Before and After: A 100-Year-Old Decaying Duplex Becomes a Glam Blend of Old-Meets-New

published Sep 23, 2021
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Before: Totally unfinished living room with crumbling dirt and concrete floors

Inherited properties can be a blessing and a curse. They can be a blessing in that they’re free and may come with a sense of nostalgia and comfort. On the other hand, they can be a curse in that they’re often major fixer-uppers.

This 100-year-old abandoned Kansas City home was particularly old and decrepit. Sasha Santillan‘s father, Bob, gave her the totally run-down duplex as a graduation gift with a long-term plan in mind. “He told me I would have to pay for the remodel, but he would help me with all the labor,” Sasha says. “The house was not in living condition when I received it.”

It had had very little annual maintenance done, Sasha explains, and was in total disrepair. The floors were concrete and dirt. There were trees growing between cracks. “The first time I saw it I had an anxiety attack,” Sasha says. “The structure was good, but we needed some brickwork done, [and] everything else had to be replaced. Literally everything. It took me two years before I could move in.”

One of the biggest challenges was replacing the wooden beams, Sasha says. All of them had to be replaced due to termites, water damage, and even damage from a fire at some point. “There is an upstairs floor, so we had to move slowly and strategically,” Sasha explains.

Although she says her duplex is still a work in progress, Sasha, her father, and his friends have brought several rooms back to life, like the living room, which is now an incredibly cozy hangout spot with terracotta-colored walls (she used Valspar’s Laredo) and glimpses of the original brick, which runs three layers deep.

“There were places where the brick was crumbling or soft — it’s original from the turn of the century — so I pulled the plaster off that I could and left the rest to help with the structural integrity,” Sasha says. “After pulling off all the plaster I could, my dad and I went in and tuck-pointed the bricks, and then I applied a sealant” — a job definitely easier said than done, but that makes the brickwork look more seamless and cohesive.

“Brick dust is the worst!” Sasha says of the process. She decided to paint the eastern wall white because the brick faces were beyond repair — and because white paint adds a bit of brightness to the space.

Now, the walls are her favorite part of her living room. “They have so much character and texture,” she says.

Sasha chose to be pretty minimal with decor to showcase the over-100-year-old beauties. Her circular coffee table, geometric rug, and deep emerald sofa are the perfect complements to the brick in the old-meets-new space.