When we first moved to Richmond, we noticed that a lot of the renovations in the neighborhood had a look that we really loved. We soon learned that they were the work of the Cobblestone Group, a renovation and construction firm run by husband-and-wife team Josh and Breese Romano. Since then, we’ve loved following their growth, and they’ve served as an inspiration for our own foray into home renovations.
We’re so excited, then, to hear that the Cobblestone couple is getting their own show on HGTV called Richmond Rehabbers! This is great news for this hard-working young company, and great news for our city. Best of all, the pilot episode features a renovation happening in our own neighborhood of Battery Park. They’ve transformed many dilapidated homes in the area, and we can’t wait to get a closer look at their process.
Check out Cobblestone’s website to see some of their impressive transformations (like this amazing flip on our block, pictured below), and read the article about HGTV’s Richmond Rehabbers here.
The day we’ve been impatiently waiting for is finally here: Listing Day!
It’s been a long, long time since we started this journey on a frigid December day. We had more than a few people act like we were crazy for taking on a major renovation project, but we saw the potential in this house from Day 1 and we couldn’t wait to bring it back to life. We had some surprises along the way, and it took much (much) longer than expected, but we learned a lot and we’re excited to do it again.
When we bought it, the Griffin House was hiding behind a cluster of prickly, deep-rooted bushes. Todd worked hard to remove them with the help of a few friends, and we replaced them with sculptural grasses, purple-hued bushes, and rosebushes. The exterior got some new shingles, a new door, and a fresh coat of paint with a subtle green tint. The backyard got some love too with a lot of cleanup (so many leaves!), a privacy fence, tree-trimming, and repairs to the shed.
She looks a little different, wouldn’t you say?
via Simply Grove
In our own extensive real estate browsing, we’ve noted how light fixtures can have a huge impact on the feel of the space, so we knew we had to get them right. Cheap, outdated fixtures can really bring down the look of a place, while attractive fixtures, carefully chosen to fit each room, can be a major focal point. We worked hard to find light fixtures that fit the home’s historic vibe while giving an occasional dash of modern style—and fitting within our budget. Because as much as we’d love to outfit the whole house in Schoolhouse Electric lights, that’s just not in the cards.
Here are a few of our finalists that fit the bill for being attractive, functional and affordable. Obviously, we didn’t use them all in the reno—you’ll have to wait for the “after” pictures to see which ones we chose!
When we were hunting for a house to renovate, we always took into account the surrounding homes. Were they in good shape? Were any being renovated? Had any recently sold? For the Griffin house, we were encouraged by a home that had recently sold for an above-average price on the next block, and another that was undergoing a full renovation two doors down.
As we’ve started our own renovation, we’ve watched the house at 3018 Griffin come to completion and hit the market. The renovator, a local realtor, did a great job of maintaining the home’s historical integrity while still giving it a beautifully modern look. He priced it much higher than we expected—$324,950—and we held our breath to see when and if it would sell.
We didn’t have to wait long. The house sold within a day, for above asking price. This is good news for the person who put so much care into this renovation, and very encouraging news for us! Check out all the photos of the house here.
In related news, Zillow recently ranked Richmond as the fourth hottest housing market in the country for 2016.
One of the most important things to us as we embark on this renovation project is finding a balance between maintaining the historical integrity of the home while making it attractive to modern buyers. Already we’ve had to ask ourselves some tough questions:
- The clawfoot tub takes up most of the upstairs bathroom. But it’s beautiful. Can we find a way to work it in?
- Our realtor suggests getting rid of the mud swirl ceilings. Erica thinks they’re lovely. Todd is undecided.
- The sink in the kitchen is undeniably cool, but undeniably impractical. Can we use it anywhere?
- The radiators are in solid shape, and they’re a great heat source. But do modern buyers want them in every room?
- The home’s original windows are in good shape too, and studies have shown that replacing them actually has a negligible impact on energy costs. But will modern buyers see that?
- There are hints of features that have been removed over the years, including columns in the foyer and pocket doors between the dining room and living room. Do we invest the money to add those back in?
As we move forward and weigh our options, we’ll be sure to share how we come to a decision on each one of these questions. Have an opinion? Feel free to leave a comment!
Pop Quiz: What do Charleston, Boston, and Richmond have in common?
Answer: They’re all cities we have called home over the last few years. They’re also cities that are known for their history—and beautiful historic homes.
We’re Erica and Todd Curran, and we’ve always had a thing for old houses. When we started searching for our first home five years ago, age was a crucial factor—we wanted nothing built after 1950. And while the number of bedrooms and the size of the kitchen were important, we were equally won over by details like beadboard walls, soaring ceilings, exposed brick, and lived-in hardwood floors.
That’s our first house, at the top of this post, a nearly 100-year-old cottage near Hampton Park on the Charleston peninsula. We adored living there, but felt the call to move closer to home, and we’ve since bought a 1920s American foursquare in a streetcar suburb of Richmond, Virginia (pictured below, with us and our nieces on the porch). As we’re slowly making this house our own, we’ve decided to embark on a full renovation project on another neighborhood house a few blocks away.
We’re just two normal 30-somethings, learning as we go. As we move forward with our labors of love, we’re planning to document the process to share with anyone who’s interested. Because we know we’re not the only ones out there who have a thing for old houses.