Orlando colonial home front yard before renovation
Photo: Deborah Whitlaw Llewellyn
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Old-World Charm, New-Age Problems

Built by our next-door neighbor's grandfather, the house had lots of old-fashioned warmth, with decorative corbels on the exterior, cypress and oak paneling, wide-plank wood-pegged floors, and two working fireplaces, one framed with hand-painted Delft tiles. It also had three bedrooms, two full baths, and two half baths. But after 70-some years in the Florida sun, it needed work.

Friends and relatives thought we were crazy. "Renovate—again?" they asked. The kitchen was dark and cramped, the bath near the master bedroom needed all-new everything, and the basement had an apparent moisture problem: Plaster was literally falling off the walls.

We were recently married, and another whole-house redo was not in the budget. So that first year, we focused on the kitchen, the bath near the master bedroom, and painting and floor refinishing.
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