This Old House | Mid-century Modern Makeover (S40 E14) | FULL EPISODE

remember when a house like this didn’t look old there was a time when modern men knew up to date but now this modern house is over 60 years old and it needs work that’s why this modern old house is our new project what happened to all this plumbing here i’ve never seen anything like this before there’s already rot going on in that trunk so what have you found up here well a bit of a surprise it’s really the classic farmer’s lament see this main roof form we’re just going to pull that forward until it’s even where this existing deck is definitely says mid-century modern the money’s in the detail that is beautiful hi there i’m kevin o’connor and welcome back to this old house where today we start a brand new project this is coolidge corner the heart of brookline massachusetts which is a suburb that sits just next to boston and this part of town really got going back in the 1800s when they brought the train to town many of the homes in this neighborhood were built back in that air and they’re still standing today but ours is not one of them ours is from a different era and i’m gonna go check it out as soon as my ride gets here i was not expecting you to pick me up in a classic car this thing is awesome it’s pretty cool this is a 1957 chevrolet and you know one of my first cars that i had was a 1957 chevrolet and it was black you had one of these i did i paid 125 for it you’ve been rolling in style for a long time and you know what a project house that we’re working on this year just happened to be built in 1957 i love it so it won’t be the first modern house we’ve worked on we did the uh the bauhaus style home we did probably what 13 or 14 years ago 18 years ago yeah and that needed a lot of work i mean the idea back then was keep it simple they introduced vertical siding they introduced plywood plywood came along and that was used and they also like to mix and match materials outside they’re like big windows and simple roof lines and that was sort of the game plan for these modern homes it was an idea that forms should follow function uh that there shouldn’t be a lot of ornamentation and those materials you talk about that was introducing sort of newer materials ones that we hadn’t used in those ways before that’s right the idea of it was they wanted to try to build these houses cheaper well i’ll tell you what it may not be our oldest house but it is an old house so i’m looking forward to it yeah me too it’s gonna be fun there it is and it’s got all of those hallmarks you were talking about yeah i mean if you look at it it’s really just a simple box it has the vertical siding a very shallow pitched roof large windows plate glass windows that don’t even open and simple trim definitely says mid-century modern yes it does let’s go meet the homeowner okay hey nia hi sunil how are you how are you good to see you nice to see you both see you again we have not met your daughter yet who is this this is nissa and he says hey hi guys hi mesa how old is she she’s two she’s two all right so the whole family is here so uh i want to hear your guys story um you work nearby right both doctors yeah you both work at boston children’s hospital which is pretty close by as you mentioned right um you know it’s about 1.2 miles and yeah and we hope to be able to walk to children’s hospital which you can do from here which we can yeah we hope to do that on most days and if you’re unable to i guess there’s a bus that comes right here at the corner and that takes us directly to the hospital so uh it’s a pretty convenient location for us perfect well we want to see everything i’ve got an appointment in the basement with richard i think she’s got an appointment with her nap right so i’ll leave you guys to it yeah all right all right our house is a split level so this lower bedroom right here is about six steps down from the main level hey richard all right so they have a full bathroom here uh up to serve the bedrooms okay another bedroom right here you know i grew up in a house just like this a split level yeah brings back all kinds of memories and nothing says the 50s to me like paneling boy they got a lot of it don’t they do one thing i did notice is that the downspouts back in that area you could put the rainwater downspouts and bring them inside the building so it comes in here and you can’t do that anymore you can’t let the rain water tie into the sewer

system so we’re gonna make that go away so we got water coming in there and we are below grade at this point yeah i mean that’s there’s that bank right here we’re worried about water here so charlie’s gonna open up this floor and see what’s going on a little bit of moisture that we see here okay a couple of window air conditioners in the building we can do better than that there’s one more level right here our basement this is actually four levels in this house watch your head so look at this thing this is original equipment a gas-fired heating boiler from 1957 57 huh and i look at this and i realized that our family business did hundreds and hundreds and hundred of these and we worked in this neighborhood so there’s a very good chance that my father or our family business crew installed this thing originally maybe your dad put it in and you’re going to take it out that’s right so it goes into a chimney massing right here we’ve got a separate water heater next to it gas-fired look at this here there’s a fireplace right here now it seems weird to have a fireplace in the basement with low ceilings like this but there’s some chance that they might have used this for uh trash burning or incineration interesting bring your newspapers your rubbish down here using up a chimney right here okay so mechanically we’ve got a full-sized copper water main right here now we have a new addition with a garage that goes off sort of kitty corner this way it’s going to have a doorway coming here but this is too low so charlie wants to dig this down by a foot or two and see if we can make this much more usable space well if it’s the entry rate of the house i mean that makes sense right yeah uh here’s our point of exit for our sewer system so this would be where we work all of our new plumbing into it we got a washer and dryer here we’re not sure where this will go cast iron looks pretty good right and a full-size gas supply so that’s in good shape i don’t do anything on that it looks almost new that’s right and then electrical is a 100 amp panel so we’re gonna have to upgrade that okay so obviously you need time to plan we know that maybe we’ll take it down yeah but you’ve got to figure out how we’re going to upgrade all these systems how to heat it and cool in a place with no spaces yeah all right well don’t come out of the basement until you’re done i’m always down thank you richard so neil the living room really has a high ceiling and it gives you the illusion of this space being really big but the house isn’t that big about how many square feet is it the house is about 1400 square feet yeah that’s kind of small yeah all right so what’s the plan for the living room it’s going to be changed yes so the living room is going to be our future kitchen so these these windows here they’re really nice and bring in a lot of light but we’re going to use the uh this wall as the main uh counter area for a new kitchen right uh and you know in order for the kitchen to um the counter to go all the way to the wall this the the stairs will be filled in and in fact moved to uh this area where the fireplace is currently so the chimney and fireplace have to go yes they’re both going and the in the um and the new stairs will take us down to the lower level from there now i know that this wall is going to go because the addition is going out here that’s correct so the whole house is going to get pushed out about 15 or 20 feet in that direction and it’s going to have a high ceiling but there’s going to be a garage underneath and a new living area above it so you’re going to step from this floor into the new living room yes there’ll be a couple of a couple of steps from this area to the living room just to accommodate the ceiling for the garage yeah and uh but it’s going to be nice and open it is going to be nice and open there’s not going to be any walls in between right all right and what’s the plan for the old kitchen so you know now that our new kitchen’s going to be in that direction uh this entire kitchen is going to get demoed essentially yeah well i look at these kitchen cabinets and these are definitely original to the house i think the countertops probably been changed once but these shelves are kind of new so what’s going on here um so you know this entire space gets demoed including you know this wall the stove and it opens up the whole area the fridge will save and move it to the basement as that’s a great idea and there’ll be a small powder room in this corner but the rest of the wall it’s just going to go away and make make way for a large sliding glass doors out to the patio well that’s great because you can have a little table in here and get to the yard great all right i want to check upstairs see what’s going on with the bedrooms all right thanks so mid-century modern have different levels and this would be the upper level and this is the main bathroom right here looks like they’ve had some work done the original tile on the wall and i’d say that’s the original tub new tile floor toilet vanity and mirror so there’s been some work done let’s see what’s going on in this bedroom back here hi nia hey tommy this is a nice bedroom here but it’s kind of small it is but this is the largest one that we have so this was probably the master bedroom i think so yeah so this is pretty unusual i don’t think i’ve ever seen a window in a bedroom that looks down to the family room yeah i mean i agree and i think we want to close this off yeah i think that’s a good idea acoustical ceiling tiles they look original yeah i think it’s original and i think they’re good for the sound oh they’re good for the sound yeah but i don’t like them i don’t either and those recessed light

fixtures i know those are original yeah they’re fine but you want those gone too i don’t blame you all right so what’s the plans for this room so this is going to be nissa’s bedroom our daughter’s bedroom um so we want to change the flooring to hardwood hardwood flooring yeah change the ceiling and we want to add and add a bathroom to her room so we’re going to use some of this closet space to add a bathroom that’s a good idea and then keep some closet space next to it that’s pretty much it for this room okay so what about you guys the master bedroom uh let me show you all right lead the way so this bathroom is going to stay but we want to make this into a master bath so we really want to expand this out so you’re going to close up this wall and this will become a hallway now this bedroom here is going to be what so so this bathroom is going to come out into this space and next to it would be a closet okay so i know we have a wall that’s going to go up here that’s going to create a hallway behind niche’s bathroom and this window right here you’re going to get a doorway to go through there that’s right so and out there would be our bedroom uh just above the guest suite a guest suite down below you guessed it right now it’s pretty cool that that bedroom is actually going to go out on a slight angle which is going to be nice it’s going to go out about 15 to 16 feet it’s going to be a huge space kind of exciting isn’t it it is for sure all right back in the 50s this neighborhood was filled with victorians and colonials and capes so when this house was built it made a big statement well 60 years later you could argue that it’s boxy angular look haven’t really kept up with the times but we’re going to work on that with a local architect linda hamlin linda nice to meet you and not just local actually a neighbor you live right up the street this is true so do you agree with our assessment that maybe it has not kept up with the time i think that’s correct all right well you’re going to help us fix that we do have some restrictions on what we can do what are that’s right first can’t tear it down okay uh second you also need to show it it needs to be revealed so it can’t be hidden beside behind um editions and they have a say on the type of materials and the windows that you use well nothing we haven’t encountered in the past let’s talk about what we are going to do you brought us a model thank you for that uh let’s see so here we are this is the the boxing that exists and we’re kind of standing right here that’s right what are we adding we’re adding two wings um this right here will be the entry which has its own canopy roof over it and the idea here is that we’re no longer confused sort of how to enter the house we now know that this is the spot that’s right this is public spaces so we have a garage that’s going underneath with a living room above so one car and a balcony one car there expanded living room on the other side this wing will be the bedroom wing you’ll notice that the two additions are canted from the original house and the original we started with 1400 square feet how much are we adding we’re doubling the size doubling okay so bedrooms on this side that’s right um and you’ve kept the shed roof we have we have reversed the pitch on the addition so okay it stays the same that way and we’ve changed the windows style the existing house has banded windows strip windows strips right that’s right with vertical siding uh the new additions have vertically oriented windows and horizontal siding so this is to your point that we’re going to know this is the original house we’re not hiding in any way we’re not pretending like these are always here correct stay in the vernacular but make sure that we know they’re different that’s right all right well that’s going to go a long way to changing how the house looks and how it’s used um i know that you’ve got a few homes that have been in this style that have sort of held up at the times that you’ve been willing to show us shall we take a trip definitely right now we’re in the six moon hill neighborhood in lexington this was a community developed by a group of architects that we’re building these in the 40s and 50s new concepts modern houses out with nature they also have a lot of community they have swimming pool they have fields but the big emphasis here is on these houses that really relate to the landscape literally sort of just built into nature it is overwhelmed by trees into the side of the hill and similar materials that we have back at our house that’s right vertical siding shed roofs and a series of boxes you know very angular all strung dead that’s right you can literally just see right through that’s right should we go in and look at it love to we’re coming into actually one of my most favorite rooms because it’s just filled with glass on both sides walls of glass walls of glass just amazing nature is on this side on this side it’s coming at us will we have this much glass in brookline it’s a little different

situation in brookline we don’t have the forest on either side of the house but we’re adding a lot okay now i noticed the lower ceilings in here sort of compresses you down that’s by design by design so we can emphasize the other part of the the house which has the uh most relationship i think to the brookline house because we have the shed roof that’s going over we have low point high point we have the small stairs and the stairs are sort of leading us between these levels which is so typical right i mean you could have gone up we went down in just this one space here we’ve got three levels to play with that’s right and that helps the family to share the public spaces because you have your own spaces but they’re communicating with one another and look what happens when you add these levels right so this loft right here has got space above but it also creates this very intimate space beneath it right the little writing desk shared family space you can be alone in here you can also be outside in the living room it is this is what we would like to create in brookline we’ve big big open spaces but with enough enough variety that the family can share it together so this house was built around the same time as ours 60 years later that’s right this works that’s right i would be thrilled to live here all right well we’re really looking forward to what you’re going to do yes i hope to be thrilled to live there as well our house may have maintained its mid-century bones but the landscape has got no clear style at all and our landscape architect blair hines is going to help us with that blair nice to meet you so where did you start well interestingly enough we started right where we’re standing which is a new garage is being built it’s going to go right here it’s going to go right here and the problem is you can see if you look up the private way here all the water is coming down this way you’re worried about water running down into the house it’s going to be going towards the garage and the idea here is can we regrade the driveway so the water yes it’ll start to come in here a bit but then it would slide out towards the street we’re also going to have a little curbed edge in here so that again that would help keep the water from the garage the other thing that i learned from linda was that the main street right here there is a sort of a formal entrance but we’d rather enter the house from the back more private side this is the new main entry point that’s right because if you think about it here’s this really busy street and it would be nice to have your front entrance up on this really nice private way and so i’d like to show you what we’re thinking about up there so we got to take down this fence in order to create a new front entry up here and then of course the front entry needs a new front walk and so the idea was to reuse these granite bollards but to move them in so that they don’t get hit by the snowplow anymore hence the one that’s down already exactly so you’ll enter into the house this way into the house this way and then the next thing we have is we have a new outdoor space up here okay that we want to create which is actually below the grade of where we’re walking now so i i’m with you on taking the fence away although on this side of the house it is the only protection they have the only problem their only private yard will be here and the idea is we’re going to create a little sunken patio with a seat wall and that one of the things interesting is they want all the materials to be concrete so we’re getting some really nice cast concrete wall blocks and some nice concrete pavement so that it fits with the overall modern aesthetic and how do we get our privacy though well it’ll be with the new fence well there is a new fence oh yeah yeah it’ll be a new modern fence that’ll be made with nice horizontal cedar boards cool all right so as you wrap around the house this is really the only yard they have right now but a lot of this is going to be taken up by the addition yes exactly the new addition comes within seven and a half feet of the property line yes and one of the real issues was this tree that the neighbor wanted us to protect i bet so we have now a set of steps that comes up from the patio and then comes down to go around the building yeah into the new entrance into where the parents are going to be living there’ll be another room right here there will be yes and the old front yard what becomes of all of this uh well these trees are actually all invasives and the worst of it is they’re starting to tear apart this old historic wall and so what we want to do is we want to take down all these trees we will owe them repair the wall but we are going to be replanting along in here an evergreen stream we’re going to be putting a lot of nice shade loving perennials and ferns in here and then some accent flowering trees out there at the front will this stay i think it needs to be replaced but essentially this door is still going to be here we’re going to have a stoop we’re going to have a couple of panels of concrete pavement

and we’ll be replacing or fixing the steps here and repairing the wall all right well you definitely have a plan we do um when and where do you guys get started well we get started by taking down all these trees taking down the fence and then it’s up to you guys to get that house started all right appreciate it blair looking forward to it thank you thank you bye-bye hey tommy hey charlie hey kevin you guys are tackling this back room richard said you had concerns about moisture back here yeah we have a high grade outside and so we’re going to want to check out any moisture penetrating through the foundation all right yeah and we also want to verify that we think this floor is a poured concrete the architect says it’s wood frame we want to verify that it is a board concrete sledgehammer ought to tell you yeah get all right let’s pull off some of this pan right here why don’t you try hitting this with a sledgehammer maybe it’ll break but we might have to cut that plaster look at that huh that’ll tell you something right yeah the corner’s dry but we’re gonna remove the rest of the pailing to make sure it’s all dry and the floor it is a concrete slab the architect thought it was wood frame the homeowners are thinking about putting radiant heat down in here so we’re gonna have to make provisions for that amazing all the fun with the demo oh yeah what do you guys think about this project it’s going to be a great transformation you know this is a mid-century martin we haven’t done one of these for a long time i’m really looking forward to it well as you guys know we wrapped up our project in jamestown rhode island recently and we’re getting new apprentices for this project but first we’ve got to say goodbye to our graduating class right here kevin and mary you guys are on to bigger and better things mary what are your plans uh just hoping to build upon what i’ve learned here with you guys and i’d really love to find a way to share that knowledge with other people who are new to the trades all right and you kevin uh staying with sweener and going to keep building that’s awesome glad you can hear it well we appreciate all of the hard work and we wish you the best of luck it’s been a pleasure working with you guys okay guys thank you all right well next time we are going to continue with demo on our mid-century modern so until then i’m kevin o’connor i’m charlie silva i’m thompson i’m rich trethewey mary maguire smith kevin barker for this old house here in brookline want to swing the hammer one more time come on smash something next time on this old house we look back at our first this old house project to see how it has survived for the last 40 years wow 40 years huh we look good and if you’re demoing a house built in the 50s chances are it has asbestos and any time we find the slightest trace of asbestos it changes everything right demolition automatically becomes more expensive it takes longer and not anybody can do it