But the two things Aaron wanted most would stretch his skills and his budget: a big, airy kitchen with plenty of storage, natural light, and traffic flow for entertaining; and a second-floor master suite with ample closet space and a spa-like bath.
A wild thought took hold: To compensate for the cost of the two-story addition—a pro job that in California would involve adhering to earthquake code—he'd make all the cabinetry himself.
"The key is having a number of large, strong friends who can help you turn the mold over and carry the countertop into place," he says.
He also installed the backsplash and the floor—cutting 16-by-16-inch slate tiles into a pattern he created using Illustrator.
The existing stairway, wainscoting, and box-beam ceiling were cleaned up with paint and the stair treads refinished.
The house was a hard-luck fixer-upper: Previous owners had chopped up the layout in order to rent rooms to college students.Shown: The 1916 Craftsman's facade has its original cedar shingles, which had been preserved under aluminum siding, on the upper story.The stucco covering the first floor needed repair; the street-level walls are new.Meanwhile, for nine months his "kitchen" consisted of a refrigerator in the dining room and a stove in the middle of the new concrete slab. in his new open and airy 15-by-20-foot kitchen, surrounded by proof of his DIY chops.On the plus side, Aaron estimates he spent only ,000 to ,000 in cabinetry materials for the kitchen—birch plywood for the boxes and drawers and solid maple for the fronts.Turning his attention to other parts of the house, Aaron worked to instill a new Craftsman sensibility by restoring and re-creating original details.One of the tasks that he had been confident about when he first saw the house, however, turned into something of a nightmare.Handcrafted and installed by the homeowner, the drawers and random-pattern slate floor continue from the adjacent kitchen.Aaron then put another of his skills to work making the concrete counters—pouring them into a plywood mold and then turning them out like a cake—a technique he had mastered in previous renovations."I wanted a twist on the traditional slate floor," he explains.Shown: In the foyer, original elements blend with updates.