Thom Filicia Requires On a Fixer-Upper in'American Beauty'

It’s a book that provides excellent pragmatic guidance. But it’s also the ideal book for when you want to lock yourself in the bathroom, conceal from your kids, and look at pretty pictures. — Tina Fey, showcasing Thom Filicia’sAmerican Beauty (Random House, 2012)

This is a book about falling in love with a house with good bones and a great location along with a great deal of defects, and renovating it to live up to the possible Thom Filicia envisioned.

It’s a book that makes me want to weekend around the lake at Skaneateles, New York, mixing up cocktails, taking them down to the lakeside fire pit and contemplating a sunset cruise in Filicia’s Chris-Craft.

As for the pragmatism, it also makes me believe I can buy a house that needs a love and nurse it back to life with the book as my guide (and with a contractor and an architect that the book will allow me to pick as my other manuals ). Filcia walks readers through how to know if a home is a solid investment, the way to hire a contractor and an architect, the way to make decisions, the way to figure out what to preserve and what can go, and how to capture the soul you want for your home.

He eyeglasses all this inside a superb story narration, a story that starts on the day that he saw a for-sale sign and finishes with a description of this joyous lifestyle his labour of love provides. Here is a sneak peek plus some invaluable renovation advice in Filicia. (All quotations are from the book.)

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Make sure the home is a solid investment even in the event that you think that’ll keep it. Filicia has very simple and sage advice for people contemplating a fixer-upper buy. Have a contractor walk throughout the house with you to estimate the expense of renovations, and then add this to the asking price. Then see if there are some comparables in the area at that price or higher. Otherwise, it’s probably not a good investment.

Locate an architect who is willing to collaborate on your own eyesight and shares your sensibility. The sensibility thing comes into play as soon as your vision is fuzzy — you will like the architect’s ideas if you’re on the exact same design wavelength.

Locate an architect who is plugged in to the community. A respected community member that has already stood before city boards can craft presentations that follow city rules and please board members.

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Consider the overall mood while you’re pondering practicality. “In 1917 — or 1947 or 1967, for that thing — going out to the lake was presumed to be much like camping… you had been roughing it, even when you still had indoor plumbing and a kitchen stove,” Filicia writes. He kept this soul of a lake house in your mind when planning the renovations.

While his lake house clearly has his designer stamp all over it, he pictured a updated, low-maintenance escape that motivated relaxed living. “I planned to accomplish it by investing at the circumstance and vocabulary of the house itself: practical solutions, natural substances, and details that were consistent with the initial building,” he states.

Respect the historical architectural period but don’t get stuck at a time warp. “This indelibly American structure over the years had lost its point of view. My job was to give it back its value — to take the fundamentals of its design, what was authentic and lovely, and upgrade them for a contemporary way of life,” he explains.

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Root the layout in substances. Know what’s worth saving or repurposing and strategy around it. Filicia decided to save the five-plank doors, a large fieldstone fireplace and the paneled walls within the home.

Make one design decision and let it assist you with the subsequent choices. For instance, Filicia’s door hardware required to honor the heavy grooved doors. The means by which the doors turned out influenced the way the window panes will look and, then, the kinds of window treatments he’d choose. The fieldstone fireplace kept him out of incorporating any textures that were too polished everywhere in the house, from deference to its rough natural texture. He chose B-grade white bamboo flooring because they were directly in the middle of too fragile (A grade) and too rough (C grade).

Create style continuity throughout the house. Filicia’s cabinet style, colours and pulls all play off the aforementioned grooved wood doors, the paneling proceeds across the walls, and the white oak wood floors continue in the kitchen. In addition, the designer added subtle nautical touches, such as marine-ish ceiling lamps throughout the home, without going overboard on the theme. The papier-mâché decoration is a nod to rustic camp-cabin nostalgia.

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Create your own style in case your house doesn’t have a definite one. Filicia recommends researching prevailing local styles during the age as soon as your house was built. If you see that your house has some components from a particular style on your reserach, then you may want to enhance those components and play off them.

For instance, diamond-shaped windows are typical of Tudor revival, Queen Anne and shingle-style homes that are prevalent in the area of Filicia’s lake house. He used them in a fresh way by adapting them for indoor use.

Let budget restraints inspire creativity. Filicia originally imagined circular windows, but as it was, rotating square windows 45 degrees to create diamonds is a hell of a lot less expensive than purchasing and installing round windows. This lucky money saver also generates more X contours with the window panes, which tie in with other X contours that he used throughout the home.

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Imagine yourself with your remodeled rooms. When planning out the kitchen, Filicia believed very specifically about the way he and his spouse would utilize it. “I’m not seen in the kitchen also frequently (besides to grab mixers),” he writes. His spouse, Greg Calejo, didn’t want to miss out on the pleasure with guests when cooking, so they opened up the kitchen and included some perches where observers can amuse the cook.

Create different areas for various kitchen activities. Filicia incorporated spots for coming in and dropping off markets; writing; drinking coffee; storing food, cookware and china; mixing cocktails; storing wine; putting an ice machine; cooking; socializing; cleaning up… he even took possible spills and splatters into consideration.

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Plan for guests at a weekend home. Part of Filicia’s vision for this house was creating a gathering place for lots of family and friends. Thus, a very long couch and a good deal of additional chairs pack the living room. In addition, he set a great deal of consideration into privacy for the bedrooms and guest baths, which were part of this contemporary upgrade.

Plan for activities. Filicia needed his guests to feel at home coming from the house in wet bathing suits and attending dinner parties in jeans and T-shirts. “I keep matters simple, casual and local, with sufficient hints of glamour to make my guests feel something special is in store,” he states.

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The author, searching and collecting logs for the fire pit in his all-American preppy red pants. After everything was in place and the project was complete, he waxed poetic:

“In the end,” he writes,”the lifestyle you produce for your house is the last piece of the decor. How you use your house… is exactly what gives your home a soul. All time and effort spent collecting and buying is only the beginning. The plan is in the living.”

Info: American Beauty (Random House, 2012)

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