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!

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