One of the interesting parts of our job is finding the homes, and we find them in many different ways. For this home it was really fun. We saw an ad for an estate sale. We went to the sale and found some really great vintage items for staging our flips, and as a bonus we discovered that the house was going to be listed!
This house is located in Ontario, just one block off Euclid Avenue. Euclid is an historic street that goes north and south, and through the cities of Ontario and Upland it is a divided roadway with a beautiful green space up the middle. In the late 1890’s Ontario’s famed mule car hauled passengers up and down Euclid Avenue. Mules would haul the car to the top of the street and then ride back down to downtown, as the car was powered by gravity. We love to imagine the city in those days, with mules carrying people up the street and then getting a ride down!
This cute little bungalow was built in 1923. It is a 1200 square foot, 2 bedroom and 1 bath home that we bought for $275,000. As cute as it was the house needed some help. It was a mishmash of different styles, from Spanish to Craftsman to Art Deco to Mid-Century.
The kitchen tile led us to some design inspiration for the home. The tile was yellow with black borders, and was Art Deco inspired. The original glass doorknobs were still on all the doors, and the backplates were definitely deco. Art Deco style was very prevalent in the 1920s when this house was built. It was a time when the decorative arts were celebrated, and that is how it got its name.
The one floor plan change that we made was in the kitchen. A room had been added on to the back of the kitchen and the kitchen window opening was still over the sink. We decided to take down this wall, making an open kitchen/great room. By doing this we were able to do a large kitchen island, something we have been wanting to do in one of our flips but never had the space. This was exciting!
Tina thought it would be fun to look for a vintage piece to incorporate into the island. That led to a trip to Treasures N Junk, a large antique store in Ontario, and we found the perfect piece. It is a buffet with definite deco design elements. When the buffet was placed in the kitchen Jessie discovered that it was taller than the cabinets that would make up the rest of the island. Tina was adamant that the buffet not be cut down to the cabinet height, so as not to lose any of the design elements. Jessie said he would raise the cabinets instead. The black quartz countertop was beveled along the edge in a scallop pattern to match the buffet, and the result was breathtaking. The color scheme we used for the kitchen was similar to the original colors. We did black lower cabinets, and a butter yellow on the uppers and island. This turned out to be a kitchen and great room that was tailor made for gatherings of family and friends.
In the living room we had the original fireplace, with tile that was green and yellow. The tile definitely had a Craftsman feel. We wanted to keep the tile, so had to search for a paint color that went well with it. Jessie and Tina painted a green on one side of the fireplace and a gray on the other side, to see which looked best. Tina liked the gray because it gave a more Art Deco feel, where the green felt more Craftsman. So gray it was!
In the living and dining room we were able to use the two ceiling lights we had purchased at the estate sale. We were so excited to remove the lights that had been hung in the 60s and replace them with the original lights from the home. It is these small things that make our home renovations so special.
Since there was only one bathroom in this home we wanted it to be special. On the shower walls we installed white subway tile, with a colorful niche of blue and green tile in a chevron pattern, mimicking the skyscrapers of the 1920s. On the floor we did a black hexagon tile and Jessie popped out some of the black tiles and inserted white ones. This floor design was very popular in the Art Deco era. In fact the women’s lounge at Radio City Music Hall has the exact same floor along with beautiful aqua pedestal sinks from the era. We sure wish we could have found one of those sinks for this home!
Moving on to the exterior, it was very obvious that we needed to change the paint color. However, there was something charming about the coral paint on the siding. We wanted to keep some remnant of this color, but in a smaller amount. We decided on a beige paint for the body and a charcoal trim (although the first trim color was too brown and we decided to repaint it). We used a pretty coral on the front door. Tina came up with a great geometric design for the railing. We did a matching gate across the driveway, and painted both in the charcoal with small touches of coral. That pop of color coordinated with our new flowering landscape of bougainvillea, iceberg roses and azaleas. This slightly tired, drab bungalow ended up being happy and bright – just like it’s future homeowners!
This house was built in 1952 and is in the town of Covina, a suburb of Los Angeles. Covina is 22 miles east of L.A., and became a postwar boomtown in the 1950s. World War II veterans had the GI bill and were able to buy homes. They came home from the war to their loved ones, got married and had children. The baby boom led to a housing boom!
Industry changed after the war to peace-time production, and war-time materials were used in building homes. Using materials like steel led to clean, simple design with an industrial look and a cool history. This industrial design was very evident in this home, from the metal windows to the streamline modern curve on the kitchen cabinets.
Our house was the only one on the block that still had the original metal windows, and we wanted to keep them. They had a crank opening, which didn’t work when we first saw the house. However, it turned out there was a lot of paint on the windows. Once that was removed the crank opening worked perfectly! The large picture window in the living room was a beautiful feature and we were so fortunate to have it.
The home’s other original features were high ceilings and hardwood floors. The floors had been covered with carpet for many years and were in beautiful condition. Even though the home was only 1130 square feet it felt larger due to the high ceilings.
The house had three bedrooms and only one bathroom. We were lucky to have a large laundry room that backed up to one of the bedrooms. We decided to make the laundry room smaller and use that extra space and the bedroom closet to add a master bath to the bedroom. Also we closed off a door that led to this bedroom from the kitchen, and voila! We had a true master suite!
The kitchen was full of possibilities for design. It had a great corner sink. The curved cabinets were a cool industrial design from the 30s, 40s and 50s. We really wanted to keep them. Unfortunately, when Jessie was removing the old countertop the lower cabinets were damaged. The plan was changed a little bit, and we kept the uppers but had to replace the lowers. We found a cabinet company that had just gotten a new cabinet in with a metallic laminate finish. The metallic look fit in perfectly with our industrial design. Tina decided on a black tile floor with a white tile border. On the upper pantry cupboard we had steel doors fabricated with clear door panels. And on a lower cabinet we saved a piece of the curved end and were able to cover it with a piece of the metallic laminate. This was really fun! The black quartz countertop and teal backsplash finished off the exact look we wanted.
The hall bath had a great sink that we restored and reused. The original bathroom tile had a dark green border and we used this color as inspiration for the renovated bathroom. We used dark gray tile on the shower/tub wall with a stripe of dark green. It was very dramatic and we loved it!
For the master bath walk-in shower we used the same design, but with a lighter gray tile and lime green stripe. We have to say, these bathrooms are among our favorites!
We decided to use the wood from the old garage door to make a reclaimed wood wall in the living room. It looked so good, and we loved keeping another original piece of the home.
On the exterior we had quite a bit of work to do. We discovered after painting that the old stucco was causing the new paint to peel off. This meant we had to spend an additional $5000 to re-stucco the entire house. We also did a new concrete driveway and a new roof. With all of these repairs – and a paint scheme of white with gray accents and black trim, new window box, the original steel windows, and plants that included grasses and sage – we achieved the result of a home with the retro industrial charm that we had imagined!
Wallpaper has fallen out of favor over the last few years but it’s starting to make a bit of resurgence. We’re excited to see that it’s making a comeback because it can bring dimension to a room that just paint can’t. When you’re trying to keep the authenticity of an older home, wallpaper makes a terrific option. In homes like Victorian or Queen Anne, you can bet they had wallpaper in their heyday.
There are people you can hire to hang wallpaper for you, but it’s not that difficult to do on your own. If you’re trying to save money, like DIY projects or are just feeling adventurous, here are some instructions to help get you started with hanging wallpaper.
Plumb line and chalk or level
Water tub for pre-pasted paper
Things to Consider
Shape and dimensions of a room: For example, rooms with low ceilings can look higher with vertical patterns. Narrow rooms look wider with horizontal patterns. Lighter colors help make a room look larger while darker colors make rooms look smaller.
Preparing the Walls
If there is already wallpaper up, you’ll have to remove it. You can usually do this with steam or with a mixture of water and wallpaper remover. For the water and paper remover, dip a sponge into the mixture and then soak the spots you want to remove. Then scrape the paper off with a scraper or putty knife. After that, sanding rough spots on the walls helps too.
For most wall covering patterns, place the first strip wallpaper to the side (left or right) of a door and work toward the biggest unbroken section of the wall. There is an exception: With a large or very intricate pattern, start in the largest section of wall or the place where you want to draw focus, such as above a fireplace or couch.
Measure the wall, then cut the first strip with a little extra paper at the top and bottom, about 4 to 6 inches in total. Hold up the strip to the wall and find the correct placement. (You might want to mark lightly on the paper with pencil or chalk where the strip will hit the ceiling. You can also create a crease if you don’t want to mark the paper.) Lay the strip on the work table, pattern side up and then cut a second strip to match and/or correlate with the first one. Continue on until you have an entire wall’s worth of wall paper strips.
As you’re doing planning the paper for your wall, use the pattern to help guide what kind of seam you will use. There are two kinds of seams: “butt seams” in which two seams “butt” up against each other and the edges fit tightly next to each other. There are also overlap seams where the paper edges slightly overlap one another.
Matching and Aligning
Believe it or not, rooms are not always square or the walls perfectly straight. So you’ll need to ensure straight lines when hanging your paper. You can do with a plumb line. There are a couple of ways to do this. The first is to hold a carpenter’s level vertically against the wall with the top of it flush against the ceiling. The bubble indicates when you are level so adjust accordingly. Once you’re sure you have a straight vertical line, mark the wall lightly with a pencil.
The second way is to use a plumb line, which is a weight (“plumb”) at the end of a chalked string. Some people make their own but you can also buy them. It’s your preference. Hold the string taut against the wall and let the weight hang, which will determine the vertical line. When you’re sure you have a straight line, snap the chalked string against the wall. You don’t need to do this for every strip of paper but do if for every wall.
Next, lay your cut pieces of wallpaper strips face down on the work table. Apply paste with your pasting brush just before you hang each strip. Be sure to spread the paste evenly and completely. Unpasted sections of the paper will bubble and not lie flat against the wall. (Leave the top inch or two that won’t go onto the wall unpasted so you can handle the paper without your fingers getting even more sticky than they need to be.) Don’t forget to spread the paste all the way to the paper edges—the seams will need all the support they can get. If you are using wallpaper that is already pasted, submerge the strip into the water tub to activate the paste. Be sure to use a drop cloth to prevent drips from hitting the floor.
Hang the strip on the wall with that inch or so of overlap on the ceiling and line up the vertical edge to the plumb line. Smooth from the top down with the smoothing brush and start gently smoothing down the entire strip, removing bubbles or air pockets. Go all the way to edges too.
Cut off the excess at the top and bottom.
After the strips have been in place for 10-15 minutes, gently press the seams with a seam roller. Wipe the seams of excess water or drips.
NOTE: Corners can be tricky because they are rarely exactly straight. It may very well be impossible to get ends to butt properly. There might be a slight overlap necessary but no one will likely notice. Sometimes you’ll need to end a strip at a corner, like when you’re only doing an accent wall. But if you’re doing an entire room you and it doesn’t make the pattern look wonky, you can probably crease the paper at the corner and keep going. It’s a case by case basis so as long as you keep a look out for it, you should be OK.
Papering Around Features
Most walls aren’t big and blank. At some point you’ll encounter obstacles like a door, window or built-in bookshelf that you have maneuver around. When you reach something large, use a putty knife to create a crease, just like you did for the ceiling and floor. When you place the pasted wallpaper up, use the smoothing brush to bring the paper around, say, a corner bend. Then trim off the excess.
If you have a focal point in the room, like a fireplace, then you’ll probably want to centrally place a large patterned print over that spot. Trim the paper along the mantlepiece and cut away as much of the excess as possible. Then smooth the paper into place and cut it to fig snuggly around the molding (if any) and the sides. Take care because sometimes when the paper is cut into smaller pieces it can tear with the weight of the paste.
To work around an outlet, first turn off the power and then remove the cover plate. Paper over the opening and then trim away the paper over the hole.
These methods can also be used for light fixtures or just about anything. It might seem frustrating at first but you’ll get used to working around things soon enough.
Once you get the hang of wallpapering and open up to the idea of it, your decorating possibilities because nearly endless. The colors, the patterns and combining it with different features makes every room unique!
Getting years of dirt and general gunk off hard wood can be a challenge. Some people might even consider giving older wood items away or throwing them out, but that is such a tragedy when it comes to vintage homes. Original wood touches add so much character and warmth. Cleaning up wood may take a little elbow grease, but it doesn’t have to be expensive or involve anything elaborate.
One of our favorite methods to clean wood is a combination of water and vinegar. It’s not fancy but it works! We used this method at a house in Redlands that was featured on season 2 of Vintage Flip. There was an amazing built-in that was in rough shape. We knew right away that it was worth saving and, as it turns out, it mainly just needed a good cleaning. We used a mixture of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Then we SCRUBBED.
Although the example seen on the show was a built-in, this can also work for wood floors, baseboards, wood trim—you name it.
For a basic vinegar recipe, mix about 1 gallon of warm water to ½ cup of white vinegar. White vinegar works best because it doesn’t smell as strongly as the other types and is less likely to stain the wood. We like to funnel the mix into a spray bottle to make things easier but that part is up to you. (If you’re washing a floor, you might want to use a bucket or a refillable mop. Also, go in sections instead of tackling the entire thing at once.)
If there is a ton of dirt or dust just sitting on the wood feature or floor, go ahead and wipe or sweep it away before you start major cleaning. No need to risk scratches from the dirt. But after that, you’re set to wash with mops for floors or paper towels or cloths for detailed work. Some people like to wash with the wood grain in case of streaking. If it’s a first wash, though, just get it clean.
When you’re finished you can pretty much just let everything air dry. If there’s tons of pooled water or it looks especially wet, wipe up the excess with a towel.
And that’s pretty much it. This is a good option if you’re budget conscious or prefer natural cleaning products. It’s also safe to use around children and pets because it’s non-toxic.
By the way, this mixture isn’t just good for cleaning wood. You can also use it for spot cleaning around the kitchen when it comes to footprints, fingerprints, spills, grease spots around the stove. Just shake the bottle a little and spray onto the spot or into a towel and wipe!
We were so excited to be back in Redlands! We bought another beautiful Victorian Home. This time it was a Queen Anne Cottage, built in 1899. It is 1860 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths.
Redlands is a lovely college town full of historic homes. It reminds us very much of Claremont, where we live. We have grown quite attached to Redlands. The city was founded in the 1880s when people came to Redlands because of cheap land and a warm climate.
Queen Annes were known for their gabled roofs, ship lap siding, stained glass windows, and wrap around porches. This home had all of that, including a grand entrance with built-in bookcases and bench. The entrance also had a wooden pocket door that led into the grand dining room. We are crazy about pocket doors!
The home was magnificent but a little tired and worn. The natural wood built-ins and moldings needed a good cleaning, the hardwood floors needed to be refinished, the kitchen and baths needed a total renovation. The ceiling was covered in acoustic tiles that were probably added in the 1960s. We removed them and discovered many cracks in the plaster. The most efficient fix for this was to dry wall over the ceiling.
The kitchen had an original butler’s pantry. This is where Victorian homeowners would keep all of their special china and silver, and in fact the butler would sometimes sleep in the pantry to guard all of the valuables. This butler’s pantry had a built-in with shelves and an original butcher block countertop. As much as we loved the pantry it made more sense to take down the wall into the kitchen. This opened up the kitchen, made it so much larger, and we were still able to keep the built-in.
Tina wanted to do a checkerboard pattern on the kitchen floor. This pattern was very popular in Victorian times, as they were mimicking the floors of castles and grand homes. Jessie thought doing a large (24×24) tile would look very dramatic and Tina agreed, but she wanted to do the tile in a subtle gray and white. Finishing off the kitchen we installed white shaker cabinets, open shelving with corbels that duplicated the ones on the built-in, a gray quartz countertop, and a beautiful marble backsplash. Marble and tile became very important to the Victorians. It was beautiful and very easy to keep clean, and they were obsessed with germs and cleanliness during that time.
The only other changes we made to the floor plan were adding a closet to the second bedroom and closing one wall of the Jack and Jill bathroom to make it a master bath. Once the wall was closed we had a true master suite. We used subway tile in the shower up to the 11 foot ceiling, ceramic tile on the floor, and quartz that resembled marble on the bench top in the shower.
We put a geometric hexagon tile on the tub wall in the hall bath, and white hexagon tile on the floor. Clean and fresh was the vibe in this home!
Our next dilemma was the cabinet doors on the dining room built-in hutch. One of the doors was missing and we wanted to reproduce it. Building it wasn’t the problem, staining it was. We couldn’t find a stain to match all of other wood in the house, and we certainly didn’t want to re-stain the entire house. But we got lucky! The guys found some of the original stain in the basement.
There was a little hiccup with the lighting. Tina found authentic Victorian lights, but when transporting the dining room light to the house one of the globes broke. Tina and little Max visited a local antique store and they were very fortunate to find a replacement!
Time to paint the outside! Tina took her inspiration from the Victorian Painted Ladies, the most famous of which are in San Francisco (the Full House home!). Painted Ladies have three or more colors, and for this home Tina chose teal, seafoam green, and white with accents of purple. The transformation was incredibly beautiful.
For the landscape we decided to use flowers that would have been at the home back in 1899. Lots of lavendar, roses, and hydrangeas. The result was just what we hoped for.
We are very proud to have lovingly restored another historic home in the beautiful city of Redlands. May the current and future homeowners enjoy living in it for another hundred years – and then some!