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A DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH

Finding a Bad House in a Good Neighborhood Can Yield Fabulous Results
By Barbara Canetti

Toni Pitre had an idea. Why not find a bad house in a good neighborhood and flip it as an investment? Lots of folks were doing that and it looked rather simple. But she had no idea it would become an 18-month-long journey for her and husband Alex. It was worth it, however, as the results are stunning.

The brick house, built in 1955, is near the University of Houston and sits at the curve of a tree-lined street. It had a confining fence close to the house and just looked tired — both inside and out. So the young couple rolled up their sleeves and started working.

They ripped out walls, relocated windows, updated bathrooms and gave the enormous family room — with its eye-catching vaulted ceiling — a facelift that changed the personality of the house on Rockwood Drive.

“That window and that room was what made us buy this house,” says Toni Pitre, a pharmacist and mother of two little boys. “I was about to walk away but I really loved this room.”

They started the process by covering the red brick exterior with a white mortar wash (slurry) that is applied in several layers, giving the house a stucco appearance but with the brick texture still showing. This updated the exterior, giving the house a rustic but modern look. Neighbors in the University Oaks area were perplexed by the changes, but watched with interest as Alex, who is a speech therapist, replaced the columns with cedar beams to really give the house a different look.

The living room didn’t need many changes — just updating the marble and slate fireplace and adding an interesting chandelier. The original hardwoods in the living room and throughout the house were in pretty good shape, needing only to be refinished and sealed.

“The house had a confused layout. A big family room was added on in the 1960s and, although it was nice, it needed change,” says Toni.

The room, which opens onto the large fence-enclosed yard, has three glass doors and three geometric windows reaching to the high ceiling. Alex covered the ceiling with cedar-stained wood and extended that look to the exterior overhang. He hand stripped three large beams and stained them to match.

“When you look at this room and that ceiling, it is almost like bringing the outside inside,” says Toni.

Perhaps the biggest challenge was the kitchen. The original was only seven feet wide, but it was 30 feet long. They widened the area and replaced the cabinets with white Shaker style doors and stainless steel appliances. They chose a white quartz countertop to give the room a pristine look. A breakfast room flows from the kitchen, while a utility room and full bathroom were constructed at the end of the house.

“The hardest part was trying to tie the old house to the new addition, without making it look like an old-new layout. We just wanted to make it flow naturally,” she says.

Two good size bedrooms were updated with molding and new fixtures. Because of all the windows, the rooms are bright and sunny. A full bath shared by those rooms was restored and modernized with marble counters and a travertine shower.

A private enclosed stairway leads up to the second floor and the master suite. The room is large and also has several windows for natural light. The Pitres attacked the adjacent attic space to carve out a modern full bath with a honed marble shower and an enviable walk-in closet with nooks for shoes and bags.

“We pushed this as far as we could into the attic to take advantage of the space. We just couldn’t go any further — the ceiling would be too low,” says Alex.

As the couple finished the project, they still had a jungle of a yard to conquer. Once all the debris and rubble were removed, grass had to be planted. Alex transformed the front garden with native grasses and a footpath with concrete patio stones.

“Before we started, it was like walking in a cave but with lots of doors. So many doors. It was all closed off and had low ceilings,” says Toni. “We started out with a plan but, as we progressed, it took on a life of its own. There were surprises every day but it all worked out.”

RESOURCES

INTERIOR
Door Clearance Center
(Barn door, entry door)
8245 North Freeway
713-937-9132
www.doorclearancecenter.com

Floor & Decor
(Stone tile)
713-944-1989
11542 Gulf Freeway
Additional locations throughout Houston
www.looranddecor.com

Home Staging for Houston
(Furnishings)
832-301-5696
www.homestagingforhouston.com

J J Custom Floors
(Hardwood floor refinishing)
832-433-4350

Pacific Kitchen & Home
(Kitchen appliances)
713-552-1512
5133 Richmond
www.pacificsales.com

Preferred Air & Plumbing of Houston
(HVAC)
281-978-2665
2422 East Sam Houston Parkway South
www.preferredairofhouston.com

Shower Doors of Houston
281-220-6886
1655 Townhurst
www.houstonshowerdoors.com

Tomas Carrillo
(Master plumber)
281-777-6137

 

LIGHTING/ELECTRICAL
Amalfi Décor
213-458-7740
14335 South Denker, Gardena, CA
www.amalfidecor.com

Golden Lighting
800-277-0979
2100 Stemmons Freeway, Dallas
goldenlighting.com

Kirkwood & Hunter Electric Co., Inc.
713-526-3445

So Chandy’lous
www.etsy.com/shop/SoChandylous

 

EXTERIOR
Aber Fence and Supply
(Cedar gates)
281-931-1600
281-601-1495
12239 Mosielee
www.aberfence.com

Bayou City Lumber
(Cedar columns)
713-991-2377
11106 Telephone
www.bayoucitylumber.com

Bellard's House Leveling LLC
(Foundation Repair)
281-324-0442
www.bellardfoundations.com

DrainXperts
(Drainage)
832-776-8003
626 County Road 948A, Alvin
www.backyarddrains.com

Stringline Construction
(Driveway)
713-823-0790

Western Brick Company
713-393-3400
7620 Washington
www.western-brick.com

 

Houston Web Design Company