Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Show & Tell

One more show & tell item.

Here is the salvaged light shade I found a few months ago for a whopping $3.50. It is one heavy piece of glass. I'll have an unlaquered brass post fixture made for it.

It will replace the PO's fresh from the big box store, made-in-China "stained glass" light. This light isn't totally awful, but it does look better in the photo than it does in real life. I think just because I make stained glass, it bothers me.

I still have to locate vintage lights for my bathroom & a set of sconces for my stairway.....and probably a new exterior front door light. Then the 4 yr lighting quest to restore my lighting to vintage 1920's will come to an end. I'm almost sad it see it end; turns out I really enjoy tracking this stuff down.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

My Tailless Rafters

There are a lot of people restoring their old houses that start a project and stay on task until it is done. Then they start & complete another project.

I'm not one of them. I have a project(s) in progress in every room in my house. There are a variety of reasons why these projects seem to linger:

a) I am still on the hunt for the perfect item to complete the project (e.g. lights for my bathroom, stove for my kitchen, storm windows);
b) I'm waiting for funding (repairing my kitchen ceiling, get the plumbing ready for my new bathroom sink);
c) It's the wrong season (exterior painting, stripping my salvage medicine cabinet); or
d) I need to figure out how to do it.

d) is usually the most time consuming reason. I talk to people, pour over books, scour the internet, and then spend a lot of time just mulling over things.

In a fit of boredom last Fall, I pulled down some of the aluminum trim on my house. I discovered the the wood, at least the limited amount I saw, was in repairable shape. However, the rafter tails had all been cut off in order to put up the aluminum (things could have been a lot worse). The plan is to take down the rest of the aluminum this coming Spring.

I've been trying to figure out how to correct this rafter tail situation on & off for the past few months. There is very little information available on how to do this. I suppose I could hire a carpenter, but it seems like it would be so easy.....

There are a lot of rafter tail templates available, so that isn't a problem. My house is simple, so I'd choose a simple cutting out the design isn't a problem. The problem is how to go about attaching it to the existing "tailless" rafter.

Last summer I made a small repair to a rafter-like board while working on my front door overhang (click on the overhang label below to see that whole saga). I have no idea if the approach I took was right or wrong, but it seems to have done the job. I've been thinking that I might be able to use that same approach on the tails.

In the case of my front door overhang, the end 5" of rafter board above the bracket had rotted out and been repaired in the past. The old repair was a new board butt to the end and attached by nailing a short piece of 1x2 to the back face of both pieces. The end was then wraped in aluminum. I discovered that the old repair had rotted out again, so I pulled it off. You can see the attached repair in the photos, as well as the board once I pulled it off.

I repaired the end of the rafter with Liquidwood & WoodEpox and then sanded it flush. I then cut a 5" piece of 1x6 cedar. I drilled 3 holes into one end of that piece. Into those holes I put short pieces of dowel. I cut the dowels off so that 1" was hanging out of the board.
I then drilled three corresponding holes in the repaired rafter. I put exterior wood glue on the end of the dowels and into the rafter holes. I put some fresh WoodEpox along the edge where the boards would meet. I then attached the short 1x6 board to the rafter by sliding the dowels into the holes and pounding the short board flush.

When the glue & WoodEpox had a chance to cure, I used additional Wood Epox to create a seemless transition between the two pieces. Then I primed it.

I've kept an eye on this repair all winter. It seems to be quite strong and holding up fine.

It seems like I might be able to use this same approach in attaching new rafter tails to my tailless rafters.

Are there carpenters wringing their hands & grinding their teeth reading this, or does this make sense?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

One House's Loss is Another's Gain

The latest salvaged items for StuccoHouse..... We will try not to think about the house that will be losing these items, just the excitement at StuccoHouse to be getting them :-)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

False Alarm

It is with no small amount of relief that I am able to report to you tonight that the ceiling fan light in my office/bedroom has been repaired.

On Sunday, after pulling my hair in a ponytail (possible bats) and donning my rarely seen glasses (yes, I learned my lesson), I slowly mounted my swivel desk chair (because we are all about safety here at StuccoHouse) to inspect the fan.

Once I was able to get a better look, I realized that the fan chain had somehow wrapped itself around the main mechanism resulting in the fan not working. It was then pretty obvious that the only thing wrong with the light was a burned out bulb. I had to hunt down the manual to get the freaking shade off of the light, but once the bulb was replaced.....everything was once again working as it should.

Oh, how silly do I feel now for imagining the worst :-) I believe that I owe a small apology to rodents everywhere for my false suspicions. I have to keep reminding my vivid imagination that if something goes wrong in an old house, the most simple explanation is usually correct.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

And Then There Was Darkness

The History: When I first moved into my house, two of the bedrooms had large ceiling fans. Very large and very shiny black. These bedrooms were so small and the fans so large, that when you turned them on things swirled around the room like the vortex of a tornado.

The Shameful Admission: The restoration purist in me is loath to admit this. I liked the fans. Well, not so much the fans, per se, as the cool breeze they brought with them to this un-air-conditioned house.

The Acceptable Compromise: So, I bought two smaller, white fans. A friend of mine helped me install them. Well, he installed them after I assembled them.

The Unexpected Problem: A few weeks ago, the light in one room started to flicker. I ignored it until it eventually just went out. It needs to be fixed.

The Strange Plot Twist: On an old house website months ago, someone posted a photo of the skeleton of a bat/rat/mouse that was peeking out of the hole in his ceiling where he had removed a light fixture. This ugly, ugly image is burned into my brain. Burned there.

The Fallout: My subconscious has now convinced me that this is what caused my light to go out. As a result I can’t force myself to take that ceiling fan down for fear of some skeleton…or worse yet something live…..coming down on me (or ::shiver:: in my hair).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Afternoon Boredom

I was walking through my house this afternoon and noticed these two photo ops. The sun reflecting on the wall through my lace curtains......and some ice formations on my windows (we'll ingore for a second that this means I have hot air leaking here).

Sunday, January 14, 2007

My Mini Autobiography

I've been "tagged" by Greg over at Petch House. It's an entertaining blog game where you have to reveal 5 things about yourself that other people probably don't know. I'm a pretty private person, so it's easy to find things that people may not know.

1) I like to travel. I have a bunch of passports full of old stamps. But, what even my friends and family would be surprised to know is that I have visited Spain (and Portugal) more times than I can count. In the ball park of 15 or 16 times, I think. My first trip to Spain was immediately after Franco died. My most recent trip was the year before I bought StuccoHouse. I met a boy on my first visit...which inspired a bunch of the earlier trips. I've remained friends with his sisters over the years (much to his chagrin and my amusement) and have been back to visit them and their families more recently. I have some entertaining stories that include witnessing a coup attempt, being "detained" by the international border patrol & their dogs, seeing BB King in Madrid, accidentally renting a room in a Spanish brothel..... There is something about Spain that just clicks with me.

2) I like school. I mean I REALLY like school. For most people school is a means to an end. For me, it is the end. I have a degree in English & business. Another in Secondary Ed. 50% of a MA in English as a Second Language. I completed a Masters in International Management. Am one statistics course short of an MBA. You'd think I'd be gunning after some high powered career. You'd think I was a straight "A" student. Nope & nope. I learned it. I never will professionally apply it. I can't explain it either.

3) I have freakishly long, skinny fingers. Through the years, I was often told that I should be a hand model (don't laugh, I had an aunt who was). I probably should have looked into it more, but there was something about saying "hand model" when someone asked me what I did.....that I just couldn't do. These long fingers paired with my hand eye coordination makes me alarmingly good at factory machine jobs. I spent one very long summer home from college working at a plant where I excelled at stacking frozen waffles on a conveyor belt, sliding them into cellophane packaging and into a heat sealing machine. The supervisor told me I should consider it full time as my fingers were a "made for that type of work." Yikes!

4) I am a decidedly right-brained person who works in a uber left-brained career. I stumbled into my line of work and was in too deep before I discovered that my true interests probably lay elsewhere. Luckily I have found a niche that has allowed me to own my own company. Given my druthers (and some additional skill)....I'd be writing short stories a la Hemingway or F. Scott Fitzgerald.....decorating houses.....appraising antiques......or just backpacking around.

5) I'm running out of material here. I'll throw out a few miscellaneous items. I have a tattoo put there by a guy named Snake. I know the words to most of the songs of old musicals (and most likely have the album or cd). I have a really good memory for unimportant details. Other than a latte, I have not drank a glass of plain milk in probably 20 some years. I have to "tag" 5 blogs. How about......Bungalow '23 (although they just had a baby and may not have time to play), Litterbox House, Top to Bottom, Foxcroft, and Tiny Bungalow. You're it ;-)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


The house across the street from me sold. I wasn't paying close attention, and all of a sudden there was a "sold" sign up. It was for sale for maybe 3 months.

The house is one of those cute brick bungalows that are pretty common in my city. Those brick bungalows always look sharp - hardly ever in need of paint, low maintenance, solid, and for the most part seem to have escaped some of the other hazards bungalows have been subject to over the years. I have seen photos of the interior of the house, and it has been nicely restored to a 1920's look. The house is smaller in size than mine, but it has a nice, tile fireplace.

This sale is good for a few reasons.

1) I can let go of this nagging guilt that my trashy front yard was scaring off all potential buyers;

2) The short time it was for sale reassures me that that the "slowdown" that is supposed to hit real estate has not severely affected my neighborhood;

3) It confirms that well, restored houses are retaining their value better than gut renovations & expansions in my part of town;

4) The selling price indicates to me I am on track with an overall 10% ROI for my house :-) ; and

5) It dawned on me that the guy with the red truck that has been parked out front of our houses daily for the last month may be the new owner. We have established a "hey" relationship as we both go out to our cars at lunchtime....and he does not appear to be a drug dealer, frat party boy, gang member, felon or other "seedy character" that one does not want within a bullet shot of their house.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cars and Blogs

2006 had one last lesson for me.

A few weeks ago I posted a whiney story about how my car has crushed my home improvement aspirations by needing new struts. Very expensive new struts.

Well, I bought those new struts and went upon my merry way. Visions of new mail boxes, a plumber installing my salvaged bathroom sink, buying tiles for my bathroom, and a vintage stove once again began dancing through my head.

Meanwhile, my car laid quietly in wait. Plotting to teach me a lesson on perspective. Hell hath no fury like a car scorned on a Blog.

Turns out new struts are not nearly as expensive as new struts AND a new exhaust system.

If you listen carefully, you can hear a Toyota quietly laughing. Lesson learned.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Most Hated Light

This is another project I completed B.B. (before blog).

When I first saw my house, there was a hanging light in the dining room.

My realtor swooned every time she saw The Light. My friends and family commented on The Light. "Charming," they thought. When the neighbor lady came over to welcome me to the neighborhood, she peeked over my shoulder into the house and inhaled quickly, saying in a hushed tone "Oooooh, she let you keep The Light!" Evidently it was the pride & joy of the previous owner.

I hated The Light. It was a silk cone with a tassle on the end. Fake exotic. Pottery Barn....$69.....I wanted to shout at everyone.

Maybe what I hated more than The Light was the possibility that the original, bungalow light had been taken down and replaced with this light.

I shopped for a new dining room light for months. I shopped salvage. I shopped reproduction. I wanted a light that would fit into a 1920's bungalow, but not arts & crafts. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted. I finally found it.

My new Scheffield light arrived. Oil rubbed bronze finish. It was unloaded from the box to a place of honor on a chair cushion on the dining room floor.

As happens with most old house projects, there it sat for a while. Turns out I have some odd, old wiring (greenfield & black pipe) in my house that confused everyone that attempted to help me install the new light. And admittedly, I wanted this done just so. The (old) Light was quietly donated to charity and I lived with the exposed wires for a few months.

After a few months, I finally made arrangments for my electrician to stop by and pull new wires for the dining room ceiling and install The New Light.

(Please join my in ignoring the glaring white popcorn ceiling. It's days are numbered.)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin