House project from This Old House TV

The Lexington Bed and Breakfast

A two-family home in Lexington, Massachusetts, was converted to a bed and breakfast with a 2,400-square-foot addition and a handicapped-accessible in-law suite.

lexington bb

The spring of 1988 saw us joining up with homeowners Mary-Van and Jim Sinek to build an addition onto their home in Lexington, Massachusetts. The project became known as the "B&B job," since one major component was adding three extra bedrooms and baths for the Sineks to rent out as bed-and-breakfast accommodations. Another crucial aspect was creating an in-law's suite for Mary-Van's elderly mother, complete with handicapped-accessible bedroom and bath.

When Jim's employer relocated the couple to Massachusetts from Rochester, New York, they found that real estate prices in the metropolitan Boston area had "gone through the roof" — even for modest homes. Jim, an engineer, and Mary-Van, a veteran do-it-yourselfer, purchased the house with the goal of making the housing help to pay for itself by renting out one unit (or converting it into a condominium) and generating additional income from the bed-and-breakfast operation.

The house they bought, built in 1909, was a well-kept, wood-frame, side-by-side two-family residence on a generous corner lot. Designer Jock Gifford of Design Associates drew up the addition in a style sympathetic to the existing building; its 2,400 square feet doubled the existing square-footage of one of the house's units. The addition featured:

  • a new master bedroom and bathroom for Jim and Mary-Van
  • an enlarged and efficient kitchen
  • an adjacent breakfast room (complete with zero-clearance fireplace) and dining room for family reunions and the bed-and-breakfast operation
  • a spacious family room
  • two outdoor decks: one of granite for family use, the other wooden for B&B guests
  • a finished basement
  • an attached two-car garage
  • and a whole-house audio system

An ambitious project, the Sinek addition filled all 26 episodes that year, and in addition to the construction included issues as diverse as radon and faux-finishing. Rounding out the series were a number of "field trips":

  • visits to several bed-and-breakfast establishments to see how they're run
  • a tour of Metropolitan Home's Showhouse, a five-story Manhattan townhouse decorated by world-class artists and designers (Mario Buatta, David Hockney, Norma Kamali, Wolfgang Puck, among others) to benefit AIDS patients
  • a visit to a single-family home development in Aurora, Illinois, featuring houses so energy-efficient the builder guaranteed that annual heating bills would not exceed $200
  • a look at handicapped-accessibility issues through visits to two homes--one with a young boy in a wheelchair and one owned by an older couple who were planning for the day when their mobility would be impaired
  • behind-the-scenes tours at a Vermont granite quarry, a veneer plywood paneling factory, a stair-parts factory, and the kilns where many of America's porcelain bathroom fixtures are made.

The Lexington Bed and Breakfast Episodes

Floor Plans

Lexington BB First After
After
Lexington BB Second After
After

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