Transformed from the ordinary

West side neighborhoods can have lots of fairly small and simple houses. Mechanicsville and Hintonburg have lots of boxy small homes, and many are found on the stub streets off Preston.

Here, from Google Street View, is 34 Merton “before”:

It was a typical small house. Basic old-style aluminium siding. Mismatched windows. Odd, two level front porch (note location of the posts). Useful side door. One mailbox, so its likely a single home.

And after the facelift, voila:

I like the restrained use of modern materials. There is the ever-popular and trendy corrugated siding, used with some restraint. Ditto for the cement board (“Hardy”) coloured panels. Both porch roofs have curves, which adds a playful note, almost art deco. The windows match, and are an appropriate vertical format typical of homes in the area (at least, for those that weren’t renovated before with ranch style horizontal windows) but with an unusual pattern of dividers. Three matching glass doors. Restrained use of stone face material.

There is no front yard, the porch is right on the edge of the sidewalk. I suspect they reused the old post support (see the “before” picture), perhaps because it had non-conforming rights. The north side of the house has a bit of new corrugated siding, this time horizontal, and the rest of the house kept the original aluminum siding. I wonder if this is for economy, or part of the “reduce/reuse/recycle” mantra, or if it is just pending funds to reinsulate that side and repanel it later. If it is permanent, I think the original white siding might blend in well painted to match the gray, after which most people wouldn’t even notice the change of material.  Or maybe its a “wall of truth” to demonstrate to the observant that it is indeed an old home.

From the south, notice the single gas meter and electrical post, which hints that it is still a single. One of the leakiest areas in these older houses is the join of the wood house to its foundation. When recladding, it is possible to bring the new materials down over the join between the foundation and house, which achieves astounding air infiltration reduction, energy saving, and virtually eliminates sow bugs in the old basement.

The blob on the top left corner of the front wall of the house is the anchor for an electrical mast for the overhead wiring. It appears to have been replaced by another new anchor on the side, which unclutters the front. I wonder if that thin strip of gray metal was left (beside the stone facing) for the mast.

I think the owners here did a great job of signalling their home is modernized, without being so extreme as some of the shoe box infills are. If it was mine, though, I would figure out a way to get some green material in there … maybe a steel-edged planter on the side, or a grassy strip down the driveway. A real sidewalk to the side door would also help.

Otherwise, it appeals to me enough I could move right in. Could you?

5 thoughts on “Transformed from the ordinary

  1. I used to live at 7 Merton, my grandmother lived at 12 Merton, and great aunt at 38 Merton… we all moved away years ago, but it’s amazing how this area is transforming! I agree the owner’s of this house carried out their reno just right.

  2. I mostly like it, but the corrugated siding is my least favourite of the trendy ‘modern’ siding options (especially when hung vertically & in that beigeish grey)

  3. My friend – who I would describe as a small scale “flipper” – did it. He made a very wise move to buy this place – which I understand was very run down – just as the neighbourhood went from sketchy to the next big thing. We almost bought it from him. We even made an offer very early on but he wasn’t ready to move yet. In the end it was a bit small for us as it really is a 2 1/2 bedroom and we have two small kids. This guy takes his time and does very good work. And he really gets into the styling of it. I think he may have left the old siding on becuase apparently the next door house will be torn down and the lot filled up with infill. I agree about the paint though; that was our plan.

  4. Thanks for the great comments on my last project.

    I really appretiate the input!

    Though I have never met the author he has managed to get almost everything right.

    However, there is no cement board (Hardy) on this project. The wood grain paneling is a product
    called Prodema. I have seen painted cement board and I find it does not provide the warmth or character of Prodema.

    The old siding was kept for all the reasons indicated including that the lot next door is to be developed and will completely cover that exposed wall. Also, the existing siding is some ancient vinyl product that is both insulated and indestructable. If I had removed it I could only replace it with a product of less quality. So reduse/reuse/recycle seemed the best way to go.

    The thin strip of metal in the front was to carry the Hydro mast, but after pleading with the Hydro
    authority and the ESA I managed to get the mast moved to the side. However, in hindsight I like the way the flow of the metal goes from the top to the bottom of the bldg. without any explicit symmetry

    I’m surprised that you didn’t mention the front stairs. I’ve never seen anything like them and think
    they really provide a whole new look to the final product.

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