Keep Craft Alive: Paul Johnson, Remodeler
“When a client says, 'this is beautiful,' that isn't just luck."
Although he has every intention of building his own house one day, Paul Johnson prefers remodeling work.
“If you said, ‘Hey, build me a house,’ I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But if you tell me you’ve got this kitchen to redo, and it’s only 12 ft. by 4 ft., and you need a place to have a little desk … that’s what gives me joy — finding solutions, making things work in finite spaces. I’ve got to have the challenge or I go crazy. That’s why I love working on old houses.”
Johnson also prefers to work alone. He’s had employees in the past, but doesn’t like being a boss. He wants to do all the work himself, even the demolition.
“When you’re tearing up the floor, and there’s 100-year-old dust raining down on you, that’s part of the process. I love the finish carpentry, the sexy stuff, but I want to take the house apart too, because I need to know how it went together. If I’ve got my hands in every part of a remodel, I’m going to discover a hidden problem and call my plumber right away. Or I’ll open up a wall and see a small space that I could recess a cabinet into.
“It comes down to who you are and what you value. Purely for my own love and passion, I want to know the house that I’m working on. I want to know everything about it. I want to do it justice.”