When designer/builder Alex Nerland showed his wife a dilapidated two-unit building he had just visited, she said that they had to buy it. Nothing in the building had ever been renovated, so the couple could start with a blank canvas. They decided that they would move into the upper unit, where the kitchen was buried in the back and the front contained a parlor and a “fainting room”—a feature peculiar to Victorian houses. One of their key decisions was to move the kitchen to the front of the house. For less than $10,000, they outfitted their new kitchen with a six-burner range, granite countertops, a refrigerator, a dishwasher, an oven hood, and various lights and fixtures. They looked for bargains online and at local big-box and outlet stores. Ultimately, they transformed a three-bedroom/one-bath flat into one with four bedrooms and 2-1/2 baths, and they grouped the living areas in the front and the bedrooms in the back.
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