Saturday, August 29, 2009

It’s Because of the Trees

Well, it’s not really because of the trees, but I’ve complained enough about local business people lately, that this time I’ll blame it on the trees.

It is the trees fault that I have decided not to rebuild the chimneys this year. The intent has always been to restore the coal burning fireplaces so I could burn coal. A few years ago, right after I lined the flue in the kitchen with a stainless steel liner, I actually bought 50 pounds of coal.

Even though I lined that flue, the chimneys don’t go through the roof any more. The plan was to hire some people to line the flue for the parlor and the flue for the dining room, and then have a mason come out and take the chimneys out through the roof. Also a few years ago, I bought 600 bricks just for this job.

Of course, the real question many people are asking right now is why on earth would I want to burn coal. I don’t really have an answer for that. I just want to. I have two coal burning fireplaces and I want to burn coal in them. Many of my friends put in reproduction natural gas fired inserts.

They are very fancy and look like mansion quality coal baskets in the days of old. They are small and designed to fit in these old coal burning fireplaces. They look nice, but are really just ornamental, because they put out very little heat.



For those of you who are not familiar with an old coal fireplace, they have a very small fire box. Mine are only 11-inches deep and then taper up. The reason they are so small is because coal burns so hot. I’ve read that coal burns between 2000 to 4000 degrees, where as wood burns between 500 to 1200 degrees. It takes very little coal to generate a lot of heat.

This is the hearth tile for the parlor


The dining room will look similar, but incorporate these tiles.


From my estimates, the cost would be about the same regardless of whether I line the chimneys for coal or put in the reproduction coal baskets. The stainless steel liner is very expensive, but so are the reproduction coal baskets. Not only that, but I would still need to line the chimneys with a class b liner if I put in the coal baskets. I would also need to run gas line to both fireplaces. I wouldn’t be surprised if the reproduction job would end up costing more. For once though, cost isn’t the issue. I’ve planned and budgeted for the chimney repair.

The problem is these 2 tress in the side yard. One is a holly tree that is totally in the way and it really not very attractive. It was growing right up against the 2 store addition I took down and it is really very lopsided. Not only that, but it spawns little holly trees all over the yard. I hate it.

The other tree is only a few yards away and has major problems. It is probably 30 feet tall and has rot and fungus. It arcs out over both my phone and power lines and this past winter a branch broke off and hung on the phone line. I really like it, though, and as it turns out I will be able to save it, but it will take a major pruning to do so.

Two weeks ago I called a licensed arborist/tree trimmer to come out and look at my trees. I called on Monday and he was at a job and said he would call back Tuesday, which of course he didn’t. I called again this week and had him come out. He said we can save the big tree and I will get several more years out it, which is great. He is supposed to come back this week on Tuesday to do the work. What do you think the odds are he will show up?

Also this week, I called a mason about looking at my chimneys. He was driving and said he would call back when he stops. He never called back. {Sigh} I just don’t have it in me to deal with these people right now. This room started 12 months ago when I began the cabinets. I just want to finish the dining room with out having to beg people to come over and take my money. I shouldn’t have to. If I pursue the mason and a chimney liner guy, the whole thing will drag out for months. I just know it.

So, I’m not going to do the chimneys this year. If I didn’t have to deal with the stupid trees, I most likely would have pursued the mason harder, or maybe started sooner, so it’s the stupid trees fault. I’m going to do the drapes and blinds, finish the floor, and tile the hearth and I will be finished with this room.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Last Word On Drapes

Boy, it’s been just like old times on The Petch House Blog over the past week. There have been a lot of comments on my plan for drapes on the dinging room windows. Some good, some bad, but mostly good. The whole process has been positive and very helpful. I am so glad now that I am not going with my original idea of the swag draperies. It is not that it wouldn’t have looked nice, but I think I will be happier with what I am doing. The design meets all of my original criteria.

Not too formal.
Simple in design.
Doesn’t hide the woodwork.
It has a definite nod to the past.
It won’t break the bank.

So, here is what I’m going with. To read the back story click Here and Here.

Still a work in progress with the paint stripping


These are the windows. A few suggested a single, continuos rod, but visually I’m not sure that would work here with the picture rail. I think it would just look odd. Another person showed a picture of a rod that went across the front and sort of sliced off the bay from the rest of the room. Again, I just don't think that would look right in this setting.

I will buy unfinished wood poles and brackets and stain them to match the rest of the redwood dado and casing in the room. The poles will be mounted just below the corner blocks. You can see a selection of wood poles and brackets here. I like the “European Style Bracket”, mainly because I think they are unique, but also I saw some antique ones listed on Ebay that were very similar to those. They remind me of the Victorian era door stops.



Above is the look I’m going for. Notice how the drapes hang inside the casing and don’t hide the woodwork. They are surprisingly simple in style, yet still formal and elegant. The drapes hang from rings with the poles exposed (those look like brass). The drapes are drawn back with ropes with tassels. I’ll be doing the same thing.



The real difference between mine and what is in the photo is that I will have roller shades behind the drapes. From the looks of that house, I don’t think privacy is an issue. I bought the shades at Smith+Noble and are similar to the shade above. Ignore that drape in the photo.

The last piece of the puzzle was the fabric for the drapes. On Sunday I made my first trip in to a fabric store in my adult life. As I child I was dragged through a few by my mother, so the experience was not completely foreign. Still, it was about as close to foreign as I can get without leaving the country. It didn’t take too long for me to find what I liked, and the best part is, it was on sale at 40% off. Anyone who has read this blog long enough knows that it wouldn’t even need to be my first selection and the 40% discount would be enough to seal the deal.



So here it is. There is still more to buy. Next week drapery lining will be 50% off, so I will buy that then. I also need the rope tie-backs, and some sort of edging. I’m not sure what the proper name is. I’m referring to the dingle-balls or rope edging. I saw all of this stuff at the fabric store today. I just need to go back next week when the lining is on sale and buy it.

I still need to decide if I want to do some kind of contrasting color fabric in the drapes like in the picture above. I’ll look at what is available when I go back to the fabric store next week. Once I get the rods hung I’ll ask someone at the fabric store if they know of a seamstress for hirer and have everything sewn up. The drapes and shades won’t be hung until the messy job of floor refinishing is done, so I am weeks away before the “after” picture will be posted.

The hard part is over. Now I just need to do the actual work.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More On Window Treatments

I expected a big response from my last post and I got it. Thanks to everyone that posted. There was a lot of good information and good ideas given. First, to clarify a few things. The drapes are in addition to roller shades that have already been ordered. Many mentioned Roman shades, and while those might be nice, I’m not going to toss out $400 worth or roller shades and then order Roman shades.

One person asked a good question and that was, how is the rest of the room going to be decorated. If I was planning doing a mid-century modern look and bring in a bunch of Eames inspired furniture, then the drapes should match that style. As it is, I am planning on a formal dining room. That is, after all, what this room is.





So far I have the reproduction mahogany sideboard above, which I don’t really like all that much. The house came with 6 clawfoot tubs and I was desperate to unload two of them, so I traded them for that. I also have the Duncan Phyfe style table. That I’m not overly thrilled with either, but it was only $160 and it looks good under a table cloth. I plan on putting a large fern or palm in the middle of the bay window, with 2 extra chairs on either side. The only space left will be to the right of the fire place. That will have a small, yet to be purchased, marble top table. Along with the fireplace and built-in, the room will be full.

The best comment yesterday was the one that had the link to the Charles Eastlake article. Eastlake was a late 19th century critic who released several editions of an influential book on interior design in the 1880s and 1890s. The first sentence says it all, “The absurd fashion which regulates the arrangement of modern window-hangings cannot be too severely condemned, on account both of its ugliness and inconvenience.” Talk about not pulling punches!

He goes on to describe what proper curtains should look like. A simple metal or wood rod no more than and inch and a half in diameter, that the rings would slip over, and simple finials. “As for the curtains themselves, when not in use they hung straight down on either side, of a sufficient length to touch, but not sweep the ground.

This idea of “less is more” for drapes seemed to usher in a new trend in the 1890s. In the book “Victorian Interior Decoration”, there is a quote in the 1890 to 1900 chapter in which N. W. Jacobs, a drapery maker at the time wrote, “There were more first-class drapery men in the trade a decade since then there are at the present time, a fact which is accounted for by reason of the change in style of drapery. When the Eastlake and Queen Anne styles came in to favor, almost anyone could plan and cut the plain, straight valances and the long curtains. The experienced salesman were forced in to other channels of life.

Another quote for an 1890s book titled, “House Painting and Decorating” explained, “People no longer think that all of the woodwork of the window must be covered up and hidden by heavy upholstery, so the architect is called upon to design daintily fashioned wooden trim and moldings and the painter is called upon to finish those in the highest style of his art.

While this may describe emerging trends, there were no doubt a lot of people still doing drapes of all sorts in the 1890s. No matter what the decade, the world does not march in lock step where style is concerned. It is not like there was Interior Design Czar that suddenly announced that the world would now design in the Arts & Craft style and Victorian was dead. New styles can exist for more than a decade before they become popular.

I think though, I am moving away from the swag idea and in to something more like what Eastlake described. With the right fabric it will look simple, elegant, and be affordable. What more could I ask for.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Swags or Panels, Panels or Swags

I’ve fallen in to window treatment hell. The only thing I do know at this point is what I don’t want. I don’t want heavy, Victorian-esque drapes with a dominating valance that covers everything. I spent way too much time stripping the paint off the woodwork in this room to now cover it all up with pinch-pleated drapes.

I toyed with the idea of lace panels, but that is really a bit much for me. The next thing you know I would be tossing doilies around the room. Mostly, I’m trying to avoid the house looking too much like an 1890s Victorian. I’m trying to find a nice balance between the old and the new. I want a slightly contemporary look with a definite nod to the past.

I’m almost finished with the paint stripping on these


Above are the windows in question. This is the 3-window bay in the dining room. You can see the other 3 walls in this room in a post from last week. Including the casing and corner blocks, each window is 110X42 inches. This pretty much rules out anything off-the-shelf. I was just at Target and the longest panels they had were 95-inches. Even if I started at the base of the corner blocks they would still hang awkwardly off the floor.

I was going to go to a local drapery place, but after my last experience with a local shop owner I might blow up at them, and not just on the blog, if I was met with a poor attitude. I’ve found that when shopping for drapes or carpeting I’m usually not accepted very well unless I were to go in dressed in a 3 piece suit or something. They pretty much feel like they are wasting their time.

I remember when I shopped for carpet at my last house. When I told the sales woman I needed carpet for 3 rooms and a hallway she immediately took me to the in-door/out-door carpet samples. I had to stare at her her in the eyes, and in a voice like I was talking to a 2 year old say, “No, for inside my house. Three rooms and a hallway inside my house. Later, in the same house, I had another salesman come by to give me a quote on sheet vinyl for the kitchen. What was there was dingy and stained and curling up along one wall. His response was, “What, for a guy like you, this isn’t too bad”. He didn’t get my business either. {Sigh!} It is like I must beg people to take my money sometimes.

I’m going to go with wood rods and holders. I’ve found several unfinished types both locally and on-line that I can stain to look like redwood, so it will match the rest of the wood in the room. For the drapes I was leaning towards simple tabbed panels at first, because I thought it would be easy. I’m sure I could find someone to sew a hem and add some tabs at the top if I found the fabric. However, I think that might be a little too contemporary. It is a nice look, but a little plain for this room.

So now I’m leaning towards swag drapes. If I beg and plead, and maybe buy a new suit, I could probably find a professional to make swag drapes for me. Another trend is to hang fabric over rod and loop it across the top, with the swag hanging down in the middle. I think it is a nice look and not too formal, but it may be too trendy. I want to hang the rods at the base of the corner blocks so the blocks are still visible. I’ve ordered roller-shades from Smith & Noble for the windows, so the swag drapes would be in addition to that, and go to the floor on both sides.

Pinch Pleated With Valance


Tab Panel


Swag – mine would be a little simpler than this


When I used Smith & Noble for the kitchen some people mentioned how they were over-priced and I should shop else where next time. This time I went to three or four different sites and Smith & Noble was right in the ballpark and not even the most expensive. Some sites were really, really cheap, but that makes me nervous to buy something that is so far below what others are selling the item for. I picture the first time I go to roll up the shade the damn thing breaks and pops off the wall and is then a non-rolling roller shade for the next 10 years.

With the roller shades purchased and the rods and hangers picked out, the last piece of the puzzle is the fabric for the swag. So today I went – {wait for it}in to a fabric store. I was so far out of my element I felt like I should have been in a NASA space suit with a tether attaching me to my car in the parking lot. It was like I was in a SciFi movie with deep, noisy inhales and exhales as I moved in slow motion around the rows of fabrics. This must be how some woman feel when they go in to an auto-parts store. I had no idea where to even start.

I strolled around looking at fabrics and noting prices. I figure I need 8 yards per window. Prices ranged from $2.99 to $9.99 a yard, but nothing really caught my eye at first. This is primarily because I’m not sure what I’m looking for. I eventually found my way back to a selection of upholstery fabrics. They were pricey, but really very nice and a lot to chose from. The best part is, they are normally $14.99 a yard, but are 40% off until the end of the month. Some have nice patterns that I think would give me that nod to the past that I’m looking for. Now I just need to make a decision.

Ugh!

Friday, August 21, 2009

New Windows!!!

Oh, not for me. God no. No, my neighbor just put new windows in to his old Victorian. To his credit, he did not put in vinyl. He did the right thing and put in top of the line Anderson windows. They are wood with an aluminum clad exterior that has a nice, historic color. The reason I’m so excited about it is because I get old wavy glass and old rusty, painted over hardware. Wooo-Hooo!



Most of the original hardware was gone, but from the downstairs windows I salvaged 7 sash locks and 5 sash lifts. I’ll go over this weekend to see what is worth salvaging from the upstairs windows. The deal is, if I want the hardware I must take the whole window. Sadly, the glass is a little smaller than my windows, so I can’t use that. Still, it has got to be good for something.



After I boil everything for about an hour in a water and TSP mix I’m left with the murky, toxic brew seen above. Normally, this will take 90% of the paint off metal hardware. For the sash lifts, this worked great. For the locks, not so much. This boiling method seems to have almost no effect on the catch part of the lock. I attribute this to the sun. Normally, metal hardware won’t spend 120 years exposed to the sun. Sash locks get the sun all day, every day. The back side of the catch really has no escape. The paint gets baked on.

I tried using a wire brush wheel on the Rotozip. It worked, but sometimes took off more than it should. I switched to a nylon brush wheel, but the individual strands on the brush were too big to get in to the detail. I didn’t have as much trouble with the sash lock I cleaned last week that came off my windows. It is very odd. I may try good, old fashioned methylene chloride paint stripper next.



After the nylon brush, I spent some quality time with a utility knife and sand paper and ended up with the results seen above. It was about 10 minutes of work on the sash lock and almost nothing on the sash lift.

The interesting thing about these is that they are about 30% smaller than the locks and lifts in my house, and my neighbors house is about 30% smaller than my house. Did they really go to that much trouble to size the sash locks and lifts to a particular scale of the house? The other interesting thing is that the catch and handle of the sash locks are identical - except for the size - as the locks in my house, but the base and locking arm are a different style. Must be the same manufacturer.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Little B&A Action

Work on the windows has been slogging along. These windows were the last of the copious amounts of woodwork in the dining room that remained to be stripped of paint. The windows themselves are in surprisingly good shape. I mean, they don’t open, because they’ve been hopelessly painted shut for decades, but at least they are not rotten. The reason I’m surprised that they are structurally sound is because they are south facing windows. The sun hits this side of the house relentlessly as it makes its way across the sky. The 2 windows in the upstairs part of this same bay have not faired as well.

There are no Before & After shots of the windows just yet. They are still a work in progress. I do have some shots of the sash locks, though. Even though these windows won’t be able to open, that doesn’t mean they won’t get a proper set Victorian Sash locks.

The B


And The A


This is actually 2 different locks, but believe it or not, they are essentially the same thing. It is amazing the detail you can hide under 10 or 20 layers of paint. Every time I see something like this I'm reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's skit about how every time he paints his apartment he notices that the room gets a little bit smaller. Even though it is just a thin film of paint, you can feel the walls closing in. After a while, things start to become unrecognizable. The wall outlets start look like a pig is trying to force his way through the wall from the other side. In my case, the sash lock now looks like a large insect has been accidentally painted over on top of the sash.

Next, I’ll enter the real money sucking phase of the project. Paint and plaster is relatively cheap when compared to stainless steel chimney liners, journeyman masons, and high-end window treatments. It could be beans and rice for me next month.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Story About The Shades

In my last post I showed off the newly painted dining room with its plaster medallion and newly hung chandelier. The 1890s chandelier, which I rewired a few years ago, had just been hung moments before the photos were taken. The main reason I put it up on that day was because I had just received the antique shades in the mail. I tried to buy the shades locally, but these ended up being an Ebay purchase.

Now, I don’t write what follows out of spite - Ok, maybe a little out of spite - or because I want to be lectured by shop owners about the trials and tribulations of dealing with customers. This is merely my interpretation of what happened. In a lot of small towns there is the mantra to “Buy Local”, and in that respect, Eureka is no different. The problem is, even when I try to buy local, sometimes it can be very difficult. Perhaps I caught the shop owner on a bad day. I don’t know. What I do know, is that in this case, I made the effort and the shop owner did not.

I’ll also add that while I do make many purchases for the house on-line, I do also occasionally shop locally. Two of my antique light fixtures were bought locally, along with some vintage plumbing parts and other assorted knobs and smaller items. Sometimes it is easier to buy it locally and get that instant gratification, rather than having to scourer on-line listings and then wait weeks for the item to arrive.

So a few weeks ago there was a article in the local paper about how Old Town Antique Lighting Gallery had moved in to its new digs at the corner of 2nd and F Street in Old Town. This got me to thinking that I still needed shades for the chandelier for the dining room. In fact, I need shades for the two chandeliers in the parlors as well. Most of the antique fixtures I’ve purchased on-line come in “original condition” (e.g. they need cleaning and new wiring) and most come without shades.

After I read the article in the paper about how Old Town Antique Lighting Gallery had moved, I set up a search on Ebay while at the same time I planned to pay a visit to the lighting shop. A few weeks went by and I found nothing on Ebay I liked and pretty much figured I would just buy something at Old Town Antique Lighting Gallery. I’m really ready to be finished with the dining room and Ebay shopping can sometimes be like garage sale shopping. It is not always fruitful if you are looking for something very specific.

As I was walking home from the Co-op 2 weeks ago I stopped in to Old Town Antique Lighting Gallery. It was Saturday and I had not shaved. I had also been working on the router trying finalize the profile for the picture rail. I’m sure there was a haze of red sawdust on my clothes. It is not a big store, but it does have a nice selection. When I went in there were 3 people in the shop: The owner (I recognized him from the paper), a customer, and then another woman sitting at a desk. I assumed she worked there as well, but I wasn’t really sure. I was in the store for about 10 minutes and in that time no one said a thing to me as I walked around. I was not greeted or acknowledged in anyway. No big deal, really, but something would have been nice. There were only 4 of us in the building.

Eventually I found the vintage shades on shelves at the front of the store. I had seen shades in the back, which turned out to be reproductions, and walked right passed what I was really looking for. Like I said, it is a small shop and it is always nice to look at antique lighting, so browsing the entire selection was kind of nice. I love antique lighting and that is why I fill my house with it. To date, I’ve only purchased two reproduction shades and no reproduction fixtures. I have rewired and hung 13 period ceiling fixtures in my house.

As I browsed the selection of shades I noticed there were no prices on them. I needed a set of 3 matching chandelier shades and there were a half dozen sets stacked in 3 and 4 shades to a stack. What I was really hoping to find was a matching set of nine. I knew that would be a long shot, but a boy can dream. The three fixtures in the parlors and dining room I purchased together on Ebay, and they all came out of the same Victorian home in Maine. While they are not identical, they are all from the same manufacture and have similar styling and details. I thought it would be cool to have identical antique shades on all three.

Alas, no sets of nine. There were however, 2 stacks of 3 that were the same. I figured maybe later those would be nice for the parlors. For now, I just needed a set of 3 for the dining room. I picked out 2 different sets and tried to get someone’s attention to get a price. The one customer, the owner, and the woman in the chair were all grouped together about 15 feet away in the middle of the store. As I approached, the woman in the chair made eye contact. I said I had a question about the shades. She didn’t get up but instead looked up at the owner, who seemed to ignore both of us now. He was engaged with the customer so the woman in the chair got up and came over.

I pointed to two 2 sets of three I was interested in and said, “I’m interested in these 2 sets. Can you give me a price?” She had no idea, so she called over the owner. He rushed over as if he had 10 customers in the store all vying for his attention. As he approached, again I pointed to the two different stacks of 3 a few feet from each other on the shelf and asked the prices for the sets.

Now I realize he was with another customer, but I don’t think that woman would have bolted from the store if he had spent 45 seconds with me at least trying to sell me on the shades. Instead, with out even really stopping he uttered one word – “fifty” – and then turned and walked away. That was it. That was the extent of his salesmanship. He uttered one, single word to me and then turned and walked away. It wasn’t “fifty dollars” or “fifty dollars each” or "fifty dollars plus tax” or even “fifty dollars for the set”. It was just the single word – “fifty”

I’ve purchased enough antique lighting and shades to know that $50 for a set of 3 glass shades is a fantastic price in a retail setting. Why, even on Ebay I would be very pleased with that price. Basically, you would need to be the only bidder to get them for that price. In a retail setting I expected the price for the set to be well north of $100. When the owner said “fifty” when I asked about the set of 3 shades I was about to buy up his entire inventory.

To his back, because he was walking away from me, I exclaimed “Fifty dollars for the set!?!?”. With that, all 3 people in the shop had now turned to look at me. The owner stopped long enough to turn and say, “No, fifty each. It is one-fifty for the set”. Naturally, I now looked like a neophyte in the antique lighting world and the owner had made me look like a fool.

Feeling foolish, I stammered some comment about the price and turned to leave store. The owner mentioned that there were reproductions in the back that were less. Had he been paying even the slightest attention to me he would have noticed that I had already looked at the reproductions. I can get reproductions at Ace Hardware. I don’t go to an antique lighting store to buy reproduction shades.

I did sales for about 15 years, and was quite successful at it, so I do speak with some authority. Given that it is a small shop and there was only one other customer, he should have acknowledge my presence when I entered the store or at least when I walked right by him. Something basic would suffice like, “Hello, welcome to the shop, let me know if you have any questions.”. This lets me know who the owner is, should I have any questions, and it makes me feel welcome in the shop.

When it came time to make a sale, here is how the conversation should have gone.

Me: “I interested in these shades?”

Owner: “Yes, I’ll be with you in a minute” {Then, politely excuse yourself from the customer you’re with}

Me: “I’m interested in either of these sets. What is the price?”

Owner: “Aren’t those beautiful. Antique etched glass shades. Boy, they don’t make them like that any more. The price for any of these sets of three is $150, but if you’re interested in more than one set I can give you a deal.”

He could have then pointed out some different prices for the different types of shades and finished by saying something like, “Feel free to browse as long as you like. I’m with another customer, but when you’ve made your selection I can ring you up.”

The entire conversion would have taken about a minute and he would have most likely made a sale that day. A week later when I returned from San Francisco my Ebay search had sent me few emails on some shades that had popped up. One was a set of 4 antique shades. The auction was ending in 8 hours and had not received a bid. I put in a maximum bid of $75 and was the only bidder. With shipping, the cost came to $48.15 for the set of 4. I only need 3, so maybe I’ll take the 4th in to Old Town Antique Lighting Gallery and see if the owner is interested in buying it.

The price – “fifty”

Friday, August 07, 2009

Plaster Pop

POP!


POP!


POP!


As you can see I am making progress in the dining room. As impressive as those pictures are, they are strategically framed so as not to show the scaffolding, tools, paint pails, and general filth that still covers a lot of the floor.

I still have three big jobs left.

1) Big: Strip the windows. When I stripped all of the paint off the woodwork several years ago I never stripped the windows and window jambs because I wasn’t sure of the best way to do it without breaking the glass. I prefer a heat gun and I was afraid the high heat would break the glass. I still prefer a heat gun, but I feel more confident with it now. When I stripped this room it was the first time I had ever stripped paint before.

2) Bigger: Finish the floor. I need to replace a few floorboards and then even out the current surface. The plan is to finish the original redwood floor as it was originally done in 1895 with tinted shellac. What I need to do is fill some minor nail holes and some larger holes from electrical conduit. I also need to smooth out the current finish. This is the original tinted shellac finish, which was hidden for decades. I had to use a heat gun to get up some tar paper that was put down under some particle board in the 70s. Once I get it smooth, I’ll use aniline die to tint the shellac a deep, dark maroon and then slather on a half dozen coats, or so. Most of the floor will be covered with carpets.

3) Biggest: Repair the fireplace. I want to be able to burn coal. To do that safely I need to line the chimney. The big problem here is that the chimney no longer extends up through the roof. I need someone to line the chimney with a double-walled, stainless steel liner, repair the fire box, and rebuild the chimney so it extends high enough above the eves to meet code. It is not going to be cheap, but what is even worse than the cost is the fact that I can’t do it myself. In eight years the only time I’ve ever hired someone to work on my house was when a friend faux-grained my upstairs bathroom door. I don’t like other people working on my house. I’m sure there are therapist out there reading this and salivating at the thought of getting me in for sessions to deal with that, but that is just the way it is.


I’m very happy with the paint and the medallion, which I painted semi-gloss white. This rest of the paint scheme is a little more bold that I usually do. Every room I’ve painted so far has had color on the walls. To date, I have no white or beige walls. Bold, contrasting colors is something I have not tried, and red walls can go horribly wrong very fast.

I must have gone to every paint store in Eureka, Arcata, and McKinleyville looking at reds. In the end though, picking the gold color was the real challenge. I found a red called “Bolero” at Sherwin Williams almost immediately, but continued to look at reds over the next few weeks to see if there was something else I liked better. There wasn’t.

The gold took a lot longer. I actually bought samples and tried a few on the walls before I made the decision. That is something I’ve never done before. I ended up going with Benjamin Moore’s “Bryant Gold”. This was the first time I’ve used Benjamin Moore and I really liked the paint. It was pretty much one coat, with some touch-up afterwards. Not so with the Sherwin Williams.

Sherwin Williams can be frustrating because you never know what you’re going to get. Some of their interior dark bases are very watery. I just don’t understand it. The exterior paints are great no matter whether it is a dark or a light base. I went in and ordered the Bolero in flat, interior latex, Super Paint and the guy told that color does not come in that paint.

Uh?!?

I could only get Bolero in Super Paint if I went with semi-gloss. That would probably end up looking like I painted the walls in red Jell-O. I had to get it in Duration, which doesn’t come in flat. In Duration the lowest luster you can get is matte. Some paints come in matte, low-luster, and gloss, while others come in flat, satin, and semi-gloss. I mean, what the hell?

So I ended up with Bolero in Duration, matte. My blood is thicker than this paint. It took 4 coats to cover the walls. It is not that it took more paint – I didn’t even go through the gallon. It just goes on so thin that you must apply many coats to get good coverage. Very frustrating.

In the end I’m happy with it, so I guess that is what is really important.



I also made and installed picture rail to go at the confluence of the two colors. I went back to Almquist Lumber {why does that name sound familiar} to get more salvage, old-growth redwood and whipped up a batch of picture rail on the router.

I also Fine-a-Lee trimmed out the little dumb waiter style door I made oh so many years ago. I didn’t think I would ever get to that. But with that, the trim is this room is done-didly-un. My dining room woodworking days are behind me. Well, except for the windows, but that is just paint stripping, and I ask you, who doesn’t love to strip paint? No one – that’s who!

I also FINE-A-LEE finished the electrical in the whole entire house. Back in the 1970s they snaked half-inch metal conduit through the house to supply electrical outlets. It was beyond hideous but at least people had outlets and were not trying to plug everything in to the 4 outlets in the house. That’s right, I said 4. Prior to 1972 this 3500 square foot house had a total of 4 outlets in it, with most being tied in to the original 1895 wiring. Another fire waiting to happen.

I removed it all years ago when I rewired, but I never removed it from the dining room because of the paneled dado that extends 3 feet up the walls. In other rooms I cut holes in the plaster and installed modern boxes and outlets and brought everything up to code. I couldn’t bring myself to cut in to the dado. In the end, I installed the outlets in the baseboard. I had to cut in to the old redwood, but it looks so much better than the crappy conduit boxes.