The Bungalow, by L.L. Bean

It's amazing what you find when you aren't looking for it. Like today, I was browsing L.L. Bean's website, looking for some deals on backpacking gear. And what do I find? A bungalow bedspread. I can't say that it's my style (though it is starting to grow on me...), but it was an interesting find nonetheless. L.L. Bean also has a Mission style furniture collection that is nice for the price. It's available here. Wall work is progressing slowly, as usual. My shoulder is acting up again, so even though it's my day off, I'm taking a break. I did strip a good-sized area last night, so at least my days off aren't a total bust. I'll probably work on it some more tomorrow, so long as my shoulder feels okay. I found a few days ago that the walls in the bathroom are drywalled. This came as something of a surprise, since I've felt some lumps and bumps here and there under the ever-present wallpaper, so I assumed that they were plaster. After some poking and prodding, and the removal of an outlet cover, I found that they are plaster, under the drywall. The PO's just screwed up drywall, right over the plaster. I swear, this house is an onion!! Layers and layers and layers... And speaking of layers, I also discovered that at least one of the walls that I thought was made of paneling is actually plaster - under the paneling, of course. I honestly wish I knew what the hell they were thinking when they layerized this poor house. And put up molding made of plastic in the kitchen. And put up oak quarter-round with all the pine woodowork that they took the time to refinish. And who puts carpet in a kitchen? Or Pergo over hardwood? Aarrgghh!


We ordered the walls today...

Well, so much for a plaster guy. Shayne talked to Phil the Drywall Guy today, and he only wants $500 to skim the living room, stairway, and upstairs hall. That price includes walls and ceiling. Since Phil will be doing this on his own time, not as a company or union member, we're getting a heck of a deal. And, Phil has talked to some folks that he knows that do plaster, and he's gotten some advice and insights on dealing with plaster. The purist in me is rebelling againt not using period-authentic plaster, but a great many of the folks over at oldhouseweb.com's message boards advocate skimcoating with drywall compound. It will still be super smooth, just like plaster. And it's certainly more financially feasible. So I feel much better about everything. Now all I have to do is get the rest of that wallpaper off, and give Phil a week's notice. He'll start on a Saturday and be done on the following Saturday. Words cannot express how nice it will be to have walls that we can paint! Smooth, painted, uncracked, perfect walls... *sigh*

Maybe we really will be done with the living room by Easter!


Ahhh... I love the smell of Citristrip in the morning!

Well, not really. But I have a feeling it will grow on me, since I'm going to be waking up to that smell for a while. Last night, in an effort to remove the icky carpet padding/glue residue left on the stairs by some uncaring previous owner, I glopped on a bunch of Citristrip I had left over from our old house. I only did half of each step, so that we could still use the stairs if necessary. This was after trying both rubbing alcohol and denatured alcohol, which were recommended by various internet message boards as good adhesive removers. They didn't work. So I figured that the Citristrip would take off the paint and varnish underneath the padding and residue, even if it didn't do a thing on the adhesive itself.

So this morning, clad in my pajamas and slippers, I stripped half of the first 4 stairs. Even better, the stuff worked! It's messy, but not as much as I remembered. Since I'd let it "cook" for over 8 hours, it wasn't as runny as it was when I only let it sit for about 2 hours (like this afternoon, when I stripped the other half of the 4 steps). I'll post a picture tomorrow, but I can already tell that the stairway will look awesome.

In other news, Phil the Wall Guy came over on Saturday to check out the living room walls and ceiling. all he could say for about 5 minutes was "wow". I think he was overwhelmed by the scariness of our cement-looking walls and sagging ceiling. Once over the initial shock, he commented, "Why don't you just put drywall up over the plaster?" AAAK! Shayne and I glanced at each other and I firmly stated, "No." But the more Phil looked around, the less scared he was, and he realized that the plaster really isn't in bad shape. He was even happier when I told him we'd be removing all of the woodwork during the skimming process. And by the time he left, he had said that it wouldn't even be a hard job.

So... I have no doubt of his skimcoating abilities, but I'm a little worried about entrusting my plaster to a drywall guy. I think we'll probably do the repairs ourselves, then let Phil take over for the finishing work. I've ony heard of one plasterer in the area, but I'm going to give him a call this week to get a second opinion from someone who appreciates horsehair, lime, and sand.


One step forward...

But it feels like 2 steps back. Today we did our first house work in about a month. I stripped some wallpaper (going up the stairs now), and Shayne took down more paneling, ceiling tiles, and furring strips. And then we took up the carpet on the stairs, as well as the padding, nail strips, and staples. In short, we made a mess.

And uncovered some absoloutely lovely wallpaper!!

Like nearly everything else so far, the stairs are in really good shape. The wood has its original finish, but they were painted about 4" in on each tread. Another "but" is that they have some very elderly carpet padding and adhesive stuck to them...

The other unpleasant thing we uncovered was the ceiling. In some spots in the stairwell, it's in crappy shape. We lost two of the corners when Shayne was pulling down the furring strips... I'm a little disappointed, but not surprised. The stuff we lost was in bad shape; it was literally jsut hanging there by the horsehair. So we have 2 spots of bare lath right now (eep!).

It seems like every layer of this house we peel off just uncovers more work. Why couldn't the previous owners have done anything the right way?!


Happy New Year?

Yes, I know, I'm 12 days late... And even though the new year is supposed to be a time for new beginnings, I feel like it has started off very badly. And I don't like to get too personal on here (the topic is the house, after all), but there are some things going on that are affecting my restoration progress, so here goes...

On December 31, a woman I work with committed suicide. Even though we weren't really friends, when you work in an environment like a jail, you become somewhat close to just about everyone. You have to, in order to keep your sanity. You depend on each other the way peopl in "normal" jobs don't. The people you work with, whether you like them or not, are people you trust to keep you safe. Granted, you still havew to look out for yourself, but there's a band that builds between people, whether you are actually friends with them or not.

It really shook most of us up. We're all trained (extensively) in suicide prevention, which includes recognizing the signs. Nobody saw anything. When she was happy, you knew it, and the same for when she was upset. Everyone is asking why, and nobody has any real answers.

We also celebrated family Christmas in Detroit with my family (wow, something good!), which was this past weekend. And then I got the flu. Ugh.

On the up-side, during my sick-induced boredom, I found out why our water softener isn't working. There's a hardened layer of salt built up near the bottom, called a salt bridge, which is keeping the salt from entering the water. The manual says to break it up with a broom handle, but I haven't had any luck so far. I poured some hot water on it last night, so maybe it will have dissolved it by now...

Otherwise, though we're not really progressing (I did strip some of the woodwork), the house is still standing! I'm still waiting for something bad to happen, since nothing has gone wrong since we got the house... :)