Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Antique Jelly Cabinet


It's finished.

After working on this thing off/on for seventeen-dang-years, it's done.

According to my mother, she bought this cute jelly cabinet at Thomas Taylor & Son's in Fairview, Tennessee several years before she gave it to me. Supposedly, it was made sometime in the 1930s.  All three coats of paint were milk-based; the first was white, then someone tried to do a sort of patriotic blue, then white again.  Even the glass was painted with the blue and white. Mother's plan was to restore the cabinet, but that never happened. It sat in the basement, untouched. It was the same mess it was in when she bought it, when I ran across it again around 1995.

She let me take the cabinet to fix up and use in my own kitchen.  Some of the hinges were broken, door knobs missing, and the back panel had delaminated and warped.  I purchased a sheet of masonite and replaced the back panel, stripped off all the old paint and repainted everything a bright white.  Then the work stopped.  I couldn't find any chrome or silvery 3/8" offset hinges that would work and be small enough to not interfere with the glass panels, and I wouldn't settle for modifying the cabinet to accept an overlay hinge.

For the next seventeen years the cabinet moved from my house back to various spots at Mother's, and eventually sat partially disassembled in a corner of my bedroom with old dolls and knick-knacks stacked on it.  Occasionally she would ask me, "When are you gonna get this thing outta here?"  so on a visit last Fall, I brought it back to my house and tried to figure out what to do with it and where was I going to put it.  I even thought of giving it away to my best friend, figuring I had no room.

A few days ago and starting to feel Mother's pain of having the cabinet in the way, I decided I'd keep it and put it someplace for good.  I found the perfect chrome hinges and bought wooden cabinet and drawer knobs.  For the knob color, I wanted a true 1930's red and chose Valspar's "Porcelain Red" in semi-gloss.  This scheme will be repeated on the kitchen cabinets when that renovation takes place.

There are a few places where the paint has been marred a bit from all the moving around, but it fits the cabinet's "personality" so it will stay as-is.  I suspect where it is sitting now is where it will stay, in the sunroom right off the kitchen.  It looks very much at home, as if it's always been here.

Mother will be here for a visit in a couple of weeks.  I'm anxious for her to finally see her little cabinet, loved and being used.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Seating Arrangements

The front porch is taking on a nice look these days, courtesy of my mother and her parents.  Although my birthday was in June, I wasn't able to see Mother until last month to get my presents.  She mentioned she had some cool things for me and wanted to ship them, but it was going to cost a small fortune to do so and was disappointed I was going to have to wait.  Here's what I got:

Another great addition is my grandparents' two settees and matching rocker that sat on their front porch for longer than I can remember.  In fact, Mother has a picture of her brother and my dad in the front yard of the home where Mother grew up, and they're working on a car.  In the background is this furniture.  The picture was taken before my parents were married; Mother said she thinks it was around 1959 or 1960.  I thought I brought that photo back with me from her house, but I forgot it.  I'll update this post with a copy of it later.  Each settee has one broken rocker, but I plan on making some from an old hickory or red oak board I have.

Funny I have all this seating when there's only two people, maximum, at a time here to enjoy it.  Oh, and one small dog.

Monday, August 6, 2012


 I haven't been doing any work on the house. To be quite honest, I haven't had the money to do so and I still refuse to go in debt just to do cosmetic work. It's clean, sound and livable and that's all that's important to me for a while. On the upside, my car was paid off last month (WOO HOO) so as soon as I knock out a few small over-and-above the insurance coverages I have leftover from the March surgery, then I can start padding my savings account and doing a little more to fix up this place.

Since my last post, the garden has been doing very well with the exception of the beets. I think the voles are at it again, nibbling at the tender foliage as I sleep. At least they aren't tunneling like last year, destroying the plants at the roots. If a few tasty beet greens satisfy their appetites, so be it. I'll make the sacrifice. And, a fishing line fence kept out the deer, so there were a couple of good meals of sugar snap peas.

My raised beds don't supply enough tomatoes for mass canning, as I like to do every couple of years, and I have no peach trees. A trip to the Piedmont-Triad Farmers Market in Colfax, NC netted 50 pounds of tomatoes and 75 pounds of peaches. Yes, this is a lot for one person + Other Half. But you have to understand that I think he could drink tomato juice and eat peaches every day.

Other Half has some property in Davie County where he raises organic blueberries. They have such a wonderful flavor, and it's great knowing we can pick them straight off the bushes and pop them right into our mouths with no worries of pesticide contamination. I decided this year to make enough extra jams and jellies to see if I could sell any at work and on Craigslist for $4 per 8oz jar. The organic nature of the berries make them very easy to market, since people are becoming more conscientious of what goes in their tummies. I only posted the Craigslist ad a few minutes ago, but already at work I've sold twelve jams and three jellies in the first week. We'll see how the online ad goes.

 All total, my canning consisted of:

Tomato juice: 24 pints
Whole tomatoes: 14 quarts, 7 pints
Peach preserves: 27 half-pints
Whole peaches: 15 quarts, 29 pints
Blueberry jelly: 18 half-pints
Blueberry jam: 24 half-pints

The pantry is chock full, needless to say. But this should definitely last two years and maybe on into three.

Canning, to me, is sensible because I certainly have more time than money. The overall cost involved was really very little, especially since I only had to buy about three dozen jelly jars. I already had a lot of other jelly jars, pints, and quarts so that expense was practically nil.

 But canning also represents a large part of who I am. I was born in the country, raised on a farm, moved to the city and decided I didn't like it, then left to purchase my own home in the country because that's where I'm most comfortable. I was raised to be practical, and along with that practicality has come the ability to utilize my time wisely. Although many hours are spent properly preparing the fruits or vegetables for canning, washing and sterilizing the jars (I still haven't yet hooked up the dishwasher) then standing over a hot stove for hours as batch after batch is processed, the end result and satisfaction are well worth it. Achy joints and swollen ankles be damned; I've got good, wholesome food that I processed so I know exactly what's in it. And the older I get and the more involved I become in canning and freezing, the more I grow to appreciate my mother's and grandmothers' hard work doing the same thing. It's ingrained in me. It's truly is a large part of who I am and I plan on continuing the tradition until I can no longer stand at the stove.

Peach preserves, blueberry jam, and blueberry jelly
Some pints of tomato juice, also.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Demolition Derby

When northbound I-85 is backed up due to construction, I take a series of side streets to get home.  On the way is a beautiful house that will soon be torn down.  After several trips past it, wondering if there was anything inside I could use on my house, I peeked inside and saw the downstairs hardwood floors are the width I need to put in my bedroom.  They were filthy, so I couldn't determine the species.  Nonetheless, I wanted the flooring and contacted the demolition company for permission to remove it.

It's a shame that this house will be torn down but it's just as well, I guess.  Most of the inside had already been worked on by the demo crew, revealing that termites had been present for many, many years.  Even if it wasn't in the way of a new highway, it was no longer habitable.  The termite damage and rotten subfloors in a lot of places made it way beyond any restoration.  I tried checking tax maps to see how old it is, but there's no age listed.  I'd guess late 1800s.


Eight hours Monday and ten hours Tuesday were spent removing the flooring.  I'd sadly overestimated my ability to do this task alone.  The planks were tongue-and-groove oak, varied lengths, 2.25" wide, and put down with 'cut nails.' For those of you not familiar with that nail type, they're thick, flat and made of iron.  Here's a photo, only the ones I was dealing with were rusted and even more difficult to pull.

I used a rubber mallet and short pry bar ("gorilla bar"), first tapping the bar about 1/2" under the tongue side of the plank, pulling slightly upwards and towards the groove side to loosen it from the subfloor.  I worked my way across the room, loosening them, then worked my way back by angling the bar and pulling up the planks nail-by-nail.  This had to be done one row at a time.  Some of the nails pulled through the tongue, but most remained stuck in the plank.  Since time was a factor due to my days off from work combined with not knowing when the demolition order was coming through, the nails would have to be removed at my house.

Monday gripes:

1)  My kneepads quickly wore out since they were old.  I didn't want to go buy more and waste valuable time driving and shopping, so I kept working by scooting along on my behind, or else by standing up and bending over to hammer and pry.

2)  A few hours into the day, a small plank I was prying came loose unexpectedly and hit me near my left temple.  It hurt a little but was no big deal.  Later, while working hunched over behind a staircase, another piece I had put some serious force under did the same thing but hit me over my right eye.  I knew immediately it was probably kind of bad.  When I reached up, it was bleeding a little and a half dollar-size knot began to surface.  The only thing I had to get the swelling under control was a slightly cool bottle of water, so I sat down for a few minutes and held it to the knot.  It helped some.  By the end of the night, the knot took up most of the right side of my forehead.  It's pretty.  It's to the greenish-yellow stage today.

Right side.  Photo taken right after it happened.

3)  By evening, I was so exhausted and sore I could barely move and didn't get the trailer unloaded.

Tuesday gripes:

1)  Around 11am, after already working four hours, I was so tired I was almost in tears.  I texted several friends, asking if anyone had a friend who needed work.  Two people called me, but just after a nearby construction employee said he'd have someone there within the hour.  I turned down the other two offers.

2)  Over two hours later, with no-show no-call from Helper #1, I called back one of the original two people and explained I still needed help.  He said he'd be there in about an hour and a half.  In the meantime, helper #1 finally showed but I sent him home, explaining that (by that time) I'd been working an additional three hours alone and that he can't expect to show up that late for work and still be needed or wanted.  Helper #2 came over, and worked diligently for the next two hours until the trailer was (over)loaded and I was ready to go.

3)  I had to leave a 3'-4' x 12' section of flooring intact because it wouldn't fit on the trailer and honestly I was just too tired, even with assistance.

General gripe:

For the past two days, due to my muscles letting their inflammation and soreness go, I've turned into a water retaining sea cow.  I can barely bend my fingers.  I don't even consider taking off my shoes until the end of the day or I won't get them back on.  The skin across my knees feels like it will split at any moment.  I've had this type of swelling occur after overworking, and it will be gone in a few days.

Taken Wednesday morning.  I have sausage fingers.

Right hand not swollen as badly as left.  Tried to take it easy since this is the surgery hand.
Nice cankle.
This was when I got home from work yesterday.  You can see how my foot had retained the shape of my shoe.  From the red band to the tip of my toes is the size it's supposed to be.  My entire lower leg is swollen.

Huge positives:

1)  With reclaimed flooring selling in the area of $8/sf (and that's on the low side), I have $2,800.00 of free flooring even as-is.

2)  I started removing nails and cleaning each board last night, brushing away debris caught around the tongues and grooves.  It's slow work using a hammer and pliers to remove the nails, so I'll be buying an angle grinder and cut-off wheel to speed up the process.  The wood is cleaning up beautifully.  It will probably have to be dyed slightly to match the existing flooring it will butt up to in the dining room, but that's okay.

It will most likely take a few months to get the re-installation started, but I'll make new posts to chart the progress when it's time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ode to a Snake

Mr. Snake all black and shiny
Hiding in the grass;
Did you have to be close to the house
And nearly bite my a**.

I didn't want to take you out
I didn't want to kill;
But you were too close to my boy
And so I fired at will.

I hope you rest in peace, old chap
As your spirit turns a page;
In the great book of the afterlife
Per me and my twelve gauge.

****(I really didn't want to kill it, but I do have Brian to protect.  Although black snake bites are most often not fatal, they can cause serious neurological issues and internal bleeding in dogs.  This snake was 5' long.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

For Mother's Day for my mommy, I mail ordered some Ft. Laramie everbearing strawberry plants.  She was unable to find any locally.  Mother is never easy to shop for so I was so glad when she mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she was struggling to locate this variety.

For Mother's Day for Other Half's mother, I bought a garden bench/kneeler since she recently had knee surgery.  Upright it's a bench; turn it over and it has a soft cushion to put your knees on.  O.H.M. (Other Half's Mother) loves to work outside but being unable to squat or kneel down was hampering her from her usual Springtime gardening.  Unfortunately, she isn't able to use it but we got a good laugh about why:  She's about 5'2" tall and when sitting on the bench, she couldn't get the leverage to bend down to reach the ground.  She said, "I'm sorry I have such short legs!"

The other thing I had in mind was a tile top table for their family's new deck that was installed a couple of months ago.  As soon as the deck was finished, O.H.M. remarked how she'd like a little tile top table to put by her chair to set her tea on.  I tried to find one for her birthday in February, but after looking at seven different places, the only ones I found were at Pier 1 and they were crazy expensive and not even her taste.  I told her about the quest and apologized for not finding a table and told her I'd just make her one sometime.  That day, I went to what's left of a dilapidated log cabin on one of Other Half's properties and scavenged a few colorful dishes to eventually break for the mosaic top.

Wednesday, I went to Lowe's and purchased some cedar 1"x2" and 1"x4" to make her table.  I already had everything else at home.  After looking online and not finding any suitable plans for a small mosaic-top table, I decided to come up with my own and just let it take shape as I worked.  What I ended up with was a 24" tall, 15" square (inside measurement) side table with a bottom shelf.  A piece of HardieBacker is recessed in the top, with caulk around those four seams as well as on the inside rim of the cedar, to prevent it from absorbing water from the mortar.  It took about 2.5 to 3 hours to make.

Last night I broke some of the dishes with a hammer, using tile nippers to make more uniform shapes.  I had no idea where the design was going, other than I knew I wanted the light green as corner accents.  Looking at the pieces I had and just letting the design fall into place, here's what I came up with.  The white pieces are the parts of a two-color saucer and the outside of the coffee cups; the aqua was the inside color of the cups.  Cobalt blue was a solid color saucer and the few blue/white pieces are from a "flow blue" type saucer.  I laid out the pattern on the floor beforehand.

This is the first mosaic anything I've ever done so I had to guess what to do.  Using masking tape, I taped off the rim of the table, then mixed and troweled the mortar onto the HardieBacker, then pressed each dish piece into it.  To make sure finished design was even, level and set, I used a leftover piece of cedar as a screed, carefully pressing down from edge to edge.  The design and tiling process also took about 2.5 to 3 hours.

Checking it this morning, the tiles were set and the mortar was still cool to the touch.  Since it's 1/2" thick, I'll let it set until tomorrow before grouting any gaps.  The final step will be sealing the grout after it sets for three days.

I'm going to leave the wood "naked" to see how O.H.M. wants to finish the table after she sees it, and oil or poly it for her.

Total cost:  $19.90.  That's cheaper than the bench I originally bought!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Coming back, one achy grip at a time (icky picture warning)

In one post I mentioned needing surgery on my right wrist.  That was taken care of on March 6th.  It went extremely well and wasn't painful at all.

The day after, all puffy and bandaged.

Nurse Brian, making sure I'm following the elevation + ice-on-15-off-15 rule. Not sure how he can enforce this while he's sleeping.  All post-surgery victims need a 21 pound dog plopped down on them.  And you know you like my cupcake-covered flannel jammies.

Four days after surgery.

I was out of work (my real job) for two weeks.  That was like being in my own personal Hell; seeing all the things that need to be done around the house, but not being able to do them.  There has been very, very little accomplished since around mid-February.  All remodeling had to stop because of my weakened grip, combined with my hand always going asleep if I tried working on something even for only a few minutes.  On March 31, eleven days after getting my stitches removed, and coincidentally the anniversary of my property purchase, I began painting the bedroom.  That was a huge mistake not discovered until later.  I primarily painted left-handed, but had done all the cutting-in and occasional rolling with my right. About an hour after getting the first coat on the ceiling and cleaning up for the day, the achiness and swelling started setting in.  I spent the next few days intermittently icing and elevating my hand.  Had it hurt while I was working, I'd have stopped immediately but there had been no indication and it had been feeling great for days.  Kind of like a dirty trick my body played on me to force me back into resting.

This was an evil grin hiding under the bandages.  Very creepy.

I tried painting again around April 10th or so.  Same results.  Didn't hurt until afterwards.  Back to rest and ice.  Dammit.  This is ridiculous.

In the meantime, I did some electrical work since that's something I could do a little at a time and stop if my hand got fatigued.  I rewired a beautiful black cast iron lamp found in the attic.  It's tall; 30" base bottom to finial top.  It had two of the pull-chain sockets.  Lowe's had replacements plus a new cord.  Garden Ridge had the perfect shade that's the exact brick red as my quilt and shams.  So, for $21 I have a very cool new bedside lamp.  The stained glass one from before is now in the dining room on a half drum table.  Looks better there, anyway.

Attic find!

A bare-bulb fixture ordered a few months ago off eBay got new life because its wiring was original and very crumbly.  Lowe's had three porcelain replacement sockets for about $7.  A little Brasso cleaned up the trim rings and I left the paint original because it matches the ceiling color almost perfectly.  That was a very nice happy accident.  Some rust spots here and there make it look authentic.  The bulbs I chose are the small, round, clear kind and 40w.  I tried 60w but it was like standing under the sun.

Seller's photo from eBay.  Couldn't get a good photo after it was cleaned and installed.

After doing research on what 1930s ceiling fans looked like and quickly realizing an antique one wouldn't fit my budget, Lowe's (gotta love Lowe's....except for their paint) had about the closest thing I could find.  It's their store brand, Harbor Breeze, was $99, and with the blade, metal, and glass shade shape and color that looked pretty close to 1930s, it works fine.  The only trouble was it made a *tink tink tink tink tink* noise when running.  I figured out it was an unsecured trim piece on top of the motor that was clanking against the housing.  There was no way to secure it, so a few pieces of electrical tape stuck on top of the housing now prevents the metal surfaces from hitting together.  No more *tink*ing.  And I wish it was a flushmount but that option wasn't available.

Lowe's stock photo.

Finally, tonight, the bedroom painting was completed.  The colors are Valspar (a paint brand choice mistake I will NOT make again).  It was bought last year with the rest of the paint, so I had to go ahead and use it at $32/gal.  I can't remember the ceiling color but it's a shade lighter than the walls.  The walls are Bungalow Gold.  It looks very dark for now due to the room's having only one double window.  The addition of picture rail, wider baseboard and base caps, and door and window moulding in Craft White (a creamy off-white) will brighten it up a bit.  And at some point I will be adding two windows on the long wall that faces the back yard and that will make a huge difference.

Before painting.  You can see where a large bookshelf was removed after I moved in.  Photobomb Brian in the picture, of course.

With new paint.
Dresser wall.

It was nice finally being able to put some color into the house.  Looking at drywall patches, plaster patches and soot-smeared old white paint had run its course a long time ago.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

New roofing!

Due to hail damage from the severe storms in May 2011, I had new shingles installed and some underlying damage repaired on February 23.  This was no surprise, as four houses near me also had new roofing recently for the same reason.  The shingles I really wanted were red and had a very unique shape (CertainTeed Carriage House in Georgian Brick), indicative of what might have been on a 1930's home.  Unfortunately, I couldn't afford them at  $254/square.  My out-of-pocket expense would've been several thousand dollars over what my homeowner's insurance covered.  There was nothing that resembled a laminate shingle (often called an "architectural shingle") in the 1930's, but I had to go with what I could afford, and chose Owens Corning Oakridge in Chateau Green.  It's much more durable than a three-tab shingle and has a great warranty.  While installing the gutter guards a few months back, I could see there were green shingles years ago so that was the deciding factor with the color.

Rodriquez Roofing, owed by Alvaro Rodriguez, was the contractor.  He had roofed a neighbor's house and I was impressed with his work.  He's been a contractor for twenty years, and a member of the Better Business Bureau since 2005.  The BBB website shows he's had only one complaint filed, and the status is "resolved."  There are simply some people that cannot ever be happy so this complaint had no impact on my decision to hire Rodriguez.  His crew was on my roof at 7:57am and the job was totally finished, cleaned up, etc. at 5:45pm.  It was like watching a nine-man machine.  This included all materials, total tear off , creating adequate ventilation, installing new flashing around all three chimneys, clean-up and haul off.  I have to say the flashing job is extremely professional and even looks pretty.  It's surprising with the severe weather within the past year that there haven't been any leaks coming through to the ceiling because the old roofing had no tar paper underneath, and there were only two layers of three-tab shingles.  The pipe boots were in bad shape, too.

Out of four bids, Rodriguez Roofing came in with the lowest price but also offered the best products and most thorough service.  I cannot say enough about how happy I am with the job Alvaro's crew did.  He is truly the consummate professional, as are his employees.  They're amazing to watch, but also polite, funny, and personable.  With the impending surgery on my right wrist, I've contacted Alvaro to have someone give me an estimate on repairing the rest of the plaster cracks.  It will be several months before I'll be able to do any more drywall work.  I pushed the two-year-old injury too much and the surgeon says I'm on the verge of permanent damage to my thumb, index and middle finger.  Those of you who know me realize the important of keeping the middle finger in good working order at all times.  :)  I never know when I might need it.

This is what I really wanted.

This is what I got.  Red wasn't available in this style.

The "before" picture, after tear-off was in progress.  You can see it was time for replacement even without the hail damage.  All the algae build-up was so prolific that I couldn't kill it.  I have a tree trimmer coming out to give me an estimate on cutting back the tree overhanging the chimney and the one around back that's over the carport.  This will help eliminate any more such build-up, although the new shingles have a lengthy algae resistance warranty.




Brian was very unnerved at all the commotion on the roof, until I took him outside and showed him what was going on.  Afterwards, he couldn't have cared less and felt a nap was in order.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Termite damage

I knew when I purchased my home, there was termite damage from a former infestation.  Fortunately, it was confined to a small area in the master bedroom, along the back wall.  Although the crawlspace wall under that room is several cinderblocks high, they had invaded the 2x4 frame of the access door, then got inside the walls and made their colonies on the back side of the drywall.  This is why there was the peeling paper and cracked, crumbly drywall visible in the bedroom.  The baseboard for approximately ten feet was destroyed; I could poke it with minimal pressure with my finger and it would go right through.  Removing the baseboard and drywall revealed the majority of the mud structures had separated from the wall, breaking and crumbling as they hit the soleplate.  There were still a few stuck on the back of the drywall as I removed it, and I was shocked at how much they resemble mud wasp houses.  Surprisingly, the studs had incurred very little damage and didn't have to be repaired or replaced.  Apparently, the insulation facing, drywall paper, baseboards and some of the crawlspace door frame was their sustenance and they were discovered before further damage could occur.  The damaged materials were removed and everything thoroughly scraped and vacuumed out and new materials were installed.  It seems comical that the only termite damage to this entire house was done in the new section that was added in the 1980s.  

Larger section of interior damage.  Baseboard hole can be seen in the lower righthand corner.

Smaller interior damage

Baseboard as it's being removed, along with crumbled colonies.
Damage 4' high and 64" wide.  Another 16" x 22" piece will complete the top patch.

Insulation facing damage and stuck-on "mud"

A piece of colony, still stuck on the back of some drywall.  It's about 1' long, 8" wide and over an inch thick.

Shopping at Lowes for replacement materials.  (That's part of his leash behind him.)  He loves riding on the lumber cart.  I believe he thinks it's a giant skateboard.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Due to lack of storage in both bathrooms, I decided to try a possible solution in the hallway bath. A shelf over the door sounded appealing, but I wasn't sure it would work with the decor.  The shelf could be used to store extra bath linens, cleaning products, etc. With limited floor space, it's not an option to hang a cabinet or shelf on the long wall from the tub to the door (where the floor-to-ceiling cabinet used to be) or it would get in the way of everything.  For about $4 for a 1"x8"x6' pine board, and free 1"x6" pine scraps from old projects, I made a shelf and brackets. I figured if it didn't look right, it could always be used somewhere else. I free-handed the brackets on the scraps and cut them out using a jigsaw. The top braces of the brackets are cut-down grade stakes I ran across in the workshop while looking for the scrap lumber. They had exactly the necessary width and contour, but it was even better because one cut per stake was all I had to make. No rounding edges, etc. like the pine required. Using forstner bits, I routed out for flush-mounted keyhole hangers on the bracket backs to avoid exposed screw heads or dowel buttons on the front. For extra support, the back of the shelf rests on top of the door trim.  Bungalows are all about extra storage and utilizing otherwise wasted space, so it seems to fit with the other decor.  I was really pleased with the outcome.  Of course, I'm counting on the fact that I'm 5'10" now and can reach everything.  We'll see how practical it becomes as I get older.

Another thing that needed to be devised for the same room was something to hide the gap with the furnace register.  The old one was in poor condition and couldn't be saved. The new one wasn't quite as deep, leaving about a 3/4" gap the length of the duct opening on the floor if the register was placed flush against the baseboard. I got the idea to use scraps of backband leftover from the door I just hung and framed in the other bath. There was the right amount of thickness needed to bridge the gap between the wall and register, plus it provided a very pretty frame to an ordinary necessity. This turned out so attractively that I'm thinking of doing it anyplace there's a wall register, as long as there's enough space to spare without encroaching too much on the incoming air.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Privacy in the privvy

It's about time!

Almost nine months after the partial remodel on the master bathroom, THERE'S A DOOR.  Privacy at last!

Aside from being cheap, I refuse to buy anything new for the house unless I absolutely have to because, well, it's new.  New looks new.  It lacks the wear and love from years of use.  Therefore, it lacks character.  If my goal is to change back to authentic the few things around the house that were added or replaced over the years, then new is not the way to go.

I've often laughed and said that "death, divorce and the ReStore" is serving me well.  Most of my furniture came from the estates of family members who have passed on.  A few other pieces were bought quite reasonably from people who were divorcing.  Anyone who knows me or has at least been keeping up with this blog knows how much I love the ReStores or any good bargain resource, such as eBay or craigslist.

The bathroom door was a difficult find because it's 28" wide.  About three months ago, I got lucky with craigslist and found two 32" and one 28" two-panel doors for $6 each.  I bought all three, as I'll need every one.  Both 32s are under the house for now.  Getting the door ready to paint was quite the ordeal.  There were multiple layers of paint to be stripped but the new heat gun proved to be extremely helpful.  The previous owner had used Bondo (yes; BONDO, for cars!  Who knew?!) to fill in the old lock mortise and drill-outs for the antique knobs, then they had drilled out for a modern lockset.  I needed that reversed!  I needed the antique lockset set-up!  I got a quart of Bondo, which I had never used before, read the directions, and patched up all the holes and hinge mortises, essentially making it a slab door again.  It took three applications, but it's surprisingly easy to work with and cures in twenty to thirty minutes, ready to sand.  Much better than waiting days for layers of wood filler to cure, or trying to cut and patch in wood blocks.  I decided to turn what was previously the lock side of the door to make it the hinge side, so I could mortise out into wood where the antique lockset would go.  The lock mortising was tricky, as I'd never done that before for an antique set.  Using a spade bit for the depth worked very well but next time I will most definitely use a Forstner bit.  A chisel was used to shape up the sides, top and bottom. 

I found two pairs of 3" ball top hinges on eBay for about $4 and was elated to discover they're NOS (new old stock) still in the original boxes!  Due to the weight of this solid wood door, I was afraid two 3" hinges wouldn't be enough so I swapped them out with 4" hinges off the pantry door since it's much narrower and shorter.  To remove the layers of paint from the pantry hinges, I put the hinges, pins, and screws into an aluminum pie pan with enough water to adequately cover them, added about a tablespoon of liquid laundry detergent, and left them in a 350deg toaster oven for two hours.  The paint peeled right off, and a wire brush got into the nooks, but they still didn't look like shiny new brass so that made me happy.  When it's time to hang one of the other $6 doors, I'll swap out the spare pair of 3" hinges with the hall closet door.

The antique glass knob lockset came from eBay, also, and I was fortunate to have gotten two locksets just alike!  It was $34 for both and they're in perfect condition and all complete. 

The existing door trim was 3" colonial, so that was all removed, discarded, and replaced with 4.5" to match the rest of the house.  My concern was finding adequate backband (the fluted 90deg edging that goes around the outside of the wide trim) but following the advice of several people, I checked at Queen City Lumber and they had a perfect match for only $1.25/ft.  The parting stop was also a concern; there was none because the bathroom used to have bi-fold doors.  I discovered what I needed right in my own kitchen, as one of the original kitchen doors was removed when extra cabinets were installed near the opening. There could never again be a door there because it would have to be an outswing and that would be intrusive and look odd.  I stole the parting stop from there, stripped it, and used it for the bathroom. 

I'm very proud of the way this whole look turned out.  It's funny; I've definitely done much more expensive jobs, but how this all came together has come as a great surprise.  All the searching, stripping, painting, etc. was terribly time consuming and tedious but well worth it.  Everything inside the bathroom is painted but what remains outside in the bedroom will stay primed until it's time to paint that room, but that doesn't bother me.  It was my best compliment when Other Half took a look at the completed door, trim and lockset and said, "Dang.  That looks good.  It looks like it's always been there."  Now that made it all worthwhile.

Best picture I could get, considering there's maybe 5' of floor space.

Backband detail

Beautiful lockset