A Dilapidated Spring House Remake on ‘Stone House Revival’

In Doylestown, Pa., homeowners Barbara and Joseph were at odds at what to do with their 1770 spring house, a small stone structure once used for food storage. Luckily, Jeff Devlin and his crew were able to make both of them happy by crafting an airy living room with a couple of surprises in the loft upstairs.

By: Lisa Arnett
From: Jeff Devlin

Spring is Sprung in a Spring House

Author Barbara envisioned the spring house on her property as a writer’s cottage, while husband Joseph wanted to see it converted into a guest house. However, they both agreed with Stone House Revival host Jeff Devlin that it was in desperate need of repair. Click through to see how Jeff managed to breathe life and light into this once dilapidated space. 

What’s a Spring House?

Dating back to 1770, this stone spring house predated the main home on the 26-acre property, which was built in 1803. Houses such as this were literally built over streams so that the flowing water below could keep the space cool enough to store milk and other perishables.

Spring House Exterior, Before

The spring house showed its nearly 250 years of wear and tear with peeling paint, rotted wood and crumbling mortar. Jeff was giddy when he saw the sheer volume of stone and was confident it could be brought back to life with some TLC from his masonry crew.

Spring House Exterior, After

The old doors and windows were replaced and painted dove gray.

 

Living Room Floor, Before

On the first floor of the spring house, the cement floor was previously covered with a hodge-podge of worn area rugs.

 

Living Room Floor, After

Jeff and his team installed Pennsylvania bluestone pavers, which are made from sandstone and feature shades of deep gray, slate blue and rust.  

 

Ceiling Beams, Before

A row of rustic oak beams lined the ceiling of the first floor, but one of Barbara’s biggest complaints was that previous owners had painted them green.

 

Ceiling Beams, After

Jeff used a sandblaster—a messy but effective process—to remove the green paint from the beams and expose their natural tawny tone. 

Oven and Fireplace, Before

Two of the spring house’s most unique features—an arched fireplace and bread oven—share the same wall, constructed from stone covered in cracked and crumbling plaster.

 

Oven and Fireplace, After

Mason Ed Jakubowicz had his work cut out for him restoring this fireplace. He removed the plaster overlay to expose the stunning original stone beneath, chiseled out the old mortar and filled it in with new mortar.

 

Living Room, After

A clean-lined wooden chest painted a fresh shade of mint green provides storage as well as extra seating when needed.

Dutch Doors

Two of the house’s original doors were replaced with new custom-made doors with historically accurate strap hinges. Jeff chose a Dutch door design so that the homeowners could open the top halves and make the most of the cross-breeze. 

Upstairs Loft, Before

The second floor featured a window that let in an impressive amount of light for its small size.

 

Upstairs Loft, After

To let that light shine through to the living room and create an airier vibe, Devlin and his crew removed a portion of the floor near the window, leaving only the exposed wooden beams.

 

Upstairs Access, Before

Previously, a small trap door in the ceiling was the only way to access the spring house’s second floor. 

Upstairs Access, After

With this half of the floor removed, the trap door is no more. In its place, Jeff added a wooden ladder on an iron rail that slides out for access to the second floor above.

 

Upstairs Access, Before

With no easy way to access the trap door in the center of the ceiling, the second floor remained empty and unused.

 

Upstairs Access, After

Above the sliding ladder, Devlin installed a railing made from salvaged Victorian-style spindles, which he estimated were anywhere from 70 to 100 years old.

 

Sleeping Loft, Before

The wooden floors upstairs were in desperate need of a thorough clean-up, while the ceiling had seen better days.

Sleeping Loft, After

To cover the weathered ceiling, Jeff put up shiplap and painted it white. “They didn’t have drywall back then; you either plastered or you used wood on the walls,” he said. Finding that the floors were in better condition than expected, Jeff opted to coat them with clear varnish rather than whitewash them as originally planned. A tiny side table with a lamp and a plaid blanket-topped bed complete the lofted sleeping space.

Secretary’s Desk

Jeff wanted to make a custom piece for homeowner Barbara, a writer, and thought a Colonial-era secretary’s desk would be appropriate. The desk’s signature features include a hinged desktop on the bottom half and bookcase-style shelving with doors on the top.

Distressing the Desk

Devlin picked a deep wine-colored stain for the custom-made desk. After staining the entire piece, he distressed the edges with sandpaper.

Writer’s Nook

Positioning the finished desk next to the bread oven with an antique cross-back chair makes for a cozy writer’s nook. 

Reading for Writing

The desk’s two doors open to reveal shelving for pens, pencils and all the notebooks a writer could need. “Hopefully Barbara will want to sit down and write a book,” Jeff said.

 

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