I’ve driven by 581 NW Quincy Place many times. Sitting on the corner of NW West Street, right at the entrance of the historic Westside of Chehalis, it was a sad sight. Dilapidated didn’t begin to describe it. Half the roof looked gone – in its place were layers of tarps that had deteriorated as well. The paint was almost gone. Sitting empty for almost five years, it belonged in a Hitchcock film, not our historic neighborhood. But’s that’s all changed, thanks to Quality Renovation & Carpentry LLC (QRCR) that decided the house deserved a second chance at being a home.
“We feel the most environmentally friendly home is a renovated home, even more so than a new home constructed with eco-friendly materials and features,” says Bernie Miller and Jacqui Brown Miller, the husband-wife team who own and manage QRCR. “When we renovate an older home, it does not end up in the landfill and nothing new has to be made or grown to build it. We feel that renovating homes is like saving the planet, one house at a time. If we can couple that with providing the home to a family that is tickled pink to live in it, we feel that is a huge win-win.”
With the home fully restored, local real estate agent Melissa Wallace of Windermere Centralia is managing the property’s sale. Melissa is no stranger to these types of projects, having been a renovator herself before becoming a realtor. Historic homes are a passion of hers. “Fixing up homes like these improves property values, gives home buyers more options and encourages others in the neighborhood to fix up their homes,” she says. “It’s exciting to part of the growth and development in Lewis County.”
Quincy Place – Starting Point
The 1915 home on Quincy Place was not an easy job. Over 4,000 square feet with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms and an almost 1,500 square-foot basement with a separate entrance, it would be a challenge. Bernie said his wife saw the listing for the place and wanted to take it on. “My first impression was ‘it’s a beautiful house but it’s a mess,’” he says. “I knew we could do a lot with it, but it had been severely mistreated.” At one point, it had been turned into a boarding house, so individual kitchenettes were scatted throughout the home. Bernie added that the leaking roof was so bad that he could have taken a shower in the kitchen when it rained.
Water wasn’t their only issue. The house was filthy, with nicotine and cigarette stains throughout the house and grease stains everywhere from the kitchenettes. There were layers and layers of old paint and hideous wallpaper on the walls and dingy carpet that at least protected the beautiful hardwood hidden underneath.
Still, Bernie was amazed at how little the framing was damaged. He said there was some damage to the hardwood floors in the kitchen, but for the most part, they were able to save the hardwood floors throughout the main level. The bones were good and the foundation was in great shape. “The 1915 old-growth timbers provide a solid frame for the house,” says Jacqui. “Houses aren’t made that way now.”
An Incredible Transformation
A third-generation carpenter and artisan, Bernie learned the trade from his father and older brothers in Ohio, doing projects from framing houses to building sailboats. He has been remodeling homes in Thurston County since 2000 and has recently started taking on projects here in Lewis County. His long history in the trade created a passion for preserving the past while remodeling older homes. It’s a passion his wife share with him.
“We like to find the right balance between restoration and remodeling,” explains Jacqui. “A renovation project with too much ‘remodeling’ can rob an old home of the very things that make it wonderful and charming and can make it feel chopped up. We spend time, at the beginning of every renovation project, thinking about how to achieve the best balance between restoring its original features and a modern feel. Our goal is always to keep as much of the old growth wood, craftsmanship, and historic charm as possible, while still making room for modern conveniences and floor plans that are more open.”
For the Quincy home, this meant preserving the vintage double-hung and casement windows with the signature wavy glass of the time period. “I love that glass,” says Jacqui. “It casts magical shadows on the walls all over the home.” Along with keeping the hardwood floors wherever possible, they also restored the crown and picture molding throughout the house. They kept the amazing built-in cabinets in the upstairs hallway, which is a perfect place for linens and towels. And the kitchen nook with built-in storage benches is a cozy beginning to any morning. The coved ceiling in the nook and main kitchen is something that is truly unique to a historic home.
The rooms are big, bright and airy, thanks to all the windows. Finally, they kept the old-fashioned hot-water radiant heating system. “Never satisfied, though, we also look for ways to add even more character and charm,” says Bernie. In this project that meant exposing two different brick chimneys that run from the basement through the second floor. This small detail creates a flow and cohesion to the home’s style. They also added small touches like a claw-foot tub in the master bath and period pedestal sinks in the bathrooms.
In places where the old home had some awkward design, they reconfigured it to make better use of the space. For example the narrow, closed entryway is now an open, bright and inviting space that connects the living and dining spaces. They also moved a few closets upstairs in the bedrooms to give as much storage as possible.
Bernie and Jacqui also know people want modern comforts. So while the nook in the kitchen is reminiscent of days gone by, you can cook your meals in a state-of-the art kitchen with all new appliances. And since the plumbing and electrical systems were gutted and replaced, you can be sure this old home is ready to be lived in.
For more information on this incredible historic home or other listings, visit Melissa Wallace’s website or call 360-736-3300. To see more in progress transformations, visit the Quality Renovation & Carpentry LLC Facebook page.