By Liz Johnson

Pennsbury elementary school teachers Tom and Lori Guest were six months from retirement when they started to think about things to do with their newfound time. “We thought we’d fix up the house to be our forever home,” said Tom, who lives in a one-story ranch in Doylestown Borough.

They talked about painting cabinets and replacing tile, maybe putting a new sink in the kitchen or upgrading the bathroom. “We weren’t ready to do a complete rehab,” said Tom. Then, at the end of the school year, Tom ran into former fifth grade student Mike DeMaio, now owner of Milex Residential. 

“I said ‘I’m thinking of doing my house over.’ And he said ‘Mr. Guest, I would love to help you with that.’” DeMaio came with new ideas like extending the hardwood red oak flooring that ran through parts of the house throughout.

“It’s beautiful. He did a great job. You would never know which one is new and which one is old,” said Tom.

DeMaio used the same wood as an accent in various rooms, such as a frame around the medicine cabinets or a shiplap wall in the living room and kitchen or as the basis of a custom-made barn door for the bathroom or as the butcher block sill that serves as a base for a bathroom bay window and as a custom mantle in the living room. “It’s gorgeous,” said Tom. “It was hand-planed and sanded identical to match the floor.”

That’s when DeMaio’s crew came up with the idea of putting a wooden frame around the medicine cabinets to match the flooring and other woodwork. “It looks like framed artwork,” said Lori.

It has carried through in his work today.“ You hear about contractors who show up for a day or two and then you don’t see them for a few weeks. Mike and his crew were here every day.

They were really professional. When I think back to my Mikey in 5th grade running a company with these professional craftsman, it’s a beautiful thing to see,” said Tom.

Initially, Tom and Lori thought about repainting the kitchen cabinets. “Mike asked us if we’d thought about new cabinets,” said Tom. He suggested removing a row of cabinets over a peninsula to open up the kitchen, giving a better view into the dining room.

The result: New cabinets with soapstone counters and a farmhouse sink with a Celtic design. A garden window looks out onto the yard. “The kitchen is brand new and absolutely gorgeous,” said Tom. DeMaio found a way to put a double vanity sink with marble countertop and a step-in shower into a “tiny, little bathroom,” as Tom described it.

“He turned it into a spa-like bathroom with a rain shower head overtop and a handheld shower sprayer. There’s a marble ledge and a little make-up vanity area for Lori.” The dated bathroom tile was replaced with floor-to-ceiling subway tile. “It was very shiny and glossy,” said Lori. “I wanted more of a farmhouse look.”

Outdoors, DeMaio installed board-and-batten vinyl siding and painted the brickwork white. He built a new porch with a black, standing seamed roof and a bluestone walkway leading up to it.

“We live on a busy street so there’s always a parade of people walking, jogging,” said Lori.

“We just love the idea of sitting outside and watching it.” The renovation hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“People would drive by the house and wouldn’t even notice it.

Now people stop by and say ‘Love your house. It looks great,’” said Tom.

“It’s no longer unremarkable. It’s our grand estate,” said Lori.


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