12 January 2010

welcome! welcome!

it looks, from my reports, that i have picked up quite a few new readers (thank you!) in the past few weeks, so i thought it might be a good time to reintroduce myself and this project...

i'm a girl lucky enough to live in this lovely place we sometimes call "fog city". i spent many weekends here as a little girl and moved here immediately after college. a decade has now passed and i'd decided it was time to find a place to call my very own.

coincidentally, one of my good friends, gina, had started looking as well. we decided to visit some open houses together - and soon were both feeling a bit discouraged about what we'd each be able to buy for our money (studio or one bedroom, under 1000 square feet).

so... one fine day i said, "hey, what do you think about looking at some 2-unit buildings together? we might get a bit more for our money." and, because she's game for just about anything (and is just crazy enough to trust me!), she immediately said "let's do it!"

we started looking at historic fixer-uppers right away and eventually one of our offers was accepted (competition is still fierce here out west).

our new home is a 1880s italianate victorian in the heart of san francisco. while most multi-family homes here were built as flats for multi-generational families, ours was built like the townhouses and row homes you typically see on the east coast. this means that we each have our very own 2-story home, complete with private basement and yard. it could not be more perfect!

what isn't so great is that both houses were, at some point, completely gutted by someone who likely was interested in modernizing. all of the original detail - crown moldings, chair rails, picture rails, baseboards, hardwood floors, and doors - are gone. most have been replaced recently with cheap, and historically inaccurate, stock versions from home depot.

miraculously, the facade is beautiful and well-preserved and they didn't seem to have the energy to remove the original marble fireplaces (HUZZAH!).

so, over time, we will slowly restore her to her former glory - or what we imagine it to have been. prior to the move, i had lived for about 10 years in a stunning late 1800s victorian mansion, converted to apartments, so i will be using the architectural details there as my guide.

here is what i started with (gina's is a mirror image and i've posted some of her progress under the label "project g"):

(top row, l-r) entrance, downstairs hallway, formal dining room, living room
(2nd row, l-r) downstairs (illegal) bathroom, kitchen, view of city hall from kitchen, upstairs hallway
(3rd row, l-r) master bedroom, master - 2 closets. w00t!, view from master (you can see the bay!), guest bedroom
(4th row, l-r) upstairs bathroom, office, view from office, backyard
(last row, l-r) backyard, backyard entrance to basement, basement

you'll note that the entire interior, including all closet interiors and some of the ceiling (!), were bathed in a lovely, baby-poopy yellow. the carpets, which these photos do not do justice to, were covered - COVERED - in disgusting stains. these, i assume, courtesy of the three college kids who were renting the place before it was sold. so let's just pretend they are all pabst blue ribbon, or natural ice from the keg, and not something far more sinister.

so we got to painting, stripping & sanding, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. and now i have a fab backyard for parties, a finished guest bedroom, a dramatic entry hall, a lovely place for a christmas tree, and some rooms that need some finishing touches.

i'll be sharing all of my progress here. i hope you'll stay with me to offer ideas, comments and encouragement.

thank you for stopping by! y'all come back now, ya hear?!

jen x


  1. You have your work cut out for you, but it seems you have great vision. I'll definitely be back to check out the progress!
    ~Erin @ Cultivating Home

  2. thank you, erin! i hope you will - and that you'll offer up feedback when you have it!


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