When most young people are enjoying the sweet freedom that comes after high school graduation, Lori Gano started paying a mortgage.
“The whole reason I got into construction was because I bought my own house at 18. I had some modeling contracts and was traveling a lot, and so I rented my house out while I was gone. The renters trashed it,” she says. “My dad met me out there, and I said I was gonna fix it all myself, and he said I didn’t know what I was doing. We got in this big fight about it, but I did it. I renovated it myself and fell in love with it.”
What came after has been a 26-year (so far) career in construction as a general contractor, an architectural interior designer, and a real estate agent. From large-scale custom builds and renovations to buying, selling, and consulting, Lori’s done it all, including some work for HGTV and other commercial projects.
“My passion has always been renovations and bringing new life into something that’s existing,” she says. “I naturally have this spirit of excellence and wanting something to be the best it can be.”
And that’s exactly the energy she’s putting into her newest endeavor, Lori’s most personal project to date: Renovating her 1885 Queen Anne Victorian home. Characterized by the asymmetrical facade, stained glass windows, and decorative trim work, Lori’s new-to-her home, purchased last year, is getting a slow-and-steady full reno. It’s an on-going labor of love that, when finished, will boast classic details with her comfortable modern aesthetic.
“I actually lived across from this house for 12 years. I’d purchased a home across the street and knew I’d live in it for a brief time because I was on the hunt for a 100-year-old property in the city, eventually for my mom and adult daughter to live on the property with me,” she says. “I set up the office in my old house in the front room and could see this house from my window. I never thought I’d buy it, but I appreciated it so much. Then, I noticed the neighbors were putting boxes on the front porch. We saw them stop to get their mail one day, so I yelled across the street to ask them if they were selling. They said yes.”
The previous owners had lived in the home for 30 years and had raised their family there, but it was time to pass the keys to a new owner. Since buying the house in April, Lori has been chipping away – literally – at giving the home new life. She was quick to update the dark walls to Pale Oak, a soft white that brightened the space and helped the stained-glass windows pop. She has plans to rebuild the cantilevered staircase with more support (it currently sags) and will rework the master bedroom with an en suite and glorious closet. She is keeping the details that give the home its character but she’ll dress it up to match her personal style.
“I’m an organized person and don’t like a lot of clutter or bold colors. You’ll see that most of what I have is white walls, but I do love big pieces of artwork and streamlined furniture,” she says. “Light fixtures are probably my favorite component. That’s the jewelry of the home.”
Lori has done this dance a handful of times – buying a property, reworking it entirely, selling it, and moving on. But lest one thinks she flips houses, let it be known that’s not a word in her vocabulary.
“My friends and producers give me a hard time with that word,” she says, laughing. “I pour my heart into renovations. It can change everything about the flow of the house, how it affects the family. Even in real estate, when I walk into a home, it’s easy for me to pack up 30 percent of people’s belongings and rearrange the furniture, which I do for free for my clients. It’s a huge investment for them and people are shocked at the difference it makes.”
Learn more about Lori at LoriGano.com