Aaron saw the possibilities immediately, envisioning a house that combined the authenticity of original architectural details with newer open spaces that suit today's lifestyle. He figured that he already had most of the skills and the tools for the work that was needed. He could repair and refinish the wainscoting and the boxed-beam ceilings in the foyer, living room, and dining room. And he could deconstruct and remove the warren of small bedrooms and bathrooms that the previous owners had created to rent out rooms. Having done plenty of tile work on previous renovations, he could do the tiling that the new baths would require. And he had mastered the art of low-cost concrete countertops.
But the two things Aaron wanted most would stretch his skills and his budget: a big, airy kitchen with plenty of storage, natural light, and traffic flow for entertaining; and a second-floor master suite with ample closet space and a spa-like bath. A wild thought took hold: To compensate for the cost of the two-story addition—a pro job that in California would involve adhering to earthquake code—he'd make all the cabinetry himself.
Shown: All the trim, door and window casings, wainscoting, and half-height built-in bookcases—which form partitions from foyer to living room to dining room—were repaired and refinished with white paint, which adds to the fresh, updated feel of the spaces.