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The kitchen side of the pass-through holds a wet bar with refrigerator drawers and wine storage.To start the cabinetry, he bought a jig and a router, setting them up with his old reliables—table saw, miter saw, sanders—in a makeshift workshop under a tent-pole cabana in the backyard.For the addition's foundation and framing, he hired contractors. Shown: To ease entertaining and channel natural light between the existing dining room and the new kitchen, the homeowner built a pass-through where an exterior wall once stood.Double doorways are located where two windows had been.Shown: All the trim, door and window casings, wainscoting, and half-height built-in bookcases—which form partitions from foyer to living room to dining room—were repaired and refinished with white paint, which adds to the fresh, updated feel of the spaces."I'm not sure what I was thinking," Aaron says now, with a laugh.

"But every stain I applied made the wood look like tiger-striped plywood," he recalls.He could repair and refinish the wainscoting and the boxed-beam ceilings in the foyer, living room, and dining room.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.And he had mastered the art of low-cost concrete countertops.

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