Five years ago, overgrown weeds and brush almost completely obscured the little one-story, 1,200-square-foot house sitting on the corner of Woodland Street in the heart of the Woodland Heights Historic District. But the Craftsman bungalow’s beautiful gabled roofline and corner porch still peeked through, catching the eye of future owner Stacie Cokinos.
“It looked like it still had some life left in it,” says Cokinos. “It just needed love.”
Already a Heights resident, Cokinos and Pam Redford were not only looking to downsize from 3,500 square feet but they also wanted to take on a historical renovation, making this forgotten, air condition-less, 1920s-era house a perfect, if unusual, choice. With the help of The Modern Bungalow and Vintage Home, as well as the Houston Archaeological and Historical Commission, they began work on the house. And Cokinos is clear: It wasn’t just bad; it was horrible.
“I think most people would have torn it down had it not been in a historic — in a preserved — section,” says Cokinos.
Instead, they decided to remove the rear wall to expand backwards, opting to construct a two-story addition with a master bedroom sitting above a newly attached garage. Demolition revealed that the walls and ceiling were shiplap so Cokinos chose to leave it exposed, but painted, in the front three rooms and ceiling as a nod to the house’s history.
The original front door, in such bad shape a replica had to be made, was restored and painted a fun blue for use as an interior door. It now hangs on a barn track separating the new space from the old.
Yet another hat tip to the past can be found in the hallway where a vintage telephone nook remains, albeit updated for the 21st century. “We left it and I put USB ports below it so now it’s still a phone cubby except for iPhones and iPads,” says Cokinos.
A small, awkwardly placed window in the old kitchen created a challenge as historical guidelines dictate original windows must stay in their original location. She was inspired in her solution and created a walk-in pantry area that doubles as a home office with a countertop and desk.
“If I hadn’t been required to keep the window I wouldn’t have been creative with the space,” says Cokinos. “I would have just made it a closet or took the window out. Now it’s a handy feature in a convenient part of the house.”
Up the staircase, which now has a climate-controlled wine room with a glass door tucked beneath it, the height of the home’s eight-foot walls posed yet another challenge. To keep the newly added second story subordinate to the scale of the original house, the second floor had to have a low eight-foot ceiling. To get back a little height in the master bedroom they vaulted the ceiling. Now nine feet in the center, Cokinos says it adds a cozy pop instead of the usual square walls and flat ceiling.
Below the master bedroom is the garage. The house’s corner lot location meant the garage and the driveway could be put in on a side street, a friendly placement that allowed for additions to be made.
The garage leads directly into a mudroom, which the dog owner decorated with a playful, pup-print wallpaper. Inside is specially sized cabinetry designed to hold a pop-up dog crate to accommodate any four-legged visitors with only a glass door separating the mudroom from the kitchen.
“The glass door keeps everybody connected but also provides levels of security, if you will, for pets,” says Cokinos.
Though Cokinos says the house called for a white picket fence, the yard itself was a question mark. She approached a dear friend for help and she made Cokinos a beautiful cottage garden with little paths running throughout.
“We call it a sip ‘n’ stroll,” says Cokinos. “Depending on the time of day either you’re sipping coffee or you’re sipping wine.” The garden’s paths make the tiny yard feel larger.
It took exactly a year from the time they found the house to move-in day, and Cokinos attributes the transformation, dubbed a "teardown turnaround” when the house was featured on the Woodland Heights Home Tour in 2018, to a lot of hard work and the house itself.
Above: Before the renovation
“This house is a survivor,” says Cokinos. “The fact that the house was still standing and still felt strong — this house wants to live on and continue providing shelter for inhabitants. And that’s how it feels now.
“It’s just a sweet little house.”
Design3 Studio, Inc. Karen Brasier 1824 Spring, Suite 210 design3inc.com
The Modern Bungalow Courtney Leppard and Tommy Leppard melissakubala.com