Work pays off with improved interiors


Shirley and Boyd Wesley just got plain tired of the 1970s decor in their Denmark Drive home. Dwight Williams had nowhere to go but up when he purchased his Junction City home. The Wesleys and Williams embarked on serious adventures in home improvement, and the final products are awe-inspiring.

A whole new home

Williams' home on Kendall Street was a flashback to the '50s. Before the home improvement adventure was finished, he filled up two 6- by 8- by 22-foot dumpsters and five pickup trucks with debris and garbage. He also gutted the home.

"I tore the old kitchen completely out," said Williams, who did the majority of the work himself. "I put in a laundry room ... and all new doors and windows."

Williams said he did all the construction work and hired a retired drywaller, who took a couple of weeks to do that job. He kept the tub that was in the bathroom because it was only a few years old.


He also laid the ceramic tile himself, gutted the house, put in windows - and designed it all. His oldest brother helped him put in the kitchen cabinets. Williams also moved the staircase.

"It's the first staircase I've ever built."

There were only two electrical outlets in each room. Even the stove was original, he said. Williams changed the dining room into the kitchen, removed the door between the downstairs bedroom and living room, and axed the wall between the living and dining rooms.

"The house was small. I wanted it to feel bigger," noted Williams, who works at Matsushita.

Friends visited as he finished each stage, and offered suggestions for further improvements. Williams said he knew he wanted to divide the living and dining rooms. A friend suggested he put up columns, which he incorporated into the design.

The downstairs "bathroom from hell" had a tiny lavatory, Williams said, in addition to a clothes washer under the window, no linen closet, and a staircase that cut through the shower, and a spot for the dryer under the staircase.

"I gutted it," noted Williams, who has owned the home for four years. "I put in a linen closet, a pedestal sink and a commode."

Williams put in recessed lighting throughout the home, and completely changed the staircase, which was excessively steep, he adds.

"They were old-timey stairs," he explained.

He also gutted other parts of the house in the 19 months it took him to renovate it: The electrical system, plumbing and walls. He renovated every evening after work as well as Saturdays.

The tray ceiling in the living room was added because the building inspector would not OK the recessed lighting. The medallion was found at Home Depot; the molding was purchased at Lowe's. Williams wanted an accent color for the walls and chose burgundy for the tray ceiling.

The upstairs was divided into two bedrooms and three closets - all five approximately the same size, Williams said with a wry smile. He drastically changed the looks of the upstairs.

"The ceiling was only 7 feet and I raised it to 9. It started out barely above the top of the window. I put the master bedroom up here, and a bathroom up here."

He used a 40-inch wall as a headboard, with light switches on it for easy access. He put 8-foot closets in the eaves, with additional storage space in the attic behind the closets.

"I used every square inch," Williams said.

The worst part of the job was dealing with contractors, Williams said.

"I went through four electricians before one showed," he explained, adding he, as a single individual, was less lucrative than new subdivisions and developments. "The electrician took on more than he could do. ... It took $35,000 to redo the whole house."

"The plumber did a great job. And the heating (person) - when he said he'd be here, he was here."

Williams said he did it because he enjoyed doing it. He saw programs on HGTV and decided he wanted to renovate a house. He really knew the project was moving forward when the drywall started going up, he added.

"Then you see what it's going to look like."

The last item on his list of things to do is work on the porch.

"It's still a '50s porch," Williams said. "If I redo the porch, that'll be it."

Out with the old, in with the new

Shirley Wesley said that before her home was renovated, it was covered with old, shag carpet. There was no trim color on the walls. Almost every room need a makeover. And the Wesleys decided they were going to do the work themselves.

Her husband reupholstered a lot of the furniture and made window treatments for the rooms. A ceiling fan was put in a guest bedroom. The carpet in the hallway on the main level was replaced, and tile was laid in the bathroom. Rooms were painted to spruce them up, and new carpet was put in many of them. The Wesleys worked on the house one room at a time.

The red shag carpet in the study was retained to complement the nautical blue walls.

"It (the carpet) gives the room atmosphere with the blue walls," said Wesley, adding it took about five years to complete the entire home.

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