Like houses in many heritage towns – areas which seek to support and reclaim both the history and design artistry that speak of architectural eras gone by – a worn 1850s Georgian cottage sat in disrepair on Mill Street, in Milton, Ontario. With an approach to maintaining the historic integrity of the property, veteran home improvement company George Kent Home Improvements, Ltd., opened in 1949, revived the cultural heritage value of the home with a dramatic renovation.
Brought onto the 2010 project on the basis of its solid reputation, George Kent Home Improvements began this exterior renovation project not with the expected tools, but with a careful inspection of the City of Milton’s Heritage by-laws as well as period-appropriate design. The goal: reaching a finished product that reflected Old Milton’s essence (without bothering the neighborhood in the process). As it stood when the renovation team arrived, the Mill Street home displayed signs of natural weathering as well as alterations made over the years — including oversized windows and a roof line out of sync with the original build.
George Kent Home Improvements began the renovation by removing the standing porch and all existing railings. While the act of changing the slope of a roof and the size and shape of windows may not seem overwhelmingly significant in most cases, when renovating a Georgian cottage, the visual impact relies on these very details. Maintaining an architecturally sound design meant replacing the wide windows with smaller, 12-pane models. Additionally, the steep, too-narrow roof received a face lift comprised of a wider overhang and shallow pitch common to the centuries-old style. The team replaced the roofing and installed fresh soffit and fascia. In keeping with Georgian finishes, the central front door was flanked with decorative pilasters acting as a focal point behind the home’s new porch and railings.
The simple elegance of this home’s origins and updated façade include new, easy-to-spot siding and not-so-obvious insulation for a home as cozy indoors as it is beautiful out.
The renovation, which took three weeks to complete, earned George Kent Home Improvements a Heritage Award from the Heritage Milton Citizens Advisory Committee. The award celebrates the home’s contribution to the area’s ongoing dedication to historic preservation. Those working on the home were very honoured to be a part of the renovation process and, not surprisingly, the home owners expressed a sense of pride and appreciation to George Kent for the quality of its work.
While many historic properties look like discarded ruins too difficult to restore, these diamond-in-the-roughs are not as far from their full potential as one might think. By renovating with a skilled team of professionals, the true magnificence of a historic home can quickly be revealed.
By Tarah Damask