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Windows in historical homes can be a problem! Very few of us know anything about restoring, renovating, fixing windows. We do know a lot of choice names we call windows when they stick, leak, break, let in too much cold or hot air and more.
We met someone and had work done by her which turned us 180 degrees around because the work was done exceptionally well; the windows look as they did 100 plus years ago. They have been restored, not replaced. It was a hassle-free time during which we gradually became very confident that the work done by Ms. Kucera was and would be top of its field.
Before we met Ms. Kucera, I tried to restore one of our windows which was in really poor shape. Then I had to decide if we would do replacement windows, try restoration, who to call, what to expect, pricing – could we afford to have 53 windows restored? – and on and on and on.
We tried calling a window restoration company. They were highly recommended and I met the owners while taking a class in Window Restoration. It was a disaster. The man put stuff around my window panes to keep the air out that looked as though it was coming out of an oversized tube of toothpaste. The goop itself was a mess. I watched in horror as this guy squeezed this toothpaste-substitute onto my historical 100 plus year old windows that looked like wet crinkled up cement.
The stuff dried and clearly was doing nothing to keep the windows a bit more air tight, so I had to take out the window and spend several days trying to get that material off my windows.
I bought all kinds of merchandise from the Home Restoration stores and from web sites and was becoming more frustrated by the day. Everything sort-of worked, nothing pleased nor met the standards of a really perfectionist historical house nut like myself.
Providence sent us Linda K. She took one look at my windows and announced the screws were not right for the period of the house and its windows. She would make no other comments except to look fairly disgustedly at me. She looked around, saw that one pair of window sashes was completely out of the window. I tend to be a person who would rather do nothing than do the wrong thing in a historical home because I believe the right process and person will show up and we won’t have to undo and redo with this method.
The weather was being held outside -sort of – by a storm window alone. Ms. Kucera asked where were the 6 over 6 windows which should have been in front of the storm window. I hauled them out, she took them home and said we would talk again when she had restored and installed the window.
Well, it took a while, but when Linda returned with the windows, they were exquisite and beautifully restored. She installed them and the window looked right! Except the storm window didn’t add anything, but that is for another day. The six over six was restored, copper chains looked quietly elegant and the windows went up and down with the touch of a finger instead of feeling the need to take a hammer to the sash to get it to move.
I don’t know how we will pay for those 53 windows that need restoration, but no one will touch them except Ms. Kucera and somehow we will get this house restored correctly.
As we talked, I realized Linda was not just someone who restored windows, but her knowledge of whole-house restoration was extensive. We talked about things no one else ever seemed to notice or feel was relevant. She was not into part-restoration, part- renovation. Cutting corners was not in her vocabulary. I remembered a conversation I had with a Preservation Consultant who was restoring windows for a large University and complaining bitterly because the heads of that institution didn’t realize the advantage to putting new glass into those old windows. That old glass was so squirrely! I told her she was in the wrong business and should consider a vocational change. No reaction! An old historical house needs to be respected and restored as it was built. I loved every minute of the conversation I had with Linda. Old glass is quite beautiful! What can you say about the old glass on Beacon Hill which has turned purple and dreamy. And who would replace instead of restore those windows! One needs to be very careful about who you hire to do restoration work. You are, after all, then promoting people and keeping them in business when they are really slowly, but surely, moving historical houses away from what made them special in the first place. Brattle Street in Cambridge is beginning to look more and more like Sudbury.
The last time I talked to anyone about restoration was when I had someone replace a ceiling in one of my rooms. We talked about the difference between restoration and renovation; the pseudo-restoration jobs being done all over the country which were really renovations; and he agreed with me and added his own condemnation of those who were flying under a restoration banner and were really renovating houses. He went ahead with the ceiling job and when I walked into the room the ceiling was down – he cleared everything out of the space between the lower ceiling and the floor above and to my utter horror put up blue board which he then skim coated with plaster and called it restored. I cried all night and didn’t get much sleep because what had been a sound proof room was now so noisy that if one flushed the toilet in the room above you could hear a toilet flushing as though it was being flushed in the same room with you. You could hear people walking and talking and I was a wreck.
He is touted for being a great restoration plasterer. He is good as a renovation plasterer and talks a good game about restoration, but that job was amazingly fraudulent because it did not do what he claimed it would and he destroyed a part of the integrity of the house.
Having had that experience and holding the hands of many friends who have had similar experiences, Linda Kucera was the answer to a prayer. She consults on restoration jobs and works nationally as a consultant, although her major interest is in windows. Hopefully, that will change because the world needs someone with integrity restoring these old historical homes and she has that in spades.
Ms. Kucera can be reached at 781-561-5411 or visit her web site at www.lindakucerawindowrestoration.com. Linda lives in Hingham, Massachusetts but her business is not geographically defined.
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