Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bathroom Freshen up!

This past month has been all about a 1st floor bathroom makeover to remove the truly heinous 1980's vinyl wallpaper. This now marks the 3rd time I have participated in painting this room and the first time I'm even remotely pleased by it. The first two were...blech. Now this is not a restoration, nor is it the much needed remodel as we are saving that for the gutting of the adjacent kitchen next year. This was strictly a remove the wallpaper and freshen it up job. We did install a GFCI Outlet which gave Matt fits as the wiring was all wrong for it. The paper removal was done using wallpaper remover spray and the rolling tiger claw tool. Neither worked well and even with TSP to try and get the ancient paste off I still had to sand the entire wall. The color used is from the National Trust collection by Valspar: Cincinnatian Hotel Nichols Taupe.

When we actually do get to the total fix on this bathroom next year (god willing)...wainscoting, wiring, new medicine cabinet, hex tile floors, new sink and tub faucets.

Terrible 1980's Vinyl Wallpaper that refused to come off!

Horrid aftermath of removing wallpaper

The lovely after yay!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Sad Demise of the Shag Carpet

One of the joys of living with an elderly person is that every once in a while something wacky tends to happen.  This week dear grandmother was left to her own devices for an afternoon and poor puppy apparently had a tummy ache.  Well poor puppy had a tummy ache all over the 1980's gold shag carpet that graced the second floor hallway.  Grandmother decided the best thing to do was to not wait for her doting grandchildren and to remove this mess immediately. What better way to do that but with a bottle of cleaner that contains bleach!

Of course this spot of carpet was already up for removal, so we had a good laugh over it. What we did discover is that the walls were clearly moved on the second floor during the apartment conversion.  Luckily there is a great salvage place in Minneapolis with bins full of period maple flooring.  When we reach the second floor next year, we will be feathering in to patch this hole.
Removal of the shag carpeting showing where the bathroom wall had been moved.
Bleach not approved for Gold Shag Carpeting!
As if the shag weren't bad enough, that green stuff is far worse.
Ah maple flooring, it may be stained, it may have weird carpet gunk on it, but it can be restored!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Replacing the Front Steps

This is from late 2011 in preparation for grandma's 95th. The steps had not been replaced since the 50s, and it was long past due, and I do realize we should have grabbed pretreated lumber.

Gorgeous! My husband does excellent work.

God save the Queen!

On the Queen's birthday her loyal Minnesotans wish her the happiest of days!
Oscar sends you warm greetings from Howard House.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Colors that didn't Pass the Grandmother Test.

The blues and reds that were chosen have ended up looking smurftastic and grandmother's disaproving glare was enough to put a kibosh on the blue's and red color scheme. Our next attempt is inspired by a grey house with black storms that I found in Minneapolis. I've chosen to test another three National Trust colors: Woodlawn Sterling Blue, Woodlawn Silver Brook and Lincoln Cottage Black. The Woodlawn colors are from the Woodlawn Estate which was originally part of George Washington's Mount Vernon.

We shall see as grandmother "Likes a nice white house."

The next test-case colors are from the National Trust selection.

The test smurf colors on the "little house" Grandmother strongly disaproves.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Testing Paint colors

Tested my colors on the "Little House" today. I love the red but I think it will be relegated to the doors. One shade darker blue on the sashes instead. Will pick that up tomorrow. I can already visualize the red white and blue bunting out for the 4th of July and the white lights at Christmas.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rusty Spigots

This spring we noticed this nasty brown spot at the rear spigot that had been shut off for years. After finding the shut off valve the spigot became Niagra Falls, from behind the fixture. Bottom line, the shutoff valve rotted, the faucet rotted and consequently the wood is now rotted. Joy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

In case of windstorm on the prairie...

Secure your storm windows! I was too late to save the glass in this storm, which flew 18 feet, 3.5 inches today from window to where the storm was laying, or 16 feet 1.5 inches from the house corner to the storm. A record for a flying window, beating the third floor window that fell years ago into a snow drift (in one piece!) in distance from the house. However, I did crawl on the front porch to secure the two for the front bedrooms.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Howard House: The Restoration Begins

Howard House in 2006
This is the story of my great grandparents home, it lives in a little town on the windswept Minnesota prairie and is nearing its 100th birthday in 2014.   

Built in 1914, the style...I really have no idea; I've scoured books, this old house and Google to figure that out. It's not an American Foursquare, it's not prairie is kind of pointy at the top. If you are an expert, tell me what the style is as I could use the brain cells back that I've dedicated to that quest. When I moved home a few years ago it was nearly sans paint, and the only new appliance in the last 15 years was a furnace. Well, we're not much better, except for the water heater my handy husband installed and a rapid paint job to stop the house from deteriorating further in 2009.

The Stats
  • 3 Stories
  • Built in 1914 
  • About 4200 square feet (Utterly full)
  • 4 bathrooms (3 are now!)
  • 5-8 bedrooms, depending on your definition. 3 are now a: Library, Den, and a 3rd Floor living room.
  • Basement studio apartment (Storage)
  • 20+ Rooms
  • 3 Kitchens (basement, first floor & 3rd floor, second floor was gutted for a bedroom in the 90's)
  • 1930's Remodel of the 1st floor and the enclosure of the grand staircase in the great depression that converted the home into 4 apartments.
  • 1 major fire that gutted most of the 3rd Floor and attic in 1957. Apparently caused by a tenant and a sack of potatoes.
  • 1 house across town that was built using the Howard House plans.
    • Zero interior pictures prior to the remodel in 1930.
  • Current occupants = 11. Myself, my husband, three children, a spicy 96 year old, four cats and the dog.
  • afraid.
  • Plumbing...bottled water is probably a good choice but we are brave souls.
  • Budget...about zero.
There are two starting points for this memory from elementary school and listening to grandpa about how the house used to look and...2...the house across town that used to be on our block. Grandpa left clues all over (parts hanging from pipes, drawings on boards)...and if my memory from over twenty years ago serves me right...the framing for the correct configuration of the downstairs is hidden in the walls.

We are going for a restoration as much as possible, anyone who says I want a period kitchen is mental, this is not a complete restoration as I do not want a cast iron stove or an icebox, and replacing the kitchen fireplace would be nearly impossible. So stick around and learn from 5 people with only a vague idea of what to do, learn the ins and outs of restoration in a small town.