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GDoN “If you’re tired of the same old reno” edition

by Prince Of Petworth April 11, 2017 at 11:50 am 46 Comments

4215 7th St NW

This house is located at 4215 7th Street, NW. The MRIS listing says:

“Beautifully maintained Petworth home w/ original details such as, fireplace, hwds, fixtures, trim all with modern amenities including updated kitchen, BA’s & solar panels! This home is ready for dinner parties, bdays & morning coffee! Just steps from vibrant Upshur ST this home is in the heart of Petworth. If you’re tired of the same old reno, this is what you’ve been waiting for!”


You can see more photos here.

This 4 bed/2.5 bath is going for $679,000.

  • Kung Fu Tea anyone?

    Good deal! This is an amazing location since it’s so close to all the stuff on Upshur Street. The hardwood floors look beautiful, and do all the other wood furnishings around the house. I differ on the “updated” kitchen and bathrooms, but they’re certainly liveable and the new owners could update on their own time. I bet this goes above asking.

    • textdoc

      That kitchen looks to have been renovated within the past 7 or so years. How is that not “updated”?
      I don’t like the choice of floor tile in the bathrooms, but even that doesn’t look all that old. And otherwise they seem OK.

      • west_egg

        “How is that not ‘updated’?”
        There’s not a stainless steel appliance in sight! And are those…[gasps] LAMINATE COUNTERTOPS?!? Quelle horreur!!!
        In all seriousness, that’s a nice kitchen.

      • JoDa

        7 years? I dunno…that range looks a good bit older than that. Black on white and those knobs give me a decidedly 90’s vibe (the only ones I could find for sale online that look like that are propane). Plus the microwave appears really old.
        Which got me looking…all the grout is really stained. In every room with grout (kitchen and all baths). And there appears to be at least one piece of tile missing in the upstairs bath. There’s quite a bit of wear around the edges of some of the kitchen cabinets, and one under the sink is off the hinges. The fixtures in the downstairs bath were not replaced when it was renovated, and are really old and somewhat gross.
        Are these all minor things? Yes. But when you claim a home is renovated, I expect that to mean recently and completely enough that everything (barring, possibly, plumbing, major electrical, etc.) is younger than me and, if you’re going to brag about it being a “better” renovation/updating than your average flip, done pretty well. Why re-tile and then just leave the old, stained faucet knobs and shower head in the tub? Why not seal the grout, or replace it before listing? And if you don’t notice these things (the grout is squicking me out…it’s really gross), how’s the roof?
        I have no idea what a home should go for in this specific location, but I’d make sure to get a very thorough inspection. People who overlook small but obvious things (especially when they’d be cheap to make shiny and new…like faucet knobs!) also tend to ignore real problems until they’re critical.

  • wdc

    Nice. I like that there’s so much for the new owner to do in her own taste. If I were in the market, I’d be watching this one hard.

  • BRP

    oh wow. I love this – especially that they kept walls and doors – and the trim! and that everything isn’t painted white! it’s just over the top of our budget and I bet it ‘ll go above asking anyway, but wow. want.

  • anon

    It is lovely, but why didn’t they run cords through the walls instead of along the baseboards? Also, that bathroom with the exposed plumbing would make me really nervous about other renovation choices the owners have made over the years.

    • textdoc

      I think that’s coaxial cable. Running it through/behind drywall might be uncomplicated, but I’m not sure plaster-and-lathe walls would allow for that. If I were the homeowner, I’d run the cable along the baseboards too.

      • HaileUnlikely

        Agreed (yes this appears to be coaxial cable and yes this is probably what I’d do as well).

        • Idontgetit

          That’s how it is done on my house. It’s a bear to manage though.

    • eva

      I have a house that looks very much like this one and there was never at any point in time wiring inside the walls, with the exception of one ceiling. So you’d be looking at quite extensive plaster work to make that happen. I just finished a fairly meticulous and extensive renovation of several rooms and I opted to keep the wiring along the baseboards in some cases, because I didn’t want to have to reconstruct every single wall in my house.

    • anon

      Yes I see some electrical problems here – I don’t think it is up to code to have electrical in the baseboards like that. Which means the wiring is really old.

      Other than that, yes yes yes, so happy to see a house with its original details in tact!

      • HaileUnlikely

        I see several items that are clearly not up to current code, but provided they were up to code when installed (I don’t have any idea whether they were – I don’t have any idea what the NEC called for in the 1920’s…), most would be grandfathered until a renovation that involves exposing the framing (the only alternative would be for everybody to rip out all of their walls and rewire their whole house every time the NEC was updated. That would kind of suck) I wouldn’t consider outlets located in baseboards a “problem” in the same sense as I’d consider finding out that the whole house has knob-and-tube wiring a problem.

        • anon

          Why would baseboard outlets be a problem on the order of knob-and-tube?

          • HaileUnlikely

            They absolutely wouldn’t be. That’s my whole point.

          • anon

            Thanks – I misread the “wouldn’t” as “would” in your last sentence.

      • eva

        I just passed an electrical inspection and retained (and in some cases even re-ran) baseboard electric with no complaints from the inspector. It’s only required to be made internal if you take down the walls at some point.

        Being “to code” and being “inspection worthy” are not truly the same in this case.

  • fka Petworth

    That hallway closet is awesome.

    I have no idea what’s a good deal any more, but I’ll be watching this one.

  • textdoc

    Very nice. I dig all of the wood trim, and OMG THEY HAVE THE ORIGINAL ICEBOX DOORS IN THE KITCHEN!!

    • ET

      That was my first thought. Love that it got left. Hopefully whoever buys this appreciates that (and the builtin) and leaves that as is.

    • Idontgetit

      I loved that! Gorgeous!

  • flieswithhoney

    If I had the funds, I’d be all over this. Gorgeous.

  • Tom

    My landlord restored the house I’m living in now in a similar fashion, and I love it. He’s gone all the way out to Baltimore to pick off old doors (complete w/ skeleton keys) and mantles that match the period and color/stain of the wood. If I were in a better financial place, I’d buy this in a heartbeat.

  • Emmaleigh504

    Love this. I hope it doesn’t get gutted.

  • crayons

    This is a beautiful place. Love the hardwood trim and doors and icebox hardware as another poster mentioned. The five panel swinging door is also unique.

    I wonder if the knee level kick plate on the door was for toddlers or to protect from a pup?

  • soozles

    Please, oh please don’t let this one get destroyed by a developer. What a great house. Mine looked a lot like this when I moved in, as in wood still there, so-so kitchen but central air.

  • David Solimini

    This is right around the corner from me and man do I wish someone had left our trim like this. I’ve stripped our original built-in and it is a *huge* amount of work.

    This will probably go for close to asking, IMHO. The price to bring the kitchen and baths up to other properties in the neighborhood will prob prevent this from going above 700. The kitchen in particular. Opening the wall between the kitchen and dining room would give enough counter space (peninsula or island) to ensure you can keep the *amazing* original icebox doors. Sadly it doesn’t look like any of the rest of the hardware is original. The AC chasing seems a bit of a botch – lots of random boxes taken out of corners

    That little hall section before the kitchen is really confusing from the photos. There’s no room for a BR on the left (as you come in) after the first door – just a foot or two of depth where the kitchen gets wider than the living room. And what is that first door on the left? A super-shallow closet? Could be. But if the bath is under the stairs, as the reflection in the bath photo indicates, then where is the door to the basement? $5 to the person who can figure that out. ;-)

    That said, while the downstairs bath certainly looks horrible, the wall pipes need to be pushed through shouldn’t be load bearing. An in-wall/wall-mounted non-elongated toilet probably saves the space necessary to actually permit standing in there when you wash your hands… though probably not to code clearances.

    Lovely built-in upstairs! Upstairs bath seems redone to avoid moving plumbing. But unless you’re set on keeping a clawfoot in these old 6×9 bathrooms, the tub should fit against the back wall.

    • textdoc

      I wouldn’t recommend “opening up” the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. The first floor of my house is configured much like this one appears to be, and the previous owner opened up the kitchen… leaving me with almost no above-the-counter cabinet space.
      I _think_ in this house, the fridge and stove are currently against the wall between the kitchen and dining room… but I’m puzzled because I thought the swinging door would be to the right of the fridge, and it’s not. Maybe it’s to the left of the stove.

      • wdc

        I think it’s highly individual… My house is pretty similar to this one, but someone in its past did open up the kitchen and dining room, and I love it. Yes, I guess space for cabinetry was lost, but it means that when I entertain (which I do a lot) I’m not closeted away from the party.

        • textdoc

          Fair enough.
          Does your house have a bump-out in the back? (Mine doesn’t, which means the kitchen space is pretty limited.)

          • anon

            The amount that you could open this kitchen the the dining room is limited, as much of the kitchen (the refrigerator and the space beyond it where the back door opens against the wall) is in a bump out that is deeper than the dining room. And you probably wouldn’t want to open it up to the dining room where the stove currently is, as that would take you right up to the back wall of the dining room by the windows, and the dining room would probably look better with a foot or two of wall in that corner before any opening to the kitchen. So, while kitchens open to living rooms can function well where they are actually side by side, here the most you could do would be to open the doorway that is there to make a larger entranceway from dining room to kitchen, with most of the new space being toward the front of the house. But then you’d lose the little closet there in the hallway, and you wouldn’t gain all that much, as part of that space is that nook area set off by doorways between the front hall and kitchen. Which is probably why it is better left just the way it is – the kitchen to dining room layout. Though it could benefit from an enlarged powder room.

      • anon

        The door to the dining room IS next to the stove, closer to the front of the house. It is confusing because the kitchen is deeper than the dining room. You can see this in the photo of the back porch – that brick wall to the side is where the kitchen extends beyond the dining room. So, I agree, I wouldn’t open up that wall here, for reasons more clearly stated in my reply just below.

        • textdoc

          Ahh, OK. That makes sense; I didn’t see the offset until you pointed it out.

    • anon

      I’ll forgo the $5 you promise, but the layout is obvious to me. The stairs to the basement are right under the stairs, before you get back to the bathroom. The bathroom is BEHIND that, and is not under the stairs. You can see this in the bathroom photo – there is no slanted ceiling as would be if it was actually under the stairs. The bathroom is on the side of the kitchen with the sink, behind the stairs – it is the room with what looks like a glass doorknob visible in one kitchen photo, in the little area enclosed by doorways between the front hall and the kitchen that has the kitchen tiles on the floor. The five-panel door that is open and visible in that photo beyond the doorway of this little area in the front hall is either the five panel door that is indeed a shallow closet where the dining room is narrower than the living room (you can see an open area of the kitchen nook behind that just across from the bathroom door) or the door the basement, if that doorway opening also has a five-panel door. The door that is open blocks the view to the front door – the photo would be less confusing if that door was closed and you could see through to the front door.

      Yes, the downstairs bathroom piping needs to be redone – seems like it could be a good size for installing one of those toilets with the sink above the toilet tank (one integrated fixture) that I’ve seen in tiny restaurant bathrooms. Though if I redid the kitchen, I’d make some room to enlarge the bathroom to a decent sized powder room here. But the kitchen doesn’t’ seem to be in need of a massive overhaul just yet – I like the cabinets just fine, and would just probably add a backsplash, take down the microwave above the sink, and get new appliances when the old ones died. I’m thinking the old icebox itself is probably still there, given that this is probably the original built-in location of the icebox, and that it is useful for cold storage in the winter (though I hope the outside door where the ice could be slid in by the iceman has been secured.) An easier way to make a larger bathroom would be to use the entire nook between the kitchen and front hall for a powder room with a door to the front hallway, with the toilet and sink fixtures on either side of that door, as many have done, which cuts off access from the front hall to the kitchen, meaning you have to walk through the living and dining rooms to get to the kitchen from the front door, but many homes have been altered to have this layout.

      I do like bathrooms with the tub set on the window wall better than what is here now – but that’s a project that could be done down the line.

  • LNontheHill

    Love love love the original trim. It breaks my heart when it gets ripped out or painted over–you can never get it back. We’ll be in the market in the next year or two, and this is the type of place we’d prefer to have over the overly renovated ones with a bunch of stupid spider-web gathering ceiling trim and enormous space-wasting bathrooms. (I.e., a house with original trim, central A/C, perfectly functional kitchen & baths.) Hear that, developers?

    • textdoc

      “It breaks my heart when it gets ripped out or painted over–you can never get it back.” In theory you could strip the paint from the doors/trim, though, right?
      If I were to win the lottery, maybe I’d move out of my house temporarily and pay someone to strip the paint from the doors/trim and restore the stain.

    • Anon X

      Often times the trim was painted for the original owner.

      • textdoc

        That’s a good point.
        I _think_ my wood doors/trim/etc. were originally stained, though — in cases where the paint has chipped off, there’s brown wood (I think stained, though maybe not) underneath.

  • Janie4

    Is that a built in icebox? Squee! I wish it was like the houses on Randolph that had the buit in china cabinets in the dining rooms, but this is nice! The powder room needs a larger sink, but at least it’s on the hall side, and doesn’t go into the kitchen or into the main room of the house. I love built in dressers like the one upstairs.

    • textdoc

      I think this icebox is actually on the exterior of the house, on the back porch. The doors on the inside allow access from the kitchen.
      (My house has the original icebox on the back porch, but not the access doors on the interior.)

    • anon

      I’m guessing that hallway closet upstairs originally had two double cabinet doors above the drawers, and that they were removed by someone at some point, and then someone else cut down a larger door to put a door back on it. As I’ve never seen a built-in this this with just one door, and a doorway door! (not a cabinet door with smaller edges) on it. Has anyone else ever seen an original like this?

      • textdoc

        What’s weird to me is that I was expecting this closet to be the location of the (usually very steep) stairs to the attic. So if this is actually a very fancy hall closet, which door leads to those stairs — a door inside a bedroom?

        • JS

          They’re across across the hallway from the built-in hall closet. You can see the doorknob and landing step in photo 12.

  • PK

    I think this place is really nice. Lots of original details, A/C, bonus attic, nice porches, good location, large & secure yard and awesome garage! Yeah the kitchen is a bit tight, but not bad. I’ll wager it goes for over $700K. Anyone agree?

  • msus

    My wife and I bought a house in August in similar condition and age. We thought it was liveable and we could renovate when we wanted. Started with kitchen. Uncovered a few hidden surprises such as water damaged framing and had to get all new pipes (which wasn’t as expensive as we initially thought thankfully).

    No regrets, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this house is a more expensive renovation project than it might appear to be.

    • anon

      I think you can assume that of any older house, no matter how recently renovated, or not, even if just renovated (especially then, as flipper take short cuts). You never know what is behind the walls until you open them up – but water damage, plumbing problems, electrical problems, wood structural pieces rotting or damaged by termites or by earlier bad renovations – is to be expected. Which is why it is always good to expect your renovation to cost a lot more and take a lot longer than you expected. But even if this house had a cosmetically beautiful, recently renovated kitchen and bathroom, you’d never know what’s behind the walls that wasn’t addressed. So how the house looks gives you practically no information at all.


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