A Washington homeowner who called Dmitry Samoylin to renovate the exterior of her deteriorating 110-year-old Tudor did not realize that what she really needed was a restoration. Unlike renovation, which includes building new, restoration restores existing architecture or interiors to their original glory.
In this case, the homeowner wanted the worn-out wood surrounding a gable replaced with new. Samoylin took a closer look and found she would be replacing endangered redwood. "She didn't even know it was redwood. I told her she should preserve it," he said. "You can't get redwood anymore. It's not available for commercial use. The forests are still growing, but you can't cut them down because there are so few trees left."
So Samoylin, of Fairfax Restorations, began a tedious process of stripping the paint from existing boards, by hand, one board at a time. He then sanded each board smooth, primed it and used two coats of Benjamin Moore Barn Red paint.
The old boards had been painted numerous times over a century. To restore them, Samoylin said, he "had to get to the bare wood." He did it by hand to reduce the chance of damaging the redwood -- a process that took two months.
Samoylin discovered the original wood was lacquered such that it had a semigloss patina. "Redwood itself is very dark red, almost brown in color," he said. "When you put that patina on it, it becomes very dark. You can see that it's brown underneath."
Replicating the lacquered layer was impractical because the chemical composition of lacquers has changed over the years. The ones made today do not last as long, only about a year, and then the wood would need repainting.
So Samoylin chose a Benjamin Moore semigloss because he said it retains its gloss even after long-term exposure to the sun.
Attention to detail is essential, especially when restoring an older home, said Ann McClure, a realtor with McEnearney Associates Inc. in Old Town Alexandria. McClure had a Silver Spring house on the market inhabited by hoarders. But a home full of trash was treasure to two area architects, who recognized the house had been built by famed architect Charles M. Goodman, who designed the original National Airport and many of the Midcentury Modern homes in the Hollin Hills area of Alexandria.
"They were interested in the architecture. They had it restored and sold it," said McClure, who listed that property "as is." "I'm pretty sure they sold it for $150,000 more than they paid," she said.
What separates Samoylin and other skilled restorers from remodelers is the attention to historic and architectural detail.
"There is an artist side to Dmitry," McClure said. "He will do the research and make sure he restores the home to what it looked like in the era it was built."