This Old House is New Again

Our historic renovation was a lot more extensive than a new hall closet, it included bathrooms, kitchen and a whole lot more. 

Built in 1898, the Queen Anne Victorian had been rented to students in recent years, and the wear and tear had taken its toll—on the house, its twin, and the neighborhood. But Ed Bardzik III, who lived in the adjacent twin, knew it could be a nice home and an asset to the neighborhood. He also wanted to make the property look like one home as he had seen done with other twins in the area. He and his father, Ed Bardzik Jr., persuaded the owner to sell the twin and commenced its historic restoration.

But even before they bought the property they brought us in to talk about their vision, turning to James C. Schell with a realistic budget and a 6-month timeframe for completing the work. Included on our to-do list: rebuild the front steps, make improvements to the exterior so that the façade mirrored its twin, and give the porch and trim a good paint job. We cleaned up the nest of old cable and phone lines and hid them inside the walls. And we repaired the southeast corner of the roof at the soffit which had been patched with duct tape and chicken wire.  


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Inside the work was more dramatic. We gutted and renovated the kitchen. To make the space more usable we removed a crumbling chimney that originally served the wood-fired stove and ran from the basement all the way up through the second floor. In deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, we were extremely selective. We retained as much of the original millwork as possible, refinishing the wooden hutch in the pantry, an old-growth yellow pine corner cabinet, and the front door. Other original millwork like the casings, baseboards and newel post finials were repaired or reproduced and painted. The ornamental cast metal grates that are part of the heating system were stripped and refinished.


Less dramatic to the eye but important to neighbors, the main staircase which had been poorly rebuilt years earlier was in need of a “de-squeaking.” Now one can run up and down the solidly built stairs without disturbing a family member or neighbor.


We also did a lot to make the house more comfortable for today’s residents. We moved the washer and dryer from the front hallway to the basement. We then used that space for a powder room. We removed the former powder room (which a previous owner had located off the dining room for some odd reason) and we turned the dining room into some much-needed closet space. We renovated the second floor bathroom with all new plumbing fixtures--tub, surround, sink, toilet--new vanity cabinets and countertop. And we installed new ductwork so the heating system works more efficient and effectively.

Practical, behind-the-walls work included new electric and new plumbing. The old wooden double-hung windows, many with their original “antique” glass, were repaired and repainted, their counter weights were reattached with chain and they were put back into service. And because most of the paint on the interior trim and the exterior surfaces contained lead,  containment, preparation, and cleanup of those areas had to be handled in accordance with rules from the EPA.


We too think the result looks terrific—authentic, yet fresh. And apparently, the Philadelphia Inquirer thought so too as they featured the renovation in their June 8, 2014 issue. Here’s the link if you want to read the complete story. We also have lots of photos of the work on this site.


If you have a home improvement or renovation in mind, please give us a call, 484-354-6793. We’re happy to make your dream a reality.

See more photos of Jim's work at

James C Schell, 510 East Barnard Street Unit 50, West Chester, PA 19382
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