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Do It Yourself Anyway

Nick Churton from Residential Properties’ London office, loses his heart to a Providence home offering its next owner enviable potential.

The Property: 75 Prospect Street, Providence, Rhode Island

The Broker: Residential Properties

The Agent: James DeRentis

Nowadays, there is a trend for buyers to shy away from homes that need some work undertaken. It is understandable. In this day and age, we all seem to have less time – or not the sort of time to spend on property renovations.

This reluctance turns out to be a silver lining for those who are prepared to do the work, as they have less competition for some great homes at lower prices. With care not to get into money pit renovations, the savvy buyer can pick up a great deal that will turn out to be a spectacular home.

I have found a perfect example. It is in Providence, Rhode Island. Behind the beautiful buildings of Ivy League, Brown University, in an area called College Hill, are charming tree-lined streets of fascinating and handsome period homes. One such home is 75 Prospect Street. It was built c1859 to an Italianate design by celebrated local architect, Thomas Tefft. It is all still all there: high ceilings, fine architectural features, good proportions and elegance. They have been left unsullied for 160 years.

One only has to stand in the grand entrance hall to understand the outstanding opportunity that presents itself. The dated decoration will put off the daunted. But the undaunted will quickly understand that several large buckets of good quality paint in the right colour and shade, a roller, and a few weekends spent rolling will transform this into a fantastic, sophisticated space of Architectural Digest quality. The same goes for the rest of the rooms.

Over time I would go a bit further and update the services and remove a wall to create a fabulous kitchen with breakfast room that will open out onto a secluded terrace looking over the charming, city-proportioned English garden.

So, go on, be brave – and creative. Unleash the interior designer in you. It may take some work. But revival is ultimately satisfying and well worth it. You can ask the broker, James DeRentis, who happens to be extremely talented at this sort of thing. I am sure he will be happy to advise. Or you can pay much more money for a house someone else has already renovated – one you may very well end up altering anyway. That’s what people usually end up doing.