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A Historic Renovation Introduction: The Mount Vernon House

Mt Vernon House

Everybody, meet the Mount Vernon house…

Years ago when the real estate market didn’t have a monster face (remember those days?) and I had already cut my remodeling teeth on my own home, an old boarding house went up for sale.

Pineshire Sanitarium Southern Pines North Carolina

An old postcard depiction of the Pineshire Sanitarium

The Mount Vernon house is an imposing structure, built in the Queen Anne style at the turn of the century. It was originally a boarding house which actually served as a sanitarium called Pineshire Sanitorium. I’ve been told that the residents staying at the Pineshire would go up into the cupola where they had a clear view of the railroad station and could see when their friends and family arrived into town on the train.  Its unclear how long Mount Vernon was a boarding house but I understand that it was separated in to apartments sometime in the 1930s.

The Mount Vernon house changed ownership a few times in 105 years and sometime in 2004 the property was gifted to a local church who later made it available for purchase. The purchase of the property included the house with six occupied apartments, a dilapidated carriage house and a separate one bedroom cottage.

Interestingly enough, each tenant that occupied the Mount Vernon house at the time of our purchase all held varying occupations.

Apartment 1- Sculptor
Apartment 2- Teacher
Apartment 3- Chef
Apartment 4- Soldier
Apartment 5- Musician
Apartment 6- Actress

This is significant because the apartment numbers were confusing and the layout was such a maze that we couldn’t remember them when we would discuss the project, so we labeled the apartments by the tenant’s profession. These labels remained even after the tenants all moved out and we still use them today. The Mt. Vernon House remains the flagship of Beaver Path Properties, since it was our first complete gut and restoration project and our most ambitious one. Have a look at the before/after photos below.

Mount Vernon Renovation Before

Mt Vernon House

 

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Grout Cottage: Apt. A Bath

Grout AptA Day 5 HeadWe started with a shell of a bathroom. When I say shell I mean just framed walls with plywood because the previous owner had at some point demolished the entire bathroom and was in the beginning stages of putting it back in. The shell of a bathroom that we had to work with was not quite big enough so we widened it and gained a few more feet. I also added a window in the bathroom because I just don’t like bathrooms without windows–that really goes for any room, natural light is always a good thing.

Grout AptA Bath Before After

I had a little fun and tried out a vanity in a color other than white in this bath. I waffled for a while about doing a gray vanity or a camo green vanity but finally settled on blue. The vanity is Benjamin Moore’s Stratton Blue mixed in Pittsburgh Paint’s Breakthrough paint line.

stratton blue

 

 

Apt A bath vanity after

 

Grout AptA Bath Vanity detail

I also had been itching to try a patterned tile and a Victorian age home like this was the perfect opportunity. I loved the black and white floral patterns but didn’t want to make it too feminine so I used this starburst SomerTile from Overstock. Along with the blue vanity, the tile gives this small bathroom a little interest and character.

Apt A bath tile closeupAnd to finish it off, we used a standard fiberglass shower/tub surround because its a rental property but if this was a private residence we would certainly go with tiled shower surround.

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Grout Cottage: Apt. A Living Room & Bedroom

Grout AptA Day 2 Head

Grout Cottage Apartment A Living Room

Apartment A is the downstairs apartment of the historic Grout Cottage. It is a two bedroom apartment with an eat-in kitchen, one bathroom and a laundry/mudroom combination. In addition to the interior transformation, we also added a deck on the back of the house for the residents of Apartment A to hang out on and enjoy.

In the beginning, Apartment A had a pretty odd layout. The apartment had two entrances from the front porch, one that entered the bedroom and the other that entered into a living room. Originally, if you wanted to go to the kitchen and you were hanging out in the living room you had to walk through a bedroom to get there. Obviously one of the first orders of business was to re-work the layout of the apartment.

This is the future living room originally functioning as a bedroom with a small existing closet, a free-standing closet that was added, an odd little storage space behind those two little doors up high and a lovely drop ceiling. Most of the house was filled with dirty, worn wainscoting.

Grout LR before3

 

Turning to the right we see this,

 

Grout LR Before

 

Continuing to turn around the room 180 degrees we see the front door,

Grout LR Before2

 

Here we are after all of the demolition is done. The closets are gone and we’re down to the studs now but haven’t taken the original beadboard ceilings down yet.

grout LR during

That old vent pipe needs to go,

 

grout LR during2

We eliminated those closets, walled over doors and tore everything apart except for the floor and then after several months our finished living room emerges,

Our new front door is a custom door made of solid alder with obscured glass and I love the additional light it allowed in to the room,

Apt A Living Room Entry Compare

We kept things relatively simple with window treatments, hardware and light fixtures because this is a rental property. Although they can be pretty much void of any style, it’s good to have a ceiling fan in the humid and hot summer in NC. If this were a renovation to sell or my own house I would definitely choose different fixtures and finishes.

 

Apt A Living Room to Kitchen Entry

 

 

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The original 119-year old heart pine floors were salvaged. We made the necessary repairs with some reclaimed heart pine and then had them refinished and topped with a clear polyurethane.I decided to use the usual wider trim and baseboard with the crown molding on top but this time opted not to install the blocks at the bottom of each door frame. I see the simpler approach to trim in new or renovated farmhouses.

Apt A Living Rm Trim Detail copy

 

And that’s our living room in Apartment A.

Let’s move on in to Bedroom One in Apartment A. Bedroom One is the largest of the two bedrooms with a ton of windows letting in a bunch of great light.

When we began Bedroom One was functioning as the living room. It had a drop ceiling like the rest of the house, ugly light fixtures (always come with the deal), no closet and three doors.

Apt A Bedroom 1 Before 3 copy

Tons of great windows which we intended to keep,

Apt A Bedroom 1 Before (2)

We removed three chimneys from this house and one of those chimneys was in this bedroom. The carpentry crew removed the chimneys all while someone was still renting the apartment above. Although it is absolutely possible to renovate half of a duplex and remove three chimneys while someone lives in the other half, if I were doing it all again I would’ve asked the upstairs tenant to vacate at the start.

Apt A Bedroom 1 Progress

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We got that chimney out, closed in the extra front entrance and started over with everything else and this is how Bedroom One turned out,

Apt A Bedroom 1 windows After

We borrowed our closet space for this room in part from the closet cavity in what used to be the living room and from the the 2nd bedroom.

Apt A Bedroom 1 closet After

Apt A Bedroom 1 hook

Apt A Bedroom 1 door after

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Grout Cottage: Exterior Reveal

Grout Queen of Hearts top

Grout AptA Day 1 HeadThe Grout Cottage was built in 1895 for the Grout Family, who actually utilized it as their guest house. C.B. Grout and family used the early resort cottage for their guests in the early part of the 20th century. The house was converted to apartments some time in the 1930s.

The earliest photograph that the Moore County Historical Association has of the Grout Cottage looks like its from the 1960s, so we can’t see it in the early 1900s to determine what parts were original and what was patched over time but we have a pretty good idea that those clipped gables, sunburst motif and paneled cornices are original.

We bought this “fixer upper” in the fall of 2012 and before Christmas of 2012 we had started demolition. When we bought the Grout Cottage it was a duplex with two apartments, with an old dilapidated carriage house in the rear, an overgrown yard and two tenants living upstairs. Today, it is still a duplex but everything else changed.

The total renovation took a little more than nine months. The finished product is a unique rental space with modern interior amenities and an exterior that stays true to the Queen Anne architectural style without some of the fuss. We think it folds comfortably in to the landscape of the small quaint town it stands in.

The Grout Cottage now stands between a bunch of new narrow houses that resemble free-standing row houses. Some members of my family were a little concerned that the Grout Cottage would look out of place even though it was the native in the neighborhood. I wasn’t concerned, if you stand there for 119 years, neglected and most recently existing in the middle of a construction zone you deserve some time to shine and I think that’s what happened.

A lot of time, careful choices and consideration went in to every detail of this renovation. I’ll let the images tell the story.

Grout Exterior Before & After

Working in the spring on straightening those clipped gables out, before we got scaffolding,

Grout exterior ladders_optRight side of the front porch,

 

Grout exterior porch side before_opt

 

Grout right front porch

 

Grout exterior front entry before_opt

 

Grout front entry

Straightened out those dog-eared gables,

Grout exterior gable front before2_opt

 

Grout front gable after

 

Grout exteropr 2nd floor before_opt

 

Grout top right gable

 

Grout exterior brackets before_opt

 

Grout Exterior porch bracket after_opt

 

Grout exterior light_opt

 

Grout Exterior porch closeup_opt

Crusty brackets and railing before,

Grout exterior front porch columns before

 

Grout exterior columns & brackets after

 

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So tell me was it worth the wait?

Sources: Light fixtures, porch brackets, porch railing, front door, house numbers

 

 

 

 

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Grout Cottage: End of June Progress

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

It’s high time we check in with the Grout Cottage project, there have been some Instagram snippets here and there but let’s talk about a few details. On a good day the Grout Cottage still looks a little like a haunted house but that’s because the exterior transformation hasn’t really happened yet. Earlier this week a young couple drove by and stopped to look at the house. I chatted with them and they said they liked to stop by periodically to see the change happen. They asked me if we were going to paint the exterior and of course I said yes…what color do you think? I said maybe blue/grey, they agreed that would be a good one.

After that I joked with my Dad about the question of painting the outside. He said, no we’re not gonna paint, haven’t you seen the magazines, post-apocalypse is all the rage. We had a good banter back & forth.

Jokes aside let’s check it out,

The gable ends were changed to A-frame

Grout front June

For funsies I used a site called Colorjive to paint the house a blue/grey–not that I don’t think blue/grey is an entirely safe color but I’d like to get a visual. This is not the exact color it will be but it is a Benjamin Moore color but I can’t remember what it was now.

Grout blue

Then we put a new metal roof on. The front porch will have to be rebuilt before it can get the new metal roof.

Grout new roof

We rebuilt the upstairs porch entirely and raised the roof and the door to make enough room for a standard size entry door for the apartment. Also notice the gable end was changed to an A-frame on the back and you can see the other one on the right side of the house. There were four in all that had to be converted.

grout upstairs porch

The light hits this house beautifully in the mornings that’s why I take so many pictures of the side and the blue sky. That rectangular window was added in the bathroom to provide natural light, there was no window there previously. The old and too small kitchen window is covered in black weatherproofing temporarily and the new kitchen window is right next to it. Notice the gas line running right in front of that window, that will be relocated. Those attic vents with the curved trim are darling, there is one on each side and they will stay exactly as they are.

grout kitchen window

Look now because pretty soon the new outside stairwell will be built and this shabby arbor will be gone and the patchwork stairs will be gone too. I will be #trulyrelieved when I don’t have to look at the crappy staircase any more.

Grout stairs

Electrical lines and an HVAC line running up the right side of the house. We’ll build a box around these to parcel them together neatly

grout side conduit

I spend a lot of time thinking about how I want to change some of the Queen Anne trim but stay consistent with the period. A lot of these trim pieces are rotten or have been re-created. I’m not wild about the “nipple” hanging off that bay. I’ve also thought about panels here around the window in this bay instead of just continuing the siding.

grout bay window

The sawtooth trim is pretty cool around the front of the house but some of it has deteriorated over time. There are a lot of important pending design decisions left for the front of the house.

grout sawtooth

This is the newly sheet rocked Apartment B (upstairs). It’s exciting when walls go up and rooms form. We are looking at the living area in this photo. Originally we had exposed collar ties or “beams” but they were removed at the beginning of this week. We felt like the span wasn’t large enough and that the beams were detracting from the cathedral look.

grout sheetrock apartment B

So that’s a snapshot of wassup right now at the project. Currently I’m thinking about a built-in in the bathroom with glass doors,  a corner shelf at the entry and a whole boat-load of trim ideas for the front porch.

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Grout Cottage: Checking in Upstairs

To reviewthe Grout Cottage is a Queen Anne built in 1895. It is a duplex that we began remodeling in December 2012. Here’s the introduction post to the house.

While Apartment A (downstairs) of the Grout Cottage is getting the finishing touches, Apartment B (upstairs) is getting new frame work and a new layout.

It doesn’t look like much now but this is the current state of Apartment B after demo is complete and re-framing is well underway,

grout cathedralThis is what the living area looks like now,

Grout Living Room BThe future site of the bathroom and kitchen,

Grout Kitchen B

And those bedrooms now have real closets with average size doors.

Grout closet frame BSo we’re getting there, you have to get through the important structural stuff to get to the fun stuff.

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