As for the missing details, what Michael couldn't see he could easily picture. A lifelong woodworking buff who asked for a radial saw for Christmas—at age 11—he had already renovated one other home. "There's nothing I like better than building stuff," he says. "I just find it incredibly satisfying."
As he and Renee toured this house, with its narrow doorways and chopped-up rooms, he envisioned a way to rework the layout—and a chance to add Greek Revival-inspired ornamentation along cornice lines, doorways, and windows. Also on the plus side were four fireplaces and well-preserved heart-pine floors in every room but the kitchen. On the downside, the fireplaces didn't work and the family craved more light and open space.
Pictured: In the living room, a wide opening was cut in the wall that divided the original twin front parlors, easing the flow of light and traffic.