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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let's Try This Again, Shall We

I actually had a rather large summer project that I didn't blog about at all. I painted the 2 story garage out back. It is really a pretty big structure. There are 2 apartments upstairs and 6 garages downstairs, so it is the size of a medium sized house.

I also put two new garage doors on the 2 garages that faced the street and did some siding repair here and there. I had to do a lot of cosmetic repair to the porch columns and I replaced door trim and corner boards. It was another one of those projects that just dragged on for months and months. It is nice to have it done, though. And now, with the push of a button, I can park my car in the garage.

Also, in October there was another blog-worthy event that got no mention here. I was wrangled in to doing the home tour for the Eureka Heritage Society. They've been after me for years to do it, ever since I won the Society's Residential Preservation of the Year award. It really was a honor, and I felt obligated to do it. Still, it was a lot of work getting ready for it. Just the thought of having who knows how many people come in to your home can be a little intimidating.

I was going to do the tour last year, but I didn't think I would have the foyer finished in time and I didn't want to commit myself and then have to rush to finish. This year, since the project was the apartment building out back there was no excuse not to do it. Trust me, I tried to come up with excuses not to do it.

I made the first floor available for the tour and it was an absolute mob scene. It lasted from 12-5 and I'm not sure how many people showed up. They estimate they sell from 300 to 500 tickets a year and it felt like everyone of them came to my house twice that day. At one point I counted more than 50 people in my house. It really was fun, though. I had some friends act as docents and I had a lot of displays set up that went over the restoration and talked about the original owners, The Petch's.

Every room on the first floor is finished now, except for the 2 parlors, which brings me to my winter-time project - my rare winter-time project. I'm going to attempt to get some things done in the parlors this winter and I'm going to attempt to blog about it. I'm not sure how much of either will actually get done, but I'm going to make an attempt.

Even though the parlors have been in a state of disrepair for the past 8 years, they have acted as my living room for most of that time. So this weekend the goal was to move my living room to an upstairs bedroom so that I can work on the parlors. Fortunately, a few years back I ran cable, phone, and internet to all rooms of the house, so it will just be a matter of moving furniture and electronics.

The goal for the parlors over the next few months will not be too ambitious. If I really went at it, I could probably finish these rooms in 6 months, but I won't be doing that. I have done quite a bit already. The sheetrock that was put over the plaster was removed 6 years ago, along with layers of flooring and wall paper. The rooms had also been modified during the apartment days of the 1920s, and that has all been undone.

The goal this winter is to just do some work on the plaster and woodwork. For the walls, I just want to remove the loose plaster and get the walls ready for new plaster. For the woodwork I want to strip off the paint. I'm still not sure if these rooms were originally painted or shellacked. Regardless, I need to get off the thick layers of dripping, gooey paint. There is also a lot of goop along with edges from when the sheetrock was put up.

If the woodwork was originally shellacked I will go back to that. If not, I will be repainting. There is circumstantial evidence that it was originally painted, but I won't know for sure for a few more weeks.