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.
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