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After rebuilding the half-wall bookcases between the living room and the foyer, all the columns, and the sections of wainscoting that had been damaged, he set about refinishing them."But every stain I applied made the wood look like tiger-striped plywood," he recalls.And deciding to do all the cabinetry himself nearly did him in. With four Dallas house renovations and two San Diego, California, redos under his belt, he set his sights on the two-story stucco-and-shingle Craftsman with its compelling location—directly across the street from a golf course, overlooking Balboa Park and, in the distance, the San Diego harbor.
"I found out then why people more often do overlay doors and drawers," Aaron says now. " In retrospect, the sheer volume of work was staggering: He crafted every kitchen cabinet and drawer, including lots of custom pullouts and appliance garages and, later, all the bathroom vanities, every master-closet organizer, a media wall, and a full mudroom of built-ins.
On the minus side: "I had no idea how much sanding there would be. His image of the ideal kitchen—"a classic white kitchen with dark countertops, a subway-tile backsplash, and a slate floor"—was taking shape through sweat, grit, and sawdust.
Shown: Base cabinets in the mudroom hold tilt-out recycling bins.
"I wanted a twist on the traditional slate floor," he explains.
Shown: In the foyer, original elements blend with updates.
For serial remodelers, the "next one" always holds the promise of being the "best one"—a chance to learn from past mistakes, improve DIY techniques, and reap the satisfaction of a glorious end result.