Episode Descriptions

newton shingle style

Season 29: The Newton Shingle-Style House Project

This project premieres on PBS Saturdays at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)

Also in prime time exclusively on PBS Thursdays in the first half of The This Old House Hour at 8pm ET (check local listings).

October 2007 Program Listings

Program #2701
Newton Project, Part 1 of 16
Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


In just a short subway ride, host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram arrive at the latest project house in Newton, Massachusetts. Built in 1897, the house is a Colonial Revival in "Shingle-style clothes"—a typical transitional-style house from the late Victorian era. Nearby, homeowners Paul Friedberg, Madeline Krauss, and their two young sons are moving out of old center hall Colonial. After struggling with the "move or improve" conundrum, they decided to move AND improve. On a tour of the "new" old house, Norm and general contractor Tom Silva review the good news—an exterior in pretty good shape and beautiful intact woodwork—and the bad news—some structural issues and a disconnected, sorely outdated kitchen. Upstairs, they find extensive plaster damage, bathrooms in need of updating, and an old enclosed sleeping porch that will become part of the new master suite. Architect Treff LaFleche shows Kevin and the homeowners his plan for opening up the kitchen and adding a mudroom, while also explaining how these rooms will be connected to the rest of the house and the backyard. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey surveys the state of the mechanicals, while landscape contractor Roger Cook exposes problems with the steep grade in the backyard, drainage, and wood-to-ground contact.

Program #2702
Newton Project, Part 2 of 16
Saturday, October 13, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O'Connor meets landscape architect Stephanie Hubbard to see her plan that calls for minimal changes out front, but major work in the back to re-grade and create a large new patio. In the old kitchen, general contractor Tom Silva recaps the plan, while master carpenter Norm Abram and homeowner Paul Friedberg begin demolition. In the basement, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Kevin how to loosen a stuck sewer cap. Kevin visits a state-of-the-art facility in Westborough, Massachusetts, where the crew's construction and demolition waste is sorted for recycling. Chimney expert Mark Schaub evaluates the 100-year old chimney flues with the help of a "flue cam," which is monitored on a laptop computer. Landscape contractor Roger Cook cuts down the giant ewes that have been obscuring the front of the house for decades.

Program #2703
Newton Project, Part 3 of 16
Saturday, October 20, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O'Connor finds general contractor Tom Silva in the backyard prepping the footings for the new porch columns. Landscape contractor Roger Cook brings in civil engineer Mike Kosmo to do the perk test needed for the new landscape plan. To learn more about the form, architect Treff LaFleche shows Kevin a stunning neighborhood Shingle-style house that he purchased, renovated, and sold 3 years ago. The turn-of-the-century home features a curved wrap-around porch, dramatic entry hall, charming inglenook, and, similar to the renovation plans the team has in store, it has a new open kitchen and family room that connect visually with the rest of the house. Back on site, Roger finds certified arborist Matt Foti removing a rotted red maple from the side yard with a tree crew and crane.

Program #2704
Newton Project, Part 4 of 16
Saturday, October 27, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


General contractor Tom Silva removes the temporary support beam that has been holding up the back corner of the house. Meanwhile, engineered lumber specialist Craig Smith shows master carpenter Norm Abram the "green" framing materials to be used in the new kitchen. Norm, Tom, and host Kevin O'Connor remove the old kitchen walls and install a new 16' beam to open up the space. Master electrician Allen Gallant shows Norm how the shoddy wiring installed over the years has created unsafe conditions and code violations throughout the house. Kitchen showroom co-owner Yael Peleg presents her vision for an "unfitted kitchen," while kitchen designer Donna Venegas shows Kevin and homeowner Maddy Krauss how the concept is incorporated into the floor plans and design choices. Back in Newton, Tom and Kevin reframe the structure of the floor under the master closet to strengthen, level, and tie it in with the rest of the floor in the new master bath.

November 2007 Program Listings

Program #2705
Newton Project, Part 5 of 16
Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


Landscape contractor Roger Cook installs 200 running feet of pre-cast concrete to create a retaining wall that will define the perimeter of the new backyard. Inside the house, wallpaper historian Richard Nylander helps host Kevin O'Connor date and evaluate the historic wallpaper throughout the house, while general contractor Tom Silva frames for a new window in an old wall. Kevin makes a trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to see how three 19th century buildings are being moved as part of a construction project at Harvard Law School. The million-dollar move, which has been planned for five years, requires the buildings to be lifted and rolled down Massachusetts Avenue on hydraulic dollies steered by remote control.

Program #2706
Newton Project, Part 6 of 16
Saturday, November 10, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


After a brief stop at Johnny's Luncheonette for breakfast, host Kevin O'Connor meets paint color specialist Ann Pfaff to learn what colors might be appropriate for the Shingle- style house. Back in Newton, general contractor Tom Silva and master carpenter Norm Abram build the 12-foot wall of the new kitchen bump out that will contain a built-in bench for the kitchen table. In the South End of Boston, Kevin visits stained glass designer Jim Anderson at his workshop to see the restoration and rebuilding of the home's four historic windows. In the home's backyard, under the new porch, landscape contractor Roger Cook uses a pay-as-you-go concrete truck to pour a small buttress wall that will support the exposed rubble stone foundation.

Program #2707
Newton Project, Part 7 of 16
Saturday, November 17, 2007 at 1:30pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O'Connor drives up to the house to find general contractor Tom Silva helping load up a truck for the "Building Materials Resource Center," a local non-profit that will be selling the project's surplus materials to needy homeowners at discounted prices. Inside the house, Tom shows Kevin the progress on the porch, kitchen, and master bath, where his crew is installing several new windows. In the basement, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey gives an update on the mechanical systems. To learn more about the home's Milford Pink granite foundation being a sign of wealth at the time the house was built, architect Treff LaFleche takes Kevin to see how the same stone was used on the Boston Public Library, and also how the granite is quarried and split to best match the home's existing stone. Back on site, Roger installs the new Milford Pink granite, and also matches the old mortar.

Program #2708
Newton Project Part 8 0f 16
Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 1:30pm ET ((check local listings)


Host Kevin O'Connor and plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey stop to see Echo Bridge, a 500-foot long arched structure built in 1976 to carry water over the Charles River. Back at the project house, landscape contractor Roger Cook digs up a large, established shrub by the front walkway which will be transplanted to the backyard to help with screening. Roger also shows Kevin how work on the new fieldstone sitting wall is progressing. In the first floor parlor, general contractor Tom Silva shows Kevin how to install a replacement window. Meanwhile, Richard adds radiant heat panels under the entry hall, a great solution for warming an area that was not previously heated. PEX water pipe goes into the kitchen, while master carpenter Norm Abram travels to Germansville, Pennsylvania to see how countertop fabricator Paul Grothouse is crafting a beautiful 3-inch teak island top for the house.

December 2007 Program Listings

Program #2709
Newton Project, Part 9 of 16
Saturday, December 1, 2007 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O’Connor sees how landscape contractor Roger Cook is building the fieldstone and mortar sitting wall. Meanwhile, master carpenter Norm Abram shows homeowner Paul Friedberg troublesome conditions with the wood-to-ground contact on the side of the house, underneath the front porch, and at the garage. Pest control expert Bill Seigel comes to the rescue with a treatment to stop the termite activity and prevent further damage. General contractor Tom Silva shows Kevin the new stepped dowel fastening system he is using to put down the ipe decking. Architect Treff LaFleche takes Kevin to see a riff on the Shingle-style brand new home he designed that looks traditional on the outside, but features clean, wide open, modern spaces on the inside. Up in the attic, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Norm the air handlers, and how the high velocity mini-duct system lets him easily feed conditioned air to the second and third floors.

Program #2710
Newton Project, Part 10 of 16
Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O’Connor runs with marathon champion Bill Rodgers to find out why Heartbreak Hill is a challenge for runners of the Boston Marathon. Back in Newton, painting contractor Jim Clark and crew are prepping the exterior of the house for paint. Landscape contractor Roger Cook shows Kevin the progress on the bluestone patio and massive bluestone stairs. The patio is set in sand, instead of stone dust, to meet the permeability requirements of the town. General contractor Tom Silva shows Kevin how he is wrapping the exterior columns with shingles woven together in a hand-crafted, flared detail at the base. Upstairs, spray foam insulation is put in the open bays of the new work and injected into the soffits of the old work. In the third floor billiards room, lighting restoration expert Scott Sweeny demonstrates several options for adapting an antique light fixture to meet modern needs. Pool table expert Steve Kelly arrives to dismantle the antique pool table for off-site restoration.

Program #2711
Newton, Project, Part 11 of 16
Saturday, December 13, 2007 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


Progress on the home’s exterior painting continues. General contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O’Connor how he is wrapping the columns under the back porch in shingles. Preservation plasterer Rory Brennan shows master carpenter Norm Abram how he’s saving the old plaster in the billiards room using a new adhesive system. He also shows Norm how to replicate an authentic corner bead detail from the 1890s. Kevin meets homeowner Madeline Krauss and her interior designer, Abbey Koplovitz, to see their selections for the home’s lighting, paint colors, and furnishings. In nearby Somerville, Massachusetts, Norm visits billiard restorer Steve Kelly’s showroom and workshop to see rare and valuable antique pool tables, and also to see how work on the pool table is progressing.

Program #2712
Newton Project, Part 12 of 16
Saturday, December 22, 2007 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


A local nursery brings plants to the house. General contractor Tom Silva addresses some unforeseen rotting problems with the garage. Inside, the kitchen is plastered, the new white oak flooring is down, and the cabinets have just arrived from Kitchener, Canada. Flooring contractor Steve Dubuque shows master carpenter Norm Abram how he is layering aniline dye, stain, and polyurethane to achieve the floor color the homeowners are seeking. Plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey travels to Racine, Wisconsin, to see how one manufacturer is making a new generation of kitchen garbage disposers. Tom installs a new standing seam copper roof over the back porch. In the master bath, Kevin finds tile contractor Joe Ferrante setting up for a major tile job – the first step is waterproofing the shower by using a paint-on, flexible, seamless, waterproofing membrane.

Program #2713
Newton Project, Part 13 of 16
Saturday, December 29, 2007 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O’Connor talks with homeowner Paul Friedberg to learn more about Paul’s past as an Olympic fencer. Master carpenter Norm Abram checks on the installation of the new custom garage doors. Cabinet installer Patrick Malone finishes the job by scribing his base moulding the floor. General contractor Tom Silva shows Kevin how he is giving a stock masonite door a face lift by adding an oak veneer and new oak mouldings. In the master bath, tile contractor Joe Ferrante shows Kevin how he is laying the mosaic “rug” tiles in front of the new vanity. Kitchen designer Donna Venegas shows Norm the countertop and tile choices for the kitchen, while template maker Kent Whitten creates the templates using digital technology. Landscape contractor Roger Cook works with an irrigation contractor to add both sprinkler heads and drip irrigation to the landscape before the cold weather sets in.

January 2008 Program Listings

Program #2714
Newton Project, Part 14 of 16
Saturday, January 5, 2008 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


Landscape contractor Roger Cook installs sod in the backyard, while host Kevin O’Connor meets engineered stone distributor Chelsie Arnold to learn more about the quartz and resin countertops being installed in the kitchen. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Kevin the new high-efficiency air conditioning system. Kevin then helps general contractor Tom Silva fabricate new wainscoting for the kitchen. In the front hall, painting contractor Jim Clark shows Kevin how the oak woodwork is cleaned using TSP and a little elbow grease. In the upstairs hall, the damaged wood requires stripping and re-staining. The day ends with the sad news that our beloved tile contractor, Joe Ferrante, has unexpectedly passed away.

Program #2715
Newton Project, Part 15 of 16
Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


Host Kevin O’Connor checks out general contractor Tom Silva’s makeshift workshop on the front porch of the house. Inside, countertop fabricator Paul Grothouse arrives from Pennsylvania to install the end grain teak island top and deliver its companion piece “a custom teak farmhouse table” for the breakfast area. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey displays the progress on the second floor bath and meets tub refinisher Jack Donaruma on the third floor to see him strip and refinish the old clawfoot tub. In the master closet, Kevin finds the room painted and closet designer Brian McSharry is installing a custom closet system. Back in the kitchen, tile contractor Mark Ferrante shows Kevin how he uses wedges to create even grout lines on the uneven handmade tile backsplash. Tom shows master carpenter Norm Abram how he uses portable lathe to turn a new newel post finial out of walnut. In the billiards room, pool table expert Steve Kelly reassembles the restored antique pool table and finally gets to play a game of pool with Norm.

Program #2716
Newton Project, Part 16 of 16
Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 1:30 pm ET (check local listings)


In the final episode of the Newton project, host Kevin O’Connor meets lighting designer Susan Arnold to see how she is using new light sources and more modern fixtures to update the formerly dark areas of the house. Greg Smizer, Larry Schulman, and Eric Reinhardt install the security system, plasma televisions, and audio systems while Meghan Hodge installs window treatments. Landscape contractor Roger Cook inspects the finished garage and meets landscape architect Stephanie Hubbard to see the finished back porch and terrace. Homeowner Paul Friedberg and his sons break in their new backyard with a game of Home Run Derby. Architect Treff LaFleche hangs a historical marker out front. Designer Abbey Koplovitz and homeowner Madeline Krauss display how they have pulled together the interior with paint colors, custom furniture, window treatments, rugs, and family antiques. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey tests the new digitally controlled shower system in the master bath while master carpenter Norm Abram tours the finished kitchen with designer Donna Venegas. As the wrap party begins, the team gathers on the front porch to toast general contractor Tom Silva on a job well done.