Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bathroom Renovation

Surely you remember the lone bathroom on the second floor of 1926 Foursquare. 
What a mess.

Firstly, please note the total lack of an exhaust fan, a single electrical outlet-
(that is ONE outlet which also functions as a lightswitch)
so exactly one socket in which to plug a hair dryer or something. 

Usually it sports a pretty night light. 

I am such a huge fan of GE's electroluminescent night lights!

You may also remember...

My beloved laundry chute. <3

My adorable gas flame space heater. <3

We had the heater removed last spring. That's around the time things got really bad.

View from above the medicine cabinet. Someone did a REALLY crappy job.

I effing hate this vanity. What I wouldn't give for a pedestal sink and a built-in medicine cabinet!
Alas, that is not in the budget for this round of remodeling!

Solution = paint it!!!

The paint... I hated that paint. I know it's not the paint's fault that we didn't put a vent in our bathroom when we first moved in, but the paint cracked like crackle paint and slimey paint-water ran down the walls every time we showered. So gross. So we were like screw you crappy paint! And we installed a fan and painted with better quality (Sherwin Williams) paint in hopes of not having a repeat of the crackling.

That is, we repainted after framing the ceiling over top of the plaster and installing new drywall and a fancy fan light. We also installed a new wall so that the end of the tub would be flush with the wall so we could install a tub surround. The tub surround went on perfectly on the newly built, perfectly flat drywall. However, on the curvy wavy plaster walls from 1926? Not so much. It was like an episode of I Love Lucy as we contorted ourselves in the bathtub, smashing our shoulders and bottoms against the vinyl trying to get the surround to curve and stick to the walls. But those things are designed NOT to warp so getting them to act flimsy and bend so that they would adhere water-tight was a nightmare! On top of all of this, the manufacturer-recommended caulk peeled off like rubber cement the day after it was applied. I swear that surround is made of Teflon. It is, to this day, the bane of my existence! 

 New ceiling.

New plate rails. (The walls were too wavy for wainscoting.)

New cabinet for towels and stuff.

Pretty paint!

New prints and a pretty fan light.

New hooks for towels courtesy of Target. God, I love Target!

Pretty hand towels hanging on our new wall!

So in love with our hotel shower curtain rod!

I am so incredibly glad this project is over with- for now! Still shopping architectural reclamation and salvage centers for the perfect pedestal sink!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Tuesday, April 19, 2011:

Husband is smack in the middle of remodeling our bathroom, and we're taking a break and eating lunch, when we hear a huge POP! Husband runs upstairs to make sure the piping for the new shower he's just installed is intact. It is. We shrug and go back to eating lunch.

Ten minutes later, our next door neighbor knocks on the door. "Do you have water?" he asks.
"Yeah," I reply, "The water's on, why?"
"No, in your basement, do you have water?"
"Uh, Jason's been up and down the stairs all day turning the water on and off, I think we're dry. Jason is the basement wet?"
Jason puts down is sandwich and goes down to the basement.
A long series of curse words drifts up from the cold air return.
"We've got water!"

Neighbor proceeds to explain that he's lived in our neighborhood for decades and that they have not had any problems with their sewer drain backing up since the early 1980s when the city expanded the sewer line out on the main road. That's 30 years and no problem with their main drain. Neighbor's brother lives across the street so he knows the houses in our neighborhood very well, and when he saw water in our basement he figured we'd have the same problem and ran over to tell us, first thing. We have the sweetest neighbors! We might not have noticed for hours if he hadn't come over.

It's a good thing we did notice because our 1-year-old, $5,000 furnace would have been under a foot of water if I hadn't run out to Home Depot for a sump pump. It was a bad Tuesday.

Friday, October 1, 2010

2010 Concours d'Elegance

We were surprised with some free tickets to a lovely local event- the 2010 Dayton Concours d'Elegance! (Ahh, the perks of working for public television!) Now I know this is an old house blog, but I think this really fits with the theme of historic restoration, don't you?

I was really impressed with the bigness of the show. It was held at Carillon Park, a large historical park similar to Detroit's Greenfield Village. Carillon Park emphasizes the Dayton area's rich history of invention, exhibiting items from the Wright Brothers, the National Cash Register corporation, as well as old buildings and historic artifacts from around the Miami Valley. 1926 Foursquare is located about six blocks from Carillon Park.

We saw so many gorgeous cars it should have been hard to choose a favorite. But it wasn't, because the first car we saw was The Westcott!

You may recognize this 1920 model from our wedding photos. She's a beauty! And my goodness those big seats are comfortable! I love it. I cannot describe my excitement to see it. It actually belongs to the Frank Lloyd Wright Westcott House Foundation , the organization that performed the full historic renovation of the house in which we were married. Both the house and the car have been restored to look just like new! Except for the turn signals. I love the turn signals!

The old-timey cars were my favorite. Everybody likes the vintage sports cars, the pony cars, the muscle cars-- but as for me, I prefer a "classier" caliber of vehicle, something with some style! Here are some of the cars that caught my eye:

I suppose I should also mention that Dayton is home to America’s Packard Museum, the home of literally dozens of refurbished Packard cars. It is located in the historically preserved 1917 Citizens Motorcar Company building, a popular car dealership in its day. We saw so many gorgeous, lavishly, lovingly restored Packards at the Concours. We saw tons of cars from the 1930’s—cars that would have been puttering around Dayton when 1926 Foursquare was young, and that was really neat. But my favorite part of the day was wandering into Carillon Park’s Transportation Museum.

I loved this train car. It was so luxurious- the interior was all velvet seats, stained glass windows, beautiful lighting and amazing woodwork. Even the bathrooms were sparkly!

Aren’t those light fixtures exquisite? That’s my brand new husband standing in the aisle, by the way. He’s exquisite, too!

I thought the hat, handbag, and novel on the table was a nice touch, and when we exited the car, a coach was waiting!

We also saw a bus, an OLD streetcar (my favorite!) and an 1883 horse-drawn fire engine. Despite the heat, we had an amazing day. I had forgotten how fun Carillon Park can be! After the show, Jason and I had dinner at an Applebee’s. This is the wall next to the booth where we were seated:

I thought it was funny so I snapped a picture!

We’re still coming off the honeymoon high, (who knows, perhaps we never will!) so we haven’t done much work on the house lately. But we’ve really been enjoying living here, despite all of the renovations in progress. We are always picking up ideas, finding neat things, and making plans. Rummage sales, antique malls and thrift stores are always on our list of Saturday outings. You never know when you’re going to find the perfect piece of art, the perfect lamp, or the perfect chair for this corner or that one. It is so exciting to own an old house!

Monday, September 27, 2010

"My little dog, a heartbeat at my feet." - Edith Wharton

Last December, Jason and I adopted Cooper from Craigslist. He is a beautiful 3 year old English Springer Spaniel, but when we met him, he would not stop barking at us! He was abused by his former owners, and he hated men. It took him a half an hour to stop growling at us long enough to take a milk bone! His original owners had gotten divorced, and the wife couldn't afford to keep Cooper. So she gave them to a nice couple that thought they could keep him, until their landlord added a no-pets policy to their new lease! So they posted an ad for him on Craigslist. When we went to look at Cooper, this family really didn't want to give him up, but they wanted Cooper to have a forever home. I knew as soon as I saw Cooper's picture that Jason would love him. I had wanted a German Shepherd, but Jason wanted a Welsh Springer Spaniel. (It turns out, there are only something like 500 Welsh Springer Spaniels in the United States!) And I never thought a grown-up dog could look so much like a puppy, but Cooper definitely has that baby face. And it was his baby face that won us over. After about an hour, he was rolling over for a belly rub. We took him home that night.

I have no idea how we got so lucky with Cooper. Normally, when rescuing a pet from a shelter, there is a standard interview process and plenty of time to get to know the dog you're adopting. Not so with Cooper. We sat with him for about an hour before we took him home, and most of that time was spent trying to convince him we weren't going to beat him up! But that was almost a year ago. Now, Cooper only very occasionally gives a little grumble when approached by a man. Other than that, he's all smiles. And he was a little overweight when we got him, but feeding him less was a good thing- it cost us less in dog food! And we love taking trips to the Bark Park and running the agility course, which keeps Coop in tip-top shape. He's a permanent part of our family.

I think every old house needs an old dog to keep it safe and homey. Anytime someone comes onto our yard, Cooper is at the window, ready to let us know! More than once, Cooper has alerted the neighbors to someone prowling around their cars. We live in about a half a mile wide strip of suburb nestled quaintly between a very high income community and an old industrial town. It's good, because we have low taxes, great neighbors, and unique, beautiful homes, but it's bad because we tend to get bad people coming through the neighborhood at night looking for stuff to steal. It seems that all the best old houses are in not the best of neighborhoods- but all the more reason to adopt a dog and add the extra measure of security! Cooper is a great guard dog. My neighbors hear him barking at our door every time the mailman comes, and they always come out to check on our house if Cooper is barking and it isn't mail time. I have a friend house-sit when we are out of town, and I feel totally confident that she and Cooper can hold down the fort while we are away. I don't think I'll ever board him, because it is better for him and for our house if he's at home fulfilling his role as guard dog!

And of course, there is nothing more homey than sitting in your living room at night, watching a movie while your dog sleeps on the hearth, little legs kicking as he "chases rabbits". I love my dog. Our many walks throughout the day keep us in touch with the neighbors, the groundsmen at the local park, even the local police. Everyone knows Cooper, and his little cow spots. They stop to pet him as they get into their cars to go to work. They take a break from working on their own old houses just to get Cooper a milk bone. They take a break from pulling weeds in the garden at the park to scratch his ears. He is a good dog, and you might think he's lucky we found him, but we are the lucky ones. He is the best addition we ever made to our old new house. Older than the wood and the stone, the wavy glass in the windows, even older than the cobblestones we keep digging up in our flowerbed- is this ancient symbiotic relationship between dogs and men. This trust that we will keep each other safe and warm and fed. Every day when my husband comes home, Cooper bounces around joyfully as if he's coming home from the war. I'll never know how we got so lucky, but we did, and we are both so eternally grateful to be able to give such an awesome animal a home!