WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) Architect and designer Elena D’Angelo, originally of Rome, has brought her old-world style to Wheeling, while creating spaces tailored to modern families.
She says in Europe, they never tear down and build new.
“We just believe in preservation and restoration so we try to blend in the new with the old,” she said.
She’s currently working on a 1937 two-story frame home at 306 Jefferson Avenue, Wheeling, where she loves the woodwork and the clean square lines.
She says Americans watch home renovation shows and believe we can do it ourselves, but that’s often not accurate.
Even the professionals get surprised, finding decades and layers of wall coverings and paint.
Elena’s company, Advanced Design, and Remodeling discovered one paint with a glassy surface that can’t be painted over.
“It just dries and peels right back off,” said Debbie Wilkinson, painter and creative advisor. “So we’ve had to do some research and we’ve had to talk and we’ve had to figure out how to work with tha surface.”
Elena leaves one piece of her artwork in every house she rehabs, usually painted on a door.
And she says an open floor plan doesn’t work in every house.
“Like every European woman, I think that the house is the mirror of your personality, so if somebody steps in my house, I don’t want that person to see the mess in the sink,” she said. “So that kitchen needs a door!”
She prefers hard floors to carpets all through the house, with one exception.
“I do carpet the bedrooms because I believe it brings warmth to the room because, you know, when you wake up in the morning, you don’t want to put your feet on the icy floor,” she explained.
They say Elena is not a house flipper looking for a quick turnaround.
“She walks into a place and she enhances the design of the house,” said Wilkinson.
She sees the modern family’s desire for extra spaces like a man cave or a home office.
In the house on Jefferson Avenue, she created rooms in a charming unfinished attic.
“And we add rooms in the basement that can be used for a gym or a family room,” Wilkinson noted.
They believe a house should be hospitable to guests, all the way down to the floor.
“I always think it’s not very nice when people come to visit and the homeowner tells them to take their shoes off so they don’t get the carpet dirty,” Elena said.
She said the house on Jefferson Avenue will be finished by early March.
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