While searching for a Highland Park home, Paul Lacques and Victoria Jacobs came upon a 1924 house that seemed to have been stripped of nearly all of its old charm and character. The wood siding and been covered in a layer of grey stucco; the wood windows had been replaced with small, aluminum sliders and the interior resembled a “bad 1970s house,” said Lacques. One of the few reminders of the home’s vintage charm was a pair of slender front porch columns. But the couple went ahead and purchased the property in 2009 and launched an extensive renovation that – not too surprisingly – took longer – and cost about $80,000 to complete. “I told people we’d be moving in by March. I was right, but it was March a year later,” said Lacques.
After more than a year of work – including stripping away the stucco, gutting the interior and shopping for salvage on Craigslist – the couple transformed the Strickland Avenue house into a classic 1920s bungalow painted a custom palate of green, red and cream. Click on the link below for a Q&A with Jacobs.
Describe some of the major work you did. Looks like your removed the stucco in some sections, correct?
Yes, a buddy and I removed the stucco ourselves, on the entire house. It was quite a workout, took us a couple of weeks. We then did extensive repair to the siding, which was in good shape–1924 novelty siding is much thicker and stronger than the new stuff–but needed much filling of cracks and re-attaching to the studs, some replacement with new siding. I also removed the old paint and painted the house myself–it’s the one skill I used to do professionally–so it looks like a new old house.
We also got all salvaged period or near period doors, which I stripped, sanded, filled, painted; this also took a fair amount of time. And we demoed the inside of the house ourselves, pulled down old lath and plaster (unfortunately it had to come down, was in bad shape) and drywall, got it ready for the drywallers.
We hired carpenters to move one wall, repair bad joists, and raise one ceiling, and install double paned windows that look period; We were the contractors ourselves, did all the paperwork, hired plasterers, tilers, etc. Any gruntwork, I did it.
What did you do inside?
Basically gutted the place, down to studs. Everything period had been removed. It looked like a bad 1970’s house on the inside. My wife Victoria scoured Craigslist and various salvage yards/antique malls/swap meets for light fixtures, bathtubs and sinks, hardware, two windows, got great stuff (I could take photos of that if you like);
she also found some great vintage tiles for bathrooms and kitchens, and we mixed these with new vintage style tiles from an old still active factory [B&W Tile] in Gardena. We also got old oak flooring from a couple in Burbank who for some inexplicable reason were tearing up their 1947 floors to put in engineered flooring, and got the rest on Craigslist.
We used remnant soapstone pieces for the kitchen, and got remnant Pennsylvania Bluestone flagstone remnants from a yard in Malibu. We consistently lucked out in the salvage/remnants department.
What would you have done differently and why OR what was an important skill or lesson learned from this experience?
I think we made very few mistakes, mostly because we hired a fantastic guy, Greg Johns, to subcontract carpentry work, and he became our house guru, incredibly generous with time and advice. We’re good friends now. The mistakes were mostly timing, doing a couple of things out of order, but pretty minor.
Can you recommend any local suppliers, craftspeople or services you used?
Greg Johns, of course, invaluable, Erick Sanchez and his crew do great and affordable drywalling, tiling, etc. We hired a guy named Jacob (I don’t have his last name in my phone, but I could get you the info) to do some concrete work, a French drain, and laying flagstones in our patio area. Fantastic work, his crew is super cool and unbelievably hard working. And so inexpensive I was worried about how he was making money!
Craigslist is something you can’t imagine not existing, and there are a number of salvage yards/vintage materials warehouses and shops, a long list, I’d recommend Googling Los Angeles salvage house materials.
Davis Lumber has a great inventory of vintage finishing details in addition to lumber–the only place to find new novelty siding that I’m aware of. Home Depot is a place you will visit three times a week whether you want to or not. And I’m a big Dunn Edwards paint fan, I don’t think anything else comes close. The True Value on Fair Oaks in Pasadena does have a very good paint department with good brands.
What are the names of the colors you used on the exterior?
They were both custom colors we mixed ourselves (see photo).
Recommended Supplier & Services:
- Davis Lumber
- B & W Tile
- Greg Johns (carpentry subcontractor) (626) 353-4899
- Erick Sanchez (drywall) (323) 533 2740
- Jacob (concrete guy) (818) 621 0635
- Don’t Blame Us: Neither the homeowners or The Eastsider guarantee the services or products mentioned in this article.
Eastside Home is looking for the Before-and-After stories and photos from residents who have made over their bungalows, condos, apartments and lofts after a months-long renovation or a week-end of painting and clutter clearing. Send your stories and photos to [email protected]