Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Archive for the ‘built-ins’ Category

A Cacophony of Smells

Today Our New Old House smells like the following:

  • CitriStrip
  • Mineral Spirits
  • Fabric Softener
  • Laundry Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Rustoleum spray paint
  • Tea tree oil & lavender
  • Nachos

It’s been a busy weekend in Our New Old House. We set ourselves a deadline of Dec. 19 to have the living room and dining room done – or at least done enough to host a big holiday party. That meant we have to get the following list of things done:

  • Strip paint off woodwork
  • Finish scraping up crustified carpet padding
  • Paint the walls
  • Rearrange the cables and electronics in the bookcase
  • Paint the cold air return grate
  • Make everything tidy and pretty

I think we’re on track to make all of those things happen. Dining room is painted. Today Brandon primed the last bit of the living room that needed it. I spray painted the grate. Woodwork is done except for a couple of troublesome spots with stubborn paint. Sections of carpet padding in the dining room are soaking, to be scraped tomorrow after work.  I bought the supplies I’ll need to stain parts of the woodwork and polyurethane it, but I think those final steps will have to wait until after the party. For now, the woodwork looks lovely just stripped of paint. It’s got a nice rich color and a smooth finish so that’s good enough for now.

It’s time for me to take a shower and get to bed. I’m exhausted, but I can’t wait to show off our progress. I’ll have some pictures soon of our living room and dining room, as well as a little treasure Brandon found behind one of the built-in bookcases.

Oh, hey! I forgot! About that wall I kicked…

I looked at the back of the piece of wallboard I kicked out of the bookcase.  It was stamped with a brand and instructions and a 1918 copyright.  The year our house was built! Pretty cool, huh? (Click on each picture to get to a larger size if you care to read it.)



I got to kick out a wall! Like ninja style! It was awesome!

Ok ok, I exaggerate. But it still felt cool.

See, we’ve got these bookcases on either side of our fireplace and they’re not quite deep enough for the stereo components and other electronic gadgets we want to put in them. The bookcases had a false back but I could tell there was a good 10 inches of additional space behind them.  What was behind that back wall?  Bare lath? Rats nests? TREASURE?!!!  I had to find out.  I cast a sideways glance at Brandon, grinned mischeviously, and POW!  I kicked out the bottom.  Then POW! POW! I kicked the rest of the nails loose!  I was masterful in my kicking.


What’s behind that wallboard? I must know!


Nothing. Oh good.

So I took out the wallboard and took some pictures inside this hidden part of my house that hadn’t been open since the house was built!


Ooh! I wonder where that hole goes! Oh, right. The basement.


Here’s the underside of the mantle. Don’t be alarmed by the water stains. We did that when we washed the wallpaper residue off the walls.



So, with the shelves back in we have room for the electronic wires behind the shelves. I’m going to clean up the inside and paint and make the whole thing presentable. But I’ve got some other projects pending first. And while I can close the cabinet doors and hide this mess, I’ll do it.


A room in which to live: the Living Room

I wanted to take a picture of this before it got painted over. The living room and dining room both had this trim around the top of the wall.


I had to do a lot of plaster work in this room. I’m particularly proud of reconstructing this corner that had crumbled away as the house settled.


Here’s a before picture:

One side of the wall over the fireplace needed some major repair:

I started attacking the gunk on the floor with a new vengeance, doing garbage bag sized sections rather than grocery bag sized ones.


Mom came over with some of my friends to help me put primer on the walls.


We bought a new rug, cleaned everything up, and arranged the furniture and here’s the result! It’s not finished, but I can see the finish line from here!




Phew! We can actually live in the living room now! Paint colors for the wall are being planned, also I’m going to restore the bookcases with leaded glass windows.

[tags] built-ins, photos, plaster, furniture, paint, future plans, ceiling fan, flooring, living room, fireplace, cabinets[/tags]

Mourning bygone built-ins

From the fun and frivolity of shower curtains and wallpaper sheep I must change the topic to long lost built-in cabinets that have disappeared.


My grandmother spent all last week scraping wallpaper in the living room and dining room and she uncovered evidence of what I long suspected must have been there: a built-in buffet in the dining room and a wooden frame on the doorway between the living room and dining room. Here are the pictures of what she uncovered:


Now I’m going to ask you to use your imagination for a moment. Imagine that this picture doesn’t have all my random stuff cluttering up. Imagine that the woodwork is a beautiful rich dark walnut or cherry. And now imagine that there’s a lovely gorgeous buffet graciously spread out below the window, with a wall sconce on either side of the window, and leaded glass on the front doors! Can you see it? I can, and it breaks my heart.


Did it bring a tear to your eye and a lump to your throat? It did mine. *sniff* Somebody hold me.

Now on to the tragedy that was once a warm, natural transition between rooms and is now just… a hole. Look closely at the edges of the wall separating the living room from the dining room and you’ll see the faint outline of what used to be woodwork, ripped savagely apart for the sake of… well I don’t know what.


What the heck is wrong with people? I mean seriously. Why take down perfectly good woodwork? What’s the point? I have resorted to inventing a crazy story to make myself give these people the benefit of the doubt, telling myself that based on the layers of wallpaper and when they date from that the built in buffet had been gone a very long time; perhaps someone sold them to feed their family during the Depression. I don’t know. When I can figure out who the people were who owned the house before Mrs. Riley, I may find more answers. But for now, I’m stuck staring at the walls that bear the ghosts of cabinets past.

Less drama in my next post, I promise!

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