Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Live Action Renovation Part I

Today, Tim's taking the day off work to really tackle all that woodwork in Varro's room.  He's armed with plastic sheeting, new scraping tools, steel wool, 3 jugs of Citri-strip, mineral spirits, two thermoses of coffee, and a load of determination.  We hope that we can get a lot of the wood trim stripped and restored ourselves, so we can dedicate our contractor money to things we really aren't in a position to do, like restore the floors and windows.

I asked him to keep me updated, and we thought it might be entertaining to do live updates on the blog, since this is a rare time when one of us will have full access to the internet and the other will be working in the house. 

Step I:  He's got the plastic sheeting down:

In good news, we had a contractor out yesterday to look at the house and give us some quotes on some of the things we need to have done.  This was a really useful benchmark.  While it would be great to be able to just plunk down $16,500 and have the floors, baseboards, doors, and windows in all of the upstairs rooms and the library all done by professionals, we just don't have that moolah! 

Now, a bit of a digression is necessary here to explain what we're thinking currently for these rooms:

A common practice in the Victorian period was to use the lavish and expensive materials, such as hardwood for flooring and baseboards and elaborate plastering decorations in the public areas of a home, like the parlors, dining rooms, entrances, and main staircases, and then economize on the private spaces.  This means that homes like ours have beautiful, narrow hardwood floors in the main spaces (since floorboards were likely pit-sawn, narrower flooring would mean more work went into producing the boards, so they were more expensive.)  And, indeed, our house has stunning hardwood flooring and equally lush 11 inch baseboards and trim throughout the first floor, up the staircase, and along the upstairs hallway, all of which would be visible to a visitor.  If you've been following along, you also know that, to our great relief, we've found good flooring in the library, which was once the kitchen.  We haven't investigated that thoroughly yet, so it's possible this isn't the same flooring as the rest of the downstairs, but we do know it's not pine and it does look like it's in pretty good shape.  We're keeping the carpet on it for now, because there's a lot of tromping up and down the basement stairs with big boxes going on, and these are accessed through the library. 

But, back to the upstairs floors.  Wide-planked pine flooring and pine baseboards were the materials used to construct these more humble rooms in the Victorian period, and that is indeed what we've found underneath the ancient (not in a good way) carpet and layers of paint.  While we could go ahead and rip it all out and install hardwood and new baseboards, the irony is that in today's house-decorating world, those wide-planked boards are all the rage!   Our floors are 3/4 inch pine, overlaid on a 3/4 inch subfloor (we also happily discovered this subfloor, since we'd originally thought that the floors were laid directly on the joists). 

So, we were very relieved to hear that the contractor who saw the house yesterday believes that the pine floors in the four bedrooms upstairs can be sanded and restored.  He estimates that sanding and putting a hard finish on the floors in the four rooms (about 600 square feet) will be about $2400.   That's great, as far as we are concerned!  Of course, we will keep investigating further, but it was really great news that the floors could be restored, instead of having to replace them. 

And, as you know, our initial forays into the stripping world (come on, you knew we'd have to go there sometime...) have revealed that awesome bright-finished pine baseboard under the gunky white paint.  I envision warm, pine floors and baseboards with some awesome updated colors gracing the kids rooms, all lit by beautifully restored wood-framed windows.  That is also an area where I think we'll need some help.  I think some of these windows haven't been opened in at least 16 years, so they will need some serious work to get them moving and in good shape again.  Our first estimate was $600 a window (x 8 windows) for depainting, reglazing, and restoration of the hardware.  Seems reasonable.  We'll keep looking, but it's a good starting point. 

And don't worry, when we get to the point where we can contemplate paint colors, we'll put all those up for your consideration and take comments and votes!  We need to pretty much paint every room in the house, so for those of you who love making those decisions, we're happy to hear from you, as we are paralyzed by the dizzying array of options that exist. 

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