It took her decades to follow her dream and now Kensington resident Jodi Longo is helping to bring new life to decades-old and historic homes here.
“If friends asked me to go out as a teen and my mom had a new Issue of Architectural Digest, I’d say, ‘No, not tonight,’” she said.
Even though design has long been her passion, Longo’s first career was working with Amnesty International. It was while on sabbatical from her position there and working as an election judge in the former Yugoslavia that she met her husband of 14 years, Dejam Bujak, who is the one that convinced her to start her own business.
It all began eight years ago, when Longo started getting bids to have a porch put on her home on Homewood Parkway and got major sticker shock from the prices.
“I thought, ‘I’m going to do this myself,’” she said.
After designing and working contractors to build her porch, Longo caught the bug and started helping family and friends realize their visions for home renovations. Then, on her 40th birthday, Bujak gave her a card with a business plan for a home renovation business.
“My husband believed in me more than I believed in myself,” said Longo.
Bujak had the idea to take out a home equity loan to get the business started, and in 2005, Renovation Studio was born.
Since then, Longo, a licensed contractor and builder, has renovated more than 20 homes in Kenstingon alone. The design firm does renovations and additions of all sizes, anything from a new bathroom to building homes from the ground up, said Longo.
What Longo loves most about her business is the opportunity to work on the historic homes in Kensington.
“Transforming these gorgeous historic Victorian homes in a way that’s in tune with the character and beauty of the house, but putting it in line with what is needed by a modern family is a real honor,” said Longo.
Many of the homes were built 100 years or more ago and lack things that growing families in modern times need like: closets, multiple bathrooms, and adequate storage, she said. She finds making these gorgeous homes more livable, but preserving their historic integrity very gratifying.
Because Longo both works and lives in Kensington, she regularly sees her clients out and about, and she loves the connection that her business has given her to the town.
“When we do a project in town, these folks become part of our extended family,” said Longo, who added that she takes great satisfaction hearing her clients tell her how much they love their new kitchen or how the whole family enjoys their new three-season screened-in porch.
“It’s a real honor to work, love, and live in your community,” said Longo, who shares a home on Dupont Street with husband Bujak and their two children, 11-year-old son Sasha and 8-year-old daughter Mia.
Some of Longo’s favorite jobs have involved removing the aluminum siding from historic homes in Keinsington and sanding and repainting the original wood siding.
“To see that transformation is one of the coolest things in the world," she said.