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.

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