Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Remembering What I Did A Year Ago

A year ago, we were living at our former place. I was busy packing. Several people stopped by at our former place as we were trying to sell it--so I was constantly cleaning. We were juggling two mortgages, two large heating bills, one at our former place, and the larger one at the old house.

Husband Jon had just finished blowing insulation into the old house, a complete re-wiring of the house, he installed new storms and screens (we kept the old windows with the wavy antique glass), and he installed a new energy efficient gas furnace.

A year ago, during this chaos I decided to spend two days covering the spindle couch that had been my grandparent's (Berth and Leatha Harriman). I bought an entire bolt of fabric, enough to cover the couch covers, make pillows, and make drapery panels for the library.

Sister Pam Made Valances for the Red Dining Room

Remember, when you have guests and you are doing a restoration project of this magnitude, it is important to make your guests work for their room and board. I'd like to say I'm kidding, but I'm not. I ask everyone I can to make an imprint on this house by adding their touch and talent.

When my sister Pam and her son Paul Ashley visited us June 2008, I asked my sister to make valances and drapes (she's a theater costume designer on the east coast). Pam, Mom (Lorraine), and I shopped for the perfect red/gold striped fabric. I didn't see the fabric I liked. But suddenly we found three ready made valances with the perfect fabric. After purchasing the valances (under $10 each on sale), we returned to the fabric store and found stunning tassel braid to match. I didn't get any bargain on the tassel braid--yikes $17.95 a yard. Three yards needed for each valance, and three windows. About $55 a window for tassels. Oh, but WOW. I got the look I wanted.

On the table is a shimmering green silk fabric. Pam built the most beautiful drapes and large poofy valance for the upstairs master bedroom. Six months later we are finally working on the plaster repair in the 16 x 16 master bedroom. Today, I'm ready to paint the walls a dark olive. You know, dark olive could be disaster. If so, the room will be painted "Aged Photo" a coffee w/cream color. Same color we painted the kitchen.

Original Stencil Work on Dining Room Walls

Here's a photo of the dining room during the process of removing wallpaper. We found the most beautiful stencil work. Much to our regret we found ourselves in the situation of deciding to continue with the plaster repair or save the stencil work. Either way was a bummer. I made tracings of the stencil work, and photographed it. Then we continued with the plaster repair work.

"After Photo" - baseboard in the dining room after I made tiny touch ups to the original faux bois finish.

The "before photo".

Another "before photo".

The Red Dining Room

The color I picked for the dining room is Flaming Sunset, by Valspar. Please look closely though at the woodwork in the room. The woodwork is Faux Bois which means an artisan painted the wood to look like more exotic wood. In our house the wood is made to look like quarter sawn oak, mahoghany, and walnut. All the woodwork downstairs is Faux Bois. Our builder/owner John Olson Wrolstad was in the lumber business--so why would he have pine doors faux finished to resemble other oak, mahoghany, and walnut? Again, to have an artisan paint these finishes was art in itself. We've taken great pains to touch up the tiny chips and maintain the artisan's original work.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dining Room Lamp - A Christmas Present from my Wonderful Husband

There is something magical about the red dining room. Its the color. It always photographs like a tomato red, but in real life it is a more faded red. The formula is something terrific because it only took two coats. First coat would have made most people happy enough, but the second coat made it perfect.

The dining room carpet has the same shade of red, along with gold. I saw this Tiffany style lamp and went back to the store twice to look it over. The second time I took Jon along and he bought it for me. He's a great husband.

Taking Time Out to Paint Something Besides Walls

I had fun working on this old dresser. Mom and I found it last September when she visited me. We went to a yard sale in a machine shed on a farm. The 1940s dresser was in rough shape. We fixed drawer slides and filled veneer chips, and sanded the devil out of it. Primed it, and painted two coats of special furniture paint 'lamp black'. Afterwards I got out my favorite brush and a bottle of gold acrylic craft paint and painted the flourishes. The knobs Mom and I found in a boutique. The knobs gave us the idea what the re-do should look like. I'm an oil painter (portrait artist) for 20+ years. I would like to try my hand at handpainting more furniture. I liked the results.

The finished dresser will go into the new bathroom upstairs 10.5 x 15' room. There is a 1903 Kohler (restored) clawfoot tub, and new pedestal sink. I'm putting our underwear in this dresser and other bathroom supplies. The name of the game having an old Victorian house is making storage space where there is NONE.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tearing Off Shingles - Messy Work

Dad Ripping Old Shingles off Front Porch Roof

Dad is up and down the ladders all day long. He is a great worker. You rock Dad!

Removing the Moss Covered Old Cedar Shingles

My newphew Paul Ashley scrapes the old cedar shingles off the porch roof. Real bull work. Takes strength and stamina to get it done.

The Front Porch is Looking Good

Restoration of the Front Porch - June 2008

My goodness, doesn't look like the same porch, does it? We'll have to wait until summer 2009 to rebuild the railings, spindles, ballasters, and steps. While Dad and Jon worked on the porch, I continued the long process of scraping the exterior. Each section I finished, sanded, primed, and put first coat of color.

Replacing the Porch Floor, Tongue & Grove

During the summer, Mom and Dad visiting us three times. Each time staying a week. They worked their hearts out. I am so proud of them, and forever grateful they are eager to help us with the restoration of our old Victorian. Each time they visited, we were able to pull ahead in our projects by at least a month.

Shearing Off the Base of the Porch Columns, Rebuilding Them

My father Gale Harriman restoring porch columns. Dad removed the rotted bottoms of each column. He replaced the rotten area with 6' matching block, then covered each block with a masonite shroud masking the repair. He restored each one in the same manner and moved through the process like a skilled surgeon. I thought it was fascinating watching him work.

Rebuilding the Front Porch - June 2008

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

West Side of the Front Porch - near the entrance door to the dining room

Decaying Porch - Not Much Left to Save

Old Porch Railings and Spindles

Watch Your Step - You Could Fall Through

Front Porch Decay

More Deconstruction of the Front Porch

Review of Decaying Front Porch

Photo taken March 2007. You can see husband Jon taking a long hard look at what it will take to restore the house. The porch roof old cedar shakes will soon reveal itself in spring covered with green moss.

Decay of the Front Porch

The rails, spindles, and ballasters. Steps are toast, and upon closer inspection we realize new material is required.

Deconstruction of Front Porch - June 2008

The rails and spindles were removed. The spindles are original and very light weight and fragile. My husband's cousin made new 2-piece rails for us. They'll be reinstalled summer 2009. We'll try to save as many spindles as possible and the rest we'll have to turn new ones.

Deconstruction of the Front Porch

Black carpenter ants and moisture brought decay to the wrap around front porch. The posts were rotted from the base upwards about 12",

Re-building Front Porch - June 2008

We are the third owners of this house, purchasing it in April 2007. The second owner Thomas Quien purchased the house in December 1917. Here is a photo around 1925 of our house. Center is Thomas Quien and his granddaughters Donna and Mary Quien.
While working on the front porch this summer the old steps were in terrible shape and were part of the deconstruction process--and they were much narrower than those shown in this 1925 photo of our house. The new steps will be built in the summer of 2009 and will be wide like this photo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

"After Photo" The Music Room/Office

The wall color Valspar "Barely Brown"
This is not a pretty photo, but it is a pretty room--and will be better later when we can displace some of the furniture to the upstairs. The upstairs is under construction right now, so we have to keep all the extra furniture downstairs. There is furniture every where!
How about these walls, compared to the previous photo? The restored walls are super smooth. Novices at skim coat plastering, we learned that it ain't rocket-science, it just takes patience and time.
I love the window sheers. Purchased $12.95 a panel at Walmart. Honestly, it wasn't the price that did it for me, it was all about the gauzy fabric, the highly decorated scallops, and the fact that they are an ultra soft polyester and washable. I put matching sheers in this room, the living room, and the library.

Blowing Insulation from the Inside Out

January 15, 2008. Here's the music room/office. My husband was busy drilling holes the size of golf balls at the top of the walls. He rented equipment and blew-in insulation.
Since the interior walls were going through resurfacing it seemed the most economical way to insulate the old house.
My first impression after insulating the house was, "my goodness it is quiet--can't hear things going on outside".
We used to hear some traffic noise from time to time, but the insulation and new storms and screens my husband installed late fall of 2007 sure muffled the outside noises.
He installed a blanket of insulation 18 inches thick on the attic floor also.
I'll follow up with an "after photo" of this room.

Skim Coat Plaster Repairs

Here's a look at the process of skim coat plaster repairs. The walls downstairs are 10.5 ft. Scaffolds were used during the rennovation. Constant vacuuming required to keep up with the dust. Otherwise we'd being blowing dust around all the finished painted walls in the other rooms.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Before & After Library - Repairing Plaster

We are using the Library downstairs right now for our bedroom. And, much to our lament every bit of furniture is stuffed into our downstairs, while we work on the bedrooms and new bathroom upstairs.
The finish color of the Library is "Bewitch"--I think of it as the color of a beautiful lake.
This shot of the library turned into bedroom is a bit cramped, but for the year 2008-2009 it will be our only finished bedroom space.

Reparing Original Plaster Walls

Our moto: "You can save a lot of money doing the work yourself."

We had a plaster contractor from Appleton look at the walls and ceilings in the house (3,000 sq. ft). He wanted $26,000 to put 1/4 drywall over the ceilings and walls. Another plaster contractor looked at the house and said, "The walls are in fine shape--repair the cracks and skim coat". Having the second opinion saved us $25,000.

It hasn't been easy, but my husband tackled each room. If you stick with it, it takes about a month's work per room. My husband put up new drywall ceilings. Each crack was repaired with Durabond plaster and flexible web tape. Sanded, then ready for skim coat plaster. Then sanded, then second layer of skim coat plaster. Then sanded, and evaluated for areas requiring more plaster, then sanded.

After the plastering was complete and the woodwork washed and taped, Zinzer 1-2-3 latex primer over the ceiling and walls. Two coats worked best. First coat really sopped up the paint, and of course second coat much less.

Two topcoats of latex. The kitchen is Valspar "Aged Photo" Tan, the dining room "Flaming Sunset" Red, "Bewitch" in the library, and "Barely Brown" in the Office/Music Room. A custom mix of "Barely Brown" and Brunnette" is the living room color.

We topped off each room with a double molding my husband picked out. The molding was the last thing installed in each room.

c. 1915 South Bend Malleable Wood Cook Stove

Baking Bread on the old cookstove January 2008. It doesn't great much better than the smell of fresh baked bread.

This is a South Bend Malleable Wood Cook Stove, c 1915. If this old stove could talk, eh?

In the fall and winter 2007 we used the old cook stove to keep warm and to heat up our lunch while working on the old house.

P.D. Beckwith Round Oak Stove M-16, c1915

The first day we looked at the house, our realtor showed us the two beautiful stoves.

This is a P.D. Beckwith Model M-16, c1915 "Round Oak", stored in an upstairs closet. In the east bedroom there is a half chimney and we believe the stove may have been originally there, or downstairs in the living room southwest corner. The later is where we will re-install the Round Oak.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fixing the exterior . . . June 2008

So, here's what can happen in a year. A year of very hard work.

We made an offer to buy the House . . . Feb 18 2007

A Snowy February and March 2007 turned into an early spring. April 16, 2007 we closed on the house. A week later the previous owner's adult grandchildren had an auction. The day was sunny and quite warm. We agreed not to enter the house until after the family auction.

We were upset at the auction when the auctioneer sold our two screen doors. Many things weren't quite right at the sale. The carpetbaggers were busy!!

2007 was probably the hardest for my husband. He worked long days with a full time job, mowing two huge lawns.

First project at the old house was getting water to the property. My husband used two 6 ton jacks to remove the sand point from the well. It moved 6 inches an hour. Like pulling a cork from a wine bottle. The damaged sandpoint was replaced, and new pump added. He hauled out the 80 gallon hot water heater, and installed a new 40 gallon unit.

The next project mid June 2007 was repairing and repainting the steel roof. We found paperwork in the house telling us the steel roof was installed new in the mide 1950s. Also with the same paperwork was a letter addressed to previous owner congratulating him on becoming President of our community.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

"After Photo" Northeast Corner of Kitchen

My mother came up with the great idea of putting the refrigerator into the kitchen wall. We borrowed space from a large closet in the bathroom (bathroom door to the right of this photo). Originally, the large closet was a stairway down to the basement. There was enough space left in the large closet to still provide a small closet in the bathroom. Mom, you're so smart, I love ya.

"Before Photo" Northeast Corner of Kitchen, Feb 18, 2007

Here is one of the "before" photos of the kitchen taken February 18, 2007 at the first "walk through". Seven minutes after entering the house we said, "we'll take it". Of course we already knew we wanted the house even though we'd never seen the interior.
This is the northeast corner. The next photo is the "after photo" of the same northeast corner.

South wall of kitchen, door to summer kitchen

The walls look quite gold in this photo. Actually the color "aged photo" looks more like "coffee with cream" to me.

The kitchen works so well for us. It isn't big, 13.8 by 15.3. Love the countertops, the stainless sink, and drawer dishwasher. I haven't found the right products yet for backsplash above the counters and range.
Here it is, the west wall window where door no. 4 used to be.

West Wall of Kitchen, Electrical Wiring, etc.

West wall of the kitchen with new light fixture hung. The electrical upgrade was finished in the kitchen. Husband continued to re-wire the entire house during the fall and winter months of 2007.

Built In Hutch in Kitchen

The kitchen walls were painted "aged photo" (Valspar), crown molding added, and the hutch sanded and painted "lamp black" latex. This photo taken during the winter months 2007 before Christmas. The kitchen cabinets were under construction.