Sunday, December 28, 2014

Surprise

Way back when I first fell in love with this house (which was eight years ago Thanksgiving week) I had the good sense to hire a house inspector before I plunked down some money and went into debt for 30 years.  The house inspector thoroughly checked out the house and gave me a binder with all the particulars about it:  type of construction, square footage, the HVAC and electrical systems, and--most important to me--a list of repairs that needed to be made, separated into categories from Minor to Critical.  All of the Critical items were taken care of years ago; what's left is a few Moderate and Minor items and one Serious item.  (We don't speak of the Serious Item because it fills me with dread and makes me hyperventilate.)  Once a year or so I review the list to see what I've accomplished and what still needs to be done.  Friday afternoon I dragged out the binder and looked through the Moderate list.  There it was:  First Bathroom, low spot in floor between toilet and tub, most likely water damage, needs repair.  And I thought, well gosh, that's probably a big ole can of worms just waiting to be opened.  So I opened it.  I figured first things first, let's get all the layers of flooring off down to the subfloor and see what's going on with that low spot.  I went in there with my blue wrecker bar and my dad's hammer and started prying up the floor.  

And then...



I found this:

I first uncovered that little red rectangle next to the toilet, and I thought it was lettering or a logo on the plywood subfloor. Then I pulled off a little more of the three layers that covered it and realized it's vintage linoleum.  Holy crow.

But wait, let's not get too excited.  It probably doesn't cover the whole floor.  Lots of stupid people lived here who did stupid things to the house.  A whole floor of vintage linoleum is too much to hope for.

So I kept prying and throwing pieces of disgusting filthy flooring into trash bags, and in a couple of hours I had this:

Okay, so it's still disgusting filthy flooring, but it's vintage disgusting filthy flooring.  I'm guessing from the 1940s.  

I cleaned it up a little bit, and now it looks like this:

I think it's salvageable.  It looks pretty icky now, I admit.  It needs a lot of work:  the baseboards and the vanity will have to be pulled to get at the rest of the floor; the nail holes need to be filled; some spots where the pattern's missing need to be painted; the toilet will have to be pulled to fix that hideous plywood patch; and the whole thing needs a few coats of poly.  

And that low spot in the floor, mentioned by the house inspector?  It's only a low spot because whoever put that plywood patch in around the toilet then covered that plywood with a thick layer of what I think is water putty.  It's a good half-inch higher than the rest of the floor--so high that the underlayment for the layer of linoleum above this one was shimmed out with little stacks of cardboard from cigar boxes.  

After I cleaned up the floor and stepped back, I realized that I have the bones of a mid-century bathroom still intact.   The floor, obviously, but also 4" square plastic tiles that are on all four walls, a shiny "chrome" toilet paper dispenser that's built-in, a matching built-in soap dish by the tub, and a pretty cool ceiling fixture. 

I didn't appreciate these details until now because they didn't fit with my Victorian house.  My friend Saralyn pointed out that leaving the 1940s/50s bathroom features and restoring the room in that style helps tell the story of my house.  An excellent point, and one I hadn't thought of. 

I think I have the first project of 2015 all lined up, y'all. 

17 comments:

  1. That's going to be amazing.

    When I lived in my little bungalow in California, there was Douglas fir in the bedrooms and in the hallway that joined them. The bathroom off the hallway had some sort of vinyl. When it became clear that the toilet was leaking and damaging the floor, the plumbers ripped up that area, revealing... Douglas fir.

    Visions of a vintage bathroom flashed through my brain, but the floor was so damaged by the leak that about 1/3 to a 1/2 of it had to come out. It was the only bathroom in the house, and I had no idea where to get more matching sized wood, Sigh. So it all got covered up again with vinyl or laminate or whatever.

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    1. Douglas fir...sigh...I bet that was beautiful. Sometimes original floors just can't be saved. I've heard of people living for days or weeks without their own bathroom and using the neighbor's or a convenience store/truck stop. Yuck. I can't imagine.

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    1. Well, duh, it doesn't show in the photo, does it?! lol

      It looks a lot like this one:
      http://www.homedepot.com/p/Westinghouse-2-Light-Ceiling-Fixture-Chrome-Interior-Flush-Mount-with-White-and-Clear-Glass-6624100/204705575

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  3. I got very excited when I saw the design on the floor! I hope you will be able to keep it in your new project. Can't wait for after pictures! My goodness, Jayne, you are very handy with a crowbar and hammer! Someday you will tell us what the serious fix is?

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    1. Thanks, Lottie! I hope I can save it, too. I'll be writing about the Serious Item in a few months because I've decided that 2015 is the year it will get fixed.

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  4. Oh wow.....I found a piece very very similar to this in my basement. I'll have to haul it out and see if it's a match.

    Isn't it great when you tear into a project expecting to find a major problem and it turns out it is just someone's poor repair. Too bad this hardly every happens.

    Looks like you have yourself a nice little winter project.

    Good luck with the new project and may the new year find you splinter free.

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    1. Wouldn't that be cool if it matches? This is gonna be a nice little winter project, and not too expensive...yet.

      Happy New Year to you! We're down to double digits now in the number of days until Verlander reports to Spring Training. :)

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  5. Your bathroom floor, and the discovery that the low place in the floor is no big deal, is the best kind of old house present!

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    1. It IS the best kind of old house present! We don't get too many of those, do we?

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  6. I heart that floor to pieces, and it'll be exciting to see what you do with it this year. Do you mind if my imagination borrows it for a dream kitchen? :)

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    1. Borrow away, Laura! You know, it wouldn't be that hard to paint a floor to look like this...which is what I'm considering doing with that yucky water-damaged area around the toilet, and what you could do with your kitchen floor. Here's a rabbit hole--I mean, a website--for you to drool over: midcenturyhomestyle dot com. Lots and lots of vintage ads of kitchens and bathrooms.

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  7. What a cool floor!

    I'll have to dig up my 1950s DIY book and see what they have about linoleum repairs! I think they recommended filling seams with paraffine so that should work for the nail holes.

    BTW, I don't think you can poly over lino (or any of its cheaper substitutes for that matter) but if it's real lino it should take nicely to some boiled linseed oil I think.

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  9. That's really cool. My 1914 house originally had linoleum in the kitchen. It's the only room in the house that didn't have 1.5" wide white oak flooring (even that bathroom has it). Unfortunately, it was covered with 65 layers of flooring through the years and had glue on it and a zillion nails and screws going through it from all the other layers. I couldn't even get a big enough piece to see what the pattern was.

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    1. Now that I've been living with this floor for several days, I'm not sure I can save it. This has a zillion nail holes in it too and the finish has a lot of crazing in it. I can see hardwood flooring underneath the linoleum, but I bet it's in really bad shape. I'm still trying to decide what to do...

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    2. Under my kitchen linoleum is hardwood floor (on top of the subfloor) but it is not a finished floor. It was never finished. It is not made for finishing (there's really no grain pattern). It was really just another subfloor for the linoleum to go on so that it would be flush with the flooring in the rest of the house.

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