Today, by popular request, I am sharing photos of our renovations, and relating anecdotes from along the way. Warning: this page may take a while to load.
At least 50% of all work on the house occurred during the first few days after we took possession. Our friends pitched in to pull up carpeting, peel wallpaper, and then remove wallboards and molding. You’d think that we would have taken all sorts of photos during these few days. You’d think wrong. We were too busy to remember to document the project until the flurry of activity had faded. This picture of Dave is the only photo we have from those days.
When Jeremy and Jennifer came over to help the day after we moved, we realized we had a digital camera and Kris snapped a couple of shots.
In the following photo, Jeremy and I are peeling wallboard in the parlor.
The wallboard in the dining room and the den comprised quarter-inch sheetrock of ancient vintage. (Most sheetrock is half-inch thick.) In the parlor, however, the wallboards were some strange laminated paperboard material that was reluctant to peel off in sheets. It mainly wanted to break off into tiny pieces (which you can sort of tell from the pile around Jeremy’s feet).
You can also see a couple of corrugated boxes near us. During this project, we filled about a dozen boxes full of wallboard scrap and set them at the curb. When the Oak Grove trash collectors rejected them, I took the boxes to our Canby house. The Canby trash collectors took them. (And charged us a pretty penny, I’m sure.)
While the adults worked, the kids played. Actually, Harrison was moderately helpful, except when he was dropping the Superbar XL on the floors, or making like he was going to smash the windows with it. Emma occupied herself by lining up all of the empty cans and bottles. Into each one, she placed a single flower. When she had finished, Kris took a picture of her handiwork:
On Karen’s suggestion, we kept samples of the various layers of wallpaper. We’ll mount them and have them framed. I love the old wallpaper patterns, though the women universally found them hideous. (I’m not sure about the men; they never really commented.) In particular, I thought the bottom-most layer of wallpaper was gorgeous:
You can’t tell from the above sample, but there are metallic bits in that pattern. It was directly above the ship-lap siding, so we surmise that this was the original wallcovering, probably from right around 1900. Depending on the room, there were between three and five additional layers of wallpaper above the original stuff.
When we peeled up the carpeting (which had been freshly installed in order to sell the house), we found lovely oak floors which had lain unfinished for about eighty years:
We brought in several contractors to make bids on refinishing the floors. Each one said something like, “These floors are gorgeous. They’ve never been refinished.” One of them pointed out a board to Kris. “See here? From this mark, you can tell that these came directly from the factory and have never been sanded.”
It’s a challenge now to keep the floors safe. As everyone said, we should have done the floors last, after we’d done everything else. Instead, we did them first. Now we have to protect them every time we do any work.
The drywall contractor begins work today (seventy-four minutes ago, actually). He came over yesterday to tour the work area with us. He seems to know a lot about old houses.
I pointed out the door to the closet under the stairs. “I don’t want to paint this,” I told Kris. “I love the way the paint is crackled and glazed. We can paint it when the paint starts to peel.”
The contractor looked at the door and muttered something to himself. Then he looked at the paint around a nearby window. He kneeled and ran his finger along the baseboard. He held it up so that we could see: it was black, covered with soot.
“There was a fire in here,” he said. “That’s why the pain on the door is crackled and glazed. That’s why there’s soot along the baseboards. And look at that window — see how it doesn’t have the same trim as these other two? They may have had to replace it.”
While this would make for an interesting story — and we’ll certainly research the possibility of a fire in the den — we’re not convinced that any trauma ever occurred there. That room used to be the kitchen. It seems more likely to us that the heat damage and the soot were caused by the presence of a wood-burning stove.
I’ve decided to document the daily progress in the three rooms that are being drywalled. To that end, here are photos of the rooms at the outset. (For some reason, I can’t find my photo of the dining room.)
Above is a photo of the den. Below is a photo of the parlor (facing east). You can see where we finally gave up on removing the wallboards ourselves. I took this photo last night after I finished pulling off the molding, which you can see strewn across the floor. Just after I took this photo, I began to label each piece of molding so that we’d know where to put it when the work was done. I lost my balance at one point, and stepped backward. Directly on top of a nail! Ouch! Kris played nurse for me. We checked the nail, and saw no signs of rust, so I’m not going for a tetanus shot. Yet.
The photo below is of the parlor facing southwest. You can see where we gave up around the circular window. The circular window is vaguely problematic. The current wallboards extend beneath it, but because the thing was custom-built by the previous owner, we’re afraid to remove the framing material. The contractor assures us that he can work around the circular window, so we have our fingers crossed.
In both photos of the parlor, you can see wiring sticking up from the floor outlets. Sometime this week, I’ll try to find the time to complete this project. Jeremy helped me by wiring the den, but the parlor is unfinished. I’m going to try it on my own, but if I run into trouble, I’m going to call upon our neighbor, Mike, who used to be an electrician.
Below, you can see the holes in the wainscot. (Not “wainscoting”, according to Craig.) You can also see that if the contractors had gone up only a couple of inches, they would have avoided the wainscot. (This isn’t true around the windows, of course.)
I find it curious that the dining room has so many electrical outlets. The rooms upstairs that are wired like this have maybe two outlets for the entire room. Yesterday afternoon, we stocked up on power strips.
And here you can see the hole in the ceiling:
It’s really not that large — maybe eighteen inches by thirty-six inches — but still, it’s going to cost a couple of hundred dollars to repair. It’s just Another Thing, you know? We considered making the hole into an access panel to the attic (since there are none), but there’s only about eighteen inches of clearance above it, which may explain why the contractor was crawling on the sheetrock instead of the joists.
Finally, on a more pleasant note, I’ve got a couple of flower photos to share.
When we bought the house, MJ (the woman who lived here) told us there were 134 roses. That number may be a little high — Kris thinks there’s around 120, though she hasn’t done an official count — but it’s true that this house is surrounded by roses. In fact, it’s easy to forget that there are other flowers here.
And it’s the other flowers I find more beautiful.
In particular, we have several hydrangeas around the property. Two of them are spectacular. There’s a deep blue hydrangea by the workshop, and a gorgeous purple one just outside the utility room door.
Kris and I have both commented that doing chores around the new house is not like doing chores at all. It’s a pleasure to take the garbage out, to walk through the locusts and the dogwoods, past the hydrangeas and roses. It’s a delight to water the lawn, pulling the hose past the boxwood hedge, around the corner past the camelia. Kris says that she doesn’t even mind doing laundry any more.
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Amy Jo said:
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Mom (Sue) said:
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