Renovation of historic Ogden home grueling, but finished product great

Sep 9 2013 - 6:14am

Images

Lydia and PJ Gravis stand in front of their home before beginning renovations. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the laundry room in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the kitchen in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the master bathroom in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the parlor in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of a room in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
The oldest known photo of the Edmund T. Hulaniski home at 2523 Jefferson Ave., Ogden, now owned by Lydia and PJ Gravis.
Lydia and PJ Gravis stand in front of their home before beginning renovations. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the laundry room in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the kitchen in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the master bathroom in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of the parlor in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
Before and after photos of a room in the home renovated by Lydia and PJ Gravis. (Photo courtesy PJ and Lydia Gravis)
The oldest known photo of the Edmund T. Hulaniski home at 2523 Jefferson Ave., Ogden, now owned by Lydia and PJ Gravis.

When PJ and Lydia Gravis bought a grand old Victorian home on Jefferson Avenue in Ogden, they invited their parents over to take a look.

"They were shaking their heads, like 'What are you thinking?' " said Lydia. "My dad just said, 'I'm glad you're your age, not my age.' "

That was in August 2011. The couple, who are in their thirties, worked on the house for six months before they could move in.

Now they're inviting more people to take a look -- the home will be part of the Weber County Heritage Foundation Historic House Tour on Saturday, Sept. 14.

The tour is focused on Victorian architecture, and the Gravis home is a fine example. It's an asymmetrical building, with a sandstone foundation. The roof is gabled, the ends covered with fish-scale shingles. There are decorative spindles, an elaborate front porch and windows with colored glass accents.

Inside, the house boasts a wooden staircase, featuring a carved newel post and turned balusters. There are wood floors, high ceilings with decorative moulding, and bull's-eye accents on the door and window trim.

Restoration

The house was built in 1893 and was showing its years when the Gravises bought it. They hired out some work and tackled other jobs themselves -- with the help of their head-shaking families.

"Really, when you do it yourself, you're not doing it yourself," Lydia said. "You have friends and family that are oftentimes suckered in."

The work list included putting in new electrical and plumbing, mostly new heating and air, and insulating the attic.

"The stuff that eats most of the budget is not the fun, pretty stuff people see," Lydia said. "It's the important structural and system elements."

Of course, several projects are visible.

"We used an original photo of the porch as a guide to try to rebuild the porch in a historically accurate way," she said. "We were able to get it about 90 percent accurate."

When they bought the house, the exterior was a shade of lavender or light mauve. It's now a warm gold approved by the Historic Landmarks Commission.

"The most grueling thing, probably, was painting every square inch of the outside and inside," Lydia said. "I don't ever want to paint again."

Inside, ceilings that had been lowered were opened up. Wood floors on the second story were refinished, and new hardwood installed on the main level.

The home had been divided into three apartments in the past, resulting in the kitchen being made smaller by an oddly placed bathroom. The bathroom was torn out, and the kitchen remade with farmhouse-style white cupboards.

The clawfoot tub that was in the old bathroom was moved upstairs, where the couple turned a small bedroom into a master bathroom. A chandelier hangs over the tub.

There were a few things that didn't need to be changed. The previous owners put textured wallpaper on the ceilings of two rooms, emulating old tin ceilings.

"We really like it, so we left it," Lydia said. "They put up this flocked wallpaper, and we actually like it, so we salvaged three out of four walls."

An art-deco light fixture, made of pewter, was moved from the second floor to the living room. The fireplace is original to the home, including the brass surround.

Pieces of wrought-iron fence, found in the garage, were welded together and installed in the yard.

Decoration

The restoration has been hard, but fun.

"My favorite part is getting to add your own style," Lydia said. "My husband and I really look at our house as a personal extension of ourselves. It's our own little canvas that we can compose."

They are a bit house-poor.

"We've had no money," she said, so they kept their old furniture. "I did a lot of yard sales, and got a lot of stuff for free or cheap."

PJ installed Edison light bulbs, with a bare industrial look, on bookshelves. He also bought an old Victrola cabinet and filled it with modern stereo equipment.

A large pocket door that formerly separated the dining room from the rest of the house was found in the garage.

"We put glass on it, to make it a table," Lydia said.

Like many homeowners involved in this year's historic house tour, Lydia Gravis is an artist. Her paintings and photographs decorate the walls in several rooms.

The couple recently returned from vacation to find the kitchen ceiling damaged by water dripping from above. That's one of the realities of living in a home more than 100 years old.

"There's always a project -- it could never end, but we enjoy it," said Lydia.

Contact reporter Becky Wright at 801-625-4274 or bwright@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @ReporterBWright.

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