Tag Archives: 1950s house

Renewal

I would like to publicly thank my shop vac.

trustyvac

(Or perhaps I should thank my parents who “loaned” it to me nearly a decade ago…)

It has faithfully sucked up all matters of crumbling house shit – even some of the actual stuff I’m sure – through two whole home renovations.

And each time, it has played in integral part in renewing old floors.

Living in a house with a new lease on life makes me want to revive other aging but still solid things.

renew-longscarf

Like this ridiculously long sock yarn scarf I made for N back in our early days.

(And yes, that is the same spot where the vac was, only with a newly built bookcase made by N to house his cookbook collection – I’m standing in the kitchen – and the color isn’t quite right, the walls are a yellowy cream.)

But back to the scarf.

I’m really loosing the concept of time these days and my brain can no longer keep track of events and markers in which to categorize life and the passing years.  But I do know if I see one of my own garter-stitch scarves, then a helluva long time has passed.  I thought I was past those by the time I deemed N knitworthy, but perhaps I just wanted to work it up as quickly as possible.

renew-scarf detail

He picked out the yarn – I remember that part.  And he said he wanted it to be long, so I delivered.

Only it grew and grew and grew…

So I’m finally going to rip it out and turn it into a baktus sort of neck thing – preserving the original intent with garter stitch, but making it much more wearable.

 Or maybe socks?

And I’m not in the clear with woodworking projects yet…

renew-heywake

We decided to immediately tackle the massive refinishing job of our new Heywood Wakefield furniture, and started with N’s desk as it was in the worst shape…

And I have to pat myself on the back again because it turned out great.

renew-heywood wakefield desk

We used the wheat stain and toned varnish from here followed with some clear poly at the end.  I was a little skeptical about using water-based stuff, but I’m now sold (at least for this furniture).  There was just a pinch of opacity in both products giving it that wood soaked in skim milk (yuck) effect, but it was nearly spot-on with the original.  And though I’m also a whiz as renewing old linoleum, I doubted I would have been able to come up with my own oil-based formula to use on these pieces.  I also used some wood bleach for the first time on the desk, and was amazed how well it worked – it took out 99% of a nasty black ring left by a plant or can of paint or something of that size.

Now we just have four more pieces to go…

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Filed under collecting, home, home decor, knitting

Welcome January…

nuts&bolts done

I’ve bitched about the holidays before, so I’ll spare you my annual rant and expressions of joy that it’s all over.

Except… the armchair epidemiologist in me was especially piqued and horrified this year following various blog and f*ckbook posts wherein a family gathering/food decorating/potluck event ended in various shared and publicized GI viruses – and many that started at Thanksgiving continued to pass around through giftmas…   My worst of the worst nightmare.

People, keep your hands and all of your juices, exhalations, coughs, schmears, sneezes, and hearty wet laughs out of food and away from others.

(And if a baby pukes it is because he is sick and is entirely and hugely contagious and everything and everyone around him much be bleached and quarantined and all gatherings cancelled until the incubation period is over.)

january

Moving on, and a brief public service announcement…

A heads-up to those reading this through ravelry and/or if you have a blog fed through there as well – the feed thing hasn’t been working right, so posts haven’t been updating since November – not sure what’s going on, but I re-entered my address and it seems to be working now.

I’m glad to see 2014 go – for no specific reason, I’m not a fan of years ending in 4.

Yes, we got out of a shit apartment and finally snagged a house, but it’s been a helluva lot of work.  The more fun part of working in the yard will come this year.

pileated pecker

(A yard that contains many beasts such as this finally spotted Pileated Woodpecker, deer, and a still yet elusive fox.)

But I’ve been hobbled by a torn meniscus and been made entirely weepily furious about the American healthcare system… And that does require a rant – I have elaborated in this sister post.

I made some stuff and will make some more this year – that’s the summary and the resolution.

And I have a deep, burning desire to become a minimalist…

vintagelamp-notglow

But I can’t when we still need to get stuff for the house.

I misjudged the interrogative harshness of the new ceiling light in our dining room and missed the window of time to return it, so we’re lighting the room more tolerably with a few vintage lamps that we snagged on the cheap from junk shops in other states over the last couple of months.

vintagelamp-blue

I didn’t want to get too many new things for the house since it is smaller than our last, and I’m not a big enough fan of the mid-century aesthetic, but we were lacking in lighting already, and more than one lamp suffered in our various moves.  And these few bits of mid-century do help to tie the rooms with the house, albeit eclectically, but eclectic is the only way for me.

But I’m ready to re-paint the dining room already – it was the one major paint color fail.  It was our favorite color in our old house, but for whatever mysterious reason, it just doesn’t work here… it’s supposed to be a soft earthy orange leaning to yellow, but it’s beige in daylight and gold with the lights on… odd and disappointing.

But though I’m not really in love with the mid-century, I do really like Heywood Wakefield furniture from that time period – it’s pretty much the only mid-century furniture I do like, and I don’t like anything later than their lines that started in the late 1940s.  I’ve been on the hunt for a reasonably priced dining room set since we were in the older house and we’ve been trolling the usual internet sites and cheaper (though they really aren’t) antique stores around us, but we’re just too damn close to too many cities with residents willing to pay way more than they should for anything.

So it came as an utter whopping surprise that we recently won an auction of a mother-lode of Heywood Wakefield “Encore” (1948-1955) bedroom furniture!

hey-wake

And we needed nearly all of it – we didn’t have any dressers (left them in the old house because they were too heavy), and N’s current desk is falling apart – the headboard will go on a guest bed.

We got all of it for less than what new really cheap furniture would cost even after factoring in the truck rental – nay, it was pretty much the price of buying it all from a thrift store!  However, I was immensely fearful because it was an online auction… the furniture could reek of mothballs, unwashed clothing from unwashed bodies, cat piss, cigarettes, and Shalimar…

And we knew the finish was a bit worn in places, which is usually the case with this furniture, but I can’t deal with stench – cat piss and mothballs are deal breakers for me….

But all is well – it is all in the house and full of our stuff now.

heywood wakefield drawers

It does stink a little – by way of something like Shalimar or Jean Nate – a certain old lady scent, but it’s not too strong – not like thrift store costume jewelry.  And one half of the headboard smells like coconuts.

Vintage contact paper is adhered to every drawer as well, but it is okay and will stay.

heywood wakefield finish

The finish on the tops is really pretty bad though – we’ll need to address that at some point, but for now, that’s what dresser scarves are for.  The desk is pretty poor though – looks like there was a leaky plant pot on top – we’ve already started to sand it a tiny bit, but we’re not sure how we’re going to finish it yet.  The original finish is impossible to duplicate and the top coat was balls to begin with, so I’m doing some research…

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Filed under collecting, home, home decor, thrifting

What I know or thought I did but still don’t

 bowbanister

I’m wrapping up the worst of the house, meaning almost all of the walls and ceilings are repaired and painted, and floors refinished painstakingly by hand.

I am an experienced fixer-upper, but I still don’t understand the darkest secrets in the universe of home improvement.

Such as:

I never could predict just how much hard wax oil I needed to use per floor, and ended up paying in shipping small cans what would have cost for the large can.

The smallest room used the most paint.

grey walls

Despite its trendiness, I like yellow and grey.  And that yellow door is the living room color – the living room is the largest room, yet took the least amount of paint…

And we still haven’t figured out which room is for what – this room will probably be N’s office, though it may be my “studio” but it is a really tight space – the other wall is pretty much the right margin of the pic – but it has the best natural light.

We did end up covering the knotty pine paneling in one of the rooms, and the room is much better for it, though it will stay in the living room for now.

green walls

And though I’ve previously held an unyielding “choose paint colors for the middle of an ungodly dreary winter” stance (meaning only warm tones on all walls) I went outside of my comfort zone and painted cooler hues in these last few rooms and I really like them.  The color of the smallest room, above with the yellow door, even has the terribly depressing name of “November rain.”  But I would prefer rain in November to some icy slop.

Every time I sand wall patches or floors, despite how well I meticulously seal up the room, I’m blown away about how much dust still escapes and ends up in rooms on the opposite side of the house.

Dusty wheel

 And I hate the fact that I now have to do a thorough furniture-moving, rug-lifting deep clean because I just did that, and everything is fresh and new but now looks like dusty hell.

What is left?

A full-bathroom re-do (more thoughts on that soon) that will either be a placeholder just-work-with-what-we-have-and-slap-several-coats-of-paint-on-everything for now, or a reexamination of the budget to see if we can contract some of the work out – it’s not a major job, but the floor is the worst part of that room and it’s a major pain in the ass.

Improving the “finished” basement that really isn’t.  It needs a floor and a new/improved ceiling* and is ripe with the shit version of paneling which we will likely paint, but again, the budget and our energy levels will play a huge role in its outcome.

It’s got some snazzy vintage fixtures though.

basement light

(And  sadly, I don’t think those are our fingerprints and dust – we haven’t touched the things…)

Improving the yard – we need a bigger garden with better deer fencing and possibly pooch fencing, and some attempts at landscaping.

And then 89, 783, 2311+ weekend projects – tiling the kitchen backsplash, painting closet doors, stripping room doors, installing some thresholds, touching up paint, touching up paint, oh, and touching up paint, building shelving, insulating random little places, hemming more curtains, etc., etc., etc…

etc., etc., etc….

curtains

(And maybe I should add ironing curtains to the list too…)

*Anyone have ideas for improving a drop ceiling on the cheap?  It’s got those large rectangular panels, so I can’t just replace them with something interesting like record sleeves… cover with fabric or textured paper?  Paint?  The current panels are stained Styrofoam and I don’t know what stained them or continues to stain them, I want to get rid of them but hate to toss them in a landfill, and the new ones are only marginally better and more than I want to spend…

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Paneling, what paneling…?

I’m feeling quite the amount of bravado (bravada?) then real triumph about certain parts of our home fixing upping – especially the kitchen sink and oak floors.  But though I’m still on the fence about keeping the knotty pine paneling, I just blasted some cheap 1970s shite out of its misery.

paneling-done-flash

I looked at several blog posts about people filing in the cracks of cheap paneling to make it look like drywall.  A few of them claimed you couldn’t tell it was ever paneling!  But many of them you could – it looked awful.  And there are message boards full of testosteroni contractors saying it could never work – it would just look like patched paneling and worse than it was before…

…but my friends (in Ira Glass’s voice) it can be done.

(Well, as long as you don’t suck at patching and have giant reserves of patience).

But wait, let’s back up.  In the beginning, I wanted to rip out the paneling and replace it with drywall.  This would have been easy and not that expensive. But I don’t have a truck and I don’t have friends with a truck (and I don’t have friends here at all, but that’s not the point) and I’d have to rent one (trucks not friends) or pay for delivery (again of the drywall, not friends).  If we were better organized and not living in the house while we rehabbed it (that really doesn’t matter, but in my head it does) we should have rented a truck once and bought a bunch of drywall and backerboard and lumber all at once like we’ve done before.  But I’m also trying to be as conscientious about waste as possible (and we have to pay a fee to trash things like paneling) and the paneling still functions as a wall, so it stayed and got a face lift.

This is the closest thing to a tutorial I’ll probably ever post:

(I didn’t even stop to take a before picture)

Peel off stickers and wash off the disgusting gooey bits and boogers.

Sand/scuff/gouge up paneling – a few swipes of 80 grit paper will do it.

Tape all seams and channels with mesh tape.

paneling-taped

Add joint compound in thin layers, sanding in between.  Repeat and repeat and repeat more than you want to.

paneling-mud

paneling-mud-full

Prime the hell out of it – I used BIN, followed by a coat of latex primer – you could prime beforehand, and maybe you should, but the joint compound adhered really well to the “wood” for me.

paneling-primed

Paint.

paneling-done-full

paneling-done-window

Done.

(But I still need to come up with a plan to make those hollow sliding closet doors less awful).

We’ve been banging on the walls and floors around it and my patched paneling is holding up fine – it might not hold up forever, but hopefully long enough until I find a friend with a truck.

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Filed under home, home decor, recycling

Floored

I went on a floor sanding and refinishing bender recently and I am still recovering…

floors-diningroom

…but the dining room and my studio room are now mostly done.

Only four more rooms and three hallways to go – will I or won’t I endure?

floors-half-sanded

floors-studio

We had a guy in the other day to look at something that seemed to be beyond our abilities.  He came somewhat unexpectedly as people are wont to do in this small town which leaves me occasionally on edge since my work (not work, work) clothes are the shrunken bits thrown in the charity bag (I can’t find my stash of work clothes!) and I don’t want to be seen in busty gut-baring teeny t-shirts and sweatpants with burst seems.  We were in the middle of sanding the dining room floor by hand – with little electric sanders, so at least with the aid of some power…  he smirked and said “well you could do it that way, but I’d rent a sander.”

No f*ckingshit you’d rent a sander – most people would.

But floor sanders are big and heavy and use a lot of sandpaper and cost money to rent and we can only do one room at a time since we’re living in the house, so for about $10 worth of sandpaper (and a whole day) I can do it myself.  (And I mostly did it myself since N quickly looses interest/endurance on these sorts of mind-numbing vibrating tedious tasks, and I’m able to call up the genetic reserves of my peasant ancestors from time to time).

And I also like the way it looks.  In our old house, I sanded a few rooms by hand, and a few with a sander – the floors done by hand still looked old in a good way – they had more depth and patina and character.  The ones done with a sander looked 1,000 times better what they had (and a heavy grind down really was necessary) but they were a little too clean and bright even though I matched the stain with the old.

I also chose to use a hard oil wax product on these floors instead of polyurethane.

floors-hardoil-wax

That one gets another smirk from the work guys – “you could use that, but nothing wears like poly!”  But poly looks a little bit like wood in plastic coating and I wanted something a little more rich and velvety.  Again in the old house we used poly – the oil based stuff so it would take on a bit of an ageing amber tone – and I liked it, but after four or five years I was finding a few flakes and scratches and I was able to repair a few areas, but I felt sick to think we’d have to go through the whole business of sanding and re-coating the entire floor in a few years.  But I could eat these words since we’ve only had the hard oil wax for a week* and I’ve no idea how it will hold – especially once there’s a four-footed creature about, and dinner parties.  But I should only have to hit the worn areas with a fresh coat every few years instead of the whole sanding down and re-sealing business.  And this stuff doesn’t require buffing like old-timey wax.  So we’ll see.

floors-before-and-after**

You could be wondering how the linoleum  floor patch looks now?

kitchen repaired linoleum

It’s holding up just fine – the rug covers about half of it, but it still gets walked upon plenty.

We’re still looking for new rugs though…

But this linoleum will  certainly not be saved…

floors-bad-linoleum

…and is a tiling project next on the list.

*I coated a few broken steps with it a couple of months ago and so far the test areas have held up well.  And for the record, it’s Fiddes Hard Oil Wax in “American” tint.  I got it online, but it can also be had in a few actual shops in Brooklyn and other hipster places in the states (it’s a British product).  I used two thin coats with a bristle brush and I’m contemplating a third, maybe of clear, in the highest trafficked areas.  It stunk a bit, but much less than the common brands of oil-based stain, and it dried in a few hours, but I waited to put rugs and furniture back in for a few days.

**The colors aren’t right in these pics – the trees around the house are throwing green light into the place, so everything – floors and walls – is a warmer, less yellowish more orangeish tone – I’d call the floors a bit of a warm pecan shade.  And those big black rectangles are naked radiators without their front cover pieces.

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Knot or not?

I’m adamant for leaving some original details in a home, but I’m having a terrible time deciding whether to keep our knotty pine paneling or paint over it.

knotty pine paneling

This is one of the few times I wished the previous owner painted over something so I could just throw up my arms and say oh well, stripping it would be a nightmare and involve chemicals, so I’ll just paint over it too.

And in theory, I could paint it knowing that it would be possible to restore it later by stripping it, but who would?

I could also preserve it by drywalling over it, but that would involve either renting a truck or having the drywall delivered, and that would cost more than a gallon of paint and primer (and I know, maybe two gallons of primer, the really heavy-duty kind).

knotty pine

I really hate early American decor, country style, rustic/primitive/PA Dutch stuff, and I’m not a fan of the cabin look unless I’m in a cabin.  Since we’re in a place with lots of trees and birds, it does often feel that we’re in a cabin, but then when we go to cabins it would feel like we didn’t leave home, and I want to feel like I’m in a cabin when I’m actually in a cabin, and when I’m home I like light open spaces.

We’ve also got some cheap 1970s fake wood paneling that I’m miserably attempting to fill in with spackle (more on that later) and have no regret “ruining,” but the pine is giving me pause…

knotty pine paneling & paint

It also begs for questionable colors in the pea soup and snot families…

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