Haven: A well-considered renovation for a house in Wayne

Jen and Paul Salvaggio in the dining room of their house in Wayne. The north-south orientation was important.
Jen and Paul Salvaggio in the dining room of their house in Wayne. The north-south orientation was important.
Posted: July 09, 2012

Sometimes, Paul Salvaggio believes, it takes a few years of living in a house before you know just what to do to improve it.

At least, that was true for him and his house.

When he bought his simple Arts and Crafts dwelling in Wayne, he says, it was not perfect, but he did like the fact that it did not have the ornamentation many such houses do .

Moreover, he says, "It had the two most important things I was looking for: the [front] porch and the north-south orientation.

“Plus, I wanted to live in Wayne."

The 1,100-square-foot structure has cinder block for the foundation and first floor and wood-frame construction on the second. The cinder block is covered with a coarse-looking "pebble-dash" stucco.

Paul could tell that the stucco application was special, from the hands of Irish workers. ”The historic aspect intrigued me,” he says.

When he was considering buying the property in 1994, he was a bachelor, and the leafy, quiet, dead-end street directly off the bustling business area of Lancaster Avenue seemed ideal.

Yes, the basement was a little damp, but it had an old winepress and a place where wine may have been stored in the 1920s, soon after the house was built.

So he bought the three-bedroom home, and his life as a beginning architect was enhanced by being able to work in a "studio" above the one-car garage when he was not commuting to his office in Exton.

At first, all he did was remove the wall-to-wall carpet. It wasn't until about a dozen years later that he finally decided to add the details the house had been missing.

The first step, which Paul took in 2006, was providing access to the yard. The second was to add light and a place for flowers and plants to bloom indoors.

The following year, he met Jen Somogy, a graphic artist, and brought her to the house on a date. Greeting her was a huge tarp covering the space where the rear wall had been before Paul removed it.

"I asked about the hole in the wall, and understood why it was there, even though it was pretty cold visiting at the time," she says.

As time passed, Jen adjusted to the cold and the attention demanded by the house project, to which she became a creative contributor as she continued to date Paul.

Home renovation, it turned out, helped make for a successful courtship. The work was completed in 2009, and in 2010, the couple married.

These days, Paul and Jen say, their house has everything they want, largely because of an addition at the rear of the structure.

At the outset of the renovation, the stairs that went from the kitchen to the basement were turned around so they led out to the yard through a newly added door. Paul created a conservatory of sorts in the 85 square feet that began where a kitchen wall was removed.

The new space "was fitted with a slanted roof made up of glass panels to let the sun in and provide a great place to grow our plants and flowers," Paul says. But the sunshine that now reaches the formerly dark kitchen alone made the project worthwhile, he adds.

After a new stairway to the basement was completed, Paul finished the area. Today, the basement is no longer soggy, and the Salvaggios can use the 400 square feet down there to supplement their living space, with a new winepress and wine cellar as well as a family room with a television and seating area.

The revamped kitchen area now includes eating space, with pride of place going to an oak sideboard and cupboard that came from Paul's mother's kitchen in New York.

Finally, Paul relocated the garden to the right of its original location and constructed a huge brick fireplace that the couple and their guests can see from the kitchen.

Seating in the yard around the fireplace accommodates up to 40 people.

Jen says they love the view so much that they sometimes light the outdoor fireplace in the winter just to watch the flames dance in the dark.

The Salvaggios say they never want to move from the house, which now suits them perfectly.

Jen, who grew up in a Western Pennsylvania house bigger than the one she shares with her husband, says, “I don't know why anyone would need a larger home.

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