Throwing History into a Dumpster

There are a spate of TV shows showing viewers how they can renovate and “update” an old home.

Oh the horror. The horror.

The result of this televised saturation is that a great many people think nothing about painting gorgeous wood interior trim white, knocking out walls to create “open plans”, discarding original lighting for Home Deport replacements, pulling out wood windows (and with that wonderful imperfect glass) and installing vinyl, and gutting stunning, perfectly intact kitchens and bathrooms.

Oh the horror. The horror.

A particularly egregious example of this involves a 1929 Colonial featured a while back on my favorite blog, Old House Dreams, created by The Goddess: Kelly.

The house was built by Donald and Margaret McDonald, who lived the rest of their lives in the home. And their daughter, Marion, stayed in the home until her death in 2015.

One house, family-owned for eighty-six years, and deeply beloved and maintained.



Marion McDonald



The astonishing McDonald kitchen. Oh my God! INCREDIBLE! I would kill for such kitchen!!!!!!!! KILL! It would not have taken much to restore this treasure to first-class condition.



The built-in ironing board. I also like the stove. So, even though this kitchen was an extraordinarily rare survivor, and would have been easy to restore and gently update, the house was sold to a flipper, and (scroll way down)…






















This is the horror unleashed upon the McDonald kitchen. I appreciate that this new kitchen is not unattractive, but something rare, special, and beautiful was replaced with something commonplace. See the window?



The window is the only original extant element. This makes me…SO ANGRY!!!!!!!!



And of course, of course, an open plan was created by knocking down the wall between the kitchen and dining room. See the refrigerator?



It sits where the ironing board used to. The wall behind the stove is now gone.


The “flipper” did the whole house like this. It is obvious that anything fabulous and rare was treated as toxic, and so it was all carted off into a dumpster.

The McDonald home on Old House Dreams can be visited in all its glorious Before beauty, and its tragic After.

I am quite depressed.




  1. Kelly on April 20, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    AGH!!! Yes, this one hurt my heart to discover. I’m going to really pretend everything was taken carefully out and someone brought it to their home. 🙁

  2. Carole. Canton Ohio on April 20, 2016 at 5:15 pm


    WTH invented this horrid color of grey? Even if you spell it gray it is still horrid!!The rage of its coldness, and everyone seems to use it on every show on TV & any and all walls everywhere ! ! I must confess to using Devonshire Creme everywhere, but it is warm, cozy and rewarding this old house of mine, I would have killed (almost) for any one of those sinks, or light fixtures or floors here, even the aweful red basement floor! The nook is all they should’ve touched!!!

    Ross, let us all weep together, and say a prayer for the remaining century homes What is so wrong with people? Wait, don’t answer that question.

    I value my home now more than ever.

    • Tiffaney on April 20, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      I agree! Grey (the American spelling; “gray” is British) is an awful color unless done exactly right. Like you said, it’s very cold, and terribly uninviting. And for a KITCHEN?! A kitchen is supposed to be the warm center of family life, and you paint it grey?! Who wants to cook in a grey kitchen? If your food is grey or anything involving what you eat, you have a PROBLEM!

      I would have killed for that original kitchen. Ross and I might have had to fight to the death! That ironing board was so charming. And now it’s gone in favor of “open concept”. If there’s anything I hate more than grey, it’s open concept!

  3. Jason J on April 20, 2016 at 5:55 pm

    I blame, the new “grey/gray crazy” on the book “50 Shades of Grey”….I think people mistook this as a “design” book…and…thus….the new grey/white/black craze…I think it is even funnier when you hear them call it a “color” grey/white?? A color?? I think of red, orange, green blue as colors…white is white…black is black…and grey is just plan drab…

    They also went all out on landscaping, all those gorgeous flowers lol

    It looks like this house, had some serious cigarette smokers in it and just putting it out there….It is near impossible to get the smell/tar off the walls/furniture/fixtures…I could see why the flippers, chose to X everything out….Until you personally have dealt with it, you may not see the reason as to “why”…

  4. Sandra G. McNichol on April 20, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    I’m with you and the other sympathetic folks.

    What a totally sad and unnecessary reno; I loved the beautiful old stove and the original cabinets, too. This “look” is so presently cliched, and is repeated over & over & over again.

    I REFUSE to purchase stainless steel appliances, too – even though every single realtor I know advises all of us to do so for resale value “people expect to have stainless steel in a home of value!” – well, I refuse to acquiesce to this appliance pressure – I have and will stay with white (plus – stainless is a bugger to keep clean & looking decent, even with the alleged now fingerprint proof finishes). This cliched “gray look with the mandated great room” goes right along with the rectangular glass tiles I am seeing used EVERYWHERE as back splashes and inserts in bathroom tile jobs.

    I admit – I loved the darn things when they first started showing up in the home improvement stores – I loved the artistry of them all – but they have been overdone to DEATH and you couldn’t pay me to use them now (I tell my husband in 20 years we’ll be able to date kitchens and baths by these glass tiles, just like we could from gold shag carpeting and avocado colored appliances, ago….sigh…).

    But don’t be depressed any longer, dear Ross – the North Face needs to be finished first, right? 🙂 Go look at all your gorgeous door hardware and get those positive ions flowing again – there’s work to be done! 🙂

  5. Mary Garner-Mitchell on April 20, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    I threw up a little in my mouth. Sorry to be graphic, but this kitchen reno is just sickening. As for painted woodwork, however, it is important to bear in mind the period of the home’s architecture. In my case, a late 18th century Georgian, the painted woodwork is appropriate and correct. However, in the case of my previous old abode, a c. 1904 Victorian row house, much of the original wood had been painted… Yes, white. We didn’t live there long enough to strip it, and also , it being a row house, the painted mouldings lent some much needed light. At least the stained glass was in tact, and I did replace lighting with period fixtures in the main rooms, and stripped the front door. The upstairs bath had the original toilet, that to this day, my husband laments about leaving!! He said it was the “perfect fit!!”

  6. Lynn on April 21, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I’m with you Ross. Seeing this makes me very sad and angry too! You’re absolutely right when you say this house is done like any other cookie cutter house. My favorite thing about old houses is their uniqueness. No two houses are exactly alike. Gonna try to get into the fix and flip business too, but you can best believe that each house we do will be unique and catered to their originality. Flippers are taught to use the same materials in each house to cut costs. This is the “system” you hear advertised. In other words, say you work out a deal with a supplier of granite for example. You negotiate the lowest price possible and deal only with that supplier. That way you buy in volume securing a low price. Hence the same look in all the houses. Yuck!

  7. Bill Reid on April 22, 2016 at 10:43 am

    Gross! If that isn’t a crime, it ought to be. My sister-in-law just bought a 1840s row house from some flippers. The entire downstairs interior was painted semi-gloss battleship grey. WTF?!

  8. Sheryl on September 17, 2016 at 1:27 pm

    Talk about sterilization – the place has no personality now..yikes.

  9. Riley on November 28, 2016 at 8:33 am

    OMG! Look at the LITTLE ironing board. For small sleeves and cuffs. I’ve never seen a double ironing board like this. Perfect! Obviously designed by someone who ACTUALLY IRONED. I can’t bear to think of it in a landfill somewhere so I will pretend that someone, anyone, rescued and reinstalled it in a place of importance. A place of importance? Oh, you mean like a, KITCHEN?

Leave a Reply Cancel Reply

Your email address will NEVER be made public or shared, and you may use a screen name if you wish.