TOH TV's Bedford House: Before
TOH TV's next project is a historic 1720 Georgian house. Take a tour of the home before the renovation starts
Built circa 1720, the Nathaniel Page homestead in Bedford, Massachusetts, was once occupied by a flag bearer for the Battle of Concord, a very early battle during the Revolutionary War. The house is now in the able hands of young owners who want to retain its historic character while acquiring a few modern amenities. The most significant project our TOH TV team will face is a rear addition that will house a generous family room. A smaller addition out front, containing a mudroom and powder room, will serve as the house's everyday entry. To make way for it, the wheelchair-accessible ramp will be taken down.
Homeowners Joe and Rebecca Titlow are both avid renovators who look forward to working alongside the TOH team. Joe has watched nearly every episode of the TV show, while Rebecca regularly tears out pictures from TOH magazine for their renovation's "inspiration file." While they love living in a house that's almost three centuries old, they hope to update it into a safer, more comfortable spot for themselves, their toddler daughter, and two dogs.
This rickety front stairway and landing will be removed and replaced with something far sturdier. Behind the screen door, the raised-panel front door, which dates back to the 18th century, will be completely restored and outfitted with replica hardware.
The kitchen cabinets and appliances are fairly recent, but a massive brick fireplace and wood-burning stove, seen in the foreground, gobble up much-needed space in this most important of family gathering spots. The chimney extends all the way up through the second story and roof, too. Though Joe was willing to work around this artifact, the couple has decided it needs to come down ("It's impossible to child-proof this thing," says Becky.) The kitchen will then be reconfigured with a new center island, built-in breakfast nook, and walk-in pantry.
This photograph of the wood-burning stove and fireplace show just how much real estate they occupy in the kitchen. Bricks from the chimney will be salvaged and used to build a new fireplace surround and raised hearth in the family room addition, which will feature a cathedral ceiling with exposed timber beams.
With low, exposed-beam ceilings and brick fireplace surround, the study—originally a living room—will be spruced up some, but its period look will remain largely unchanged. The fireplace will get a few fixes (there's water coming into it, among other problems), and the existing floors will be pulled up to see if there are original wide-plank pine floors worth restoring beneath them.
The Nathaniel Page homestead has had a variety of additions and renovations over its nearly 300 years of existence. The original home was built around 1720; a rear ell was added sometime in the latter half of the 18th century; the most recent addition (on the right in this photo) was tacked on in 2004; the addition of a deck and porch, interior renovations, window replacements, and other updates happened along the way. The 2004 addition will become a playroom after the Titlows' renovation.
With its handsome built-ins, the house's original butler's pantry will remain largely untouched, save for freshening up paint and finishes.
The Titlows' house has quite a past. Nathaniel Page, a descendent of the original owners, served as the flag bearer for the Bedford Militia during the Battle of Concord in 1775—one of the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War. The battle flag, purported to be the oldest in the U.S., remained in the house for decades and was later donated to the town of Bedford. Because of the house's age and historical significance, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The detached two-car garage is now home to a mishmash of tools, gardening equipment, and, yes, Joe's candy-apple-red sports car. If the family's budget allows, Joe hopes to work with TOH master carpenter Norm Abram to transform it into a fully equipped workshop for future woodworking projects. At the very least, the garage will get a new door that better matches its barnlike appearance.
Rotting clapboards with blistering paint will be removed and either replaced or restored and repainted by TOH general contractor Tom Silva and his crew. We're happy to report the Titlows will keep their house the same period-appropriate red color it is today.
Like the study, the dining room retains its historic charms, with features like wainscoting and a wood-burning stove. While the room will remain largely untouched by the remodel, its six-over-six windows and sashes, which are believed to be more than a century old, will be removed and completely restored, along with several others in the house.