This is the second article in a series of posts in which we go behind walls and into showrooms to share details about the restoration and renovation of our 1910 home in Beaufort, NC, the W.S. Chadwick House.

When you realize you're home

Waking up in a new home is thrilling. You open your eyes and your awareness builds as your senses slowly re-engage. New sounds, or no sounds at all. A feeling of displacement comforted by excitement. Nothing is familiar, and then suddenly the wonder of it all hits you as you realize … you did it. This is yours. You’re home.

On our first morning at Chadwick, we woke up in our dining room. Yes, we had celebrated our move the night before, but it’s where we had set up our mattress. Plaster dust from the walls would soon cake the upstairs bedrooms, and we had to replace the bedroom ceilings. So we thought it best to dock ourselves in the last room we would tackle in the first phase of renovation. We’d move upstairs later once the paint had dried.

Nothing is familiar, and then suddenly the wonder of it all hits you as you realize … you did it. This is yours. You’re home.

Restoration, Renovation, Remodeling

We looked at the property through three lenses: restoration, renovation, and remodeling. By breaking it down into these three categories and sorting out what we would need to do for each, we were able to put together a project plan and apportion our budget appropriately among the must-haves, the nice-to-haves, and the I-want-to-haves-no-matter-what.

For restoration, we looked at things that required only minor fixes and a little TLC. Included in this category: The floors throughout were in great shape and only needed refinishing, a few broken windows needed repair, and the exterior thirsted for paint.

Renovation is more serious and involves restoring parts of the home that are in disrepair. For Chadwick, this included repairing the plaster walls, replacing two bedroom ceilings, and replacing the metal roof.

Remodeling is what Tracy and I live for: creating something new. The kitchen in Chadwick House, for instance, had been installed sometime in the 60s or 70s (they even dropped the ceilings from ten feet to eight feet to keep in style with the times!). Enlarging it and opening it up to the rest of the home would create the most significant change to Chadwick, so we placed this project at the top of our remodeling list. Other remodeling projects included a screen porch with a vaulted ceiling, the principal en suite area (bath, closet, and laundry), the upstairs shared bath, and a downstairs full bath.

"The home should be the treasure chest of living."

— Le Corbusier

Floors, walls, and the innate goodness of old construction

First on the restore list: the floors. Covered in dark, heavy stain, we couldn’t make out any wood grain. Discolored rectangular patches had formed in the center of the rooms where, for decades, they’d been shrouded by rugs. We were told that even after stripping the floors, these patches might be difficult to conceal. Choosing the right stain would be difficult.

But on the first day of sanding, we couldn’t believe our eyes. Not only did the patches disappear, beautiful aged wood floors emerged. Downstairs, ancient white oak planks had mellowed into a light sandy brown. Upstairs, heart pine flooring glowed gold with hints of orange. It took no time for us to dismiss any notion of staining them a different color. We left them natural, and their hues brightened every room.

Next up: the plaster walls. Nothing changed the tenor of the home more than the restoration of these walls. Tiny spider-web cracks had created map-like images on many of their surfaces. And over the years, the plaster in some areas had separated from the lath and created structural cracks. We weighed our options. Replacing the plaster with sheetrock was out, given our budget and our desire to keep things original.

Fortunately, a good friend came to the rescue by connecting us with someone I’ve dubbed the master of plaster. Mix the right expertise with a few boxes of screws and some screed mud (and endure a days-long dust storm of sanding at the end), and you get a set of walls any ancient Roman would admire. The transformation was epic.

We rebuilt the mantle in the living room, keeping the original Gothic Revival round columns, and slapped on several coats of white paint (Chantilly Lace, by Benjamin Moore) throughout the home. Voila. With the new lighter floors and white walls, we had the perfect shell to design within.

Before and After Gallery

Click on any image to view and scroll

Coming up next

Coming up, we build an outdoor shed, demolish a carport, and add a vaulted screen porch, which becomes a perfect transition to the back yard. We also put mood boards together for home decor, get a start on the kitchen, and go shopping for appliances, bath fixtures, countertops, tile, and more. 

If you’re thinking of buying a fixer upper or making over your decor and could use a little help, please get in touch with us. We love brainstorming and can help guide you through the process.

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