Thinking of sticking your toe into the home restoration pool? Thinking of buying a fixer-upper? The scope of your project will vary depending on the property’s condition, but let’s just say that, if it’s a whole-house redo, it is definitely not for the faint of heart. How you approach your project also depends on what you want to do. Are you just fixing it up and replacing what is there? Or are you changing it up? Adding on, or moving walls, windows and doors?
For Adam Sanregret, Lead Agent of Cincinnati Historic Homes, his latest home restoration project–3071 Sidney Avenue in the Cincinnati’s historic neighborhood of Camp Washington–is definitely not for the timid. This nearly 2700-square-foot Second Empire home, has 3 stories and a full basement. It was built in 1885 as a multi-generational home, so there is a central staircase from the 1st to the 3rd floor and the same basic floorplan on each level. If you are entering from the stairwell, you have one large room on your left at the back of the house, and to your right, two tandem rooms extending to the front of the house. Here are some additional tidbits about the home:
- It didn’t have interior plumbing until the 1920s, which basically only came into the back end of the house
- Two kitchens were added when the plumbing was first installed in the back rooms of the house, one on the 1st floor and one on the 2nd floor
- Bathrooms were also added in the 1920s but their locations come across more as an afterthought to the original floorplan
- The interior was already partially demolished when Adam bought it–no intact kitchen(s), bathrooms, utilities, and no insulation, just the “shadows” of them!
Adam’s plan is to restore 3071 Sidney as a single family home. After restoring five homes, Adam is no stranger to historic restoration but 3071 Sidney is different for him because so much is gone and so much needs to be done all at the same time. Also, from his experience as a realtor, he has seen a lot of “whacky” floorplans in historic homes. He knows that changes can be made to the floorplan of the home that will ensure he ends up with a well-designed single family home–not a single family home that still has the feel of a multi.
To do this, Adam contracted the services of an architect. During a home renovation or restoration, if you are looking to add on, move walls, windows or doors, or generally reconfigure or repurpose existing space and structure, then using an architect can be a wise choice. Not all home renovation projects need an architect, however. If you are simply replacing a room–such as the kitchen or a bathroom–and leaving all the functions and circulation intact, you may want to consider hiring an interior designer rather than an architect. Designers help in the selection of equipment (appliances, fixtures, cabinets, etc.) and finishes (flooring, countertops, backsplash, etc.), adding style and functionality to your finished project. Architects should be involved if you are thinking of changing the flow or circulation in your home or if you expect to significantly affect the layout and use of space within your home.
Here is the architect-designed Master Plan for 3071 Sidney Avenue:
The first floor maintains the original floorplan but with a powder room installed in the hallway by the staircase. The original pocket doors will remain between the living and dining rooms. Bigger changes are planned for the 2nd and 3rd floors. The second floor will have a study, full bath, and two bedrooms, one of which will have a large walk-in closet that opens up to the bathroom. This bedroom will also have an original pocket door opening up from the study. The third floor will contain a master suite with full bath, laundry room, walk-in closet, and sitting room.
When you hire an architect for a home restoration project, our #1 tip is to communicate. When it comes down to the architect helping you design what you want, communication is the key element. Also, talk through your expectations for the project with your architect. The end result will be a smooth project that doesn’t waste time, stays within your budget and creates the home you always dreamed of.
Cincinnati Historic Homes strives to be the best resource about historic homes in the Greater Cincinnati area including properties currently for sale and information on Cincinnati architecture, historic preservation, and restoration resources. If you would like to know more about what it’s like working with an architect for your next home restoration project, give us a call! We would love to talk to you about it and assist you in any way we can.
Stay tuned! This is the 3rd post in an ongoing series documenting Adam’s restoration project: an 1885 Second Empire home. If you missed our previous posts, click here. Now that the plan has been revealed, let’s move on to some work-in -progress fun! Join us as our story continues over the next several months.
A Camp Washington Restoration: It Begins