Friday, August 7, 2015

Craigslist Staircase Leads to Many Treasures

                            So I found an incredible Victorian staircase listed on Craigslist.

But with the recent Craigslist murder of a friend, of a friend, in Idaho I was EXTREMELY cautious of making any more purchases in that manner.   But really, how can one pass up such beauty when this is just what is needed?
I got brave, contacted the seller, and got specifics.  (A friend tore it out of their house and put in a new staircase.  They were just going to TRASH THIS!!!  Luckily the gentleman saw the beauty in it!)
  Then I asked around for someone interested in riding along to pick up the treasure, as I was positive I would NOT go alone.   A friend instantly agreed (thanks Ann) but she lives 2 hours away and it's not exactly convenient for either of us on short notice. And...this was 1 1/2 hours away in a different direction from her.  So I called the seller, told him my concerns due to recent happenings, and requested that we meet in a highly visible, public location or I would have to wait a couple days until I could get a buddy to ride along.  He was very understanding and instantly agreed to meet anywhere I chose, even suggested the police parking lot.  We agreed upon a big parking lot (we needed space) on the main highway through town.  So I was on my way, feeling pretty comfortable.
The meeting went well, the location was great and the product amazing!  Turns out there were 5 newel posts and 5 sections of railings...SCORE!!!  Then the gentlemen not only suggested the local antique store but he drove in front of me and showed me how to get there, then introduced me to the owner and went on his way.  Nice man. 
Built in 1939 as the US Post Office.  Ivan lives in the basement and has been slowly restoring the building for 15 years!  He gave me a couple architectural lessons concerning the construction of brick buildings...which I found interesting
and he cut me some deals! 

This HUGE screen door is from the old barber shop across the street from the Post Office.  Ivan wanted the striped barber shop pole but he had to buy the building to get it! (It's still there, in place.  But he put a storm door where the screen door used to be.)
I found a spoon carved drawer, purple glass, two antique glass sconce globes and a bunch of porcelain doorknobs!

Just down the block was the beautiful County Courthouse built in 1904 (I believe).  There were so many amazing architectural details on this building!  What a charming town.  I definitely need to go back and spend some serious time looking around!

 On my return home I decided I may as well hit more antique stores on the way since I had never really been in the area before.  In Mountain Lake I found another really, really fabulous shop.  Forgot to take pictures of it, but here is what I bought.


I could have spent HOURS in that store and brought home a whole truck load of goodies.  But I do intend to go back as Tammie said she has more architectural salvage for me, so I will get the chance to check it all out again!! 
When I was 10 miles from home filling up with gas, I checked my email as I had inquired about more salvage.  I had a message so I swung by to check out some doors I had seen. 
OH...MY...GOSH!!!! Talk about SpEcTaCuLar detail!!  So ornate and beautiful I just couldn't leave without agreeing to make them mine! 
(This photo does not do them justice...I will post better ones tomorrow when I go back to pick them truck was full! The seller also agreed to throw in all vintage hardware that he has in storage down across the road...can't wait to see what that will be!!)
When I called the seller he recognized my phone number as being from Idaho.  Turns out his son lived in the neighboring town from where I lived for 23 years, and...AND the son was actually my husband's boss in Idaho!!  Small world!
 was a good day!  Maybe even great!
Remember the staircase that started this whole journey?  It's very possible that the "extra" newel posts and railings that weren't initially in the photos that I saw, that I never intended to keep, will actually fit PeFecTly in our newly converted attic!!  Very possible, as you can see from the photo below...or maybe it's not so obvious ;)  
Anyway, I will have to sneak a spindle from one of the slanted rails to fill the hole where one is missing, and it won't be long enough because of the slanted cuts.  But...BUT...
there was this little piece of cut off spindle that Craig handed me as I got in my car.  "Oh," he said. "Here are some little pieces that go with it." 
Just enough to "fit" that patched up, borrowed spindle??? Hope so!  Guess you will have to check back to find out!
Keep pickin'

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Floor problems!

So this was the laundry room and kitchen when we bought our current home.  Clean and cute enough, but not really my style.  The plan was after a year (hubby's rules) to do a major overhaul to the whole house and make it our own.  Well anyone that knows me knows that I can not wait 1YEAR!!  Seriously?  A whole year?  No way!
I am pretty good at making cheap, quick, easy and sufficient temporary updates with just paint. So that was the plan.  I first painted the cabinets all white, then the countertops black with white speckles, as you can see they were 1960's green marble. Then I painted the vinyl floor to match.  Yes, I said PAINTED THE VINYL FLOOR!  (How is it that I forgot to take a good after photo of the countertops and kitchen? I guess because in my mind it wasn't done, it was temporary.)  Oh well.
So I scrubbed the floor with TSP to strip the sheen, then taped off each center. 

Then I rolled the black paint on and removed the tape.  Five coats of polyurethane later I was done!  Four coats over the black, one over the whole floor.

I eventually painted the kitchen, laundry and dining room floor as they were all the same vinyl. We have knotty pine walls and the black on the floor was a good accent to the knots in the wood, plus I have some black furniture.  (Pretend the diamonds are black...nice huh?  LOL!)
But NOW a year has gone by and this is when the serious work begins! (BTW the black paint held up for about a year...which is not bad considering we have 3 medium sized dogs in this teeny tiny house and the paths we walk through the house are very limited and well used!)
So...anyway back to the overhaul.  We discovered that the vinyl was glued down to 1/4" plywood, which was stapled to the original fir flooring. And when I say stapled...I mean stapled as in every...stinking...inch on the edges of EACH piece of plywood and about every 4 inches everywhere else!  UGH!  I was, AM, grateful they weren't glued down.  However, where did they think those floors were going to go?  Holy cow!  
See those staples, and they are also an inch apart on that left edge that is still to be torn out as well!  

Since I have just put the top coat on the laundry room/new bathroom floor I will continue with that particular it is.  Yep...SCREWED DOWN LIKE A DECK!!! 

WHAT?   How on earth does one cover that without having to stain the entire floor in a dark stain?  Why not dark?  Dark floors are lovely.  Except they must be cleaned 24/7!  That is out of the question when living on a farm, with 3 inside/outside dogs. 
Hmmmm...what to do?  Well, counter sink all the screws of course, then fill with wood filler and sand the whole floor multiple times.  

But then what?  How can I hide the polka dots that will all be lined up nice and neat?

My only answer is to try to camouflage them.  These boards are the only floor. There is not a subfloor under them, you can see them looking all pretty on the ceiling in the basement and they are complete boards from wall to wall, not pieced together.   How do you camo that?  By giving the illusion that each board is a random length!  So I got out my knife and square and randomly cut gouges to make it look like the boards are separate.   

Then I stained them different colors making sure to stop at the cut marks to signify a new board.  I only had 3 colors to use because when I got started I realized that I had bought too many dark colors which was NOT what I wanted. Oy!  So I dumped half of my weathered oak (the gray looking boards)  in with dark walnut to make a lighter walnut, and half of the pecan in with red mahogany to lighten the red.  Problem solved!

It's certainly NOT my first choice for a floor.  I really love 100+ year old homes and that is the look I am going for in this house.  This does look kind of cool, but I think it is a very trendy look and I will hate it in a couple years, but we didn't have many options at this point.  (Also I have already done this look back in 2009 when we had a similar problem on the last house...see that here.)  But it is what it is and once the fixtures are in place and the walls are done hopefully it wont be the focal point.

Stay tuned for the final a couple weeks :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Abandoned Beauty

This Abandoned Beauty in Wisconsin is soon to be reincarnated in Minnesota! 
 I have recently had the opportunity to spend some quality time with my sister-in-law. She invited me to help her salvage this house that has been abandoned for decades and is falling down.   I am guessing the house was built in the 1850's or 1860's and the porch was added much, much later.  With the roof caving in and the brick falling from the sides I don't anticipate it will last much longer, but at least some of it's beauty will live on for years to come!
This fabulous house had arched brick work above every window and the windows facing the front and main parlor side of the house had beautiful carved pediments!
The same pediments were above the doors and windows hidden by the unsightly porch, though painted a more creamy color.
  In addition to the pediments, the bay window had the cutest little corbels above them. 

 I didn't notice until I lined them up for photos but the pediments were a little different in that the center on these had more of a floral round, versus the star round on the rest of the house.                  

Remember the arched attic window?
That was an arduous adventure!  We put the extension ladder in the bed of the pick up and backed up to the house.  It reached perfectly! I got the trim off, but...the window was resting up against the brick from the inside.  I REALLY wanted that window so I vowed to crawl up in the attic, after we finished everything else.  It came out pretty turned out the window was actually just a square window like all the rest.  But with the rounded brickwork and some added wood, it looked arched from the outside. I will have to do some thinking on how to reuse it in its current state because the trim goes around the white outline, not on it.

While I was in the attic I found this sweet Valentine card

 Now for the inside of this clearly had been a rental home in it's final days, and someone with kids just took off and left EVERYTHING behind.  Garbage bag after garbage bag of stuffed animals, toys, photos, boxes of Christmas decorations and personal belongings...much of it soaked with moisture from the collapsed and leaking roof.  It broke my heart to imagine the scene, and the thought of some kids out there losing all they had known and loved.
Back to the salvaging...obviously someone had already been in and done the salvaging of the doorway and window woodwork in the parlor to the left of the stairs, but it was intact in the right parlor...though disgustingly wet and moldy.  Did that stop us?  Nope!
The trim in this room was very ornate and fluted with rosette corner blocks. Due to the moisture the paint was nearly all flaked off revealing the beauty of the wood underneath.
(Watch for future posts to see the woodwork restored and reused!) 
My sister-in-law and her husband had done a little work before I got involved in the process so I didn't get action photos of the deconstruction. 
They removed a 3 footed clawfoot tub propped up on bricks,
2 old sinks...
Several doors. 
Check out these doors close up!  Wood mortise and tenon construction, rim locks (on the other side of the door...will try to get a photo added here), incredible hinges
porcelain knobs and ornate locks plates
HUGE square nails held everything together.  See below photo for the comparison of the old square finish nail versus current finish and framing nails.
Continuing with the arched motif, the newel post and stair railing from upstairs...the staircase itself was enclosed...darn.


Every closet had several acorn schoolhouse coat hooks and wire hooks.
Bead board wainscot and arched heat registers round off the last of the salvage.

I am always drawn to and feel such love for historic homes and the days of old.  I think I must have been an architect or carpenter in a previous lifetime.  I can't get enough of old architecture and architectural elements. Stay tuned to see how some of these beauties transform my plain, tiny 1940's house into a home with character!