Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Things First

One of the important things we tackled first at our house remodel was getting a usable bathroom. 

The downstairs bathroom had an old iron claw foot tub which we removed.  I stripped the many layers of paint off the outside and feet.  I repainted a light cream color.  The inside wasn't in all that bad of shape.  It originally had sets of raccoon foot prints across the bottom.  Those pesky little critters were partying again.

The window was gone.  We stripped the wallpaper, removed the old paneling, installed car siding on the bottom half, wallpapered the top half, dry walled the ceiling, installed a ceiling fixture, wall vent and various other electrical outlets and switches.  All new plumbing, sink, toilet and hardware.  New sub floor, tile and paint.  Step by step put it all together and we had become almost human.

Speaking of windows, we installed 21 custom low E double pane windows, 1 picture window and 7 other windows, one double entry door, 4 single entry doors and two garage doors.  Most windows tilt in to enable us to wash them from the inside.  The house had five little windows and screens that could be raised into the attic.  Pretty darn advanced for it's day and totally worthless at the point of our purchase.  We now have crank out windows on these.  Fortunately, Jerry had spent some career time working for a window manufacturing company and knew how to install windows.

The tile floor was my first experience installing tile and I found it worked quite well even though it was rather back breaking.

The house had all painted woodwork.  The secondary room floors were simply unpainted boards.  The formal rooms had painted floors.  The painted wood was originally done in "Swedish wood graining".  It's a process the Swedes used, applying a coat of bright gold milk paint, a coat of brown which was then made to look like wood grain, and then varnished.  At some point, all this had been painted over and over and over.  I got it in my head to strip all the woodwork.  I started with this bathroom's door.  I used stripper, and more stripper, and hand sanded, and machine sanded and scraped and finally realized the milk paint had soaked into the wood so deeply, it was never coming out.  I left the back of the bathroom door stripped and sealed but it was my only attempt.  Hence, all our woodwork is painted a cream color.  We sanded the formal (living, dining and TV) room floors.  They are wide old boards of perhaps chestnut or maple.  They have lots of "character" which is saying they show their age.  We love them.  The rest of the rooms are either carpet, tile or faux wood.   

Our little downstairs bathroom isn't large but it's quite sufficient.  And, if we need a really good hot soak, the old claw foot tub is perfect.  Once it's filled with hot water, it keeps it hot for a long time.  It's deep, it's comfortable and it was free with the house.  The grand babies have loved "swimming" in it at bath time.

I grew up in an era where everyone had an outdoor toilet (For some reason, it was called the "outdoor john".)  Although we had indoor plumbing in our homes, I remember when the power went out (and it did lots), the pump stopped working and the outhouse experience was the trip I dreaded.  I'm of the era that is still grateful for indoor plumbing and this bathroom certainly reaffirmed that gratefulness.

This was the first room finished and it was an island in a sea of construction and mess.  It gave us the strength to know there would be a day when another room was done and then another and another.  This is the reason we would try to do one room completely at a time before moving on to another room.  (The exception was the major projects like electrical, windows and etc. that impacted the entire house.)

A home with a working indoor bathroom is a lovely thing.


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