Archive for January, 2010




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Part of the joy of owning this place has been getting to search into all the nooks and crannies and not worry about what the landlord will think if they find out you removed the panel on the wall or some such. So far, we haven’t found too much of interest, though I’m beginning to figure out how I might find out more about the house if I wanted to. I think that research project should probably wait until we’ve actually moved into the darn place, but I am looking for clues along the way–like who lived here, which walls are new, what the layers on the walls seem to tell us.

I started out suspicious that this could be a Sears kit house, simply due to the age. It was built in 1913, and is definitely within close enough range of the railroad to be suspect (Sears houses were generally brought in by rail, and then taken to the site by truck or wagon.) But I’ve looked through the 1912 – 1915 Sears catalogs online and found nothing even close to tall enough to be this house. So if it’s a kit, it’s unlikely a Sears house, but I’m leaning against the kit theory now.

That led me to be curious about prior owners.  The Franklin County Auditor’s site is pretty cool, in that you can search properties online and find out who owns them. They recently added the ability to download a pdf of the original handwritten records that were used well into the 1960s and 1970s, so I do have a great list of all the owners of the house. The original owners are buried in Greenlawn cemetary, but I didn’t get any farther than that on google, mostly because the handwriting on several of the names is the type that looks awfully neat, but that is in effect entirely illegible.

So now, we’re down to trying to find things in the house itself.  There’s nothing extraneous in the attic or basement, though we’ve unscrewed panels and looked.  We are, however, 100% certain that the kitchen used to span the entire back of the house, and the wall that was put in to split it in two and make a kitchen and a half bath/laundry has been there for a while, but is not original. It’s less clear whether a second doorway was cut into the wall between the dining room and half bath or if the kitchen originally did have two doors.

The other puzzle has to do with that giant closet in the dining room. When we pulled off the woodwork in the double doorway between dining and living rooms, we found the space where pocket doors used to live, though the doors and frames are long gone, and some electric has been run through the wall.  We think that the entrance to the house used to actually be that closet doorway, so that what’s the present entryway would have originally been part of the porch. Or it’s also possible there were just two doors, allowing you to close the pocket doors and use the front room as a formal parlor, while also allowing access straight back to the kitchen from the front entrance. There are several other houses in the neighborhood set up both ways, so either way could be right.

And then there are the smaller clues we find that are just interesting. When we tore out the door frame from the newer closet, we found a signature on the wood (though unfortunately, no date).  We’ve also found evidence that the walls of the downstairs may have at one point been painted scarlet and gray (ick.)  And the floor I exposed while ripping carpet out of the closets yielded a tiny steering wheel from a model car, then evidence that at some point someone spilled black paint and just left it there.

My favorite finds during the closet project were evidence that the woodwork may have been painted black and then refinished before someone painted it white, and what looks to be pink wallpaper underneath paper in the bedroom (might be paint — I’m unwilling to rip more off the wall to see for certain):

But by far, the most amusing things are to be surmised from what we have in the kitchen. From this photo, we learn two things:

First, my mother’s theory on the cause of that godawful dropped acoustic tile ceiling: she pointed out that the paneling that is on the walls comes in pre-cut heights. So we surmise the ceiling was dropped to avoid cutting up pieces to reach the ceiling. (Me, I would have made a shelf with moulding, but who’s asking.)  The original wallpaper is still peeling off above that ceiling, so I’m inclined to think this theory is a good one.

And second, judging from the height of that spice cabinet, at some point giants lived here.

We have an interesting neighbor who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1960s, who also claims that at some point, an elderly couple died in the house, but until I have some sort of corroboration, I’m not worrying about that one.

Giants, I prefer to think of giants.

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Yea? Nay?

Alright folks. Convince me if this goes in the living room or not….what’s your position, pro or con?

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Yellow in the Hallway

houseInProgress 028

Originally uploaded by wittyknits

Mom came up on Saturday, and roughed in the edges for the yellow we’re painting the hallway and stairwell. Sunday Nadja and I got the rest of it painted. It desperately needs a second coat, but this shot proves to me that I wasn’t totally nuts when I decided the stairwell needed to be yellow. It brightens the whole hallway up so much, and now the dining room looks like candy colors.

Once I get one of the sheers cut up to become curtains for the smaller windows, it’ll be drawn together a bit more too.

You can also see the drywall for the closet project covering up my pretty purple wall in the foreground. Sigh.

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The closet conundrum

I’ve heard several theories on why (people only had a couple sets of clothes, closets counted as rooms, and were therefore taxed, etc.) older homes have these strange closets that don’t quite accomodate a hanger perpendicular to the doorway.  Whichever the real reason is, it’s clear that these closets make pretty spiffy bookshelves, and really awful clothing storage.

Our house is plagued with such closets. Only two on the house were deep enough for hangers, and both were added after initial construction. One is a ridiculously large walk-in affair off the dining room (and oh, do I have plans for that). The other is (was) in the master bedroom.

Being that both of us are clothes horses (of different sorts) this just wouldn’t do. So our first major undertaking got underway this weekend as my parents came up and my dad and I (though mostly my dad) embarked on a renovation of the master bedroom closets which WILL, I swear, yield great results, no matter how long it takes.

This project involved completely tearing off the newer, big enough closet, and tearing off the front walls of the older, woefully small closet. It also ended up involving discovering the chimney is actually 2 chimneys, sawing a hole above the older closet, because I just HAD to know what was up there (Answer: insulation) and four trips to Lowe’s on my part.

So we have now gone from this:

to this, after removing the trim (and oh, there is so.much.trim)

to this, after demolition:

to this (after framing):

and missing, because my camera batteries died, is the “semi-after” photo, where you can see the two whole pieces of drywall which we hung.

The eventual goal here, is two closets almost exactly identical, with bifold doors.  There’ll be a recessed shelf above the doors on each side, then the closet on the left, which didn’t have an insulated, lowered ceiling above it, will have an overhead shelf inside too.

Between the two closets, in the recessed space backed by the chimney, will be shelves, and a mirror. The bottommost shelf will be mounted at desk height, and then we’ll get one of those cheapie tiny ikea stools, so it will be a miniature vanity.  It’s only about 8″ deep, but should still be fairly functional for makeup and hair and such.

But for now, we’ve got plaster dust everywhere, a workshop spanning three rooms, and not so much in the way of finishwork done.

Plugging away….

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Originally uploaded by wittyknits

I couldn’t wait to hang up those curtains from modcloth.com. They really do look perfect in this room. And once I get a third coat on the bay window, they’ll go up in the front room as well.

But we’ve got to move that curtain rod. It’s clearly about 4″ too low on that window, so you can see the entire top frame, and the curtains drag the ground. Very odd.

This room is starting to look complete. Now we just have to figure out furniture. And oh yeah, that closet in the corner is a project or 3 unto itself. It’s destined to be set up as a bar, andwill also be the a/v closet for my ridiculous music-through-the-whole-house-project.


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I have no idea what possessed me to paint the downstairs purple and orange. I actually think it was just that two paint chips jumped out at me from all the rest, and then I ended up picking more and more related colors until somehow we went from this:

to this:

That’s a mere one coat. The second is drying now, so we’ll get some better shots in a bit.

Of course, with such a super dark color, there’s also the tinted primer.  So there was this intermediate greyish step:

That’s Poetic Purple and Toasted Coffee.  And I think they’ll be set off nicely with these curtains which came today, from modcloth.com:

We’re painting the hallway and back wall of the stairwell yellow, so that’ll even work with that. I got seven curtains, so will be taking that odd one and cutting it up and sewing shorties for those case windows in the stairwell and entry way. Fun.

We’re very lucky that the built-in bookshelves in that first room are still in the original wood finish.  The really interesting conundrum we’ve got right now though, is that there is just one coat of white paint on the woodwork throughout the house–and we’re pretty certain that what’s underneath is the same oak of those bookshelves. So, for now, we’re not touching up the trim. We’re going to get an estimate on stripping and refinishing the woodwork, at least downstairs. I think it’ll look fantastic with these colors. Here’s hoping!

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