Tuesday, June 1, 2010

100th post! 1989 Renovation of my Church Hill House in Richmond - Part I

To celebrate our one hundredth post on the Whitehaven blog, I decided to post about the 100 year old row house that my husband and I renovated in Richmond in 1989/90. My husband bought the house in 1988 before we were engaged. And so when we became affianced and it was apparent that we were going to live in this house, I figured out we had to completely gut this thing. Here's why...

The house in the sad condition it was in on closing day when purchased by my husband (then boyfriend)- hang on here folks!

The exterior brick had a coat of pinky red paint on it - we stripped that off (see first photo above for the "after").

Dining Room

Living Room

Future Kitchen

Courtyard view to the back yard

Okay - you get the picture - it was a dump. But it had great bones and some fun architectural features - like the columns and a curved wall. This was the way the lady left it when she moved out - who does that? Anyway - when we got engaged we had to figure out what we were going to do with this thing - and I voted for gut it. Guess what we did?

It's really not the best idea to renovate a 100 year old house in the first year you are married - that's a lot of stress. We got married in October 1989 and moved into this house in October 1990.

We first pulled out all of the old plaster and lathing (you preservationists out there don't freak out - we had to do it, it was in terrible shape) and then we put in new studs where we needed them.

DH with the old plaster - nice light fixture too.

Entrance Hall stairs - above with the red carpet, below carpet pulled up.

Future home of back stairs (see the diagonal line on the brick? That's from the original back stairs).

Upstairs Hall - we took out the wall you are looking at to let in light.

25 year old me smiling b/c we are ripping out all of the yuckiness!

After the ripping out, the house became an orderly worksite -

A pretty curved wall

An enfilade - but I didn't know that then.

Future Master Bath - it was originally a bedroom.

The back stairs that we found while ripping out and then rebuilt.

There was wall in front of this window making a trunk room, but we took it out to let in more light.

Living Room

The doors we bought to replace the front door(seen below) that was not original. They had to strip the doors and then we just varnished them - no stain. We took the door frame back to it's original size and restored the transom (can you see where it would be in the photo below?).

Here's my "after" teaser. This is the front doors after the renovation. To see the rest of the house "after" come back tomorrow. Also tomorrow, I'll tell you the final cost of the renovation - it will shock you. Stay tuned!


  1. And I thought my husband and I were the only ones crazy enough to do that! I can't wait to see your after pictures - it'll give me hope that we can make it through this process.

  2. Whoa! Exciting stuff! I'll be back tomorrow!

  3. Sarah -
    You might enjoy my house building blog - we chronicled the entire building process in 2007.


  4. I want to know a LOT more about this place. You may need days and days of posts.

  5. Oh I cannot wait! In fact, I found myself scrolling hurriedly to see the transformation. What a tremendous adventure, you are not kidding in the least! Total gut. Y'all were so, so brave! Oh I bet the results were fabulous, must have been hard to move after putting all that love into that house. Be back soon!

  6. Great post! I've picked this up for CHPN (

  7. Wow! Congrats on your 100th post and a beautiful renovation.

  8. My friend asked me to him renovate his 85 year old Tudor house in the country. The interior is well-maintained, but having been standing that for 8 decades, some of the rooms needs to be repaired. We contacted a home foundation expert that my sister recommended. They evaluated the whole house. My friend and I told them about the huge crack at ceiling. We observed closely as they repair cracked foundation. The foundation repair techniques that they did is absolutely flawless! Next week, our next project is painting the living room and buying new painting the living room and buying new furniture.

    Well, congratulation to your 100th post and goodluck to your Church Hill project! Good job guys!