Sunday, July 14, 2013

Restoration Sans Destruction: Hardwood

And this is my first post here on our new(ish) blog! Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Andrew occasionally spoken of in Gina's entries and half of the Odd Fellows Wrecking Crew (More than half, by weight).

Here at the Odd Fellows House we have a number of projects underway, as our editor in chief Gina has been documenting :-). The house has a number of original features that we are excited to restore and preserve. Perhaps chief among them is the newly unveiled hardwood flooring in our parlor and, if our luck holds, in the master bedroom. The wood appears to be either pine or douglas fir. Here is what we are working with:

While at first blush it may be a little more "blech!" than "yay!", we are quite happy to find the hardwood in such great shape. The wood would have been hand nailed down in 1885, right around the time President Chester Arthur dedicated the Washington Monument; during a period where Indian raids were still an issue in the Northwest Territories. Since that time there have been a lot of plagues unleashed on the hardwood floors of America. Who among us can forget the linoleum fad of the 1950s? What house wasn't touched by the vinyl sheet flooring of the mid-1970s? It has been a dangerous world for floors these past 127 years and we are most pleased at least one of our's made it through (relatively) unscathed. 

While we are overjoyed to not be using a heat gun to loosen adhesive and scrape up asbestos-laden tile in our parlor, we are faced with a dilemma. The floor is certainly not perfect, and it definitely needs some sprucing up (pardon the pun). The last thing we want to do is sand away too much of our wear layer or our face nailed nail heads, and wind up with a floor in need of replacing. The restoration process here will be an exercise in restraint and extremely careful sanding. 

Hopefully, if I get the thumbs up from Gina, we can repair the scuffs and scrapes and avoid having to sand too much!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tearing up the carpet

While sitting on our porch this morning, our neighbor, the former owner of the Odd Fellows House, mentioned in passing that he had the hardwood floor refinished before putting down the brown industrial carpet that afflicts most of our living areas. We knew there was hardwood underneath but we didn't know what condition it was in. 

We ran inside and started cutting the carpet up. Since this was on a whim, we didn't take out any of the furniture, instead we cut around the furniture, lifted it up and pulled out the pieces of carpet and padding. 

It was a bit tight with all of the furniture so we ended up blocking the front door and the door into the kitchen with items. That led to me climbing out of our front window and having Andrew pass me the carpet pieces through the window. Totally normal.

After that, we pried up the carpet tacks and pulled up the staples.

From what we can tell, this is the original hardwood from 1885. It looks like Douglas Fir or pine, and it is laid in flat planks that are top nailed. You can see it from the basement looking up through the floor joists, so there is no subfloor, which is typical of houses built in the late 19th century. The floors have instantly made our house feel more authentic. And all it took was an afternoon, a couple of razor blades and a really bad 90's playlist

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Turning Our House Back Into a Home

Our home was previously used as an office, so there were some modifications made that we've started to undo. If you remember from the first floor tour video, there was a wall put in to separate the "kitchenette" from the dining room:

You can see from the first whack of Andrew's sledge hammer that taking this wall down is going to do wonders to open up the space in our kitchen:

I can't wait to show you how great the kitchen looks now!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Painting Our French Door

We're loving the new french door between the living room and kitchen but we're torn about what color to paint it: white to match the trim or a complementary color?

The living room is painted a pale yellow by the previous owners and we have come to love the color as it is both warm and bright without being too in-your-face.  We plan on installing wainscoting in a darker yellow and painting the ceiling an even paler yellow. Something like this:

Moon Mist for the ceiling, Pale Daffodil for the walls and Bicycle Yellow for the wainscoting. Then we could paint the door either Moon Mist or Bicycle Yellow. 

What do you think? Can you picture me sashaying through a white or yellow door?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Little Things

Hi! We're still alive! Just a little itchy, swollen and loopy off of Benadryl.  Well, that's Andrew, not me. Andrew, previously immune to poison ivy, was hit hard with a case of systemic poison ivy after our fence project. Lessons we've learned from the past 2 weeks: take care of poison ivy once you see it appear, be extremely careful outside with open cuts, and always listen to Gina. 

While the swelling in Andrew's legs had him off of his feet, relatively few projects were done at the house. So the long weekend came and went with no hardwood floor in the bonus room, no raised garden beds along the fence, etc. It was hard to go back to work and leave Andrew alone, but since his swelling had gone down and his parents were coming to check in on him, I thought it would be okay. A few hours later, I asked Andrew how he was feeling and what he was doing at the house. His response, "little things" included the attached picture:

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Have a Safe July 4th!

Preparations for July 4th are in full swing at the Odd Fellows House. Here are some pictures to set the scene.

Hope you all have a safe and happy July 4th! 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Odd Fellows Zoo

On Saturday night, Teddy and Eleanor Roosevelt arrived at the Odd Fellows Zoo and decided they would rather stay in their carriers then explore their new home.

On Sunday morning, tensions had eased and I found Teddy and Thomas playing in the kitchen together, but we couldn't find Eleanor. Until we checked that hole we made in the wall when we found the washer dryer hookups

As I yelled to Andrew that I had discovered our missing First Lady, I peeked outside to see that Grania was digging the bricks and gravel out from under the gate: 

So I left the cat in the wall and ran outside to keep the dog from escaping.

After we plugged the hole in the wall and brought the dogs inside, we went back to the apartment to hand in our keys and bring the last group of pets home:
Andrew's 4 parakeets: Martha Washington, Samuel Adams, Elbridge and Button. 

Fast forward past carrying their cage in the pouring rain, trying to fit the cage up our old twisty stairs, trying to get the birds out of the cage, to this: 

Andrew installing a french door between the kitchen and living room. This will keep the cats separate from the birds, create a cat-free zone for our guests, and give the birds the temperature control that they need without Andrew and I having to take the roof off of the house to get the cage upstairs.  

Some of you may wonder if there was an easier solution than to install a door, but to those of you who haven't had to deal with a cat in a wall, birds flying out of cages and dogs digging out from under gates in the same day, I say, don't come to my zoo and tell me how to zoo-keep!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fact vs Fiction

Some facts about the Odd Fellows House and its inhabitants:
  1. Andrew is a night owl and goes to sleep sometime between 1am and 3am.
  2. Gina is a sleepyhead and likes to go to sleep around 10pm each day.
  3. Andrew recently set up his desk in the bedroom, since every other room in the house is full of Gina's crap unpacked boxes and Christmas lawn figures. 
  4. Andrew is really good at researching local history.
  5. Gina has an overactive imagination.  
When you mix these facts together, you can understand how I came to believe that the woman who originally owned the house married two undertakers who both committed suicide, one by cutting his wrists and the other by shooting himself.  

The other night, Andrew was researching past deeds and census documents to learn about earlier owners of the house. Thinking I was awake, he told me about his findings around 12am. I spent the night tossing and turning. This is a house of death! There were bodies in the basement! She killed her husbands and made it look like suicides! The house drove her husbands crazy and they had to kill themselves! Andrew will be next! 

I worried that we had moved into a house known locally to ruin lives and kill husbands. I resolved that we would break the pattern. I spent the night analyzing all of Andrew's most recent actions to determine if he was going crazy. This would be a difficult project, but I could do it (thanks to my Bachelor's in Forensic Psychology!). 

Over coffee the next morning, Andrew was able to clarify that the woman lived here in the 1990s, not the 1890s, she indeed had two husbands, but neither one was an undertaker. Her second husband was related to Charles and William Reily, two local undertakers (father and son) who both took their lives. 

So unless this whole thing was crafted by Andrew and the house really is driving him crazy, I think we've pinpointed who the crazy one is. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Just keep moving

It seems like we've been moving for months, probably because we have. Between Andrew moving into the apartment in February, to moving half of our stuff in a storage unit in April when we thought we'd be moving to Atco/Palmyra/the moon, to moving things graciously given to us by friends and family into spare rooms of other gracious friends and family, to moving all of said stuff into the house, plus all of the things we've acquired along the way, there hasn't been a Monday morning where I answered a co-worker who asked about my weekend with anything other than "packed some more stuff, moved some stuff out/in/up/down."

This weekend should be the last of it for a time (I hope), as we're emptying out the apartment that we shared for the first few months of our marriage.

This brings me to a list of the top 3 things I like to move the least:

  1. Andrew's weight bench. After carrying heavy items down to our cars over and over, it seems silly to move an entire weight bench with weights. These things are simply heavy for the sake of being heavy. As I struggle with a box of pots and pans, I can think, Gina, don't throw these out the window, we need something to cook on! When I almost drop a 20 pound dumbbell on my foot, I think, this thing is only in  my life because of its heaviness. Moving has revealed plenty of other heavy things that could be used in its place. In the future, you will see me doing bicep curls with our cast iron skillet. 
  2. Gina's treadmill. What kind of lunatic buys a treadmill (answer: me, thank you tax refund).  All of the dismantling, the grunting, the careful maneuvering of this device has also caused it to morph from one of my favorite toys to a torture device. I just bought a bunch of land and now I'm moving a device that moves fake land underneath my feet onto that land. And it weighs about the same as my house. But never mind that, hold the door while I walk like a duck and rip some internal organs moving the control console which houses buttons and more buttons, some of which create a fake hill for you to run up, a experience I am quite familiar with. But with a real hill. Made from real land. While carrying a bird cage full of parakeets. 
  3. Living Things. Plants, pets, a case of V-8 juice. For obvious reasons: you can't stack them, you can't put them in totes with labels on them, you can rest them in the parking lot while you find a shaded area and text your mom, you can't leave them in the car while you make a trip to McDonald's, you have to sing to them while you drive and hope they don't pee/leak all over. 
Moving, even the 35 minutes from our apartment to the new house, is like going on the Oregon Trail. The trail will change you. You won't be the same person on the other end. You know you're going to lose some along the way. A succulent loses its head, a V-8 can finds its way into a long lost crevice of your car, and a cat morphs from a snugly friend into a rabid beast as a result of being in a carrier for too long. But just like Oregon Trail, when the journey is over and the survivors feet hit that real land, the fun really begins: unpacking!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rub a dub dub a "brand new" tub

Remember that pink bathtub?

Andrew got to work on it earlier this week and we now have a sparkly "new" tub!

We used the biscuit color and I think it really works well with our tile choices. Can't wait for that floor to go in!

Andrew reports the tub refinishing process was "cookie cookie monkey dance," but I guess that's the fumes talking. From what I saw, it was relatively easy (the "prep" was the most involved part) but very stinky. But that's easy for me to say, since I was at work the whole time and came home to Andrew, loopy and eager to show me the finished product.