Thursday, July 29, 2010

The last week of July

This week I have been working on getting the window hardware cleaned up. All of our hardware downstairs (except for a few pieces that were added later) are very ornate. In the early 1900s the public rooms of your house would have been decorated with "show off" pieces, the rest of the house would have plain decoration. We are lucky that our hardware didn't find itself in the scrap drives during the war years (the back plates are iron but the window hardware is copper).

Here are the before and after pictures. It's hard to believe that the PO couldn't take 5 minutes to remove two screws so that this wouldn't happen. I've said it before, I just don't know what they were thinking!

Here are a few after pictures of our hall. I'm so happy not to be looking at drywall I don't know what to do!

Last night my children decided that playing in the bathroom (something I have always been very adamant they can't do) was a great idea. Now we have learned a valuable lesson about how much weight a curtain rod can support!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot in Virginia!

The first thing I wanted to do when I moved into this house 10 years ago was paint. Everything was white; walls, trim, fireplaces, ceilings, etc... it hadn't been done in quite awhile so it wasn't exactly fresh either. It seems as though something more important was always screaming to be fixed so we just kept putting it off. It's never an easy task to paint a room but when you have an old house it's not just about putting paint on the walls. We patched cracks in the ceiling and walls, dug out years of built up paint on the moldings and trim and I'm still working on getting the last bit of paint from some of the window hardware. There is still so much more to do, we decided we wanted to remove all the paint from fireplace mantle and the french doors are one of those task you just stare at for awhile and then give up on before you start. I made the executive decision that since we were on summer vacation and it was one of the hottest summers on record I was going to pack up the painting until the Fall (if you will remember we don't have central air and our window units just can't keep up in this heat).

I'm extremely happy with the results of our little endeavor, paint has the power to transform a room into something very inviting. Our next project will be the dinning room, now that we feel confident about plaster repair I think we will be taking on more painting jobs. I try not to think about the jobs that lay ahead of us. So far we have painted 8 rooms but we have 7 more that still need some TLC, not to mention the neglected bits that we just never finished.

This weeks project
Four heavily painted copper window lifts (it took me 1/2 hour to get two of them out of the window). I have been taking my time getting them scrapped down to the original finish. I tried to cook the paint off but I still need to use some good old fashioned"elbow grease" to get it all off.

Door hardware
This is the after picture. We decided to spray paint the knobs and back plates black. They are iron and when they were clean they were a beautiful dark gray but we all liked the black hardware against the white doors. The mortise lock is brass and copper, which I had no clue of since they were painted over and so tarnished I thought they were black. I'm proud to say I now know how a mortise lock works - inside and out!!

Actually this isn't the same door it's the one across the hall but I forgot to get a "before" picture. Trust me it looked just as bad.

If you look closely you can see a tiny #4 in the brass rectangle. After doing a bit of research I found out that Corbin mortise locks all have numbers on them which correspond with the skeleton keys. We have two skeleton keys but since most of the locks are slopped over with paint we have never been able to lock any of them. My son spent most of the morning trying to get the paint off the doors to see if the keys worked - to his delight they did! And on a side note; what did we ever do before without the Internet?? I sat down and Googled "Corbin" and received a plethora of information!!

Finished results
Here are the after pictures of the room. Again, we still have a lot of detail work to do but I am so pleased with the outcome I just keep going in there to look!!

If you notice I started this post sometime around Wednesday. Blame the heat, the kids or the fact that I can't string a sentence together without concentrating so hard my head hurts. I'm not sure what it is, I only know it's summer vacation and everything is moving at a snails pace at The Eykamp Haus! What's the rush? Pretty soon it will be back to routine and (believe it or not) I'll be crying that my kids are back in school. A good friend sent me a book called Simple Abundance (Thanks Victoria!) and I'm trying very hard to put it into practice, I'll let you know how it goes.

For now,

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Money Pit...

"Here lies Walter Fielding. He bought a house, and it killed him."
Tom Hanks, The Money Pit

Sunday the painting continued. I don't know how long it takes to paint a room in a new house but I can assure you, it takes much longer to paint an old one! Yesterday was dedicated to painting the ceiling, baseboards, crown moulding, radiator pipes and entry ways (we have 4 doors in that room, we are door rich!). We decided that we are not going to attempt painting the window casings, french doors or mantle. Those things will take time, we need to remove the paint to get the beautiful details back. We can make those individual project for another time, right now I just want to finish so I can put the furniture back and have my house back in order.

Before we could paint the ceiling we needed to make some repairs to the plaster. Sometimes things hinder you that really shouldn't; we were so afraid of ruining the ceilings, or at least making it worse, that we just kept ignoring the problem. There are a spider web of cracks that have been repaired and the patch is starting to crumble and fall out, remarkably the original plaster is still in great shape. Matt found the following product at Lowes, he was very impressed at how lightweight it is. In time we will need to use plaster washers to secure a few places where the plaster is falling off the lath but for now it should hold and it sure looks a lot better than what we started with.

Matt also fixed a corner on the fireplace where the plaster had fallen off. Again, I'm not sure it's a patch that will last forever but after we paint it shouldn't stand out like it did before.

There are some touch ups that need to be made but we ran out of time last night. At some point Matt and I both decided that it was a good thing we didn't do this for a living! It's not our strong point and at times like these I do have to wonder what the hell we were thinking getting involved with this house. Then I look around and remember that the house is part of our family - we all have some strange love for it. It just wouldn't be the same if we didn't live here!

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Where to begin?

Some people have a cookout on the 4th of July, some watch fireworks, some go to the beach or take a ride on their boat. The Eykamp's well, we renovate! My big plan for this weekend was to attend our local monthly Flea Market, I haven't been in awhile and I was itching to go. Little did I know Matt had other ideas that included paint and a brush. We haven't been able to paint most of the interior of our house, it always seems there is something more pressing to do first. We have a few rooms painted but mostly every room is white and in dire need of a coat of paint (I think the last time they had a fresh coat was in the 70s).

Front Parlour

After we cleaned up

I'm thinking about selling my green Indonesian table. It's a dinning table that would be used with floor pillows. We had it on the wall by the front door and it's always been a catch all (which I didn't mind because we couldn't hurt it) but it's right in the walkway and I don't have anywhere else to put it. Its deep but short (only about 26" tall) and I have never really known what to do with it. Any suggestions??

The fireplace tile is deep green & black our furniture is red velvet, I wanted a neutral color for the walls that would match both so I chose gray. It's darker than I thought but I like it. Picking a paint color turned out to be harder than I though. My husband has been banned because I figured out there was no thinking involved on his part he just opened the chart and said "I like that color"! After explaining to him that the color needed to match the furnishings and should look good with the room color adjacent so there is "flow" he said, "just tell me what color to get". He was great though, he painted most of this himself while I busied myself with cleaning, meals, being a runner and keeping the kids entertained (which consisted of me yelling at them to stop yelling - ironic isn't it?).

The wall color is up and most of the trim has been painted (we ran out of white paint). I'm very happy with the results, but I'm ready to finish so I can get everything back in there!

The ceiling needs some patch work, it's mostly the old patches that are failing. We have had a lot of demolition and construction around our street for the past 15 years and every time something goes down one of the ceilings take the brunt of it. I'm going to get someone to look at them but in the past whenever we did that they wanted to tear them down or put drywall on top of them. Neither way is acceptable to me since I want to restore not remodel. If I can't find someone to do it reasonably and the way I want it, Matt and I are going to attempt to fix them ourselves.

The room that used to be the front hall

During the war most of the houses in Park View were turned into apartments to accommodate the influx of men coming to work at the shipyard. When we bought our house it was three apartments, the downstairs hall was one of the victims of this change. The front stairs came straight down to the first floor and the hall ran from the front door to the back door. In order to separate the downstairs apartment from the two upstairs the staircase was split and a turn was added in order to wall off this area. This created a very small hall behind the stairs and an even smaller foyer. We would love to change this but it does help in the winter with heating.

Wall going into the bathroom

Wall behind the stairs

I chose the color Bungalow Gold, I don't think it shows up well in the pictures but it's very pretty. The dinning room is attached to this room so we'll paint under the chair rail the same color.

A view from the dinning room
Hopefully we'll finish up this weekend, there is a lot of trim in an old house!

Saturday morning the kids and I went to the flea market then walked downtown and through our favorite cemetery.

We had a very productive weekend, hopefully we can keep the momentum going. Fresh paint makes such a difference!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Estate Sale

This past weekend I was asked to help a friend of mine at an Estate Sale. Peggy Lockwood has been one of my closest friends for more than 15 years. The reason we were brought together is a funny one and yet would never have happened if my husband had not been married before - I'll save that story for later! She has been an Antique dealer and appraiser for a long time and is very knowledgeable (she's the one who helped me identify my Master Salt Cellar!). Twice a year she goes on buying trips to England and participates in various antique shows throughout the year. It was nice to be out of the house and use my brain for more than 3rd grade homework, plus the kids enjoyed being home with Daddy for two entire days!!!

Times being what they are, unfortunately a lot of the furniture didn't sell. There were a lot of beautiful pieces but I heard the same comment over and over again; "We just don't have the money". People are struggling right now and are being very frugal with their purchases.

I however splurged and bought a few pieces with my paycheck.

1820-30s Southern Pine Blanket Chest
(please pay NO attention to the rug in my bedroom, hopefully that will be going soon!)

White wicker rocking chair for Louisa's room

Beautiful wicker laundry basket
I'm using it to hold our pool towels

On the last day as I was saying goodbye to the family they handed me a grocery bag and told me they wanted me to have it. When I looked inside it was a set of doilies and a pair of vases I had admired earlier in the day! It truly was a nice weekend; I got some lovely antiques, spent 2 days with a friend and met a wonderful family.

Three of the doilies I was given (there were 40 total!)

One of the pair of Victorian vases given to me

My husband and I learned an important lesson this weekend. Neither of us wants the other ones job! It's hard being home with two little kids everyday but I wouldn't want it any other way!!!

I'm trying to view every experience as a learning opportunity, I may not always see it or understand it but everything happens for a reason.

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