Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Library's Open

 Finally some photos from the 2-year long transformation of our "new" library.

This room is the original nursery of the house: or so we believe. All decor (it has been redecorated more than any other room in the house) appear to be child-related. The most recent ones definitely were (including Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Harry Potter, and Star Wars themes.) And the original wallpaper was a pink and blue abstract design with a gilt pattern. That pink and blue pattern was not at all what I expected to find adhered to the bare plaster. The woodwork in the room has always been painted—there is no stain or clear finish on the wood under layers and layers of paint.

This room had a lot of damage, too. Water, plaster issues, floor damage and electrical issues add up to the reason it's taken us 2 years to (almost) complete it.

There are some paint touch ups to do. And I need to find a long (looooong) paint brush to paint the wall behind the radiator. And a yet-to-be-done electrical repair. We also have some things to put into place, including photos and other framed art.

Let me know what you think.

This is the room as it appeared when we purchased the house. That's a Harry Potter border running around the middle of the room.

Scraping layers of wallpaper and repairing tons of damage to the walls was very time consuming.
Original wallpaper scraps

The big patch on the ceiling and wall where the chimney from the fireplace below leaked - for decades. There were about 35 small patches made over the years in this one area.

More of a storage space during renovation.

Adding "panelling" and patching more damaged plaster next to the window. I use Water Putty (the tan spot on the wall) for a lot of my patching - it never shrinks and as long as you oil prime it, it can be used successfully outdoors.

It's a pretty moody room. Dark, cool and perfect for reading, studying or getting real work done. Two desks—a drop-front and a cylinder desk—allow for easy and separate working.

We love to add beautiful fireplace mantles where there aren't fireplaces (see the Parlor). I have yet to install the sconces, so for now the wires and electrical boxes are hanging out with the pelican.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sneaking Into the Library

Worked all day to get the library ready for the upcoming house tour. Soon I'll post a full recap of what happened in there as we turned the 110 year old nursery into a sombre library. Here are some sneak peaks until then.  Hope you enjoy.

A cozy place to sit while you work.

Look kids, a web-footed birdie.

Keeping papers in order with an Eastlake-style paperweight.

Springbok ... nuff said ...

Lighting up the desk in a nineteenth century way.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Quick Look Back

Over the past few months we have been working "gangbusters" to get the house ready for a house tour next week. It's down to the wire and there's still a lot to be done. (How good are you at sanding? Are you free this weekend?)

In preparation for the tour, a new photo of the house was taken. Looking at it I can see all that we have accomplished over the past 3 years. I thought you might like to see how much has changed.

  • Scraped and painted the whole exterior (ok, I have one window in the back of the house to paint, but the frame requires a little rebuild work, so it's still red. Seriously, though: who paints their house red white and blue?)
  • Removed all of the aluminum flashing, repaired and in some places replaced missing wood trim in as original fashion as possible (2 spots still hold onto the flashing, but I'll remove those soon.)
  • Pulled out, repaired, and painted the porch lattice panels (right, the one in front isn't back in place in this photo. It's in the garage awaiting some final touches.)
  • Yanked out all of the overgrown sad shrubbery all around the house. 
  • Planted rose and perennial gardens, and installed a Japanese tea garden.
  • Put a whole new roof on the day after we moved in.
  • New gutters, too
  • That's a new porch light, too.
  • Replaced a broken cement walk way with a spiffy brick one (the bricks were courtesy of the back yard where a brick garden bed edge was found under layers of soil and weed fabric. In some places the bricks were 3-deep.)
  • Those urns were installed 2 summers ago.
  • Chimneys cleaned and repaired. Some new caps were added to thwart off water infiltration.

And those were just the big things on the outside. Can't wait for a look back next spring. Here's the before and after photos, cause, admit it, we all love these things:

How sad this Google Maps photo is. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Plain to Fancy

Like most old houses (in our neighborhood) we have glass in the front door. It's Oak, super strong, reinforced with old beveled tempered hurricane glass. It needs some finish work after years of being exposed to the elements (a couple years ago I slathered on a few coats of shellac just as a temporary preventative.)

Unlike most of the doors in the neighborhood, ours has plain glass. Theirs have leaded, etched, patterned designs and I am jealous of them. When we moved in there were gathered cafe-style curtains cinched up top and bottom to provide a little privacy. But they were dusty, dingy grey and came down a few hours after moving in. We've lived in plain view of all the neighbors for years since.

To provide that privacy we lost with the curtains, I had in mind an etched pattern, similar to many I see on the paired interior doors of Italianate homes. I dug through my archives of patterns and found a greco-style pattern of anthemion and greek key that would do nicely on the front door. A fanciful explosion of Neo Grec stuff. I designed it in Adobe Illustrator, but I never had the pattern cut to do the etching.

Then a spark of genius: Why etch it when I can get a gigantic faux frosted glass vinyl sticker made. I won't harm the original glass, and its so much less messy. And being the consummate DIY-er, what if I screwed it up while I was doing the etching? I could barely mess up a giant sticker.

Procrastination Pays Off

I waited nearly a year to contact a local sign maker. When I did, I got a great price for cutting the vinyl. I stopped in their shop and chose the translucent vinyl (that mimics frosted glass) and got ready to send in the Illustrator file I created.

Then I created an even better design of an Eastlake-style flower in a pot. I struggled to create the highly symmetrical design in Illustrator in a timely manner since there's that house tour coming up in a couple of weeks. I was even able to incorporate the house number into the design. Many of the old houses in my "hood" have gilt and black painted house numbers in the transom above the front door, similar to ones I know you have seen in San Francisco row houses. We have leaded glass in that location and cannot put the number up there. The number, too, is cut vinyl in a metallic gold color and black. I simply layered the vinyl to get he appearance of back painted glass house numbers (the back is solid black, just the way the original gold-leaf numbers are)

It took about 4 hours to install the huge sticker, after watching many You Tube videos of just how to do it. It's tricky, but not difficult. The flower is cut out to expose the clear glass. Thanks Chris (from Precision Signs) for sending a whole bunch of extra leaf veins. At about 1/8-1/16 of an inch thick, they tore pretty easily, so it was good to have the extras for replacement.

If I tire of this design, I can change it. Maybe one day I can buck-up and etch the design onto the glass and actually gild the number. Until then, this looks pretty darned nice.