While most of our projects are for individuals or families, we also understand that each project we design exists within the greater context of the community. Community involvement creates meaning and balance for our office, and it enriches our design process. Not only do we view our projects with the perspective of the client, but also as part of the city, and the green building movement.

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100 Year Old House Remodel

We are in the middle of construction for a remodeling project on a 100 year old house. Homes were built differently in 1911; when you peel back the layers of the wall construction there is a sense of awe for how much building technology has changed.

This house is located in the historic district of Montrose. It’s a two story Victorian style home with a generous wraparound porch. The house was never significantly altered, it’s original fireplace, windows, double staircase still in place. The bathrooms and kitchen, of course had been remodeled. And a sleeping porch had been closed in. Our project involves remodeling the baths and kitchen, and making a few relatively minor partition changes.

What strikes us most is that the original house was built without any plywood, it’s all solid lumber. The 2 x 4 stud walls were sheathed in ship lap – 3/4″ boards that have a rabbeted edge so that they overlap each other. Some other homes we’ve worked on with this kind of construction have plaster and lathe as the finish for the walls. But this house has a thin fabric nailed over the boards and then wallpaper. At some point 1/4″ gyp. board was placed over the wall paper and painted.

Remodeling a house like this is a little bittersweet, there’s an impulse to not touch anything at all, as if some bit of history will be lost, but at the same time by updating it, we are ensuring that the house will remain, and that the new family, and subsequent owners will enjoy and take care of the house. New technologies take us further and further away from the little bit of history that Houston has. Working on a house like this is an opportunity to reflect on that history, preserve it, and look forward at the same time. There’s a balancing act in this design and build process that is rich, rewarding. Unlike new construction, there are moments where you pause to appreciate the history that is being touched.