Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Office

I will call this room IJs office, as it will be his office (makes sense huh?) IJ is my husband, but I have decided to cloak his name in mystery as I certainly will express many opinions here on MY blog that he will not agree with. I have reminded him that if he does not like it, he is always free to create a blog of his own; that seems to have quelled the debate. I have to think that originally this room was a den, or a library, or a ‘gentlemen’s smoking” room perhaps. It just has a mellow, masculine feel. One of the really great things about this room when we got the house is that it had a really cool Murphy bed. However, after pleas from Dad, it was agreed that the space would function much better as a built-in bookcase. Also, the bed frame was too short to support a conventional mattress, which my husband found out after spending several nights trying to sleep in a contorted position. I now have to agree, and as is shown in subsequent pictures Dad retrofitted original cabinetry removed from the kitchen to build a great bookcase and cabinets for IJ’s business documentation. He even put in recessed lighting which makes it look pretty classy. The real problemo with this room was a significant drop in the flooring that coincided with the entry of the room. Thinking we had to have a flexible surface for our roller-coaster floors, we had initially considered using a flexible laminate to resurface the floors in both the front entryway and IJ’s office. We had met with the flooring guy several times and I even went to his home to look at the product in his historic home; nice but nothing jaw dropping. When he last came over to the house to asses the floors and I pealed back the carpet and saw the beautiful wood floors, he didn’t even comment that they could be saved; just let’s tear everything up and put in my product. This just gave me a bad feeling and I called IJ immediately and voiced my concerns. Luckily he was with a friend who recently had his wood floors refinished and we got a great recommendation for the craftsmen we eventually hired (more on these guys later). Anyway, just look what has transpired in this room! The height differential, caused by a decades old separation of the supporting beam, was repaired, new flooring then put in place and the stain matched. Just absolutely gorgeous…from derelict to stunning and much under the cost to put in a totally “real simulated wood” floor. Hey, don’t ever let any salesman talk you into taking anything original out of your house without checking out the options first. I’m thinking in hindsight, this will probably the most important thing we could have learned in this entire process. As an added note, IJ did the Tuscan finish on the walls and daughter K picked out the Valspar “gaucho” trim color. Dad, of course, built the bookshelves, and I did the rest of the grunt work. (Note to hubby…still need to get a light fixture...J

Sunday, November 2, 2008

In the beginning...

After looking at these pictures taken the first day we saw the house, I now wonder what were we thinking? Actually the debris was due to near competion of a new roof. If not for an interior that was solid and in good shape, for a 105 year old home, I think we would have walked away. These pictures were taken in late March of '08 and since then then the front half of the house has been painted and detailed and, thanks to my Dad, porch railings built and installed and rotten wood torn out and replaced. The ancient wiring to the porch light has been redone (it was originally gas and electric) and awaits us to purchase a new light fixture.

These photos of the front hall were taken early on in the renovation process. Since then we gave up on trying to fix or repair the very damaged plaster and Dad has put up thin wallboard on both the east wall and the ceiling (which suffered badly from a 1970s artistic plastering experiment). The ceiling electric has been moved to the center of the room and the floors will receive their final sanding and finish late next week.

In these pictures the floor is covered with industrial grade thin carpet which was glued to mdf which was screwed into the original floor. When our (wonderful) hardwood flooring experts cut and lifted all, the underlying floor turned out to be maple with a border around the entire room of quartersawn oak. It just has to make you wonder who would glue carpet to such a gem of a floor. I will post pictures when all is completed next week.

The staircase is another example of wondering why the heck someone would paint such a treasure. Unfortunately, life is too short to even contemplate stripping, so it will be cleaned, filled, and repainted. It is, however, solid as a rock and will still be a beauty when all is complete.

At this point, I would love to have suggestions of what has worked for others as a sandable, paintable filler for the dents and gouges in the woodwork.

Friday, October 31, 2008

First Post

Okay, I have been meaning to do this for a long time. I have gleaned so much from reading other house blogs and just want to share our project and hopefully get (and give) some feedback on the pride and pitfalls of renovating an old house. Our house is a 1903 American Foursquare that was purchased with the intent of making the first floor our offices (my husband owns and runs a real estate appraisal company) and eventually turning the second and third floors into rental units for offices or tenants, or us. As I write this my hands are cut from scraping stair risers and I am getting just a tish burned out on painting, tiling, grouting, trash hauling and a lot of other unpleasant plebian tasks. I now am taking Halloween night off to finally create a blog where I hopefully can connect with others in our situation. Hope to talk to you all soon. Halloween is scary?...Try renovating a house!