"We knew when we walked in the door, we loved it," says Paul Carapetyan of the home he bought on Duval Street 30 years ago.
At the time, he and then-wife Julie Renfro had three children 5 and younger and were renting a house.
Carapetyan, who remodels homes as the owner of Expert Service Inc., knew that the house had great bones, but he also liked the look of the rafter tails on the front porch, the original door hardwood and the original wallpaper.
"Somebody had some money when they bought this home," he says.
The 1929 home is part of Preservation Austin's Homes Tour, the Art of the Craftsman Style, on April 27 that features seven homes from the early 20th century.
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The home has changed a bit from when it was originally built. Sometime around 1958 a remodel was done: A second bathroom was added, carpet was laid down on top of the home's wood floors and some wallpaper was added, but some of the original wallpaper remained.
Carapetyan during his 30 years also has made updates — taking out the carpet in favor of rugs, rearranging doorways for better flow, refinishing floors and changing some of the bathrooms and the kitchen — but he's always done it with the character of the house in mind.
Much of the original and 1950s round of wallpaper was damaged and could not be saved as wall coverings, but Carapetyan framed samples of the different patterns of birds and florals and hung them in the hallway to the bedrooms. The breakfast nook wallpaper of peacocks is original to the house.
A granddaughter of past owners stopped by and got emotional when she saw the wallpaper collection. "She could see her grandparents in what the wall was," Carapetyan says.
The home tells the family's stories in more ways. Carapetyan and wife Julie Spann, who is co-chief executive officer of SAFE Alliance, have added furniture from the late 1800s and early 1900s that were part of their families' homes.
As the Carapetyan children grew and the family began to outgrow this house, Carapetyan also made improvements such as turning the attic into two bedrooms and a full bathroom, as well as adding a staircase to get there.
"It was a good place to raise kids," he says. At one point, he even created a playhouse out of the Zilker Summer Musical's leftover Aunt Eller house from "Oklahoma."
Now in that space is a chicken coop.
Carapetyan also turned the garage into a one-bedroom cottage and expanded the kitchen. He made updates to the home to make it more livable, such as new plumbing and electrical and adding central air conditioning and heat.
Even with these updates, many parts of the home remain the same, from the original windows to the hardware on the doors. And where things needed to be replaced, Carapetyan did it with the past in mind.
Carapetyan says taking care of this house is like being part forensic scientist. He's found a spot in the dining room floor that must have had a button the owners could tap with their foot to call the servants in from the kitchen to clear the plates or bring the next course.
"I let the home do the talking for me," he says. The home answered the question of how to get a more usable kitchen by relocating the refrigerator from what was an enclosed porch, but also told him what not to touch, like the tile counters with the built-in pastry stone.
"We kept as much of the original feel as possible," he says. "Anything we would do would be in keeping with the original intent."