Home Improvement


Tuesday, October 5, 2010
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Nestled in a quiet neighborhood of charming cottages and modest Colonial Revivals, this stark 1940s suburban home has never quite lived up to the neighboring properties, due to its largely featureless facade, bland paint job and a seemingly tacked-on garage (in reality, it’s original to the house). The biggest shortfall, however, is that the home does not take advantage of its greatest asset – a picturesque and panoramic view of the Charles River, which winds behind the house. The home’s interior, which boasts a vintage lemon-yellow kitchen, pink-and-black tile bathrooms and an overabundance of dark-stained woodwork, is also in desperate need of updating.

“The house is in sad shape; it was nearly untouched for seventy years,” said This Old House Host Kevin O’Connor. But it’s in a great neighborhood and sits on the banks of Boston’s famous Charles River, so it has great promise. And that’s what we do at This Old House; we give new life to tired homes with great potential. It’s going to be an inspired project.”

When Raveen and Allison Sharma purchased this property just three short months ago they immediately began to prepare for the renovations necessary to modernize the home for themselves and their two children. The Sharmas hired local architect Harriet Christina (Chris) Chu, AIA, who created a budget conscious plan to expand the house by only 200 sq.-ft. while making strategic decisions to dramatically alter the home both inside and out.

This Old House General Contractor Tom Silva will work with the entire This Old House team to infuse character and curb appeal into the project by adding new garage doors, additional front windows, a pergola to mitigate the protrusion of the garage and a badly needed paint job. Silva also plans to add a gabled roof to the flat-topped garage, which will help it meld better with the house itself. In back, the old sun porch will be demolished then rebuilt on top of a new family room that will extend from the house’s walkout basement. A new deck with cascading stairs will also create a connection between the house’s first floor to the backyard and nearby river.

Inside, the plans call for a modern, expanded kitchen, the addition of an entry hall and mudroom as well as changes to update the bathrooms. The team will also strategically remove walls to create more open spaces, paint dark woodwork to brighten the interior and add new, larger windows that will open up the house to the outdoors maximizing light and creating spectacular views of the river from many areas of the home.

Throughout this project, the usual issues of limited time and budget will meet site specific challenges including asbestos removal, termite damage, new EPA lead paint laws and strict conservation guidelines intended to protect the Charles River.


By Paul Epsom   |   Wednesday, August 25, 2010
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What matters to... Kevin O’Connor

Wednesday, August 18, 2010
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    What matters to...


Kevin has been nominated for an Emmy and has renovated his own Victorian house, but his greatest challenge and accomplishment is being a father. In the new Kids Media Matters feature, Kevin talks about raising young children in a crowded media world.

What inspired your career choice to get into public television?
For me, it was just good luck. I was working in finance at a bank when PBS came calling. As an avid fan of This Old House it was the first place my wife and I turned to when we started working on our own house. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was on two PBS television shows. You never know where life will take you.

How have you had the opportunity to get involved in kids media/projects in your current role?
We try to make at least one show a season dedicated to projects kids can build with their parents. As a father of three, I know very well how much kids love building and how much they love working with their parents, so the kids episode of Ask This Old House is always fun. I especially like when the kids get to come to our workshop and see that amazing space.

As a father, what do you look out for in entertainment for your child?
I look for something that is entertaining and educational. It has to be entertaining or the kids won’t watch it. It has to be educational or I won’t allow it. PBS is full of great shows, like Curious George, that I know my son loves and are safe for him to watch.

What was your favorite show as a kid?
There was a show called the Big Blue Marble, and it had stories from all over the world. I can remember watching it on Saturday mornings with my brothers and sister and being enthralled by all the stories from far-away, exotic places. It seems like the world is smaller these days, but when I was a kid it seemed so huge.

Any advice to today’s parents of young kids?
Get involved. TV can be educational but it can’t replace a parent’s involvement. Even great TV tends to be passive, and kids were meant to be active, physically and mentally.  Get down on the floor and play with them, challenge them, love them unequivocally.

About the Author


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