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!
We got the opportunity to buy this 1918 Grove House in the city of Ontario from another investor. He started the project and was unable to finish it. It was a great house, but unfortunately we inherited a few of that investor’s problems. This was one of our largest home renovations to date with 1900 square feet, 4 bedrooms and 2 baths.
Ontario was settled by the Chaffey brothers, who came to California from Ontario, Canada. Easterners flocked to California in the early 20th century. The warm weather and ability to grow crops all year round was a real draw. Southern California had the perfect climate for growing citrus. There were lemon and orange groves all over the area, and this home was originally a farmhouse for the groves. It would have been the only house for miles around at the time it was built in 1918, surrounded by lush citrus trees as far as the eye could see.
The house is on the historic registry, thus we couldn’t make any changes to the floor plan. It still had many of the original features, such as the river rock planter on the front porch, coffered ceilings in the living room, and beautiful mahogany paneling and built-ins. It had a large kitchen and large dining room.
There wasn’t much demo to do on this house, but we had to make sure the house was up to code. We updated all electrical and had to reframe some of the walls. We had two major surprises, however. The foundation needed major repairs – new rebar, posts and concrete. This was an additional $10,000 we hadn’t planned on. Also, the city threw a wrench into our plans when they required us to gable the back roof that was over an upstairs addition. Another $5,000! This was adding up fast. Oh well, it’s only money. Right?
True to the period there was no master suite but we were lucky to have two bathrooms, one up and one down. The upstairs bath was huge and we wanted it to have a dramatic design. Tina chose black subway for the shower walls, dark green paint for the bathroom walls, and a mahogany vanity that had a double sink and was 72 inches wide. It was uncertain if the vanity would fit through the door at first, but it just squeaked through. Whew!
The kitchen was large, and we wanted it to have a traditional look. Because of this we used bead board cabinets, marble countertops, a farmhouse sink, and tin backsplash. Tin ceilings were everywhere in the early 1900s and now companies have adapted the tin and made it into backsplash material. This kitchen was unique, beautiful and true to the period. We were very proud of the final result.
Finish carpentry was very important in this house. We are proud of the talented crafts people that work for our company. From installing and adapting the vintage French doors in the living room, repairing and rebuilding some of the mahogany panels, refinishing the coffered ceilings, and giving the beautiful built-ins some tender loving care – they hit a home run!
On the exterior we decided to stay with the Americana theme. We painted the siding a navy blue, the trim a crisp white, and the corbels a beautiful red. In the porch planter we put red and white geraniums, and in the front yard azaleas, gardenias and camellias. Just like the plants the farmer’s wife would have lovingly tended in her yard back in the day.
This house will always be special to us because you got to see the day that our third beautiful boy, Max, came into the world. This is why we do what we do. In the end it is all about family! Not just our family but the families that will be living in the homes we renovate for many years to come, making their own beautiful memories. We are truly blessed.