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Shown: Base cabinets in the mudroom hold tilt-out recycling bins.Handcrafted and installed by the homeowner, the drawers and random-pattern slate floor continue from the adjacent kitchen.On the plus side, Aaron estimates he spent only ,000 to ,000 in cabinetry materials for the kitchen—birch plywood for the boxes and drawers and solid maple for the fronts.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.And he could deconstruct and remove the warren of small bedrooms and bathrooms that the previous owners had created to rent out rooms.Having done plenty of tile work on previous renovations, he could do the tiling that the new baths would require.Aaron then put another of his skills to work making the concrete counters—pouring them into a plywood mold and then turning them out like a cake—a technique he had mastered in previous renovations."The key is having a number of large, strong friends who can help you turn the mold over and carry the countertop into place," he says.

Shown: The 1916 Craftsman's facade has its original cedar shingles, which had been preserved under aluminum siding, on the upper story.

A glass banister was put in place of the bent steel baluster that separated the seating area and the entryway, to create a clearer bond between the two.

Further up the stairs is the work space that also doubles as a guest bedroom when the grandchildren come to visit.

He figured that he already had most of the skills and the tools for the work that was needed.

He could repair and refinish the wainscoting and the boxed-beam ceilings in the foyer, living room, and dining room.

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