There is a new attraction for old things, as they apply to the renovation of houses in various parts of the country.
Waco, Texas, Galveston, Texas and Laurel, Mississippi are some of my favorites. Home restoration shows, many of which are seen on HGTV, love to demonstrate kitchen cooking and tiny bathrooms by tearing down walls, giving way to large islands topped with quartzite or granite and freestanding bathtubs in modern materials.
With the walls gone and the plumbing refitted, the designers then bring back the old.
Here in Southern California, it’s not so easy to find a local “restoration supply” store (small caps intended), as seen on TV. Lucky Joanna Gaines of “Fixer Upper” has a massive collection of abandoned items in one or more Waco warehouses.
There are a few vintage stores scattered around Southern California, but more generally, our version of Restoration Hardware is a full-fledged retail establishment, such as Restoration Hardware, which produces expensive manufactured items. You know, it looks old, but it was sanded and painted a month ago.
Here, we hardly ever expect to find 100-year-old hardwood floors laying under the avocado green shag carpet, just waiting to be uncovered and lightly sanded before being put back into use. There are exceptions in older cities like Orange, Tustin, Santa Ana, and Anaheim. What most of us find is usually concrete, probably the slab the house is built on, hiding under the day’s carpet or linoleum.
It’s also not normal to find shiplap boards, large roughly hewn planks of wood, under the ‘Placoplâtre’. In today’s fashionable renovations, some homeowners are converting rough planks into their walls. But really, most homes built after the 1950s just weren’t built that way.
If you’re planning to sell your home at full price, be careful not to base your renovation on touches from the turn of the last century – for two reasons. First, they could be designed so specifically that they put off SoCal buyers. Adding vintage French double doors with a stained wood frame between the family room and entryway might be a bit too rustic for local buyers.
And number two: some of these materials may not be suitable for our environmental conditions. We live in an area marked by earthquakes, fires, mudslides and termites. Wood-framed windows and wood-lined walls may not last long when dry wood and subterranean termites cling.
The last thing you want to hear, after your renovation is complete and the house is in receivership, and the termite inspector hands in their report, is that the wood additions need to be removed and replaced with new. wood due to active infestation and extensive damage. Ouch.
Leslie Sargent Eskildsen is an agent at RealtyOne Group West and a board member of the California Association of Realtors. She can be reached at 949-678-3373 or [email protected]