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Only the roof and the four walls remain from before.

Only the roof and the four walls remain from before

The day escrow closed on their first house--a rundown 1914 Santa Monica cottage--Fred Spencer and his wife, Karen Brooks, went to work on it. It was the first remodeling project either had ever tackled. For others considering this approach, they advise, "You need a coach.'

Even before making an offer on the house, the couple had enlisted the help of experienced builder and friend Darrel Hestbeck; the three checked the house's soundness from foundation to attic. Throughout the remodeling, Hestbeck offered good advice on structural, electrical, plumbing, and insulation matters and assisted at every stage. "He came by just about every day,' the owners say, "to keep us on track.'

Since only exterior walls were load-bearing, Spencer gutted the interior, save for a brick pillar that had been a wood-burning stove chimney. He enlarged the living room by enclosing a 6- by 10-foot entry porch, and tied two 4-by-10 and four 4-by-6 beams into the roof.

The open floor plan retained the original kitchen and bath locations, thus economizing on plumbing alterations. The owners framed and gypsum-boarded new walls to define a study, bedroom, bath, and laundry-lavatory. At the front of the living room and over the rear of the bedroom, they framed in lofts.

A cooktop counter divides kitchen and dining areas. Cabinets are of pine boards found in a lumberyard "seconds' bin for 25 cents a foot. A redwood bay window replaced a small louvered window over the sink. Gray-blue ceramic tiles pave counters and backsplash; inset chopping blocks beside the sink and the cooktop take heavy use in food preparation.

The owners installed five skylights, ranging in size from 1 by 4 to 3 by 6 feet. All exterior doors except the front door are wood-framed glass panels.

After pouring a concrete hearth for a freestanding fireplace, tiling the entire floor area, and sheathing the newly insulated roof with 1-by-6 tongue-and-groove spruce, the remodelers moved in--and took a rest. ("You have to take breaks,' they warn.) Since then, they've added mirrors to the walls behind the fireplace and beside the 11-foot-wide dining area.

Future projects include constructing a new front porch, finishing the framed-in front and rear lofts--one for guests, one for storage--and finishing the full basement into a home workshop.

Photo: 1 Hammer and crowbar in hand, owner Fred Spencer pries out old electrical conduit and bracing between studs of an interior wall

Photo: "Nothing to it,' gestures Karen Brooks. Laying Mexican pavers throughout newly opened-up interior was her first tile job

Photo: From front door to back, new plan shows 45-foot-long lineup of living, dining, and kitchen areas, brightened by new skylights

Photo: Pine cabinets were owner-built from glass and blemished lumber. The old, enclosed kitchen extended only from refrigerator wall to countertop range

Photo: Walls and ceilings came down to open up small cottage. Beams are a structural necessity. Mirrored wall behind fireplace reflects awning-shaded front window

Photo: Cottage retains 1914 profile, but filled-in corner porch became part of living room

Photo: Mirror panels make dining area look twice as wide. Front door is at far right
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:house remodeling
Date:Jan 1, 1988
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