remodeled dining room opened up with the removal of a wall to the foyer
Photo: Jason Dewey
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Opening Up to the Past

The place had suffered some questionable remodeling—more like remuddling—over the years. Neighbors told me it had once been chopped into apartments, and nonworking pipes in the walls seemed to confirm this. A room next to the existing kitchen had been walled off from the foyer and divided into an office and storage area. I figured the original dining room must have been there and not on the other side of the house where the previous owner had it. And that must have meant there was once a door to the foyer. So one day I just took my now trusty circular saw and cut through the drywall from both sides. Wouldn't you know it, I found the original doorjamb framing!

It was the kind of small victory that made my day during that year and a half of construction, when I was living out of boxes and spending all my free time on the house. I worked part-time as a teacher, but this was my main job. Things were so tight and chaotic that first year we barely had enough room for all four of us to sit comfortably in the front parlor and watch TV. So for that first Christmas, I went out and got a 4-foot-tall tree and put it on top of an end table so that it wouldn't take up much room. At least the boys never complained.

Pictured: To undo previous remodels, the dining room was reopened to the foyer. The six-light chandelier was a money-saving home-center find.

Dining room light: Lowe's
Furniture: L. & J.G. Stickley; Warren Hile Studio
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