Rehabilitated Beachside Homes: The Process

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February 10, 2017
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When you close your eyes and imagine your dream home, what do you see?  Can you envision yourself on a wide porch with a fan overhead that churns in the breeze as you relax and enjoy the river view?

Does your vision include original wood floors, preserved and restored to highlight the grain in the wood?

Do you see a unique house that reflects the value of quality materials and craftsmanship?  Let’s move on to your other senses.  Can you smell the salt in the ocean breezes?  Feel the cooler winds delivered from the ocean to the east and river to the west?

Is your dream home environmentally friendly? Does it reuse existing materials and take advantage of technologies, both state-of-the-art and imbued with the wisdom of the ages?  Is the neighborhood full of character, close to both the beach and downtown?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then an older home with all the advantages of beachside might be calling your name.

Here is how we carefully remodeled the Goodall house.  First, we researched the ownership history, and the age and style of the house.  We looked at the changes that were made over the years and their effect on the systems and flow of the house.  We identified the original features that were structurally sound or salvageable.  We preserved what we were able to preserve, reused materials such as the original tongue and groove wood from the porch, clay structural blocks, which we fashioned into mosaic designs and used to decorate both entrances and the fireplace surround.

In the field of Historic Preservation, the technical term for the work we performed is “Rehabilitation”. Rehabilitation is one of the four approaches to the treatments of historic properties.  According to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, Rehabilitation “acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining the property’s historic character.”

Although we would have liked to preserve more of the original plaster and the solid clay roof tiles and kept the locations of all of the original windows, the deteriorated condition of those features and practical concerns with the layout, resulting from unpermitted alterations, compelled us to rehabilitate the property rather than follow the tenets of historic preservation, which would have required that we retain the existing features.  As such, although we kept the single-family, residential nature of the structure, we replaced the original plaster and removed the remaining classic, clay roof tiles in favor of a state-of-the-art, longer-lasting roof.  The original house featured attic venting with distinctive, four clay pipes, exposed on the exterior front of the house.  We integrated the addition into the existing structure by replicating that four clay pipe design.

Therefore, using the Rehabilitation approach allowed us to focus on retaining and repairing the historic materials of the Goodall house.  Future residents will appreciate, as we do, the quality of construction that allowed the thick walls and solid flooring to endure the test of time.  Further, unlike new construction, Rehabilitation projects are environmentally-friendly in that energy is conserved by reusing existing materials and energy.

Our decision to convert the exterior windows by covering up a bedroom window and a bathroom window and by making a door out of a former bedroom window was consistent with our adaption re-use of the single family home from an early mid-century/WWII retirement cottage into a 21st century beach home.  We used the original house as well as the extended footprint created by the unpermitted changes to meet the expectations of higher-end beachside buyers.  Our layout offers a large, grand kitchen, still in keeping with the Florida feel and two master-sized bedrooms, all of which features were not priorities when the house was built.  One of  the Master Suites includes an exposed brick wall and a hand-crafted, barn-style door. The new Master bath takes advantage of the current appreciation of such features as a suspended vanity with marble top and a full stand-up shower.

The living room retains its 1940’s charm with custom-made floor to ceiling windows, snug in their original locations, wood flooring and, of course, the brick fireplace with restored, art deco grates.

We restored the original porch by removing the drywall and carpeting hiding the clay porch.  

Although we could not salvage the wood ceiling and piers, we were able to re-use some of the wood in the ceiling of the master bathroom.  As part of the process, we identified the location of the original front door from the porch and closed off the later- added opening.

It’s not only the airy front porch that invites guests and residents alike, an adobe style trellis and French doors summons visitors to the home’s expansive, modern kitchen, in what was once the breezeway between the house and the garage.  The kitchen’s custom-built, solid wood cabinets evoke the home’s seaside vibe, complemented by such 21st century luxurious standards as granite counter-tops and stainless steel appliances.   The huge kitchen offers plenty of space for breakfast nook; its French doors lead to a private back patio with bamboo privacy fence.

Many of the lots created on Beachside before the 1950s are small.  In fact, no setback requirements existed in those days so you will find houses with front doors opening to the street or bordering on or even encroaching on property lines.  In contrast, the Goodall house sits high on a corner lot with plenty of room in the front and side yards for a large fire pit and mature trees.

If the character of older, Beachside homes whet your appetite, you can’t miss a tour of the carefully rehabilitated Goodall house.

 

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