‘Restoring Salem’ makes HGTV debut with First Period antique … in Beverly

Buying Home Improvement News
Mike Becker and Charrissa Vitas inside the home they restored in Beverly.
Mike Becker and Charrissa Vitas inside the home they restored in Beverly. Palmer Reuther

Mike Becker and Charrissa Vitas have known each other for 15 years and used to be a couple. The real estate agents aren’t together romantically anymore, but their partnership is going strong.

Before he became a real estate agent, Becker, who is originally from Danvers, used to have a business renovating homes. Vitas, who is originally from New Hampshire, thought it looked fun, so she quit her marketing job to become a realtor and to help Becker renovate historic homes.

Sound like an HGTV show? It is.

On Saturday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. you can watch the team restore a First Period antique with elements that date to the 1700s.

“This neglected and dilapidated relic is straight out of a horror movie with a cramped and narrow layout, low ceilings and hundreds of baby spiders that occupy the web-laden basement, ” the HGTV description reads. “During renovation, they discover hidden gems and unforeseen dangers that include a deadly hidden power line.”

About two years ago, Becker posted on his real estate Facebook page about one of the renovations he did. Someone from a production company in Los Angeles commented, asking whether Becker was interested in doing a show similar to “House Hunters.” The production company told him to send photos of the project and then a video, which led to a Skype interview and the filming of a mini pilot episode over three days.

“This was so fun,” Becker said. He knew then that he really wanted it to be a show. The production company pitched it to HGTV, and the network picked it up for one episode.

“There is a discussion about having a series,” Vitas said. “It will be based on the strength of the pilot, and if it airs well.”

Becker and Vitas don’t consider themselves “flippers.” Their main goal is not to completely change a rundown home, but to restore it to its former glory — while adding modern touches.

Becker is a “gear head” by nature and works with the contractors to do the work, while Vitas helps give the home its final look and feel.

The home you can see this week on “Restoring Salem” is a First Period antique in Beverly that was referred to as a “knockdown.” (You heard that right — Beverly. Becker’s and Vitas’s base is Salem, though they work in other areas like Beverly. Salem used to encompass a much larger area than it does today, so the name of the show is a stretch, but not a leap.)

“Most people would have been turned off,” Vitas said of the house. “I was like: ‘I see it. This is going to be a beautiful property.’ ”

They said that the home, 86 Preston Place, was originally a circa-1680 cottage and that an addition was constructed in the 1750s, making it into more of a post-and-beam style. In the mid-1950s, a Gambrel was added on, changing the shape yet again. Some of the floorboards and the brick chimneys are original to the house, and Vitas and Becker didn’t change the home’s overall structure.

The challenge is to add modern touches to an old home without sacrificing its character.

You can see how they did and view the home, now listed for sale for $799,000, on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. on HGTV.

See more photos before the home was renovated:

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