Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What Lies Beneath


The other night I decided to find out what's under the carpet in my entryway. The carpet itself is wool, about 25 years old, so pale blue as to be almost colorless, with hardly any remaining nap. Its best feature, though, is that when I vacuum it, the pad bunches up under the carpet to make it all lumpy and I end up with a vacuum canister full of black dust. Niiiice. Anyway, I pulled up the corner of the carpet and looked under it. Tack strip, red foam padding (red??) and.....hardwood floor, in what seemed to be good condition. Wah-hoo! Two hours later, I realized my error. Under the red foam padding was the black foam padding I've been sucking up in the sweeper. Glued to the hardwood floor, with a 2-inch-or-so border between it and the wall. The bedroom floor's about a quarter-inch higher than the entryway floor, so some sucky previous owner leveled it out by making a doorway ramp of Quik-Rete. (Who were these people??? And what in the Sam Hill were they thinking???) I chiseled away the ramp, yanked about a hundred copper staples out of the floor with pliers, and I'm prying up the tack strip with a small crowbar and a hammer. But now I know what's under there: the floor's black from the pad residue, with narrow hardwood strips laid perpendicular to the front door (is that odd?), and undamaged except for all the nail and staple holes. I'm pretending it's black walnut until I save up enough money to have it refinished. The duct tape on the edges of the remaining carpet in the living room and the bedroom is such a nice look, and historically appropriate, too. In the photo you can see the remnants of the Quik-Rete ramp on the right side of the doorway and the sawn-in-half-vertically original door. All the doors in the house are like that--except for the bathroom door (not original) which was sawn in half horizontally. Sigh....

Monday, July 9, 2007

My Fair Lady


Maybe I'm biased, but I think my house is the Audrey Hepburn of houses. Or, she could be with some help. Think Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" before Professor Higgins (thanks, Fargo!) got ahold of her. My house is now covered in dry, curling, cedar shingles applied sometime in the 1970s. Every once in a while, after a particularly windy storm, I find a couple of them in the yard. I keep hoping that one night they'll all blow away and reveal perfect original siding underneath. There is, in fact, original clapboard siding under the shingles, which I discovered after prying up a couple of the shingles and peeking underneath. Go inside the house and you'll see beautiful original trim everywhere, 12-foot-high ceilings, front windows with stained-glass lites, about 90% original plaster in beautiful shape, transom windows with the original working hardware on them, a gorgeous Eastlake-style front door, original finger lifts on the windows....a whole lot of potential. But there's also pale blue wool carpet covering the floors, vinyl wallpaper that looks like contact paper, drapes that appear to have been stolen from the set of the old "Dynasty" series, and several coats of paint over peeling wallpaper. And did I mention that all the original doors have been sawn in half lengthwise to make French doors? Sigh.....See? Eliza Doolittle--good bones, lots of potential, needs some help. Five years from frumpy to fabulous "My Fair Lady" status. That's my goal.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Never-Ending Story

Hello, and welcome to the first post in what so far seems to be the never-ending story of my attempts to restore an 1885 Victorian house mostly all by myself, and with limited funds. It's the first house I've ever owned and probably the last. My goal is to eventually be able to walk through it without seeing a dozen things that need to be done! Someday, maybe...In the meantime, I'll depend on everyone to give me advice and encouragement. (And if you have any spare cash laying around, you can give me that, too.)