Entry Level Restoration: 1927 boxcar Diy Duplex Manifesto

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As Purveyors of the Duplex Manifesto —we needed to reach back and tell our earliest renovation stories. The humble beginnings of uncharted waters that lacked proper planning, design on a dime with ikea kitchens, butcher block and gallons of gloss polyurethane.

Enter the craftsman-deco boxcar- the working class apartment constructed of brick-shit-house pedigree: 18” wide 6/4 joist rough cut, with dimensional subfloor angled to oppose the 1”1/2 oak as finish coat.

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Formality was no slouch despite her compactness and OG-efficiency status: entry upon living with piano windows, arched opening to formal dining and built in office/Hifi niche, walking into galley kitchen with linen bath and bedroom to back the caboose.

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This is low hanging fruit- the tried and true methods of period era restoration that all owners are capable of physically & financially. Our budget splurge was marble herringbone kitchens, before the Carrera boom! our supplier sourced them in subway size at 4/foot, creating a thick, stately, and soundproof base to the large kitchens.

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The restoration began in 2012, when ignorance was bliss. The prior owner embodied the Stagnation that exists in the rental markets- Phillip Morris scented units, old Menards carpeting, production era 80s cabinetry, neglected millwork that had potential beyond it’s abused state.

The major systems on the building were all failing:

  • poorly maintained flat roof that was actively leaking

  • poor drainage management from center drain causing the foundation to leak consistently on the south side.

  • Galvanized plumbing with extremely low water pressure

  • leaking original windows and 60s era storms

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We completed the units sequentially: moving from one to the next. This created subtle variations in each palette, with the final one having the most unique spec- lighting glamour from deco era- shiplap kitchen finished in ebony stain

Amending your interior twice within a 7 year ownership period, exemplifies the wasteful culture that exists within our homes, a period correct palette creates change on a micro-level.

The one photographed below just had a Design in Rare Form freshen up- adding nautical wall covering and retooling the lighting and radiator tone amended from HGTv gray to dark bronze.

The current tenants accepted an offer to relocate: so this stunner is south facing and open starting October 1st!

Her orientation is the finest you can ask for: upper unit and south facing for constant light through our modern Anderson clad windows.

We learned immense lessons on the undoing of neglect at 1927.

  • Never repair or recoat a flat roof- we attempted numerous “Gaco-Silicone-Coatings” that were applied after power washing to revive the membrane. All was a waste of time and resources. Our decorated flat roof doctor Pat installed his modern closed cell foam roof to the building in 2014.

  • Window rot from lack of varnish is a real thing- we wanted so badly to save the original weighted and leaded windows, however they’re lack of proper maintenance had created true dry rot and sun damage.

  • Our first incarnation with lighting box discovery happened in each living room- as covered metal boxes filled with joyous cloth wrapped wiring allowed our vintage modern mood to enter the curbside of each boxcar.

Three of our tenant leaseholders have graduated to purveyor status in the neighborhood- landing Tudor era homes that embody the rooted memories from 1927.

Our current group is experiencing a large exterior update coming this fall.

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Keller fence is under contract to install a custom cedar privacy fence that will punctuate the hugely wide lot.

Our gardening plan goes into action shortly after fence finale’ - as pine and aspen groves are planned to create some exterior depth of shade, while natural bee pollinating perennials will fill in the garden beds from entry to alley.

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The moral of 1927- curate your remodel design to be timeless in the space- as nothing feels more wasteful than renovating a space 2x within a 10 year period.

We’re thankful for all the lessons learned on this building, as she has come so far from her water damaged, drafty and cold beginnings.

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Steven Imhoff