Tuesday, December 31, 2013

To Catch the Falling

A reader on my last post asked what type of cart I put to catch clothes in the basement below my laundry chute.  Shortly after adding the new little chute trap door, I bought this R. B. Wire laundry cart off of Amazon.  It holds "2.5 bushels" which sounded like a lot to my untrained-to-odd-measurement-methods mind.

It's a little up there is price, but is one of those purchases you will have to only make once in your lifetime, barring some freak laundry accident. 

If I had to do it all over again, I'd consider ordering the 4.5 bushel cart. Then again, the larger cart is quite a bit more expensive and just doing laundry a little more frequently than once a month also does the trick.

The one item I wish the cart had was wheel locks. Otherwise the cart is great. One day when I have more time for crafts, I will sew a cute little cotton liner for it....

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Down the Hatch

I've mentioned my laundry chute in past posts, but I don't think  I've ever posted pictures.  It was an unexpected discovery we made when I first moved into the house. It is on the floor in the linen closet right outside of the bathroom. In fact, my mom who was helping me clean had to tell me what it was. 

I grew up in a house with a laundry chute, but it was on the wall in the bathroom and dropped down into the laundry room below. When I was about 5 or 6, I tried to talk one of my friends into sliding down it. 

About a year ago, I spent some time sanding down the wood walls of the chute itself and putting a finish on them. I still didn't put the chute into use and used the floor of the closet for storage instead.

This past summer I saw a piece of plywood in my basement and it struck me that it was about the size of the hole.  I had some free time, so I put a few coats of amber shellac on the board and installed a little knob handle.  Then I put the chute into use.  I love it.

I have a set of hinges for the door waiting to be installed.  For now, the little door just sits over the chute and that works fine. There also is the remnants of a hook and eye set on the shelf above the chute that would have held the little trap door open.  I may add a hook to the little door (using the vintage "eye")  to once again allow it to stay open.

In the basement there is a little trap door. Since I've added the little door above, I've started leaving the basement trap door open.  At one time it operated on a elaborate pulley and spring system, that looks like it opened and shut on the weight of clothes being sent down the chute. The remains of the system are still down there.....and at some point, I'll probably try to get that up-and-running again.

It's one of those little quirks that make living on an old house enjoyable.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nailing It

Remember this whole conversation?

Well look at this perfect solution:

Merry (early) Christmas to me.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I've been continuing to work on my bathroom medicine cabinet.  It finally got too cold to work outside, but I was able to get it stripped down to clean wood and treat it with borate before hauling it back inside and down to my basement.

I also took out the mirror as I started to strip the door and set it aside. I didn't want to damage the glass accidentally by breaking it or etching it with chemicals.  One weekend I got particularly motivated and located a local company to re-silver the mirror. I figured while I had it out, I may as well make it all pretty again.  The place I ended up using was Alchemy Mirror Resilvering.  I dropped it off and 10 days later they called me to pick up the mirror.  Total cost with just shy of $45.

I had a nice talk with the owner of the company when I picked up the mirror. He recognized the original manufacturer of the mirror by the numbers on the back (2-222) and was able to tell me it was made in 1920. I always like to chat with these people that work on one aspect of restoring old things. We chatting for a while about how these old pieces were meant to be repaired rather than replaced. I carefully transported my mirror back home and it has been sitting on my living room floor ever since waiting for the rest of the cabinet to come together.

Today I spent some time finish sanding the piece and I primed the door frame.  I also picked up some paint for the interior of the cabinet - the cabinet will be white and the back wall of the interior will be light blue.

Here is the cabinet fully stripped and treated with borate ready for primer.

Ignore the full trash can.  This is the cabinet door frame primed. The mirror is housed in this.

Here is the back of my newly re-silvered mirror.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Happy Coincidence

My mom gave me a jar with old skeleton keys and a bunch of old bottle openers she wanted to get rid of. She knows I like those kind of things.

The keys were most likely from my grandmother's house.  So, I took them home and on a whim tried them in one of the interior doors of my house. They worked.

Over the years I have tried a bunch of old skeleton keys and none of them worked. These fit exactly.

I'm liking the old bottle openers too.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

House Anniversary

Tonight marks the 11th anniversary of my owning the StuccoHouse. Time flies while you are stripping paint....

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Wind in Your Hair

Totally not house related, but I have been sorting through some old photos. Here are a couple of pictures of a car my dad once owned.  

He had to sell it when the Army shipped him abroad.  I personally will never forgive Korea for that.  

How good would that Cadillac have looked parked in front of StuccoHouse?

Sunday, October 06, 2013


When we last left my new, custom built, kitchen cabinet, I had located new hinges that virtually matched the hinges on my existing cabinets, as well as one vintage green, glass knob and a vintage nickel drawer pull.  The one thing missing was the three cabinet latches for the three doors.

The existing vintage latches I'm trying to match.
I had hoped to find vintage versions of these. My existing cabinet latches are unusual in that (when polished) the knob on the latch is brass colored and the body of the latch is nickel. I looked high and low for vintage replacement latches. At one point, I discovered some very close to my existing latches at the ReUse Center (now closed).  They were on a rather large bank of existing cabinets they pulled out of some poor house. They would not sell me three of those latches. Either I bought the whole bank of cabinets for near $1,000, or I was out of luck. 

Anywho. Here we are 4 years later. I finally broke down and started shopping new latches. I comforted myself with the fact that the new cabinet was across the room from the existing cabinets.  I hit up two of the well known vintage look hardware websites. Then on a whim I pulled up the site of Crown City Hardware. Their latches were quite a bit less expensive than the other two stores and they looked similar enough.  I ordered three in oil rubbed bronze.

The new latches. Made in Taiwan.
They arrived and looked fine.  So, one day armed with my drill and a bar of soap.....and a fair amount of courage.....I started to install the new latches.

I carefully measured, remeasured and then re-remeasured.  Then I marked off the drill holes with a Sharpie.  I drilled a hole, ran the screw through the bar of soap and then hand screwed the hardware in place.  All was well with the world.

 And then on the last hole of the last latch, the screw snapped. The head of the screw fell to the floor.  My heart stopped. Then it sunk.

There it is. Just hanging there. Half of a screw lodged in the wood and half laying on the floor below.
I put down the drill and walked away.  Over the next day I was able to talk myself down from despair. It was the top screw on the latch on the top cabinet. If a screw had to snap off, this was the ideal screw to do that. Worse things have happened to better people. Not the end of the world.  Etc.
The top of the offending screw.

I sent off an email to Crown City telling them I had a screw snap off and asking if I could get a replacement screw. My email was that simple. Short and sweet. I thought they would drop a matching $0.20 screw in an envelope to me.  Probably with a generic apology.

The reply I got back took me by surprise. It was a long email implying I had installed it incorrectly. They also told me I'd need to buy a bag of screws and it would take some while to order them.  I never told them how I installed it, so this took my by surprise. Then it made me mad. Good freakin grief, I was not fresh off the home restoration turnip truck. I've installed more than a few screws in my day. They were a hardware store and didn't have an extra screw that they would be willing to mail me?!

I sent off a reply informing him that I would not be buying a bag of screws from them.  I told them not to bother with the screw if it was that much trouble for them to send one out.  It wasn't worth it to me. Lesson learned, I would not buy from them again.  They had, however, given me a nice blog post.

The minute a blog was mentioned, they could not have been more happy to send me out a free bag of screws. They were very concerned about standing behind their product then. Ick.

I never responded.  I'll have to dig the remaining screw piece that is lodged in the wood out with my Dremel.  Then fill the large hole with WoodEpox and try to stain the patch to match. I'll then go down to the local hardware store and buy a Phillips (or slat if I can find one) screw in black, not oil rubbed bronze. It won't match, but I doubt anyone will see it. Not exactly what one wants for their brand new cabinet.  However, It will be a nice reminder to me about buying from companies that stand behind their product....and not going back to companies that don't.

Friday, October 04, 2013

Junk Bonanza

The Thursday before last, I attended Junk Bonanza. It's a huge collection of "junk" dealers that are pulled together for a long weekend out at Canterbury Park (our local racing track).  I won two tickets from Hirshfield's on Twitter.

Hirshfiled's (my favorite paint store) kindly asked me to do a guest post on their blog, which you can read here.  You can also see two of my other purchases over there (one a very clever Halloween item)

To wet your interest, here are a few of the items I managed to haul home....

And here is my favorite view from the sale (no, I did not buy the sign!)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

On The Level

I thought I'd be able to get this project done in a weekend.  Well, that didn't happen.  I discovered bricks are a pain in the neck to calculate, buy, haul out to the car and then into the back yard.  They are even more of a pain in the neck to get into the ground level.  And don't get me started on leveling sand....

There was a point mid way through this project when I even got whiny.  In my defense it was a really hot day, I found myself 3 bricks short, and the guy at Home Depot kept trying to sell me play sand when I asked for polymeric sand.

Anyway, here is is.  My grill had been standing in the grass for many years. It got to the point that the wheels were so sunk in, that it was almost impossible to move. But, no more.

Yes, I still need to trim the weed fabric.

I went out in the rain today to take these photos. Because I'm that kind of blogger. Ha.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

In Need of a Shade

A new find.  $4.00.

Got to love a good deal.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Gallery

My dad was in the Army and stationed in Korea from 1956 through 1959.  During that time he did some shppping and sent some of his purchases home as gifts to family.  He sent a silk embroidery piece and two tapestry pieces home to my grandmother.  Those pieces were placed safely in storage for all of these years, and recently ended up in my possession.

So, to Framestyles they went for framing. I picked them up last week and hung them in my dining room this afternoon. I really like that shop.  I can walk in with an idea in my head of what I want.  I tell them and they immediately understand and start pulling samples.

I put the new-to-me pictures on either side of the farmer painting I hauled back from a trip to China.  I love them.

(Sorry for the annoying logo, but I have been discovering my photos on a number of other blogs.  Good grief, like it is their house.)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Reflection

I have been working on my medicine cabinet restoration.  I took the mirror out of the frame to: 1) protect it from stripper, and 2) clean the paint off of it.

So, I spent some time getting the layers of paint off that had been slopped over the edges.  I also started to consider having it re-silvered. It's already out, right? I may as well look into it, right?

The mirror isn't in bad shape by any means. But it is somewhat cloudy and there are some streaks.  It wouldn't be the end of the world if I left it as is.

I did find a place nearby that does re-silvering.  It looks to be a small company run out of someones home.  I have an email into them asking costs, turnaround time, etc.

We'll see.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Downspout

One of the previous owners of my house planted three lilac trees in a row along the side of my house.  In the Spring is smells very nice over on that side of the house, and the trees do a nice job of hiding the side yard.

A few weeks ago we had a huge storm come through with really strong winds. I had never experienced anythings like that in all my years living here.  While I was busy worrying about one of the huge, ancient oak trees in my back yard coming down....one of my lilac trees snapped off at the trunk.

This left a gaping hole and a clear view into my side yard. And while my side yard garden is nice (azalea, lilies, rose and clematis), my downspout is not.  It is really ugly.

You can see what remains of the trunk in the photos.

Even though new gutters are in the future, the downspout ugliness bugged me so much that I went out a few days ago and painted it (and pulled those weeds)

Much better.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How Much Do Strippers Make?

One day I decided I couldn't live one more minute in this house with the cracked, ugly Menards bathroom sink.  So, I took it down off of the wall and walked it right back to the alley behind my house (amazingly someone took it),

I then got a little curious about what was behind the drywall. Soon the drywall on one wall was entirely gone.

So, it seems, I started work on my bathroom.

This project has been slow going. Mostly because I can't decide how I want to go about it.

One thing was clear though.  All work hinged on me getting the salvaged medicine cabinet in my basement stripped and repainted.

Last week I decided to throw some money at the problem and make it go away.  So, I hauled that cabinet up from my basement and out to the back seat of my car. No small feat.  I then drove over to a small business that advertised paint stripping.  I had no real idea what they would charge to strip the cabinet.  The cabinet has a painted interior and the face of it is painted, but the back is not painted.  There really isn't all that much painted surface.  Before going into the shop, I set a limit of $150 in my head.

The estimate was over $240. Just. Couldn't. Do. It.  I realize strippers need to make a living too (who would have thought I would have ever typed that sentence in my blog), but that seemed quite high.  After all, I think I paid around $50 for the cabinet itself.

So I hauled that cabinet back out to my car and back home. And this weekend started work on stripping the cabinet myself.  It actually has gone very quickly.  After two days of very intermittent work (I put a layer of chemical on and go about doing my other business), I have it pretty much clean and ready for a last application of chemical with stainless steel.  I also still need to boil the paint off the hardware.

When all is said and done, I probably will have taken me a total of 5 hours of work.  There were three-ish layers of paint, one peach, one pink and the last off white. That was one well paid stripper in that shop, I'm thinking.

The mirror set aside to be cleaned and reinstalled.

The hardware - little shelf clips and two hinges

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