Saturday, April 2, 2011


Slowly but surely, the water closet is taking shape:

I've installed the first wall of beadboard. It's really very simple. Cut to size, snap into place. The new stuff isn't an EXACT match to the original that had to be removed, but once it's painted it will look great. I decided to put insulation in the outer wall since the opportunity presented itself, so I have to do that before any more beadboard work. I still need to find the hexagonal tile (everyone seems to only carry the octagonal with squares in between - not as historically appropriate) and a light fixture for the wall also.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It started with mold...

That I spotted on my baseboard molding (mold on molding, ha) when walking up my stairs a few weeks ago. Directly on the other side of a wall with a toilet, I thought that the toilet valve might be leaking. Upon inspection, I noticed the area below the toilet was very moist, and the drywall came off easily. So I started demolition:

I decided to remove the one wall's drywall, discovered wood paneling underneath that (I think installed in the 1950s or 1960s) and underneath that, ORIGINAL bead board from 1910. In the picture above you can see three layers of history, as I discovered. You can also see the old outline of the original toilet tank (cool!).

Anyway, I figured I might as well take off all of the drywall and wood in the room and soon discovered only ONE wall still had original beadboard, so I am now down to the studs in the entire room. After removing the toilet, and discovering that the toilet valve was not leaking, I thought it might be a roof leak. The roofers came yesterday and patched some other areas of the house, including the one above this room, but last night, I removed the bead board (only some salvageable) and discovered why everything was so wet:

See the missing section of pipe? Yeah. That pipe rises from the sewer line that the bathtub and toilet share (to vent steam from the hot water in the tub/gases up to the attic and out through the roof) which is the obvious cause of my problem. My roomie turned on the hot water in the tub, let it run, and soon, the steam was rising. After wondering who would be dumb enough to not connect them or why they didn't, I was at least relieved I found the problem. Luckily, the wood isn't completely rotten, just moist. I am going to put in a dehumidifier to draw the moisture out after fixing the pipe, and I sprayed the mold with bleach last night. The bead board I tore out is not really salvageable, except for a few pieces, which I will save for repairs to other parts of the house. At least I know what material to put up on the walls for restoration. There is asbestos flooring in this room, so I'll tile over it, perhaps those hexagonal tiles that were popular in bathrooms, and are still easy to find. More photos:

This is an interesting shot, showing the lath, the chimney from the fireplace downstairs on the left, original knobs from the knob and tube wiring that was replaced at some point, and a strange vent in the ceiling above (also present in the closets of each bedroom - most of which have been covered over, as was this one). I'll have to replicate the window trim, which was removed when the wood paneling was put in place, but I can copy the trim from the downstairs water closet, so no worries there.

Some type of lichen growing in my walls?!?

Door before removing wood panel.

Door after removing wood panel - SO much better! (Notice water damage on freshly painted wall to the right of the broom handle - another sign of the problem at hand.)

Anyway, looks like another project.

And for fun:

I cut down the hedge in front! The hedge was about four and a half feet high, RIGHT next to the curb, and made the house look haunted. Now the house is open to the street, and no more nasty hedge of privet, bay laurel, and star jasmine, which only served as a leaf trap for the large oak:

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring is here...

And I got rid of the ugly concrete curbing that did nothing for me or the landscape...

Smokey likes to keep up on the progress by watching from the windows.

More soon.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Detective Work

If you live in an old house, then being a detective should come as second nature. Case in point, my kitchen:

Obviously, the florescent light fixtures are not original, but I didn't get a chance to really investigate until I had to change some bulbs. I thought I might find the original light fixture location underneath all, and I did:

After some scraping with a screwdriver (and making a huge mess in the process), I found that the original wiring is still there. I had assumed that the kitchen (which was altered heavily in the 1970s) originally had a single fixture, and now I know I was right.

Also, this got me thinking that the butler's pantry, which is now open to the kitchen, was probably at one time its own separate room, as most usually are. Also of interest here is the original ceiling finish, which is much rougher than what is there now (outside of the fixture.) There's also a strange bread cabinet built into the wall (which everyone kept calling a dumbwaiter, which it never was). I found out from an old photo from the previous owner there was once a window where the cabinet is now, so it would be nice to put the window back later.

Last but not least is this strange medallion in the very center of the floor of my dining room, which I found after I pulled up the carpet. Anyone know what it is? My guess is a wire ran through the holes in the center for a servant call button, which I have seen in other older homes. Any other guesses?

The dining room has been rife with discoveries - ghost marks from old sconces on either side of the built in sideboard, hinge marks on the door frame leading into the conservatory, and also on the large doorway that leads into the dining room from the entrance hall:

Very interesting, indeed. I have a feeling the detective work will never be done, but that is part of the fun of owning an old home.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Garden Room

Not only do I have my conservatory on the first floor, but I also have what I have named The Garden Room, upstairs.

This room is attached to the smaller of the three bedrooms, and was originally a screened sleeping porch. Sleeping porches were popular here in the Valley before air conditioning. With cooler nights, people would put their beds out on the screened porch and enjoy the breezes.

Sometime in the past few years, there were windows put in around the porch. I still have the original interior screens though. The original porch floor is still visible, as well as the bead board walls and ceiling. It's very charming. Now I use this room for some of my vintage gardening items, some wicker furniture (Thanks Aunt Amy!) and PLANTS. Most of my cacti/succulent collection is in this room for the Winter. It gets quite warm during the day, and the heat that builds up lasts into the night, so the plants love it. It is a great spot to read, or to sit and chat with friends.

This is one of my favorite rooms.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Conservatory is Finished

After removing the carpet over a year ago, sanding the walls and ceiling, staining the walls and ceiling (2 coats), laying the tile, grouting the tile, and sealing the grout, I can finally say this room is finished. My tropicals finally have a nice space for the cool Winter months ahead!

To get into the room, you pass through a doorway which used to have french doors (with windows on either side.) These were removed at some point after the (previously) exterior porch was enclosed to make this room in 1949. I plan on putting in French doors and windows that match the rest of the house's windows in the future.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Morning Light

For a few fleeting moments, this corner in the inglenook is brilliant with sunlight every morning.