Skylight! And let’s review all my aesthetic choices in one post.

So I’m due for a progress update, but lately it’s been kind of boring – just chipping away at things. Now a few of these things have finished up enough that we can see what they’re actually going to look like. The back bedroom is now completely framed out – except that I want to add some extra studs where they were originally place 30 inches apart. We filled in the old bathroom window with cinder blocks. My next door neighbor, a master carpenter, showed up unexpectedly and helped us get it done. Had it been just me and my dad, it would have taken all day, but instead we got it done with enough time left over to clean the house, and it was probably done better. Today, the two door openings near that end of the room are also framed out. Have a look!



One quirk here – and I have little interest in ridding my house of quirks – is that the gorgeous but mismatched closet doors are 95 inches high, and sit right next to a 77 inch door, which you can kinda see behind the ladder.

Then I also finally have a roof that will actually keep out water. The old one had been leaking pretty badly, but luckily the house is drafty enough to dry out still. And the biggest cosmetic progress is the new skylight in my upstairs hall. My crazy/awesome next door neighbor came and built a curb to install it on. Now the upstairs hall is the sunniest room in the house, and it makes a big difference in every room connected to it, including the living room below. Here it is!


That photo doesn’t do it justice, but then maybe no photo will since they’ll all be backlit. And it won’t REALLY look good until the framing around it is done.

In other news, you can see a hole in the ceiling with a wire coming through it. You can also see a man in the front bedroom. That is my electrician, and soon there will be working lights in the house again. And a fun first, they will be wired in a way that won’t kill me!

Now, that I’m starting to put things back together, I’m reviewing aesthetic choices to make final decisions on how to finish pretty much the whole house. To review, the second floor had original Victorian style woodwork, but the original doors, hardware, lighting, and bathroom fixtures were long gone. I found a matched set of 4 paneled doors to use in the upstairs hall. The woodwork got destroyed when I took it down, but I’m going to get an exact or very close match by any means necessary. Here are the doors, knobs and door casings I will probably be using.




I especially like how the 4 paneled doors I bought have similar beading to the casing. And porcelain knobs are really unique and special, even though they were the cheap option way back when.

Downstairs, all woodwork was replaced in the 1930’s when the living and dining rooms were combined into one large room, and I so I have Craftsman casings, a Colonial Revival railing, and art deco doorknobs like these: (You can also see my awesome floor inlays and the terrible floor finishing job I’ve inherited in the last photo)




So this brings us to new work. In the bedrooms I found closet doors that were the right size, but from a mansion. They’re taller and more ornate than anything anyone who ever owned this house (except me!) would have bought. The closet doors for the back bedroom came with solid brass Georgian door knobs that must have cost a fortune when they were new. I scored a third that was an exact match, traded for one of the porcelain knobs I bought, and will now have those on all the doors in the back bedroom. They look like this. I’ve stripped the lacquer because it was kinda grimy, so I’ll probably just let it tarnish. I can polish them if I want to though. (key escutcheon is only on the door into the room)


So this brings us to new work. Maybe the closet doors are also “new work” since they don’t match the house or anything else in it but I don’t think they’ll look THAT weird. And if they do at least I won’t care.

For windows, I bought two in a simple Victorian style for the back bedroom. They have a single decorative muntin running down the middle. I will do a similar style wherever they’re wide enough, and do without the muntin elsewhere. This is a “simulated divided light” muntin, meaning that it is mounted to the interior, the exterior, and the air space between the two panes of glass so that the window actually looks like an old fashioned window with multiple panes. I’m snobby so for me it would be this or no muntin. If you don’t recall, they look like this.


For my sliding patio door, I’ve gotten conflicting advice, of course, but I think I’m sticking with the “French” style with thick frames and no muntins, meaning there will be one large pane of glass on each door. It will look like the one on the right. The more expensive one, of course. I think this looks and clean but still hefty.

Marvin patio door elevations.

All downstairs woodwork, including around the kinda modern patio door and the large historically inaccurate opening from living room to kitchen, will be the same Craftsman casing that was previously in the house. I think I’ll be able to get the tops of all openings at the back end of the house to be the same height. This means the patio door will be 8 feet or 96 inches, and the opening from the living room to the kitchen will probably be about 93 because the kitchen floor slopes up. This photo may give you an idea. If you just read the same thing last week I’m sorry.

patio door rendering

My neighbor, same one you’ve heard about before, is so excited about how I’m doing my house that he has offered me antique V grooved paneling to wrap the shaft for the skylight. He also offered to mill it into square moulding to go around the opening if I want to stain the paneling so that the grain will all match. This is how skylights were done back when my house was built. If I did it, it would look like this, except the ceiling would be plain drywall and I think I’d be more likely to paint it. We’ll see though.

beadboard skylight

Now, it may sound like I’m obsessively recreating an old fashioned style house, but I would actually like to break with this for the decor. I love the way older homes look with modern furnishings. But then, most of the furnishings I’ll be using are are traditional and from my grandparents or earlier. But in the spirit of having aggressively modern stuff, too, I bought this flashy chrome chandelier.


Then in the kitchen, I’ve kind of been won over by Semihandmade, a company that builds custom doors for IKEA cabinet boxes. The doors would be flat and veneered in walnut, with the grain matched from door to door throughout the kitchen, like this:


I would be using these with the original pine flooring, Craftsman casing and leaving the rough hand sawn beams exposed on the ceiling.

And then in the bathroom I couldn’t decide what I wanted but found really nice handmade tile on craigslist and got it. The blue 3×3’s go on the wall, and the penny tile on the floor.


So that’s what I have so far. I’m hoping that this mishmash of different styles makes sense because overall I’m trying to make things like doors and doorknobs and trim that are really part of the house look authentic while I do what I want with light fixtures, cabinetry, and furniture. Tell me what you think. Tell me what you really think. If I don’t like what you say I’ll ignore you. I only have so much time to keep changing my mind.


13 thoughts on “Skylight! And let’s review all my aesthetic choices in one post.

  1. Eights&Sevens

    What a bumper post! Love the wood floors, banister/ handrail on the stairs, those beautiful doors, the tile & kitchen doors. Really impressed with the mix of new and old and the dedication to door hardware. Great job Chad!


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      And my favorite part of the door hardware bit is the help I got from a co-worker’s uncle. He is a retired machinist who now works as a flea market dealer. He dismantled them, ground off the paint, lubricated everything, reassembled them, and went through his bag o’ keys to find old keys testing them. This co-worker only comes into the office where I work after hours right now, so we make transactions in a drawer in my desk. And now every one of my interior doors will work like new and have a key.


  2. Mary Elizabeth

    Chad, keep in mind that few houses that people actually live in are maintained as “time capsule” houses. Most contain updates through various decades. If you tour a colonial home that was in a family for many generations, you’ll see woodwork, floors and fireplaces from the 1700s, baths and kitchens installed in the early 1900s, etc. The same goes for the furniture–Victorian homes were outfitted with modern furniture when the owners wished, and even combinations of eras have been common from colonial times to the present. I like the idea that you’re keeping the upstairs in one period and the downstairs in another. I also like your tile choices in the bathroom, as they could be something you’d see in an 1890s house or a 1950s one. (As I recall, you are doing the wall tile only in the shower and were thinking of wainscoting for the other walls. That will be stunning.)

    Sometime you should tour the Newport, RI mansions, some of which were designed with a different era in each room.

    And in terms of light fixtures and furniture, you need to please yourself. As you live in the house over years and acquire new furniture and fixtures that you like, those kinds of things will change. Keeping design consistency in the woodwork, etc. on each floor will look right.

    I like your idea of stained wood cabinet doors on Ikea cabinet boxes. That will create a wonderful traditional to modern transitional feel.

    I like that your carpenter neighbor is helping you out. He obviously thinks you are “bringing up” the neighborhood. We “bonded” with our new neighbors when some of them were involved in our renovations and additions.

    All in all, please yourself. You will be the one living there, and when and if someone else is living with you, you can adapt to that person’s taste as well by making non-structural changes that you both like.


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Thanks, I agree with you about mixing styles, and right away was kinda excited about having (vestiges of) woodwork from two different eras the first time I looked at the place. I’ve been to Newport, and also have seen old photos of Philadelphia’s historic district before the the 1960’s urban renewal efforts, and it makes me sad to see wonderful Colonial buildings, wonderful 1960’s buildings, and all the wonderful buildings in between swept away.

      As far as my house goes, I was never interested in working on a blank slate, so wanted to put all these ideas into one place.

      Bathroom wise, I agree, the tile is exceptional (as was the bargain I got on it) and it will have a versatile look that I could drag in a traditional, modern, or rustic/industrial direction. I was talking to my mom about how funny it is that today’s rustic decor is considered to have an urban look, but ends up being pretty much identical to country, just with different connotations. I was planning on using the tile as a baseboard 2 or 3 rows high in the rest of the room, but might defer that choice until after I’ve moved in.

      And I’ll get to discussing how my family accumulates furniture sometime in the future.


      1. CindyH

        Can’t wait for that discussion (how your family accumulates furniture)! I love all your choices – I’m envious that you get to make them all by yourself if you want to.


  3. Melinda

    From everything I’ve read Semi-handmade is a great company and (as you know) seems to do great work. 🙂 We may end up turning to them in our renovation, too, if we end up deciding that the time and money saved going Ikea is worth more than my husband’s desire to hand-build our cabinetry. 🙂


  4. Mary Elizabeth

    Yes, let’s hear soon about the way your family acquires furniture. Our family had several methods:

    1) Grandpa L. (cabinet maker) built things like tables.
    2) Grandpa A. (sometime farmer and real estate agent for farm and houses) had not a single furniture or home carpentry skill. He inherited some furniture and also bought nice furniture from antique shops or modern shops.
    3) Grandma A. would periodically get tired of all the furniture, rugs, and drapes in one room and give it to her children.
    4) Dad had wicked good refinishing and restoration skills. He once covered our wooden kitchen table with laminate and chrome trim and repainted all the chairs.

    The best acquisition story I have is that a woman in NYC whose kids I used to babysit for would find things left as trash on the street while she was out and about. Then she would call a cab and me in that order and ask me to come down and help her get the table or carpet into the cab. Once on Park Avenue she found a high-end, very large Oriental rug this way. It had one cigarette burn in it. She simply placed a piece of furniture over the burn. From her I acquired wicked good free or for-cheap furniture acquisition skills.

    My favorite pieces in anyone’s house are those that come with a story.


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Also I’m jealous that you had such easy access to New York trash. I’ve driven to North Jersey to buy a few things on Craigslist but don’t think that people throw their money away quite as much in and around Philly.


  5. Pingback: Outside the Crooked House, the Christmas Theme Is Hoarders | Chad's Crooked House

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