120 North Edgefield Avenue is “not your basic investor flip,” says Realtor Diane Sherman. Indeed, no one would put that label on any home restored by Wayne Woods.
One look at the detail put into crafting moldings, restoring the original hardware, and maximizing living and storage space and you know this house was brought back to life by someone who understands what Craftsman homes are all about.
But it’s what you don’t see that “infuses these houses with incredible longevity,” says Sherman. “Wayne Woods rode that tractor like a cowboy” to dig out dirt so that the house and garage foundations could be repaired, she says.
Woods stresses the importance of beginning any renovation by laying the right groundwork. “Most of the money and work in a proper redo is spent in the stuff you don’t see,” he says, “but it’s absolutely necessary.” He replaced the old knob and tube wiring, the galvanized water pipes and the clay tile sewer lines. He also reframed the house to get the original roof-line back. He laments that a lot of people seem to just want to slap on some paint and install new kitchen appliances when they initially purchase an older home, only to find out later that the doors and windows don’t close properly and the utilities are probably not up to code.
Sherman and Woods have been neighbors in Winnetka Heights for years. Knowing Woods’ contractor background and his passion for woodworking — he’s past president of the North Texas Woodworkers Guild — she urged him to invest in a property that had seen better times, and then to invest in another one. The Edgefield house is his third restoration in the neighborhood. As Woods puts it, “If I can’t pick up my toolbox and walk to work these days, I’m not much interested in going.”
The Craftsman heritage is evident throughout his latest work on Edgefield. Woods constructed the moldings and plinth blocks, crafted raised panels under the chair rails, and rebuilt the bookcases that flank the new fireplace. The old growth red heart pine floors are beautifully refinished. “Always salvage what you can,” says Woods. “Even old homes can be restored with ‘green building’ in mind.” He used old cabinets and other wood found on the property to create the bathroom vanities and the moveable kitchen island. Outdoor walkways are made of bricks from the badly leaning original fireplace which couldn’t be saved.
Homes constructed in the early 1900s didn’t have air conditioning, but Woods did his research and took a cue from the original builders, moving walls around and installing transoms for better air circulation. Open the ventilated side panel doors leading to the backyard deck and turn on the rebuilt attic fan to let the breeze cool you off on a warm summer evening. Since homes of that period weren’t insulated, he removed the old wallpaper and shiplap siding and added insulation behind the sheetrock. And Woods built the double sash windows himself, shortening the windows in the dining room to allow for better furniture placement.
While respecting the integrity of the period, Woods doesn’t forget modern life with his knack for creating storage space. He overhauled the closets to maximize space and substituted a pocket door for easier access to the utility room. From the period-appropriate plate rails in the dining room to overhead shelves in the bathrooms, Woods recognizes the need for places to put all the stuff of life.
Woods continued his detailed restoration by enlarging the kitchen for practicality as well as entertaining. It has a view of the pergola covered deck, whimsically decorated with hand-carved cactus leaves. Woods says he couldn’t resist adding them, an homage to his love of woodwork.
The garage was a beast to restore, he reports. It had to be dug out of the earth, lifted almost three feet, re-roofed, and given a new concrete floor. Woods says most people would have knocked it down and started over, and he almost wishes he’d done that, given the tremendous amount of work required to make it functional again. However, he couldn’t bring himself to raze the old growth pine, a wood that can’t be found today and has amazing strength and durability.
Sherman helps with the aesthetics, advising on a color scheme mindful of the period and the surrounding houses. Woods says neighbors also stop by to offer suggestions, but often “the house tells me what it wants.” Wavy glass in a chandelier makes enticing shadows and matches the dimpled glass in the bedroom windows.
Woods is the recipient of the first Ruth Chenoweth Preservation award in recognition of his outstanding work on all three of his Winnetka Heights restorations, including 417 North Montclair and 324 South Montclair. The Chenoweth award is given “not annually, but on an ‘as deserved’ basis,” says Sherman, adding, “We couldn’t think of a more worthy honoree.”
Wedaresay pretty much everyone in the neighborhood rejoices when they see a Wayne Woods Construction sign. We’re anxious to see where the next one pops up.
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