Posts by jlrdouglas

Primed house

Posted by on Dec 29, 2011 in Painting, Renovations | Comments Off on Primed house

The first color we picked for the outside (which was corroborated by neighbors, friends and passing new acquaintances on bicycles) was called elephant gray.

Despite it’s name it was actually a nice deep grey with just a faintest suggestion of mauve to it. Unfortunately the painter said it was too dark and would rapidly fade, and since we aren’t tripping over extra tens of thousands of dollars we are just dying to spend on paint every 5 years we decided to find something lighter.

The painter then suggested we try the primer tinted elephant gray at 50% to see what that looked like.

This is what it looked like. Weird sad mauve:




I figured it was a good thing we didn’t plan on doing the whole house in this color, but a few passing neighbors thought it was the final color and said they liked it. Oddly it was also pretty close to the color I was originally arguing strenuously in favor of (and learning that Americans say the word mauve very differently than I do 🙂 )

And here it was and I quite disliked it. Looked already kind of sad and dirty already. Next up almost painted…

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Plaster Gouging

Posted by on Dec 11, 2011 in Painting, Renovations, Upstairs Bedrooms | 2 comments

Here we are in the interior inspecting the work the plasterers have done… So far we’ve been exceptionally pleased with the people we hired. Plaster work is their specialty and they are gouging the walls all the way back to the lath and then replastering, sanding etc.
But it’s creepy the way the walls look while they’re in process. Gouging is the right word for it. As if the walls and the house itself has been grievously wounded, cut to its bones, the skin peeled open to see what’s behind.

I know I shouldn’t anthropomorphize the house to this extent, not while we’re fixing it. So I tell the poor media room it’s for your own good, this is only necessary surgery and soon it will all be done and you’ll be all fixed up. Can’t wait until it’s done!

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Prepping to paint

Posted by on Dec 10, 2011 in Painting, Renovations | Comments Off on Prepping to paint

Before the painters started we decided we’d better take down all the antique glass and brass irreplaceable bits of etched thin Victorian glass globes. So I set about packing it all up into boxes with tons of bubble wrap and carting it all box by box 2 very tall flights of stairs to a safe spot in the corner of the attic.

Here’s one of the dining room vacant angels before and after removal of its crystals, each wrapped in bubbles and labeled:

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And here’s one of the globes and detail of the globe. It looks like some kind of jungle hunting scene. I’m sure I see lions and old school guns. Oh those crazy Victorians and their exoticism.

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These globes were screwed into old gas lines which of course are no longer operational but had been converted to candles at some point in the past. I found a pretty cool candle base in these two; some kind of china. I’m sure it’s terribly rare and valuable 🙂 these are the little surprises that I have found delightful even if antiques roadshow would probably tell me they’re best used as candle plates, which I will continue to do.

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We looked behind the wall

Posted by on Dec 9, 2011 in Parlors/Dining, Renovations | 3 comments

We agreed with all y’all making comments and decided to have at ‘er last night. We went to home depot and bought a crowbar and started to pry it off:

At first we thought we might be in luck, plus we were having fun, because it’is always fun to break things. (All the little flakes that make it look like it’s snowing in these pictures are the dust/plaster/asbestos that started flying around. So I insisted we put masks on to carry on).
The top row of paneling that brought it to that extra height came off relatively easily and behind it was plaster wall. Hooray!

Then we started to pry off the stuff below and it got a lot harder. It wasn’t coming off easily at all because despite having issues, it was put together the “hard” way, ie in separate pieces and tongue and grooved together, so it wouldn’t come off in one piece. We started to look behind it and confirmed what we feared… no wall!

So we got more off but couldn’t get the bottom off properly, it’s really seriously attached behind the baseboard that we need to save. Once it was mostly off we discovered:

  • No leprechauns, bags of gold or dead bodies
  • No wall either
  • Some really dirty insulation (though not behind the outside wall siding we could see, just between this room and kitchen!)
  • More damn cast iron pipes
  • Some wiring on different circuits for no apparent reason

It was then we stepped back and realized that we had kind of broken our dining room:

It wasn’t until today during daylight, after asking the painters to please give us an estimate on all three options: Drywall, Plaster, Get a woodworker to install new baseboard, that we realized we have a bigger problem. That damn cast iron pipe, is cracked:

This would make at this point pretty much all cast iron pipes we’ve met so far cracked. And now we’re quite worried about that big vertical drain pipe in the middle which we have to assume will crack eventually, but replacing that might very well mean a true world of hurt, and destruction of plaster all the way up as well as the floor of the ensuite bath upstairs.

On the plus side we are trying to view this as a true stroke up luck, because if we had not opened this wall up, we wouldn’t have known about that cracked pipe. And who knows how long would have gone by, perhaps with an eventual unpleasant smell of sewage right behind our brand new dining room wall…though it might be a vent stack and thus not as big an issue.

That said – 90 degree bends, cracked cast iron, shitty plumbing job (pun intended)… it’s a world of hurt and Dave is not pleased. We are calling a plumber to investigate our options immediately.

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Another Question – That dratted hangey thing

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Foyer/Halls, History | 14 comments

There’s been a certain decorative element that has bothered me since we bought the house. However, as I mentioned before, I might be the only one who harbors such a pointed sentiment of dislike. Others have agreed that it doesn’t really seem to fit the house but some people like it.
It’s the strange moroccan/’70’s semi-bead curtain that hangs in the doorway from the foyer into the little mailroom/anteroom and into the second parlor. It obstructs the view of the gorgeous little light fixture in that small central anteroom and basically I think looks like crap.

Foyer - Hanging Piece "Before"

Last night when we were tentatively pulling and prodding the wainscoting we got up on a ladder and took the damn thing off – it was just a few screws:

Taking it down

Here it is with it off:

Then we noticed something:

Yes, that says Patent Sep 15, 1885. Shit.
Could this much maligned piece of carved wood with odd beads hanging a bit too low for tall people actually be original to the house? Was that archway made for it, were they cast together? Did Moise add a dash of exoticism to his designs when he built the house?

We are now faced with another dilemma speaking to the root of the question: What do we owe the house and its historic nature? Do we own this house and everything in it? Or do we allow ourselves to be cast as custodians for a home created by Moise Waldhorn 120 years ago and perhaps merely caretaking it for our children or the next owner?

But if we go down that path, it’s a slippery slope until we start putting period wallpaper on the ceiling and doilies over our water jugs and we are suddenly living in someone’s grandmother’s house.

On the flipside, I feel we do owe the house at least some thought before we change things that are original, because most of those changes cannot be undone. We won’t be painting the detailed wood mantles white. They’ve survived this long without being painted and that’s rare. We don’t want to be cast as the assholes who come in and do X when it’s gone 120 years without X.

So do we put this thing back up because it’s original? Or do we take it down and ask the plasterers to fill in the notch that it sat in? We need to decide (like the wainscoting) rather quickly since the plasterers will be starting any day now. Or do we put just the top arch back up and leave the stupid dangly things off?

Either way, I don’t think I want the dangly things back, even if they are original…Despite his exquisite taste in most things, it’s very possible that Moise and I simply differ on some aspects of design.

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