28 January 2007

The Rest of the Lights

This beauty has been installed in my ugly upstairs bathroom. It was originally in the sunporch of the house I lived in from age 5 to age 17. It was a Colonial Revival with a great sunporch with this chandelier and wall sconces to match. There was a wonderful pendant in the upstairs hall outside my bedroom door that I took, too. We sold the house to the grade school across the street and they tore it down! It was traumatic, but the neighborhood was going down and my parents were getting panicky and wanted to move. I was only 17 at the time, but knew that I didn't want salvagers taking these. I should have removed all the sconces, too, but wasn't as bold as I am now. This chandelier spent about 30 years gracing my grandparent's retirement home in Osyka, MS with the understanding that when the time came, it would be mine.

I had already hung a crystal chandelier in the dining room and couldn't figure out a prominent place for this one so decided to hang it in the bathroom. I think it looks great. Gives the joint some class.

This one is in the Morning Room, now being used as my bedroom until the Master Bedroom is ready. I got one like it with pansies and roses for that room. They are from JC Penney and are huge. They were having a 1/2 price sale last Spring and it was too good to pass up.

I just have one more bedroom to buy a fixture for. That one has a Winnie the Pooh light in it now from the FO. I'm not sure what the theme of that room will be yet, so will keep my eyes open for something unusual.

I Had a Senior Moment Yesterday

I forgot to show the window I had made for the place where the '50's door had been removed. Here it is with a shot of the interior of the stairwell.

I called the only window-maker in town, the one who is supposed to be so meticulous and works on all the historic homes to replicate my existing arched window for the missing one and make the large picture window. The idiot made all the measurements and never came back to measure again, then made the window wider and shorter than the other, and with 10 lights instead of 12!! Didn't notice until they were gone after the installation and I looked at both windows from inside. Of course, they volunteered to re-do it, but it was the end of October and I had already closed up the wall around it and didn't want to have the area open for an unknown amount of time, so I settled on them making a new basement window frame for free. Then I discovered that they didn't make the outside window sill stick out far enough to put the molding piece under it. They also hadn't made the inside window frame correctly.
I made repeated calls and the owner was always--get this--vacationing in Las Vegas. I finally drove over there one day and dropped off the bad frame and a tracing of the part they had done wrong and told them to deliver the new one. FINALLY one day I got the call. They sent over a brand new employee who had never talked to me before and who didn't know I had waited over 6 months for these parts. He said he was the Customer Service Representative. Hah. I told him what I thought of the service and of the part he had brought over that still wasn't right. He got all upset and wondered why I was. He promised to bring me the correctly made piece, but that never happened. Needless to say, I will be looking for another window-maker for my kitchen windows.

Before and After

Here is the Second Parlor or "Music Room" (as was written on the fuse box) wonderful sputnik ceiling fixture. I actually traded this ugly thing to our local lighting store with some other pieces to get a beautiful hanging fixture for the stairwell I'm working on right now.

Here is the beautiful brass fixture I replaced it with. I just love the (new) shades. Sorry you can't see them. I can't take good pictures in this room. The shades are clear at the top and frosted at the bottom and I used clear light bulbs.

When I knocked out the plug in the First Parlor ceiling I expected to find wires. No such luck! Just a gas pipe, so I hung the chandelier on a nail until I get around to running wire and putting in a box and switch. This is a "created" piece from unused old parts from a defunct lighting store. I think he did a pretty good job of capturing the Victorian spirit.

This job will be quite involved. I have to remove the door below and turn it back into a wall. This goes to the vestibule. Then I have to break out the wall behind the piano which was originally the archway into the Second Parlor. I had figured out the missing archway early on, but it took a while to understand the original configuration of these three rooms. That door woodwork always bothered me. It is put up sloppily and the door doesn't fit right, and there are two doors opening into the vestibule as well as the front door. That's not right.
The downstairs bathroom door is also missing. When I get done with this I will have an extra door. Bingo!
This new wall is directly in line with the studs in the ceiling so it should be easy to run the wire and put in the switch, as everything will be torn up anyway.
So guests will be entering the vestibule and then into the Second Parlor and on through the archway into the First Parlor or the Dining Room. I'd like to splurge and put a marble floor in the vestibule since it's not that large. I should be able to buy remainders if I'm lucky.

The Invisible Stained Glass Window

Right after we removed the cement steps that used to provide access to the second floor when it was a separate apartment, we went to work rebuilding the wall and replacing the windows that had been removed to create this entrance.

These are the lovely (dated 1959) windows that were put in when our stained glass window was hocked. The story we heard was that the people that were attempting to buy the house, while living in it, defaulted on their loan and then hocked all the stained glass--and probably everything else of value, like the chandeliers and sconces. Compare this pic to the 1929 pic in the above link to see what the stained glass window looked like. This is what we put in as a "placeholder".

Someday when I can remortgage the house again maybe I'll have a new window built. I would like to learn the stained glass technique myself and replace the small oval stained glass window. (It looks like this window has a pattern in the 1929 pic, though why someone would put in a stained glass window that cannot be enjoyed from the inside is beyond me.) For now you just have to squint and imagine a full-blown Victorian swirls-and-jewels-and-rainbow glass window up there.

Shingling a Shirtwaist

Here is a project I did a few years ago. This corner of the house had still not been painted (after 11 years!) and it bugged me. I borrowed two stages of scaffolding, so could not go all the way to the top, but did replace the old water-rotted sheathing and shingles. If that link worked it will take you back to a before pic of this area.

I took off the rotted shingles with my handy shingle removing tool and the bottom sheathing board. There was an extensive sparrow condo behind it. This board forms the flare of the shirtwaist style second floor and also presented a tricky mitered and flared corner. After many trips up and down the scaffolding to the table saw in the garage, measuring each piece and then cutting it to fit I am really proud of the finished product.
The replacement of the remainder of the bad shingles and the painting was accomplished in Spring of 2006.

25 January 2007

Giant Tableware

Just developed some film from last Spring 2006 from before I bought and installed some light fixtures. Here is a before before picture of the Dining Room from the previous administration. This was in my mortgage folder.

Note the giant fork and spoon and half-barrel liquor cabinet. Classy.
Remember the episode of The King of Queens where these were on the wall and they took them down but the faded image remained?

The filled-in pass-through to the Butler's Pantry is on the wall where that barrel is. Note the light fixture. Another pic below.

Isn't that the ugliest thing you have ever seen? But wait, there's more! The lamps used to have little metal petticoats that slipped over the middle part.

Here's what I replaced it with. The room is, of course, not yet scraped, painted, papered, or wood-floor-refinished, but I had to have something beautiful to look at.

Now isn't that better?

I know. I've never seen crystal chandelier lights that faced down before, either, but they do.

Here is the Bradbury and Bradbury paper I want to put in this room someday. It's the Fenway Roomset from the Morris Tradition line.




I bought a nice round oak dining room table and chairs to go in here but they are currently in the Parlor, as my bathtub and stove are in the middle of the dining room floor.

14 January 2007

Another Blast From the Past

The winter after we bought the house and had painted the kitchen just to have some fresh paint to look at disaster struck! I believe it was February, and an extremely cold night, we awoke to the sound of rushing water. A pipe had burst in the maid's room where we had removed the second floor kitchen and capped off the pipe to the former sink and there was water everywhere. It had been running for a while and had run through the wall to outside and down, covering the kitchen window, through the floor to the kitchen ceiling below, and on through the kitchen floor to the basement. It was so cold that the water had frozen on the back (interior) stairway and I almost went flying through the door to the kitchen on my way to the basement to shut off the water. (The FO's in their infinite wisdom had not installed any shutoffs in this kitchen.)

We did little plumbing work the next day and a lot of cleaning. The water had made a real mess in the kitchen, pouring through the ceiling and even getting into the cabinet and ruining my drawer of recipes. We took pictures and this is our card for the next Christmas.

The next year we had gutters and downspouts installed. There had not been any on the house for quite some time and you would not believe the amount of water that rushes off a house with a roof pitch like mine!
Sometime after that we started work in earnest on the maid's room. We took out the rest of the plumbing and the falling plaster and discovered that the exterior wall was rotted because of the lack of downspouts and gutters. We removed the rotted windows, one a replacement because the original had rotted. (Duh!) We removed the rotted sheathing and real 2x4's and kept the rest of the wall jacked up with one of our handy Model T jacks. I love these things and buy them whenever I see them. They keep coming in handy for times like these.

We doubled up on the studs and re-sheathed the wall.

I had windows made to match the originals and we installed them and insulated the wall. When I finish this room it will be the only insulated room on the second floor.

On the other side of the left-hand wall is the upstairs bathroom. The plan is to take out that wall and make a nice big bathroom. On the right of the windows is a closet where a washer/dryer stacked unit will go and I will learn plumbing and hook everything up so it drains correctly to the stack without having to put in another stack. The plan is to put my nice '20's pedestal sink in front of the left-hand window and a deep old porcelain wall-hung sink under the other window for laundry purposes. The tub will go along the wall opposite the windows with the head at the chimney. For heat I hope to find a wall unit like the ones you used to see in bathrooms that runs on gas and doesn't need to be vented. I have some old porch posts and gingerbread salvaged from a house in my neighborhood that I plan to use to separate the laundry functions from the bathroom functions somehow. I also want one of those nifty built-in ironing boards and one of these.
Oh yeah, I plan to make interior storm windows from some salvaged patterned glass for privacy. The toilet will stay in the old bathroom and I'll break into the wall under the attic stairs and put in storage shelves and drawers.

04 January 2007

Dead Mice and Surly Repairmen

I had a bad experience today and hope to be able to resolve it tomorrow. My stacked washer/dryer unit started making noise last week (well, it had started making noise a long time ago--it had just gotten way too loud) when I dried things so I started calling around for a repairman. The third one was able to work on stacked units.

The guy they sent out complained from the moment he appeared at my back door. No one told him he could park in the driveway. No one told him it was a stacked unit. (I had mentioned both things to the person taking my call.) He didn't like where it was situated. When he started down my basement stairs he started knocking things down. He is a large (ok, fat) guy and he had a big bag and things strapped to his belt and he was clumsy. I go up and down these stairs with a full laundry basket all the time. They are almost 4 feet wide (and 3 feet clear, as they are a handy place to stack paint cans).

Anyway, my bearings were shot and he had to order a part and would come back next week. He reappeared today with a helper. As soon as he came in he made a pointed comment to the helper about watching out for the narrow stairs. He wasn't polite to me or cordial and I could sense that he was going to be a problem.

I like to watch repairmen because I can learn things and it also keeps them on their toes, so after a few minutes I went down. They had a panel off the back and had laid it on the top of the washing machine! I got some rags and asked them to spread them out on top before they laid anything down because it would get scratched. The big guy immediately took offense and started in about having already found a mouse in the dryer and killing it. I asked about it and was not shown any mouse. Then he said he didn't want to continue. I said not to take offense because I watched every repairman who worked on my house because something always is getting broken or scratched. He threatened to quit so I told him I didn't like his attitude and said "Just DO it" and went upstairs to call his office. I hadn't been unreasonable or confrontative until he started threatening to quit. I was just doing what any concerned homeowner would do.

I told the story to the dispatch person and said I wasn't going to pay if they left. We left it at "just see what he does". They continued to work and I left the door open so I could hear them. I did hear another mention of the mouse while they were putting things back together, but don't know what they said.

Where's The Mouse?

The big guy came up the stairs and went out without even looking at me or telling me it was done or demonstrating that the repair worked, and I was standing right there. He left it to his helper to give me the bill. He didn't say anything about demonstrating that it worked either so I had to ask. Then I said that I had to see for myself and went down and tested the dryer. It worked fine and I noticed that the rags were laid across the top of the washer all flat and straight. After they left I went down to dry something and removed the rags. To my horror the whole top of the washer looked like someone with golf shoes had done the twist on it! They had damaged it and covered it with the rags so I wouldn't find it until they got away. That's why they didn't call me down to check the dryer. They also left piles of lint on the floor even though there was a garbage can inches from the dryer. As I was sweeping it up I wondered where the mouse was. He wasn't in the can either! I think we all know where the mouse is, and I immediately called the dispatcher and told her what had happened (I didn't mention the mouse) and demanded someone come out and see what their guys had done, tomorrow. She assured me someone would be here.

I want my money back and that guy disciplined for not taking ordinary precautions with my expensive appliance. Shouldn't he have pieces of cardboard or drop cloths in his truck for times like this? I shudder to think what this guy does in someone's living quarters after seeing what he did in my basement. And my basement is clean and warm and well-lit, not nasty like some I have seen appliances in.

The next day a repairman showed up and proceeded to tell me that was normal wear on my lid and rubbed some of the greasy black dirt off. He said he was the owner of the company and had seen wear like this many times. When I insisted that it wasn't and that I didn't put anything that would scratch on my lid (you can't set anything there, anyway because the dryer is right above it) he said "You're paranoid, lady!" and practically ran out. There were no apologies for the way his men had acted, or for the way they had treated my appliance. Needless to say, I again called the office and the dispatcher gave me to to Office Manager (a woman) who listened to me and asked me what I wanted. I said I wanted at least a new lid for my washer and she said that could be arranged.
One day a week later a knock came at my back door at 12:00 noon and it was the young assistant with my new lid. When I expressed my surprise at his being there he said the office was supposed to have called me. They hadn't. I let him in and let him replace it and stayed upstairs.
If anyone in my area wants the name of this company I will gladly give it to them, as they have the worst customer service I have ever seen.

02 January 2007

Replacing the French Doors

This was the sight that greeted us when we first bought the house. The wonderful, unusable garage. It was packed full of the FO's crap and was built by his loving hands from the remains of the carriage barn that he took down when he bought the house. I don't know where he got the French doors.

After we moved in and repainted the garage and had used it for a few years the doors started to seriously deteriorate. They weren't built that sturdily in the first place and were unsupported through the "window" sections.

After removal of one French door, and trying to hold the rest of the door together.

I designed new doors to look like hinged carriage doors and they look much, much, better!

I used some neat old barn windows I bought at an estate sale and reglazed them.

I still have the French doors. All the white paint is off and I removed all the window glass. I just know that there's some Martha Stewart thing I can do with them but "cottage" type decorating is not my style .

01 January 2007

Just Dreaming

It is such a dreary day I don't feel like doing anything constructive so I'm just imagining my house done and decorated the way I've seen it for the past 12 years. I had a little panic in 2005 with the news that Bruce Bradbury of Bradbury & Bradbury was retiring and the business closing. I quick refinanced my house so I could have the money to buy at least one roomset of paper before it was discontinued on December 31! Then later that year I read the news that an employee had bought the business and was continuing all the lines. Whew! Now I could afford to wait a while longer and do some other necessary jobs first, like painting the outside, re-coppering the attic windowsills, re-flashing the chimney to get rid of the leak left by the crummy roofers, and buying some chandeliers and furniture.

Anyway, now the money is almost gone and it will be a few years before I can refinance again unless I come into an inheritance or win the lottery or something. Here is the paper I want to use in the front parlor, which gets a fair amount of morning light and has oak woodwork. It's called the "Dresser II Roomset" in the style of Christopher Dresser.

This is the dado paper in "Ashes of Roses".

I will use this wall fill, but will save money by painting the wall and stencilling the figures on myself. I will use the light teal color from the dado.

This is the wall fill I like but will use only in the hallway between the parlor and dining room and probably the stairwell.

These are some of the ceiling papers that can be used in any configuration you can come up with.

The whole prospect of wallpapering with expensive papers is scary because I've never wallpapered before. Hopefully by the time I can afford to do this I can also afford to hire someone to do it, too.

So now, I guess that means teal velvet draperies with tassels and lace undercurtains. Mmmmmmm.