Do you ever browse the New York Times real estate section slide shows? I find them endlessly entertaining, whether it’s for the purpose of gazing at beautiful houses I’ll never afford, gawking at monstrosities that I would never want to afford or own, loving historic, rehabilitated or renovated houses in neighborhoods across the country, or just feeding general curiosity of what homes look like on the inside. So when a slide show entitled “In Need of Some Work” appeared for apartments in New York, it sounded interesting. There is an accompanying article, “For the Right Price, the Right Fixer-Upper” by Elizabeth A. Harris (1o.30.2009).
As I’m reading the captions and looking at the photographs I saw some less-than contemporary improvements like wall-to-wall carpeting and wood accordion doors. There were some wonderful features like 1930s sinks and tile bathroom floors. Classic. But, wait – those captions kept referring to the kitchens and bathrooms needed to be gutted. What!? Sure, the kitchens needed to be upgraded in terms of appliances, but why get rid of a sink full of historic character and definition? Take this statement from slide 24, “The kitchen, which also looks “prewar,” needs a total overhaul.” Excuse me? Why is “prewar” given the connotation of something horribly out of style? Some people like that look. I would love a prewar kitchen.
And I’m not saying that everyone has to love that. Maybe some people like those accordion doors, too. That’s great because we all have different tastes. But why is there this judgment on everything just because it’s old? Call it a fixer-upper, but don’t assume that everyone will want to toss away the prewar kitchen or the bathroom floor. See, how cool is that prewar kitchen? Check it out at Levittown, PA: Building the Suburban Dream.
One thought on “Gut it? No Way.”
I’m with you, Kaitlin. I have the same response when I watch the shows on HGTV or TLC and the real estate experts insist they need to upgrade, remodel, out with the old/in with the new and the countertops better be granite or else…
As for New York real estate, hope you saw the article in the current issue of Preservation Magazine about the house on the Upper East Side –http://www.preservationnation.org/magazine/2009/november-december/urban-renewers.html
A couple restored the 1830 “farmhouse” (hard to imagine a farmhouse in the middle of NYC, eh?) and made lots of interesting discoveries. (My favorite is the photo of an original exterior widow wall that’s now interior)