Working a vision into reality Architecture studies, construction experience helped revitalize house

Dream Home

November 30, 1997|By Bob Graham | Bob Graham,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Mike Purvis knew the house in the 2200 block of Lake Avenue in Mayfield was the right one for him when he first set foot in it in September 1994. Now, a little more than three years later, after substantial renovations and improvements have been made to the two-story, three-bedroom home, his wife Lisa finally agrees.

"Mike had a vision for what this house could be from the start, but it took me a while to see what he saw," said Lisa Purvis, 38, who works for Prospect Associates, a health care consulting firm in Rockville.

"I could see that behind all the green paint and all the other things I didn't like that this house could be something special for us," said Mike, 38, an architecture student at Catholic University in Washington. "I knew I could take out the stuff we didn't like."

After convincing themselves that two similar houses on the block weren't right for them, the couple moved into the 1926 house in January 1995 and Mike wasted no time getting to work.

Expecting a quiet night to celebrate the purchase of their first house, Lisa came home from work to find that her husband had taken down a wall between the kitchen and a small, 7-by-10-foot room nicknamed by neighborhood residents "the Stupid Room." He had also ripped out the kitchen cabinets, leaving behind a trail of dust and plastic.

"It wasn't what I had expected for our first night in our new house, not at all," Lisa said, despite her husband's explanation: "I knew it was coming out, so why not get it done."

The removal of the wall opened up the first floor and gave the house a "good flow," Mike explained.

From the front door, a visitor walks on the original hardwood floors, uncovered and polished by Purvis, through the 12-by-14-foot living room, into the 8-by-10-foot dining room and left into the kitchen. The zigzag movement helps accentuate the size and shape of the house that, except for the direction of the turn, is identical to all the other houses on the street.

"The house didn't have a flow to it," Mike said. "The changes on the first floor open things up, too."

The kitchen is the couple's favorite room, where they take meals together at a small, old wooden table purchased two years ago. The kitchen has undergone the most work. An old refrigerator from Mike's mother and an Eisenhower-era Tappan Deluxe stove and oven from a friend -- both gifts -- fit right into the room, which has a 1950s flavor.

Removing the "Stupid Room" made lots of sense to the Purvises. It gave them seven more feet of kitchen space, allowing pots and pans to be hung from a ceiling rack, glass-fronted cabinets ** to be installed for dishes and an alcove to be created over the refrigerator for cookbooks.

Purvis removed a stairway behind the kitchen and, in a former pantry on the landing, installed a full bathroom that has the house's only shower.

The second floor was an even bigger project. For two months, the Purvises lived in their living room so Mike could remove the linoleum covering the wood floors. Stripping the glue proved a time-consuming challenge, but worth the task. The linoleum had preserved beautiful fir floors, the type often replicated at great expense.

"It took quite a while to get to the real floors, but once I did, I could see how great they looked," he said.

Purvis also had to remove the green paint that was on all the walls of the first and second floors. The paint was so old that it predated concern about lead, a frequent problem in renovation of old houses. The house had been owned by two sisters who had protected it well since they bought it in 1940 but hadn't done much to improve it.

Although he's studying to be an architect, Mike's work tested his previous skills in construction, a field in which he had worked for 11 years in the Annapolis area.

His previous experience allowed him to make last-minute or unexpected corrections to his plans when they needed it. "One thing I knew was when something was serious, like a support wall, that you just couldn't go and tear it down," Purvis said.

Spending an estimated $5,000 to $6,000 for supplies, Mike was able to complete most of the work himself. To install track lighting in the kitchen, he had to learn how to work with electricity. "I didn't know much about electricity before I got into this, but once I started, I saw that it wasn't that hard to understand," he said. Despite its age, the house had 100-amp electricity, enough to keep from having to upgrade.

The house's walls now are painted in mostly pastel colors with white trim.

The affordability of a house in the city drew the Purvises to the Mayfield area. For less than $100,000, they were able to buy far more house than in the greater Annapolis area, where they first sought housing.

Now that most of the major work is complete, the Purvises say they are thrilled with their selection. "This area is great. The people are nice; it's like Beaver Cleaver Land," Mike said.

"This really is everything we wanted and lots of things I couldn't see at first," Lisa said. "But Mike had a good vision and now it is real."

Pub Date: 11/30/97

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