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All photos © Stephanie Munguia for Cheap Old Houses

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 6

$147,000
YAY! A First Time Home for Ali + Nur!

c. 1920  Albany, NY

In Episode 6 of Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?, we traveled to Albany, NY to spend time with Ali + Nur, helping them find their first-ever home in America!

Restoring old houses is a big part of what we do, and it’s incredibly fun. But the most rewarding part of working with cheap old houses is that they allow an entry point into a competitive housing market for so many people who feel left out of the game. Ali + Nur raised their children in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, and never felt that homeownership in America would be possible for them. Looking at fixer-uppers (cheap old houses!) allowed that narrative to change. And well, the rest of history!

All photos © Stephanie Munguia for Cheap Old Houses

Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?

Episode 5

$147,000
YAY! A First Time Home for Ali + Nur!

c. 1920  Albany, NY

In Episode 6 of Who’s Afraid of a Cheap Old House?, we traveled to Albany, NY to spend time with Ali + Nur, helping them find their first-ever home in America!

Restoring old houses is a big part of what we do, and it’s incredibly fun. But the most rewarding part of working with cheap old houses is that they allow an entry point into a competitive housing market for so many people who feel left out of the game. Ali + Nur raised their children in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, and never felt that homeownership in America would be possible for them. Looking at fixer-uppers (cheap old houses!) allowed changed that narrative. And well, the rest of history!

Before we dive in too deep, let’s take a moment to relish in the beauty of this exterior transformation. When we talk about buying “the worst house on the block,” this is exactly what we mean. The stucco was flaking off in chunks, and the awkwardly large dormer at the top was a the result of an open porch having been enclosed decades ago. We vowed to open it back up to bring it back to its original charm! And doesn’t it look SO much better now?!

Our architectural designer Scott Reed worked with Dunn-Edwards DURA to bring this house back into the early 20th century. Arts + crafts bungalows always leaned into earth tones! Here, we used a beautiful taupe for the exterior base, and made the windows pop with shades of green and reddish-orange. The oak door just needed to be stripped. Voila! Perfection, 1920s-style!

Let’s Go Inside!

Living Room

This rooms are small and charming, and the house just needed someone to give it the slightest glow-up inside. The brick mantel is original to the house, and it’s a showstopper (like in so many little bungalows of this period, it’s fabulously overscaled and takes up most of the room!)

The woodwork in this one would not have been painted originally, so we kick-started this family’s restoration by stripping a few select areas (the front door and stairs). Elsewhere, our interior designer Jennifer Salvemini ditched the bright white paint in favor of more earthy tones that softened the spaces and grounded them in the period.

Our FAVORITE part of all is the smallest change that made the biggest difference! My friend Whitney owns the most inspiring little shop in Athens, NY called Opera House Co. While browsing there one day, we found a set of three tiles that were absolutely perfect for the fireplace hearth. We used them as accent pieces alongside period-perfect clay tiles from Heritage Tile. Look at that hearth shine!!

Dining Room

Here again, a tiny space that just needed a little love! Swapping out the light fixture for a mission-style chandelier made a huge difference.

Let’s see the before-and-after:

We approach the design of every room, ALWAYS AND FOREVER, by working with the original details. This little room had two absolutely wonderful features: a beautiful stained glass window, and a built-in that had lost most of it’s detail (but we found the original doors in the basement, naturally!)

The color was drawn from the beautiful jewel tones in the stained glass.

Bedroom

The bedroom wasn’t much to look at before, unless you love fuchsia! It opened into a small room in the dormer that was originally an open porch but had been enclosed several decades ago.

It just took a little freshening up to make this place feel like a soothing retreat! Returning the upper porch to its original open configuration created the most beautiful outdoor seating area outside for Ali + Nur. Stickley (arguably the most iconic furniture name associated with the Arts + Crafts period!) helped Jennifer outfit the room.

Of course, we mixed in a few non-period antiques antiques, too—our favorite trick for making rooms feel alive, and not frozen in one time period. Isn’t that Victorian dresser lovely?

Remember that this couple raised two children in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens, NY. This is their first private bedroom! And a what a beauty it is.

Kitchen

We generally believe in reusing as much as humanly possible in old kitchens. But these cabinets were held together by forks. Literally.

This house needed a kitchen that matched the period!

If you tuned into the episode, you’re aware of what the kitchen meant to Nur. It was the primary reason why she passed on the other, amazing bungalow we showed the family, which was filled with the most incredible Tudor detail but lacked a kitchen entirely. She adores cooking for her family—the kitchen is EVERYTHING to Nur!

The layout of the existing kitchen wasn’t terrible, but the style didn’t match the house at all. The beauty of bungalow kitchens is that they were really the first “modern” kitchens, outfitted with matching cabinetry, as modern kitchens still are.

Bungalows were built all around the idea of FAMILY, so instead of hiding the kitchens all the way in the back, out of sight of visitors (as the Victorians did), builders of bungalows integrated kitchens right into the main space of the house. Just like today, they were intended both as work spaces and as gathering spaces.

Hence, bungalow kitchens often had ironing boards, breakfast nooks, and other essential items built right in. In this kitchen, which is very long and narrow, we did our best to incorporate seating right into the countertop. Mothers in the 1920s used their kitchens to do all of their chores while also feeding the family. The dining room is directly off the kitchen (good-bye, formal butler’s pantries of earlier times!), so it really is a space to cook, chat and gather all at once!

You know us. AND YOU KNOW OUR RULE. No kitchen is complete without a lamp on the countertop!

Cabinets in bungalow kitchens ALWAYS went all the way up to the ceiling. And the hardware always stood out! We worked with Charleston Hardware to find matchbox latches and bun pulls that mimicked those that would have been used way back when. We love the contrast of the dark hardware against the soft white of the cabinets. We drew inspiration from our vast collection of historical photographs from the period in choosing glass-front upper cabinetry.

Tile countertops are a very period-appropriate choice for this space. Heritage Tile (who also outfitted the fireplace hearth) came through again for us here. The tile makes a simple design feel full of texture and fun! We chose to go with a checkered floor, which is also something they did ALL the time back then! We are so grateful for this era for introducing the idea of the family-friendly kitchen to the world. Functional AND fun! We love it!

Another thing we love about the owners of early “modern” kitchens is that they were not at all ashamed to see their appliances. On the contrary, these newfangled devices were meant to be celebrated and shown off! If you could have a modern fridge or even a dishwasher, you wanted people to KNOW about it! (We think they would have been confused by the idea of “panel ready” dishwashers!)

The appliances supplied by AJ Madison have a decidedly retro feeling and fit the space perfectly.

Once again, the use of an antique light fixture proves to be the single most effective design choice one can make in an old house! Isn’t this green one fantastic?

You’ll have to watch the episode to see Nur’s reaction to the kitchen. SPOILER ALERT: There was screaming and there were tears!

The People

Our Team

Our deepest gratitude to architectural designer and fellow champion of old houses, Scott Reed, for his invaluable insight and guidance on so many aspects of honoring this building’s era and history. Thank you to the tiny-but-mighty design and build team, lead by interior designer Jennifer Salvemini, who worked hard to celebrate the building’s history and character.

It takes a village, and we’re so fortunate to work with a team of preservation-minded contractors, designers, fabricators, and more to achieve our vision.

Design & Build

Kent Hansen
Hansen Complete Remodeling
General Contractor

Brian Crabb and Ruth Storc
Design Producers

David Figueroa
Build Producer

Edin of Edo’s Home Renos
Painting

James Waterhouse
Jack of All Trades

Production & Filming

Ann Lewis Roberts, Jenny Daly,
Jon Beyer, and Bill Gaudsmith

Executive Producers

Phil DePietro
Line Producer

Steve Bowler
Supervising Producer

Cory Dross
Director of Photography

Mike Spencer
Audio Mixer

Kathryn Zavistak, Alex Nam, Greg Corwin,
Carlos Escoto, Kirk Murray, and Dan Tivin

Editors

Nick Batchelder, Paul Celello,
Owen Goldstoff, and Alec Wright

Production Assistants

Amy Goodfriend-Nussbaum
Clearance Supervisor

Kelly Taylor
Post Production Coordinator

Victoria Chiaro Snyder
Executive in Charge of Production

Erika Smith
Supervising Story Producer

Ann Marie Lizzi
Segment Producer

Bill Keller
Camera Operator

Tori Dunn
DIT

Kurtis Endreson
Production Manager

Jon Earnest, Kevin Lowe,
and Sam Rubin

Story Producers

Andi Nunez
Post Production Supervisor

Gregory McClintock and Goga Sordia
Assistant Editors

Elizabeth Stephenson
Associate Producer

Brand Partners

With our sincere thanks to our incredible partners:

Dunn-Edwards DURA
Paint

AjMadison
Appliances

Medallion by Cabinetworks
Kitchen cabinets

Charleston Hardware Co.
Hardware

Vintage Tub & Bath
Kitchen fixtures

Stickley
Bedroom furniture

Spoonflower
Fabric and textiles

Casper
Mattress and bedding

George’s Market & Nursery
Landscaping

Proven Winners
Flowers and plants

Heritage Tile
Kitchen, living room hearth

Kichler Lighting
Light fixtures

Eternity Modern
Furniture

Jafri Rugs
Rugs

Juniper Print Shop
Art prints

Don’s Moving & Storage
Logistics

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