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Years of renovation

May 22, 2008|By JULIE E. GREENE

Nicole Alsip's favorite part of her newly renovated and expanded home on The Terrace in Hagerstown's North End is the family room.

She says "it's relaxed and open and it's where we spend most of our time."

Her husband's favorite part? The seamlessness of the Dutch Colonial exterior, which blends the new addition with the 1936 original home.

Guess which one is the architect.

"It looks like it's always been here and that was always the goal," says Chip Alsip, an architect who designed the renovation and addition and is president of Alsip and Associates in Hagerstown.

Result worth the hassle

The Alsips bought the home in 2001 and immediately began renovating because they wanted much of the dust to settle before starting a family.

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"We wanted more family space ... We felt really cramped in the other living room, and we wanted some separation (of) kids' stuff from adult stuff," says Nicole Alsip, 35.

When their first child was on the way they hired contractors to continue the renovation and expansion.

"Everything in this house has been touched to some degree except some closets," says Chip Alsip, 41.

The addition extends from the kitchen, so, instead of seeing a wall as they cook at the stove, they look out over their new breakfast and family rooms.

With the playroom behind the family room there's the flexibility to have the kids' toys in the play room so there's plenty of seating in the family room when there are guests.

Upstairs the addition includes the bedroom of their daughter, Sophie, 3, and an expansion of Nicole Alsip's craft room.

The walls and ceiling of Sophie's room are decorated with a mural of a white picket fence with flowers, birds, a tree and a beehive that was painted by Margo Ebersole of Frederick, Md. The Alsips also used artwork in the master bath; they installed handmade ceramic sinks created by Sharpsburg potter Del Martin.

A complete re-do

In the original part of the home, every room has new wallpaper or paint - sometimes both. Rooms are frequently finished with crown molding and chair rail. The white oak floors were refinished.

In the guest room upstairs, the chair rail was placed not at chair level, but about five feet above the floor to provide a shelf for a collection of salt and pepper shakers that had belonged to Nicole Alsip's grandmother. The rail's height makes the collection more visible and keeps it safe from toddler's hands.

Two of the rooms have a simple feature that really sets off the rooms without a lot of additional expense, Chip Alsip says. Molding was placed on the ceiling to form a geometric shape, and the space within the shape was finished in a different color or design than the space outside the molding. Paint or wallpaper can be used for the effect, he says. The molding to do this for one ceiling cost about $10.

Another ceiling feature added to the living room, dining room, foyer and upstairs guest room is reminiscent of an antique punched tin ceiling design. Some visitors have thought the ceiling design was embossed plaster, but it's actually a paper design that was cut and attached to the wall like wallpaper, Alsip says. Adding the feature to one room costs about $100 in materials, which, he says, are available at local home improvement warehouses.

House of fate

The Alsips weren't looking to buy a house when they learned this one was on the market, Chip Alsip says. But he's always loved stone homes, so the couple decided to take a look for fun.

As he walked up the south lawn to the porch Alsip says he could envision spending time on the outdoor covered patio with friends and family.

"What a terrific outdoor space," he says."... We do a lot of entertaining. The yard also was a nice size, given their plans for a family. He's since built a playhouse for Sophie.

The renovations began room by room so the couple was able to move things around to accommodate the lack of whichever room was being redone.

January 2007 began a particularly difficult time as the kitchen was demolished and the exterior wall of the house removed, leaving only a sheet of plywood and blankets separating the family from the elements, including snow, for a few weeks.

They moved the refrigerator and microwave into the dining room, but for four months ate a lot of carryout, Alsip says.

Patience pays off

The result of living with seven years of renovating is a home that's better suited for a family - they now have two small children - and entertaining. The renovation and expansion, which added about 1,500 square feet, cost an estimated $190,000, Alsip says.

The project is receiving recognition from the Hagerstown Preservation Design District Commission, which, every May, during National Historic Preservation Month, recognizes a few worthy projects with a certificate, says Debbie Calhoun with the Hagerstown Planning Department.

Alsip will receive the certificate at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

Alsip says he and his wife are the third owners of the home, with the first owners living there 40 years and the second owners 20 years.

"Given the amount of time we put into this place, I'd like to see it stay in the family for generations," Alsip says.

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