Which wish came first, the whopping garage or the adjacent bungalow? Bruce and Carole Boatner sought and found both in a previously remodeled ‘20s property in Norhill. A to-the-studs renovation and restoration has netted a cozy home (and expansive workshop) for the couple, who retired recently, downsized and relocated from Shepherd Park Plaza.
At 1,100 sq. ft., the commercial-grade garage is only slightly smaller than the house itself, a former parsonage.
The gargantuan garage proved to be a deal clincher, Bruce says, and its new roof a big budget item on the work scope. As a craftsman, tinkerer, classic car enthusiast — and serial remodeler, however, Bruce needed generous work space for projects, including the home’s transformation.
He handled a lot of the redo, particularly the extensive woodwork, detailed tile mosaics and window restoration. He toiled on the latter “out of respect for the integrity of the house” as well as a budget consideration when wanting them “done properly.”
“It would have been far easier just to replace them,” he says, given the weeks it took him to strip the windows, frames and trim to bare wood, replace the historic “wavy” glass, re-glaze, replace ropes and restore or replace the hardware. He even made new window frames and trim with salvaged wood in several places. (He also got very skilled at hanging doors salvaged from elsewhere.)
Using vintage wood and salvaged elements, when possible, was a priority, he says. Other examples include the five panel doors and mortis locks. Meanwhile, Carole located period-correct lighting and plumbing fixtures from area and online resources.
FLIPPING A FLOOR PLAN
The project bucked a few trends, Carole says. For example, previous remodeling had opened up the floor plan, re-purposed rooms and replaced original finishes with ‘90s design choices. The Boatners chose to put some punctuation back between rooms and bring back vintage visuals.
A dramatic example, crafted by Bruce, is the snazzy pair of half-height bookcases. Capped by columns, the sturdy units frame the transition from living to dining room. The wall between the latter and kitchen had been previously removed — and remains open.
In flipping the kitchen layout, meanwhile, the old window over the sink became a handy door to a new deck in the side yard, with secure access to a new side door into the garage. The kitchen now plays up its Craftsman style but has modern amenities, such as an island for prep and a nifty corner pantry to maximize storage.
Initially, the work scope just followed the floor plan that came with the updated-but-dated home. The extensive interior demo, however, uncovered the front door’s original location (and hinges).
That discovery prompted a design change by project architect Richard Grothues that made the flow more efficient, aesthetic, and traditional between rooms: bedroom, bath, bedroom suite on one side, living room, dining area and kitchen on the other.
Demolition also revealed old-growth wood, complete with workers’ chalk marks and signatures, and the original kitchen’s chimney connection. Given interim updates, there was little else to find, Carole says.
One wrinkle in the project was her insistence on having a fireplace in the living room, which had no chimney. Since adding a gas fireplace was “a permitting nightmare,” they went with an electric one.
Flipping the floor plan and gutting the interior meant updating outdated wiring, plumbing and HVAC. “It’s exciting to have outlets, lots and lots of outlets,” Carole says.