Sunday, September 10, 2006

Progressions, Plans and a Thing In The Attic

So, it's Autumn, we've owned our home for 6 months (only 6? it feels like an eternity), and we've made some small progress. There's paint in the hallway now, a "Very Craftsman" green, according to Mom, and I'm working my way around the dining room. We've got all the floors clean of hideous carpet, though some are a little scarred from the experience. The living room is done, save for scouring the floor to remove the last of the carpet pad, and I've got a lovely play area set up for my older son to use while we work. The bath is half tiled, and the master bedroom still languishes, but at least there's a light in there. Things are moving along, if slowly.

I'm aiming for Hallowe'en as our move-in goal.

I have made some sketches of what I'm doing with parts of the house. My plan for the dining room bay is to take this:
hideous before picture
The dining room bay as it appears now.

And turn it into this:
Bay Plans

I made the sketch without looking at the bay so I misdrew the windows - they actually cover the full width of the bay. Other than that, it's spot on. The posts are structural, not just cosmetic. They will support the poorly-remodeled wall cutout on a 4x4 beam, and we've got plenty of mouldings to wrap them with, to make them look Really Original. Eventually, I'd like to add cosmetic ceiling beams to the dining room, too, but this comes first.

The bookshelf is actually a family heirloom, which belonged to my paternal grandmother. It's going to be mounted permanently to the wall, and there will be wainscot added around it, right up to the vertical posts at the corners. It'll be the same as the panelling in the "built-in" I made to fill the arch.

The window seats will be made of the salvageable parts of the old living room archway double doors, which apparently sat unloved for many years in some leaky place. The bottoms have completely rotted, leaving me with a nifty, but not reusable, item. I decided (since I can't replace them where they belong, and because I want to make them again a part of the house), to make window seats of them. Also, the bay is only 4 feet wide, the ends are not evenly deep, and that space is nearly wasted. Finally, it is because I have really fond memories of the enormous window seat in the dining room of my parents' craftsman bungalow when I was a kid. Nothing like curling up in a sunny window with a good book. I want my kids to have that.

Speaking of kids, I'm still working on FX's room. When last I posted about it, we were here:
boy's room built-inThere are a few more shelves in the bookshelf, but it pretty much still looks this way now.

And we (which really means "I") plan to finish it thusly:
Plans! Such plans we have!

That's going to be an open closet with coat hooks on the outside, and shelves for shoes. The closet will have an upper and lower level, the upper one being for things he wears every once in a while (Sunday or seasonal clothes) and the lower being for his school clothes. The desk in the plans is all cut out, but not assembled.

Now to the progress. Quite a bit has been done, some has even been reported, none has been photographed ... Until now!
The Very Craftsman Green hallwayThe Very Craftsman Green hallway.

That's just bare old plaster above the border. The frieze paper (really only by virtue of position - its only pattern is a sort of golden parchment look) goes up after the whole dining room and hallway are painted, and really will look more like an intended plaster finish similar to what's there now, but without the obvious patches and old mucilage. I love how the border paper looks, even if it's only tacked up.

The dark green will make a lovely background for two paintings, done by my cousin, that I was given. You can see one if them in the photo of the living room:

It'll be nice when there's furniture in it. Not lawn furniture.It'll be nice when there's furniture in it. Not lawn furniture.

I love that vintage Greek key paper, but there wasn't quite enough. I have to make some more, which will involve printing it on archival quality paper and pasting it up. It's always something :)

Now, the floor. Here, you can see the line of demarcation between the dining room and living room where the two different carpets once laid edge-to-edge:

Seamy, isn't it?Seamy, Isn't it?

Yes, I figure they didn't strip off the old wax prior to laying down a pink rubber carpet pad however umpteen years ago, so when the pad degraded, it bonded to the old wax, leaving ... this. This is after scraping for two days. I'll keep you posted on the scrubbing and what works. Once it's scrubbed, I'm waxing it.

Call me old-fashioned, or call me masochistic - we do have 2 kids and a dog - I like waxed floors, even if I know what it takes to keep them up.

And now for the playroom:

It's not perfect, but it's a nice, bright, stimulating environment for a 3 year old boy. And he loves it, which is what counts.

On to the half-tiled bath. First, a before picture is in order:

It was very pink, and plastic, in there.

Now, we have this:
tiled wall with medicine cabinetThat's the "fixture wall" with the new/old medicine cabinet in it, sans door.

We were lucky enough to find the old girl under the dining room bay, and she's sound, so I painted her and in she went. The mirrored door is in the kitchen until we're all done flinging heavy stuff around in the bathroom. I wish I had time to finish in there right now, but I don't.

And the master bedroom currently houses all the salvaged lumber, mouldings, doors and panelling:
piles of wood!Sad, isn't it? Eventually, we will have to sleep in here.

Finally, we come to The Thing in the Attic:
The Titanic, or our cistern.The Titanic, or our cistern.

A few months back, when I wasn't allowed up on ladders, my friend K stuck her head up in the attic where her husband J had been working to look for a tool we needed (we were demoing something), and said: "Hey! There's some kind of wash tub up here!"

I, of course, pictured a round tin tub, with handles, like the sort that get sold for icing down beers, and thought "Cool! I could use that for something."

Many weeks later, I stick my own head up there and see this HUGE bathtub shaped thing, about 4 feet wide and maybe 8 or 9 feet long, and a good 4 feet high. It must be the old water-pressurizing cistern, and must have been in here since the place was built. The way these things worked was that you'd pump water up here from the well, by hand, and it would sit up here until you turned on the taps, which would give you water pressure, like a water tower. It certainly goes a long way toward explaining some of the odd plumbing in the basement.

Now, what are we going to do with it if we ever decide to finish the attic?


  1. An attic cistern!! One of our houses has its own well and pump. It also has frequent power outages which mean no water. I've considered making my own attic cistern for this reason. One problem: most homes are not as structurally sound as a Sears kit house and cannot safely take the load in the attic. No one wants to be crushed in the middle of the night by a 4,000 lb cistern falling through ceiling.

    I grew up in a Sears home. Believe me, that house could handle the load!

  2. Well, it's no longer connected to anything, and probably hasn't been for years and years. But, as it's MUCH larger than the access hatch to the attic, it was left up there.

    Ironically, they didn't even bother to move it out when there was major roof work done about ten years ago, either. So we have a Big Thing up there tat we have to design around if we ever decide to finish any part of the attic...

  3. I have one of those in my attic, in my house from the late 1800s-early 1900s. It looks like a horse trough. And it's up there for good--thankfully empty!


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