Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fair Trade

Sometimes I go through life with blinders on.  Sometimes I procrastinate.  Sometimes I don't know what to do, so I don't do anything.  And sometimes, all of those things sorta glom together and make something bad happen.
Everyone pretty much agrees that the front door is one of the best things about my house.  Last year when we took the craptastic porch off the front of the house, I was very worried that falling debris would break the glass in the door or damage the trim somehow.  I tacked a piece of plywood over the door to protect it.  Good thinking.  Once the demolition was done, I took that plywood off the door.  Bad thinking.  Because without the plywood over the door, and without the porch roof to shelter it, the beautiful front door was exposed to rain and bright sunlight.
News flash:  days and days of weather can really beat up a 127-year-old door.  After a couple of weeks, it looked pretty bad.  I put up the piece of plywood again, but the damage was already done.
When the porch was finished, down came the plywood again, and the front door looked bad for a whole year.  I didn't know how to make it look better, and I was afraid of doing something that might make it worse, so I didn't do anything at all. 

Last week I was talking to the owners of a local shop, Blackthorn Antiques. These folks are experts in restoring old furniture, so I sought their advice about my front door.  We were also talking about a recent Historic Preservation Commission meeting. (I may have neglected to tell y'all this, but I was recently appointed to the city's Historic Preservation Commission.) The first big issue HPC's facing since my appointment is that a guy wants to tear down a two-story Victorian in one of Lexington's National Register Historic Districts.  The Commission voted unanimously not to allow the demolition, but the owner's appealing that decision to City Council on Tuesday night. Someone from HPC will have to make a presentation to Council about the house.  One of Blackthorn's owners is a fellow HPC member, and he was trying to persuade me to do the presentation.  I was trying to justify making an unbudgeted purchase of the stuff necessary to fix my front door.  Then, the shop owner made me an offer I couldn't refuse:  "I'll give you a third of a can of Howard's Restore-A-Finish and a couple pieces of steel wool if you do the presentation."  Seems like a fair trade.

About an hour and a half later....

It's looking better already.  I need to even out the stain a bit so the door doesn't look striped.  (Or am I the only one who notices that??) After that, I'll see if I can swap the Restore-A-Finish for a little Feed-N-Wax.  I'm not sure that'll work, since there's not another presentation to be made...

PS:  The water heater installation was utterly uneventful, and afterwards I ran from sink to sink randomly turning on hot water, just because I could.




  1. It must be a lot of work being on that commission . The buy, let deteriorate, demolish vandals are always out there.

    1. I think it's going to be a lot of work, but I think I'll like it. I hope we don't face too many demolition requests--I was on pins and needles! City Council supported HPC and denied the demolition.

    2. I'm not sure it was a fair trade; I hate public speaking. But I bet you did an awesome job! I've often wished I had about $5 million to buy up some ridiculously neglected by promising properties around here. I worry about what's going to happen to them.

    3. I wish the same thing, Laura! I'm worried about what's going to happen to this house now that we've told the owner he can't tear it down. He has no interest in restoring it, but I'm hoping he'll at least maintain it and keep it from further damage. Fingers crossed.

  2. The door looks lovely. I absolutely love the Howard's products, I've had awesome luck finding cans of stain and wax here at estate sales. I am curious to know how it holds up outside, so pretty please do a follow-up next year for us!

  3. I've heard a lot about Howards. I'm going to have to break down and buy some. Your door looks fabulous!

  4. Agree with it all. It's amazing how many very expensive homes have such dreadful shots! They clearly needed you!!
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