Sunday, November 27, 2011

Parlor Pieces

Although the front and back parlor collectively make up more than 25% of the first floor of the house, I'm hoping that the cash outlay over the next 6 months will not be a lot when compared to other rooms. This is mainly because I've already made most of the major purchases for the 2 rooms.

One of the first purchases I made for the house was a collection of 4 light fixtures which came out of an 1890s Victorian in Main. The guy was doing a gut-remodel and getting rid of all of the “old stuff”. I bought 3 chandeliers and a smaller, 2-light ceiling fixture. One of the chandeliers was installed in the dining room. The smaller fixture is in the upstairs bathroom.

The last 2 will be going in the 2 parlors. They are very similar, but one is little larger than the other. This works well in the parlors because the front parlor is little larger than the back parlor. Both fixtures have been rewired and are ready to go.

Years ago I also purchased two new plaster medallions to replace the originals which were ripped out when they put sheetrock up over the plaster. Again, the lager medallion will go in the larger front parlor and the smaller one in the back parlor.

The sheetrock over the plaster was possibly the worst thing that happened to the parlors. This is not so much because I think there is anything wrong with sheetrock. It's because of what the installers did to make their job easier. Not only did that pry off the plaster medallions, but they sawed off the tops of the head blocks.

Head blocks are like corner blocks except they have a crown detail that extends the block a few inches above the top piece of casing that goes over doors and windows. So they wouldn't have to fit the sheetrock around the detail, they sawed off the blocks so they were level with the top casing. Years ago I went down to Blue Ox Mill and had replacements milled.

Also at that time I had new casing milled. I needed casing for a few spots in 3 rooms to fix areas that were modified when the house was cut up in to apartments back in the 1920s. I also had replacement plinth blocks milled at that time, so all of that is just waiting to be installed. I may need to get some baseboard milled, but I am way ahead of the game when it comes to millwork for the two parlors.

Years ago I also purchased replacement hearth tiles. Just as with the dining room, the hearth tiles were beat to crap from heat, tenants, and carpet installers. I would say 40% of the original hearth tiles were just gone, and 20% were damaged beyond use. The original surround tiles are there and in very good shape, but the cast iron fireplace cover is missing, so I've already purchased an antique replacement.

Then of course there is also the pair of pocket doors and pocket door hardware I purchased, restored, and installed. That was a huge job all by itself. Stripping those doors was a lot of work and it took me nearly 3 years to find a set of antique Ives pocket door rollers.

In addition to those expenses that I don't need to worry about now, I have also already rewired both rooms for electricity and ran new cable for phone, internet, and cable TV. I also don't need to worry about dump runs for old flooring and sheetrock, because that was done years ago as well. All told, this amounts to thousands of dollars in material and months worth of work.

Expenses that remain are things like new plaster, which is relatively inexpensive. I need strip paint off woodwork and sand down and refinish the floor. These are also relatively inexpensive things to do. Then there are things like primer, paint, and new rugs. All of these things can add up, but those purchases will be spread out over time, so won't really have a major impact on the monthly budget. The big expense will be be for window treatments. There are 5 large windows, so that could set me back if I do something nice. Then of course there is new furniture. I'm not replacing everything, but it is enough that I will notice the hit on the wallet.

So really what all of this means is that if I were starting from scratch I probably wouldn't be starting at all. I would probably just let out a big sigh as I turned off the lights, closed the doors, and walked away from the rooms.


St. Blogwen said...

Isn't it lovely when you've had the replacement parts so long you tend to visualize them as already installed, and it's so tedious to think that now you've actually got to do it.

But of course, you do. And it will be beautiful.

Kate H.

Greg said...

Yea, some of those parts go back nearly a decade!

Jayne said...

Two posts from you in 24 hours. My cup runneth over. :)

Karen Anne said...

Do you do the window treatments yourself, buy them ready made, or hire them out?

Greg said...


In the past it has been a mix of all of those.


Neighmond said...

You live! Now I get my fix of west coast Victorian goods again!

By the way, were you the one who wrote the domino game for windows?

Greg said...

Yes, that was me! I'm a self taught programmer and I really learned a lot about programming on that one. That must have been close to 15 years ago.

Al said...

I am so damn happy you're back.

Anonymous said...

i love to think that over the years you have been accumulating all the perfect stuff, including THE AWESOME doors and handmilled head caps or whatever those things are called. man, what a thrill. i can't wait to see it come together. merry christmas to me!

Greg said...

"i can't wait to see it come together"

That makes two of us!