Monday, September 23, 2013

Designing a Teenage Boy's Room

Nothing seems to be more incompatible than a teenage boy's science fiction taste and Eastlake furniture. However, after multiple discussions and compromises I think we came up with a solution that works for both parents and a sci-fi aficionado.

The eldest teenager picked the yellow room, which sported an unworkable closet and truly terrible stripped curtains.  The room was emptied, the cracks repaired and after multiple arguments the room was painted "English Country" blue.

The desk was a freebie from a yard pick up day and was given several coats of "Woodlawn White," along with the radiator cover.  Now...Star Wars and Dr. Who may all live together in harmony with the Eastlake set.  Check back later for the window seat pictures, as the curtains are being hemmed.

A hot mess of teenage boy things!

Before...what a mess. 

Almost there!

The desk what to do about that dreadful chair?!

The Blueberry Arts Festival in Ely, MN was where I found the handcrafted display shelf. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Family History Library

After a few additional coats of paint on our plywood plank floor and the completed transformation of the yellow room to a blue room, we were able to stage the library.  Great grandma's kitchen table had been covered in tin and used as a workbench in the basement for decades.  It has been recalled into service as our "new" library desk.  
The antique books have been returned.  The radiator cover is a great place to display copies of favorite family photos. 

The family history picture collection is now safety housed in the Library.  Above the bookshelves is the original Apartment sign painted by granddad that hung above the main entrance. 

Gr grandma's kitchen table has been paired with an IKEA shelf and Windsor chair for a functional workspace. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Sunroom

The Sunroom

Before...Hello 1990's!

The Sunroom had originally been used as a sleeping porch for the Howard boys.  After the apartment conversion it was then used as a dining room and the window between the second floor bathroom and the porch closed off (yes you read that right).  In the 1950’s a red and black linoleum was glued onto the floor, baseboard radiators installed and grandfather stripped the original green stained yellow pine woodwork and changed it to the lighter pine finish we see throughout the second floor.  Eventually we would like to change this back to a green stain.    The 1990’s brought further changes with a green shag carpet that was GLUED to the floor  and the radiators painted with oil based red paint.
For the restoration, we primed and painted the room and then sanded down the floors.  A colonial maple stain and multiple top coats were added.  The original light fixture sent by an aunt from “out east” has been maintained.
The Design-Sunroom
Colors: Benjamin Moore: Woodlawn Blue HC-147 and Valspar Woodlawn White 94-8C from the National Trust Collection.
Flooring: Restoration of the original maple floors.  

I don't know who in their right mind glued down that carpet...Fail!

In the words of the amazing Nicole Curtis..."Why in the hell would you cover that up?!"

Don't tell...the curtains are from Walmart. Egads!!!  

The Library: Drop Ceilings & Plywood Plank Flooring

Mother’s Day 2013 coincided with the town’s annual throw your junk on the front lawn week.  Not wanting to miss this opportunity we decided to demo the library and sunroom on the second floor.  The library had originally been part of the bedroom for the three Howard boys and had been reconfigured on at least three occasions: 1930’s apartment conversion, late 1950’s kitchen remodel, 1992 ill-advised bedroom makeover.
The Library- Before
In the late 1930’s conversion the east wall of the library was somehow closed off to change the original boy’s bedroom into a kitchen. 
In the 1950’s this configuration was changed again, with the bathroom pushing six inches into the kitchen and all of the original features of the room stripped and new cupboards and appliances installed.  At this point we believe the original maple floors were removed, and a red and black patterned linoleum installed.   This may have been the point where they decided to install a lovely drop ceiling in this room.
 In the early 1990’s the kitchen was demoed and a neat little phone hutch covered by a layer of new sheet rock.  The third floor kitchen hookups were disconnected at this time and another drop ceiling installed along with a “fabulous” 1980’s ceiling fan.  Green shag carpet, cream walls and oil based red paint on all the wood work rounded out the atrocities that befell this poor room.

The Design
We didn’t know what was lurking under that green carpet as no one could quite remember if the red and black linoleum had been removed in the 90’s.  And underneath that potential tile, could there possibly be maple floors?  It was all a guess and once we removed the carpet, we discovered only nasty old subfloor that was even with the maple floor of the hallway and the maple floors that were blissfully intact (but covered in gunk) in the sunroom.   
Our design was simple: remove the drop ceiling and replace with drywall, prime and paint all the red woodwork an off white. Rid ourselves of the 1950’s door and the 1980’s ceiling fan that did not match anything on second floor and come up with a flooring solution for library that was cheap and temporary as replacing antique maple is out of the budget.  One of our reclaimed radiator covers from Minneapolis was painted and modified to cover the odd small radiator and its strange pipe configuration.
Colors: Benjamin Moore: Woodlawn Blue HC-147 and Valspar Woodlawn White 94-8C from the National Trust Collection.
Flooring: White-washed plywood plank floors. Thank you Pinterest!  Maple plywood was cut into 8 inch strips of 2, 4, 6 and 8 foot lengths and tacked down with a nail gun. Large gaps were filled and the floor was given a light coat of off white floor paint.  Total cost for a 12 x 11 room was under a $100.

The library will be used as a temporary guest room for the next month as we rotate through the remaining second floor bedrooms. 
The Library - Almost After

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Completed Apartment

We made it, the basement apartment and hallway are completed.  This has been quite the learning experience and now that we know what not to do, (12x12 tiles are a terrible idea in 100 year old homes) we can move on with confidence to the second floor. 

The color scheme continues in these rooms:  Benjamin Moore: Coventry Gray and Valspar Lincoln Cottage Black.  

In the basement bathroom, the original bathroom sink was removed and kept for future use and a different sink that was in the garage conversion was used. We also restored a medicine cabinet that had been in the garage conversion.  The shower which is a non standard size was relined and a new industrial fixture installed. The original 1930's toilet was cleaned and brought back into service. As a cost savings measure we went with the 12x12 tiles instead of the Merola mosaic.  NEVER AGAIN!!! I can hear my grandad laughing at this mistake.  Does it look it it level...not exactly...but it does function and is far better than what was there before.

A shower designed for very short people
Our fabulous new industrial shower fixture from Home Depot

Now that basement is done, we now have a 3rd fully functioning bathroom, a 2nd shower and a great entertaining space that can even house our gigantic wine glass collection.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April Snow Storm

Our little corner of the world was inundated with 9 inches of snow last night, on top of the 3 inches of ice/slush we received over the previous twenty-four hours.  This is more like the snow storms I remember as a child.  I think its time to send the children outside to build giant snow monsters.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Preserving Vintage Photographs

Grandfather on the west side of the house.
Beware, off topic post!!!
I think the true family treasure that I have are the hundreds, if not thousands, of family photographs from each branch of our family tree.   Tin Types, photo cards and snapshots, like the one above, are such a blessing.   As our collection comes together these pictures are scanned at high resolution and then uploaded to Picasa to share with our family all over the country.  Once scanned they are then placed in archival quality holders for preservation, labeled and placed in the correct box.   If god forbid something were to happen to the house, I know that our  precious family photos are preserved online. 

Humidity, sunlight, air, your fingers...all the enemies of our historic photos.

What can you do to preserve and share your family photographs? 

The Top 10 of Preserving your Family Photos

1. WASH YOUR HANDS:  The oils on your fingers will contribute to the disintegration of your family photos.  Wear archive gloves if avaiable.

2. Get a Scanner:  I typically use my highest resolution, as given how random life can be I cannot predict which pictures I'd like to print in the future and I prefer the quality the high resolution provides.  Scanners have come down in price over the last few years, and I was able to pick up a great scanner/printer unit for $20.00 on black Friday. I still have my HP flat bed scanner for larger photo's and if all else fails, the big work scanner for the largest pictures. 

3. Your computer set up: I have folders set up on my computer to keep each family tree separate.  Family A, Family B, Family C, Family A Group shots, Misc, Unknown People etc. Your sorting system will help you keep your pictures straight.

4. Naming your scanned pictures: I know there are specific ways in which museums name their probably do not need to go that far, but I do recommend a system where you can easily search your computer.  Last Name, First Name, Date (if known), and assign a number series and possibly an identifier, such as WWII.  I have hundreds of photo's with my grandfather...I couldn't name them all the same (your computer wouldn't allow that anyways) and expect to find it in a simple search.

5. Acid and Lingen Free archival quality photo protectors: My cost savings tip is that I use Acid/Lingen free protectors for sports memorabilia.  These are far less expensive than "real" photo protectors. Once I have scanned these items, I keep my pictures laying flat in 3 ring binders. This protects my photographs from sunlight and keeps all of my photographs organized by family.  I also have Acid Free Lingen free storage boxes and envelopes for all of the paper items that have been saved. Scanning tintypes if a bit squicky in my book. I'll save that for a later post.

6.  SAVE YOUR PICTURES ONLINE!!!  This is the ultimate contingency plan! I highly recommend Picasa Web Albums and the Picasa program. As I add pictures to the folders on my computer I have set up the Picasa program to upload those photos to my web albums. I have chosen to keep these web folders private, and have provided family members with the link. I also send out notices when these albums have been updated.

7. Restoration:  I have many pictures which I have personally restored with photo software.  Do not be intimidated by this process, the new programs are easier than you think to work.  Play around with these programs and get a feel for what they can really do, remember you can always rescan and/or save the copy you are "restoring" as a different file name.   This is a huge cost saving investment for your family archive.  The last set of pictures I had professionally restored was well over $100.00 for 2 8x10's.   Tip...*label restored photos on your computer as "restored" with your naming system, and always keep an original copy scanned.

8.  Identify your family now:  I have the pleasure of living with a near centenarian who has a sharp memory. We set aside time each week to place sticky notes on photo's.  Be that annoying person at family gathering's that brings out the old photo albums (copies, see rule 10), some day someone in your family is going to be glad you took the time to write down that information. Again, remember copies are still the best, even when I have had my photographs in clear sleeves where front and back are easily accesible, it never fails that someone takes them out to examing them closer.   If using the originals, place a note that very plainly says "DO NOT REMOVE FROM BINDER!"

9.  Your family tree: If you share your family tree on a website like Ancestry.  Please add in your pictures.  For grandmother's 95th birthday I was working on her family tree and was able to find a picture of her great grandmother that a far flung relative on another side of the country had posted.  My grandmother had only ever heard stories about her grandmother Hannah.  What a joy to introduce an entire family to a long lost relative.

10.  Supervise the children:  Our original family album from the 1800's was wrecked because someone thought it was cute to let the kiddos play with it.  If you have a family reunion, bring out the copies!

And the Do Not List;
  • Do not store your photos in your attic or basement. Remember my rule about wallpaper in basements and bathrooms?  Same premise. Humidity is the enemy. And in this case...bugs, bats and squirrels. 
  • Do not sell your photos or leave them to chance. Nothing ticks me off more than finding a family photo on eBay. Is there someone...anyone in your family that you trust to preserve and keep your heritage?  If not, what about your local museum?
This is a DIY Photo Restoration. "Fixing" this photo of grandpa and great grandpa took about an hour.

Before DIY Restoration

After DIY Restoration

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Restored Studio Apartment Kitchenette

The Studio Apartment Kitchenette

The studio kitchen is completed!The cabinet doors were removed and the hardware cooked in a crock pot with laundry soap to remove decades of old paint, (see previous posts), the walls repaired, new counter and back splash.  New laminate floors were laid as the kitchen floor was rotted through and through and large chunks missing.  I am not a fan of laminate but I'll live with this as basements where we live tend to be damp which is why I believe the original floor was full of dry rot.  When the main floor kitchen is completed this new counter in the studio will be replaced with matching butcher block.

Why yes, that is an Edison Bulb.
The perfect spot for the family vintage wine glass collection.

The husband's sign collection, just waiting for the hallway to be completed.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Studio Living Room. 2 Rooms under $1500

Praise Be!!! Just a little detail touch up painting is now left.

The studio apartment was created during the 1930's apartment conversion, it consists of a: kitchen, living room, and bathroom. We tried, honestly we did, to save the original oak floors, but it was not in the budget as half of the floor was actually gone and replaced with plywood due to a plumbing issue decades (and I do mean decades) ago.  The color is Coventry Gray from the Benjamin Moore Historic paint colors collection.

Before, with the plaster patching completed.

 The Union Jack pillow was an amazing knock off I found that mimics a Jonathan Adler design pillow I saw at his studio in Minneapolis, sadly could not afford one of his amazing couches.  The radiator cover was found on craigslist from a home of similar age and was modified by DH to fit the space.  $20.00 plus paint is fab find that keeps this restoration true to our vision.  The bistro chairs are actually for my set that goes outside, so I'll need something different for in here.  The kitchen table was my great grandmother's and was used as a work bench for 40+ years. It is on the restoration list for summer.

This room will house DH's decorative motorcycle collection,  and in the after photos you can see one on the shelf already.  Both posters are WWII propaganda posters in honor of grandad who served in both world wars.

So what did we spend it on? (includes the  kitchen)
$500.00 flooring
$450.00 furniture on sale (remember...always ask for a better price)
$100.00 various paints and patching materials.
$0.00 light fixture left by a previous tenant.
$8.00 Edison Bulb
$50.00 Posters and frames (yes on sale)
$20.00 Curtains ebay
$150.00 curtain rods and tv cabinet from Target
$50 misc decorations
$5.99 the rug on super clearance.
$20.00 radiator cover on craigslist
$50.00 plumbing parts
The table is a family piece and the chairs I already had.
 The cabinet and Union Jack Tray are both from Target, the table is Ikea.  Cannot wait to get a flat screen for that wall!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Studio Apartment...Onward to the dungeon!

Our first major project at Howard House is the Basement Studio Apartment. In the 1930's my grandfather added a studio apartment to one corner of the basement.  This unit was was lived in up until about 1986 when it was then used as storage room.  To my knowledge the only work done to this room from 1970 on was a tragic attempt at wallpapering in the early 80's.  Repeat after me..we do not wallpaper bathrooms and we do not wallpaper basements. WHY?  HUMIDITY!!!! Seriously people, basements in our part of the state are damp, wet nasty messes.  

Our goal was to restore this space and keep it's industrial feel. No flowers in these rooms, its all about the sophisticated Man Cave. 

Soaking the original kitchen hardware to remove decades of paint.
  Restoring painted cabinet hardware.
The kitchen hardware was removed.  I had this brilliant idea that I would spray paint it all black.  Bad idea, it chipped when reattaching to the cabinets. However, after much research I learned that you could soak antique hardware overnight in a slow cooker with a little bit of laundry detergent.  The next morning you can then brush off the layers of paint with a tooth brush.  Amazing trick!!!   The reproduction replacement cost for these pieces is astronomical, so this was a great savings! 

The progression of the craigslist radiator cover.
 The search for a Period Radiator Cover:
Ah...the much maligned radiator, if I had a nickel for every time I heard some fool say, "Take out those old radiators and install central air."    Well I say to those people, you are wrong. If you buy a historic home, don't take out the very things that make that house charming and historic: the radiators, the plaster and the original windows. If that is your goal, there is a nice 1980's edition on the other end of town. I'll drive you out of my neighborhood and over there.    The husband I went in search of a radiator cover that could turn this small radiator into a bench seat.  We were lucky to find a lady in Minneapolis who had foolishly removed her radiators (and regretted it) who was selling her covers.  With a few slight modifications by the husband and a few coats of paint we now have the perfect bench seat.

Progression of the basement. You can see the start of the plywood patch in the lower right.
We could not save the oak floors...I know... throw your antique chairs and vases my way, but we tried nearly everything and as some of you know we did save the hardwood floors at our rental and those were covered in bad linoleum that I had to hand scrape off.  
 The Laminate Flooring...or the last time you will ever see me install it.
So in my defense, two things happened:  Item 1...there was a large sheet of plywood in the middle of the floor where the wood had been damaged in the early 1970's.  The patch job was awful and huge screws had been placed into the remaining 5" strips on one side of this sheet.   Whomever did that horrible job for my grandparents had ought to be ashamed!!! Item 2, there had been additional water damage and the floor had warped and come up in multiple places, most likely from an overflowing toilet in the studio bathroom.  Yuck!!! The kitchen floor had completely disintegrated and the living room was a patchwork mess.  Underneath this floor appears to be wide plank pine that was on top of a dirt floor..NOT cement.  It actually butts against the cement for the rest of the basement. Egads!!!   I do remember hearing that the basement floor was dirt before the 1930's conversion to apartments, but seriously...DIRT?!  So alas, my intentions were to save the floor, instead we covered it until we can afford the ridiculous amount it will take to fix the oak and tear it all up and add a cement pad.  So enjoy the hickory laminate I found on super clearance.  I am probably wrong in all of my assumptions regarding this floor and that those pine boards I saw would be fabulous, but until the budget allows we can make due with this substitution.


The kitchen progression up until the counter was installed.  Almost done!