Season 33: The Arlington Italianate
This project premieres on PBS on January 1; check local listings for airtimes in your area. New episodes will also be available at thisoldhouse.com/watchtv on Sundays at 6:00 p.m.
Also available in prime time exclusively on PBS Thursdays in the first half of The This Old House Hour at 8pm ET (check local listings).
The Arlington Italianate | A New Project in Arlington MA, Part 1 of 18
Thursday, January 2, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
After many months on the Jersey Shore, Kevin meets up with Tom Silva at Robbins Farm Park in Arlington, Massachusetts, a family town that also has a cool vibe thanks to its proximity to Boston. The new project house, an 1872 Italianate, is just down the hill. Kevin meets homeowners Heather and Malcolm Faulds—they love their house, but know that it needs some updating. The dramatic two-story foyer, covered with a sea of little kid shoes, reveals the need for a mudroom. They want to open up the floor plan, and they definitely need a bigger, better kitchen. Upstairs, the plan is to renovate the full bath, make room for a laundry, and create a real master suite with a second full bath. Outside, Tom shows Kevin how the addition will look, as well as the challenges of foundation work, bricks that need repointing, and badly patched holes from previous insulation. To make the basement into finished space, Tom and Richard need to deal with moisture getting in, a matrix of pipes at the ceiling, a boiler and two sets of stairs that need to be relocated and an unappealing crawl space where they may have to dig for footings. Clearing out first will give them room to work on everything else, so the crew gets to work removing the old boiler and heat pipes. Roger arrives to protect hardscape and landscape from damage during construction. By the end of the day, as the old kitchen and office get demolished, our latest homeowners can already see the improvement.
The Arlington Italianate | Old House Discoveries, Part 2 of 18
Thursday, January 9, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Richard investigates a curious Arlington Heights landmark as Fred Laskey from the MWRA explains why the locals dressed up their water tower to resemble an obscure Greek Temple. Back at our house, Tom shows Kevin what demolition revealed: a hidden back staircase, great new ceiling height in the kitchen, and decent framing that can be reused in the former office. Upstairs, the discoveries are not so good: the second floor joists in the former full bath are badly compromised. The plan is to beef up the structure by sistering in joists from below, but first, they must remove the old stairs from the second floor all the way down to the basement. At Portland, Maine's Victoria Mansion, one of the grandest and best-preserved examples of Italianate-style architecture in the U.S., Tim Brosnihan shows Norm the hallmarks of the style and how preservation carpenters like Caleb Hemphill are diligently working to restore and preserve this architectural gem. Back in Arlington at our humble Italianate, Roger relocates a massive rhododendron from the front to an elevated bed in the backyard.
The Arlington Italianate | Concrete Jungle, Part 3 of 18
Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Kevin arrives to find Tom having done even more demo than last time. The more he kept digging, the more problems he found: more joists and studs hacked up in the first floor bath, an enormous wasps' nest, a compromised kitchen floor structure, and even the rubble stone foundation under the office addition had to go. After a lot of hand digging and some new footings, today mason Mark McCullough is ready get the new foundation going using concrete block. Kevin jumps in to lend a hand laying the block, and Mark scribes it to an existing rock outcropping. Norm points out that the builders of this house never imagined a finished basement, but now that Tom is headed that way, the wildly pitched floor and ledge in the back have been carefully dug and cut out to make room for a level floor in what will be the exercise room. To protect and bolster the delicate fieldstone foundation, Mark and his crew poured a concrete curb that will also serve as a base for the new interior walls; now that it's cured, they release the forms and pour the new slab inside the curb. Determined to find out what's been hidden up there all these years, Tom and Kevin break through the living room ceiling and make a breathtaking discovery: not only is there another foot or more of ceiling height, but the original plaster cove moldings and medallion are still in place.
The Arlington Italianate | Quest for a Dry Basement,Part 4 of 18
Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
So far, most of the action on our Arlington Italianate project has been on the back of the house. Tom shows how he's framing the new roof to meet the less-than-square existing roof by graduating the rafters. Architect David Whitney explains the logic behind the addition and the new interior spaces on the second floor. As it turns out, a dry basement may not come easily: mason Mark McCullough shows Kevin the corner of the brick foundation that has been failing and letting water into the basement. To repair and repoint, he's using a new additive in the mortar that uses a crystalline quartz compound to keep water at bay. In the basement, mason Bill Della Sorte shows how he's using the additive to create a slurry to fill the newly repointed joints from the inside for even more protection. Roger meets landscape architect Marion Pressley at Elm Bank, the estate that is now the headquarters of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, to see the Italianate Garden that she recently restored there. Back at our little Italianate, Norm helps Tom cut through the wall for the new mudroom entrance that will basically change the flow of the whole first floor.
The Arlington Italianate | Getting to Level, Part 5 of 18
Thursday, January 30, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Things have definitely opened up at the Arlington project; Tom shows Kevin the new floor plan and explains the system he devised to ensure a flat ceiling in the newly expanded kitchen. In the latest chapter of the finished basement saga, Norm finds Tom working with mason Mark McCullough to level out the existing concrete floor with the help of a pressurized hydrostatic altimeter and self-leveling concrete. Roger and homeowner Heather Faulds welcome landscape designer Cricket Beauregard to discuss options for the front yard and to see some of her other work in the neighborhood: shade gardens, woodland paths, privacy screening, and hardscape options. With the door openings all established, it is time for the window openings, and one of the spaces begging for a new window is the front hall: Tom and Norm cut in the opening from the outside, install the new window, and show the many steps to properly flashing a window the Tom Silva way.
The Arlington Italianate | Details on an Addition, Part 6 of 18
Thursday, February 6, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Kevin arrives to find a view-changing ribbon of windows installed in the new eat-in kitchen. Outside, Tom ties in the second floor addition with matching clapboards, but the first floor is getting a unique vertical beadboard detail called for by the architect. In the basement, mason Mark McCullough makes a hole in the old rubble stone foundation to receive a new window. Norm catches up with carpenter Joe Langlais to see how in just 8 years, he's gone from a high school apprentice to running a major residential job for Tom Silva in one of Boston's most prestigious neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Tom shows Kevin how he's replicating the 150-year-old corbels that adorn the roofline of our house, and how he's using them to help tie in the addition. Back in the basement, Richard and project plumber Kevin Bilo work to remove the old cast iron waste pipe that is in the way of our stairs. The new line requires an old-style connection made from molten lead and oakum – a time-honored and fascinating process
The Arlington Italianate | Arlington Heights, Part 7 of 18
Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Kevin arrives to find Roger onsite with arborist Matt Foti and a solid plan to let light into the yard with some selective tree pruning. Richard revisits the benefits of using the "super plastic" PEX instead of copper for the water supply lines. Norm gets a brief history lesson on our neighborhood via local historian and neighbor, Richard Duffy who has recently completed museum-quality restorations to parts of his 1872 Stick Style home. Tom shows Kevin how to convert a jamb that once held a door into an elegant cased opening with the help of a Dutchman, a filler strip, and a bead detail created with a router to achieve a smart looking reveal.
The Arlington Italianate | Italianate Inspiration, Part 8 of 18
Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Paint color consultant Bonnie Krims explores some historically informed options for the exterior of our Italianate style home, while Norm and Tom patch in the holes in the old oak veneer floors left from moving around walls and duct openings. Richard presents a solution to the ugly PVC intake and exhaust pipes that come out of a typical boiler. Today, because we are installing a new, more efficient boiler, we can use a smaller, flexible exhaust pipe in the old chimney that has a smart-looking integrated cap, allowing us to use the chimney itself for the fresh air intake. Kevin meets interior designer Christine Tuttle at an 1870 Italianate style home in Dedham, Massachusetts, to see how work she recently completed there echoes what we might do at our house. Back in Arlington, Tom oversees an army of subs working to finish up the roughs so he can insulate, and upstairs, he shows Kevin the places where he likes to see radiant heat used the most: exterior walls, bathroom floors, the shower walls, and even within the shower bench seat.
The Arlington Italianate | Deadliest Old House?, Part 9 of 18
Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
This Old House welcomes a special guest from Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch: Bering Sea deck boss and aspiring captain Edgar Hansen. When he's not doing the most dangerous job in the world, he is a DIY guy who loves home renovation. To assess his skills, Tom Silva puts Edgar to work patching cracks in the horsehair plaster walls at the front entry, then Richard shows him how the PEX tubing we are using for the water lines needs to be "fished" through the building. Meanwhile, Norm and Tom tackle the project of raising the height of the railing on the second floor landing, to make it safer for the kids. Then Roger sees how Edgar handles a jackhammer as he helps to remove the old set of concrete stairs at the front entry to make way for the new. At the end of the day, Edgar compares notes with Norm and Kevin before he heading back to crab fishing in Alaska.
The Arlington Italianate | Old World, New World, Part 10 of 18
Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Local historian Richard Duffy reveals the common thread behind some of Arlington's most beloved historic buildings. Roger shows Kevin how he's using new granite steps with an antique look to dramatically improve the appearance of the front entry. To help with the tight fit against the house, Roger places the middle step on a bed of ice, so it will melt right into place. Inside, plaster contractor Bob Bucco repairs the severely damaged plaster mouldings and medallion by hand, while 3D printing specialist David Kempskie arrives to show how the repairs can also be made in a computer, thanks to state-of-the-art 3D scanning, modeling, and printing technology. Back out front, it's time to finally add a railing to the entry porch. Norm and Tom review the design options provided by the architect, then get to work fabricating the balustrade, which features a whimsical and period-appropriate flat-stock baluster that is custom-made on site.
The Arlington Italianate | Hydrangeas and Hail Storms, Part 11 of 18
Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Roger shows Kevin the right way to remove a hydrangea with roots that are undermining the foundation of the house. Then Tom shows Kevin the final exterior paint color selections while painting contractor Mauro Henrique offers strategies for working with the potentially messy new raspberry red body color. Kevin travels to Richburg, SC, to visit the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) where they are conducting the first ever indoor hailstorm in their "Mother Nature Chamber" to see how various building materials hold up to destructive hail. Back in Arlington, Norm finds Tom doing some building science of his own, going the extra mile to keep water and dampness at bay in the basement.
The Arlington Italianate | Water, Water Everywhere, Part 12 of 18
Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Local historian Richard Duffy offers a look at Arlington's Spy Pond and the ice-harvesting industry that was responsible for the forward progress of the town. Richard digs in to the water pressure problems at the house by opening up the street to install a new main water line. Inside, Tom installs the new pre-finished Brazilian chestnut flooring in the kitchen so he can next tackle the newly arrived kitchen cabinets. Kevin discovers a business that can replicate historic wood gutters out of durable fiberglass in custom colors. After an in-depth look at how they are made, Norm and installer Peter Robinson install the new gutters at the house.
The Arlington Italianate | Brick, Trim, and Tile, Part 13 of 18
Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)
Roger installs a new front walk to replace the old one that was slapdash and too narrow using a period-appropriate waterstruck brick in a running bond pattern. Inside, Tom shows Kevin how he's using stock trim profiles for the door and window casings, but running custom profiles for the window aprons and chair rails. As they are run and installed, he offers a lesson in both coping and mitering the corners. Interior designer Christine Tuttle helps homeowner Heather Faulds make tile selections at a local showroom, suggesting practical ceramics in the utility areas and more eye-catching limestone and marble in the baths. On the second floor, Norm and Tom work to fit a new 4-panel interior door into an old door jamb. Downstairs, as the cabinet installation finishes up, kitchen designer Steve Jackowski walks Norm through the layout of the kitchen, the construction of the cabinets, and offers a preview of the countertops, tile, and striking copper vent hood that are all on their way to our kitchen.
The Arlington Italianate | Soapstone, Oval Frame, Part 14 of 18
Countertop contractor Michael Parodi sets up in the side yard to create the final edge detail for our soapstone countertops. Upstairs, Kevin finds tile contractor Mark Ferrante at work in the kids' bath cutting down 12-inch square ming green marble tiles to make more decorative smaller pieces. He installs them in a running bond pattern for a crisp looking wainscoting. Norm visits the oldest continuously operating mill site in America where David Graf makes an oval mirror frame for our house using 150-year-old power tools. Back at the project house, Kevin finds Tom in the basement scribing new oak stair treads to the old fieldstone foundation wall. Norm watches the last piece of soapstone go in, then gets a lesson in how to darken the stone using a mixture of carnauba wax and walnut oil.