Monday, September 14, 2009

Charm... in Off-White.

One thing that was great about or real estate transaction was that our house was being used as a rental. This made things quick, as there was no waiting on either party to sell/buy another house. On the flip side, one thing that was bad about our home acquisition was that it was a rental. Though in good shape, our home was painted and cared for like what it was – income property. So while we love the period details, everything is, well, off-white. Walls and woodwork are all the same color in the great majority of the house (minus the kitchen and bathroom). I even found a 5 gallon bucket of off-white paint in the basement just in case I had the urge to paint the rest of the house.

The problem is that we’re colorful people (literally and figuratively – I hope). So, the idea of living in off-white, first-time-homeownership bliss was not exactly appealing. Put simply- we need some color up in here. So I ask myself “WWTOHD” (What would “This Old House” do?). Here’s some of their ideas on interior paint:,,20161202,00.html,,1195208,00.html,,20314260,00.html,,20318232,00.html

I found Lowes has good website material as well:

So, do I go historic, or trudge off on my own?

Off-White Examples

China Cabinet

This was a real selling point for us when we bought the house. The built in adds real charm to the room, and will certainly be a great display case once we're finished. But off white doesn't suit it. We're going to have to find a way to make this pop.


The fireplace was also a selling point. However, the moulding and the paint just scream "blah" to me. Growing up we had a brick surround with a solid oak mantle. So, here the question seems to be: "natural wood, stone, or paint?"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Guidebook of Sorts

Let’s get one thing straight: I know nothing about home repair. I never took woodshop and the most useful tool in my day job is Microsoft Excel. However, I grew up in a house of avid DIY renovators. While I honestly don’t remember the steps and techniques of what my parents did to the house I grew up in (1 mile away), I know that home renovation can’t be that hard. Right?

My mother-in-law has given me a subscription to “This Old House” magazine. I always liked the show, but never knew about their website or the magazine. (I guess here I’ll throw in the pitch to support your public media – WBUR and WGBH). With this resource as my guide, I’m going to do my best to restore our little bungalow to its former glory.

The "This Old House" website is:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Old House, This Old City

I’ve always considered myself a history buff. So, owning a home in an historic city seems to be a natural fit. While I'm not looking to recreate every detail of 1925, I want history to resonate in our house. Our neighborhood is made up of colonial homes (built between 1910 and 1920), as well as bungalows, like ours (built between 1916 and 1926). Here’s a bit I found on the neighborhood:

"The Montclair neighborhood in North Quincy is bordered by the Neponset River to the north, Beale Street to the south, Newport Avenue to the west and the Town of Milton to the east. it was once part of Dorchester and became part of the Town of Quincy in 1792. Like its neighbors, Atlantic and Wollaston, most of the community of Montclair was built in the first third of the 20th century. From earliest colonial times until the Civil War, North Quincy was referred to as "The Farms" and it was to the farmlands of Montclair that real estate entrepreneurs beckoned the nearby inhabitants of Boston and its suburbs. The Micaih Pope farm was one of the largest to be subdivided; Arthur D. McCellan cut it into street and house lots in 1883 calling it "Montclair". Other active real estate developers were Maurice E. Kilpatrick, Edward L. Parlee and Henry J. Grass. The development process was greatly accelerated by the Old Colony Railroad which began operations in 1845 as well as by the advent of Quincy's extensive street railway system.Beale Street is the dividing line between the Wollaston Hill neighborbood to the south and the Montclair neighborhood to the north. The mansardic cottage at 269 Beale Street falls on the Montclair fide of the street. Its early ownership history is very unclear has neither "M. Trafford" (1897) or "John W. Tratton" (1907) could be found in city directories, perhaps indicating a rental property. Beginning in 1915. Number 269 Beale street was owned for at least ten years by Edward Hoxie. a machinist, and his family." from Quincy, Mass. Historical and Architectural Survey

Here's a map of the neighborhood in 1890. This map is from the Norman B. Levanthal Map Center at the Boston Public Library. Click the picture to zoom. We'd be somewhere in the bog/marshland in the top right-hand corner.

Friday, September 4, 2009

And so it begins...

As first-time homebuyers in the greater Boston area, home choices are very limited. My wife and I knew that we needed to be near public transportation because we couldn’t afford a house and two cars. I knew we needed a yard because the idea of putting on shoes and walking the dog every time nature called on a cold, New England winter night was chilling (pun intended). And pee pads aren’t really an option for an 84-pound labradoodle. To boot, we weren't exactly shopping in the hub of affordable housing either. So, needless to say, our home buying adventure turned out to be exactly that.

We had the great displeasure of visiting some of the most visually offensive residential structures in suburban Boston. One house had no floor boards. A realtor shooed us away from one tiny home (800sqft) that had a Taj Mahal price tag. And then there was the experience of what will forever be burned in our memories as the “cat pee house.” I’ll let your imaginative process run wild with that one.

But there was one tiny bungalow that caught our eye. I’m not sure exactly what it was, but as soon as we both laid eyes on the sea-foam green little house, we both thought: “This is it.” It wasn’t love at first sight, but we could afford it, it had floors, and there was no discernable trace of feline urine to be found.

So, after we pledged to pay down our $304,000 mortgage for the rest of our lives, the journey began.