Buying a rundown 1898 Arts and Crafts-style bungalow in Coronado, Calif., was, Patricia DiCicco's family insisted, a supreme act of folly. But Patt ignored their skepticism. She'd always loved old houses — there aren't many of them in California — and she fell for this one right away. "Most people considered the place a teardown," she says, "because it needed to be completely overhauled from top to bottom. But I saw its potential." Patt's passion is not lost on This Old House's former host, Steve Thomas. "I grew up in a bungalow in Berkeley, and there's something about that style that epitomizes home," he says. "I can see why she wanted to rescue this place." Coronado, a long-established resort community on a peninsula between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean, was initially developed as a haven for the elite. Old-timers told Patt that her house had been designed by a noted local architect, William Sterling Hebbard. For Patt, whose primary residence is in Palo Alto, the town looked like the ideal spot for her and her husband's retirement. Until that time came, they and their sons could use the bungalow as a getaway on occasional weekends; she also hoped to rent it out for most of the summer. A born optimist, Patt bought the house in December 1998, and secured her first renters for the following July. The timetable gave Patt and her crew about six months to get the house into move-in condition. Big tasks included a complete rewiring and replumbing. And then there was the kitchen: It might have worked for previous owners, but Patt didn't want to cook in it.