-the-road quality finishes.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:34AM
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Living in an older home (70+ years old), I can tell you that there is only so much charm that those lovely old single-pane windows deliver. There comes a point where you want to start living in a relatively modern fashion in your home, and matters like energy efficiency (or the complete lack thereof) start to take center stage. I think the remodel is nice. I don't understand the comment above about the painted white trim requiring a lot of upkeep. I've lived in houses with white trim most of my life, and there's little to no upkeep involved.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Sunny, I agree. I should have said that the replacement windows should/could have also used the original diamond design.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:43AM
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Here the Historical Commission approves storm/screen windows over the historical sashes to preserve the original sash as an alternative to a complete historical reproduction.

I did that in my old condo: they were the original sashes from 1840 and there were some tiny bits of rot in the outer corners of the uppermost windows--in a building that had been neglected for more than half a century.

It's not as aesthetically pleasing to have storm windows. But the association I used to live in has embarked on a window replacement program (with multiple approved vendors at various quality levels), and even though they have to be a "historic" window.--They just don't look right, and they are Not going to last 170+ years like the old ones did. I think it's an expensive mistake.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 10:55AM
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I'll never understand why someone would take something that was at least unique, even if not charming, and cookie cutter it into banality. Yeah they blank-slated it for new buyers but who would want something with every bit of personality removed?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:14AM
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Tutor goes Pottery Barn. If they had stopped short of the total Pottery Barn look it would have been helpful. It definitely needed some brightening up but the inside could have been made a better match to the outside. I get that heaping doses of dark wood throughout the house can be depressing but a nice compromise would have been perfect instead of the generic flat whiteout they came up with. There are some rather nice improvements as well, but for me it's the personality crisis of style.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 11:17AM
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This is pretty typical for high price renovation (flips) in SF. They tend to paint out everything white and in many cases completely strip out the trim. They will usually choose very modern styles (versus something more age appropriate) for kitchen and bath cabinetry, and get the latest builders package of high end appliances (Viking is the current special/trend). This one only differs in that they didn't use Carrara or Calacatta marble in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:01PM
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I wonder about that original woodwork.

I looked at a house that appeared to have original stained woodwork in the photos, but in real life it had all been painted in a maroon-ish brown paint, the original stained finish only remained inside the closet. There is something awfully dull about the woodwork in the pictured house, I wonder about its looks in person.

The thing that bugs me about the new bathrooms is that it is very inexpensive right now to do a bathroom with subway tile and a porcelain mosaic floor, and even it was still a generic subway tile bathroom it would have been a more appropriate generic bathroom.

ghostly, I think a lot of people "blank slate/personality removed" when all they see is "new" and "not dated".

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:07PM
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Love the bright white freshness of the rooms -- but I do agree that the renovation/restoration marketplace has LOTS of more appropriate historical-look-but-Modern choices for ALL kinds of homes .....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:10PM
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These are contractors who are in it for money and they do a pretty good generic job. This was not meant to be custom, to bring back every single detail of the period charm. Most renovations and upgrades are not. It looks all better whitened up than it did with the nasty and "old timey" look as most prospective buyers or renters would say.

Life goes on. I am not paying for it. I don't have that kind of bread. If I did, I would build a custom home.

Most houses do undergo some sort of renovation or they become dilapidated and collapse. Preserve the structure. Don't worry about the period aesthetic today because tomorrow most of us arel going to be living commune or

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 12:20PM
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It is interesting to me how blatantly they use the photographic technique to push you in one direction. The old photos have converging verticals, dim or poor lighting, wrong angles, and they even went so far as to ADD a vignette effect (the dark corners) to make it look closed in.

Using the corrected verticals, proper wide angle lenses and supplementary lighting used in the second set probably could have convinced most people that they had remodeled without changing a thing.

That said, I don't think that the original had much charm. Brown, formica, all the same builder-grade generic stuff people are complaining that the new one suffered from -just from an older generation.

The new is a bit bland, but if you are a professional remodeller for resale, then I think you have to go that way. People need to make a house their own - if you do too good of a job decorating then the new owners will either just rip it out and destroy your hard work - or worse, see the house as being too nice and be uncomfortable making changes - and hence uncomfortable buying.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:00PM
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There was some that I liked, and some of it that I didn't like. I thought the kitchen was a little too modern.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 5:16PM
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Yeah, the kitchen and baths really needed work, but they are very generic now. I would have left the wood in LR.

I like what they did with the little outdoor space.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 7:38PM
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The house is from 1911 ... and there is very little original detail left after the ups and downs of the Sunset district. I was not seeing any "charm" to be snuffed out.

Except the fireplace - that somehow survived unpainted and intact. I would have kept it as a "period accent" in the modern living room.

Taking a close look at the pictures ... those "diamond paned windows" people are mourning ... looks like a trellis on the porch, not window panes. The ones in the bedroom with blue-painted woodwork (the upper pane) and the bay area might still be there. The new photos are too blown out to tell, and it has modern storms in the only exterior pic.

PAINT IS A CORRECT TRIM FINISH FOR THAT PERIOD! I have seen enough décor books from the 1900-1920 era to say that with great confidence.

This was not a neighborhood that could afford varnished furniture-quality moldings and doors. They bought "paint grade" and painted it. The two most popular colors were a deep brown to pretend it was mahogany or a creamy off-white for public areas and various soft colors for the bedrooms.

I see a 1940s-50s bathroom, that black one is much later, the kitchen is 1960s ... and the "woodwork" is painted dark brown with an unknown number of layers under it.

I'm not seeing any doors in the original pics, except that closet slider in the stairway, so I don't understand the complaint about the doors.

It's staged for resale ... bland and boring yuppie stuff.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 8:42AM
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As an owner of a 1908 cottage in what was originally a blue-collar neighborhood, I can tell you that high-quality materials were used to build my home. The trim is generous, in a beautiful (stained) bead and convex design. The windows are in scale with the rooms, with their original wavy glass. I have exterior storms on these windows and they are every bit as efficient as the top-of-the line new windows and will outlast them by decades. My house is not dark or dreary. Just saying that new is not necessarily better.

If I drove up to the house in this discussion, I would want to see the inside. How disappointed I would be! However, this house had very little left that was original. As was pointed out, it was ruined in the 1960s. Now it is "bland and boring yuppie stuff." And plenty of buyers like that.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 1:10PM
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I think it is ironic that the house is in the same city with this place :

I have nothing to do with the place, just heard it is very good with repairing things and still looking vintage.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 4:51PM
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I am a traditionalist, love antiques, and have a "they used to make everything better in the old days" kind of bias.

But in this case, I like the remodeling.
It brightened up the place, it's beautiful.

So - good job.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2014 at 6:39PM
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