The Newton House: Before
TOH TV renovates an 1897 Shingle-style house for a family of four
This late-19th-century house—This Old House TV's fall 2007 project, which premieres on PBS in October—is a modest example of the Shingle style of architecture. More elaborate versions of the style can be found along the coast of New England, where some houses are literally built into the cliffs above the water.
Paul Friedberg and Madeline Krauss, shown here with their two sons, are renovating the house to turn it (hopefully) into their lifelong home.
A sloping rear yard worried homeowner Paul, because he wanted a place where he and his boys could run around and play. The landscape plans will take care of that, with a first-floor porch above grade, a bluestone patio at ground level, and a flat yard formed by a retaining wall.
Deep, wraparound porches with columns and beadboard ceilings are a signature feature of the Shingle style.
The house's entryway still has its original front door and stained-glass windows, though a wall that once divided the space into a vestibule and a coat room has been removed.
The grand entry staircase shows elements of Colonial Revival design, with its classical-column newel posts. Many of the rooms in the house are lined with wallpaper, though an expert has determined that none of the papers are original to the house and therefore worth preserving.
The scale of the staircase continues to the landing on the second floor, with a sweeping curved railing and access to all the rooms on that level.
The centerpiece of the entry hall is an original arched stained-glass window. A conservator will clean and restore the window so that it sparkles like the diamond its meant to be.
From inside the front parlor, a visitor can see into what will become the living room and then the family room, adjacent to the kitchen. The open layout of the house—good for entertaining—is one of the things that attracted the family to it.
The living room opens into both the front parlor and the new family room, with views through to the entire downstairs.
Most of the house's original woodwork, which has a lot of Colonial Revival influence, remains in excellent condition. This carved garland graces the mantel in the living room.
The former dining room will become a family room (here looking back toward the living room), with comfortable seating and a television.
One of the nicest features of the family room is its gas fireplace, with a carved mantel, faux-painted slate, and cast-bronze surround. The gas fire, however, used to vent directly into the room; adding a proper vent to bring it up to code isn't possible, so the grate will no longer function.
A 1980s kitchen seems not only outdated, but hardly elegant enough for a house of such grandeur.
The long narrow space will gain some breadth with a bay window and breakfast table on this wall, as well as access to the new back porch. The food prep area will be relocated to the right of this photo by overtaking a laundry room.
The master bedroom upstairs is not very large and won't actually gain any square footage. However, the built-ins will go away and the two windows to the converted porch will become doors leading to a walk-in closet on the left and a large master bath on the right.
A second-floor sleeping porch that was long ago closed in will become part of the master suite, with space for a closet and a bathroom.
Paul works out of a home office, so this bedroom adjacent to the master suite will become his headquarters, with work space sectioned off for Madeline as well.
Much of the house will only get some cosmetic touches, like this second-floor bathroom, which serve the boys bedrooms.
A vestige of the days when servants stepped quietly through the house, the back stairs give the only access to the house's third floor.
The third floor was a man's retreat in its day, boasting a billiards room that still has its combination gas-and-electric light fixture. (Dual-fuel fixtures were common in the 1890s, when no one knew for sure which light source would prevail.)
Paul looks forward to converting the billiards room into a so-called man cave, with a bar, darts, big-screen TV, and other leisurely pursuits. Madeline expects the third floor will become an retreat close to home for the boys as they grow older.
A third-floor kitchenette will serve as both a source of refreshments for the "man cave" and a crafts room where Madeline will get some quality time with her sons.
Paul and Madeline's new house has a lot of features that they hope will make it a home for life for their active family.