Feb 5, 2010

Chapter 2: Before

After what felt like an eternity, we finally got possession of our little house on the prairie. We drove to the house for our final inspection on the last Sunday in January. I had only seen the house once and I was a tad worried that I had my 'have to have this house' goggles on. We pulled down the snowy road to the front of the house to the one house without snow on the roof. Hellooooo uninsulated roof! $$$ Still big hearts for the house, fortunately.

Our real estate agent met us at the door for a walk through to ensure that the house was clean and clutter-free before closing on the mortgage. Apart from a Cadillac motor in the garage, the previous owners had done a bang up job of cleaning the house. Thank you previous owners!! Apparently they smoked inside the house, which is evident on the walls but the smell is barely detectable. And I can smell a fire in the next town over. Poor Jason has had to entertain countless emergency escapes from our apartment because I've smelled smoke in a neighbouring apartment. Oh what he endures to be married to me...

After a brief tour of the house, we were given the keys and then the real fun began (read: peeling away layers of updates). What became readily apparent was how original the house was. There were two previous owners, and apart from *maybe* two paint jobs coupled with a wallpaper/mactac explosion (in all cupboards in the kitchen and bathrooms and over the original Formica counters in the bathroom!), the house is nearly original.

I was there with the girls (Lily, 4 and Esme, 6 months - if I haven't yet introduced them) from Vancouver for 3 days before returning to catch some of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics prior to our move out to Calgary. During our short time, we decided to pull off portions of the 1970s wallpaper in the hallways and kitchen and found what we believed to be the original wallpaper - this cream coloured wallpaper with a construction paper consistency printed with painted designs of clocks (kitchen) and flowers. Kind of kitchy and more 1960s than 1950s. But underneath the wallpaper was the original colours gleaming their classic mid century colours: flamingo pink in the hallway, teal in the kitchen, baby blue in the living room, pink clay colour in the some of the bedrooms and pistachio pink in the upstairs pink bathroom. Below are some of the highlights of the our first dig into the house:

Living room with asymmetrical fireplace. Esme in cool Art Deco'ish chair we negotiated into the deal.

Lily running through wallpaper in the front hallway. One of the first items on our list was to replace the front vinyl door (*shiver*) with an original. A lot of MCM houses in Calgary have been torn down to build McMansions so there is no lack of original odds and sods for purchase on Craigslist. The door we chose has a starburst patterned window. I'll post a picture when I locate my computer in one of the 299 boxes in my house yet to unpack.

Entry hallway into living room. 1970s wallpaper above and painted faux concrete block below. We had plans to cover the finishing until we realized it was original. No idea how to make it look less institutional. Suggestions welcome.

Close up of faux concrete block detailing (throughout all hallways in the house). I have faith this will look good in the end. We will be painting the entire wall a soft light grey, which I think will look good with the teak trim and brushed bronzed hardware in the hallways. Non?

Original flamingo pink walls over faux concrete block. The pink is growing on me. Not sure I can pull it off with a light grey base, though. I desperately need to deinstitutionalize the look of these hallways.

Close-up of painted wallpaper over in hallway. Likely added in 1960s.

Original pink bathroom with atomic fixtures. The vanity was mactac'ed and is severely water-damaged. It is one of the few items we will need to replace. This bathroom was originally painted pistachio green. (not the sage green pictured)

Close up of tile surrounding bathtub. Ready for a re-grout and it's good to go!

One example of the many original light plates in the house - one of the bedrooms. We have to update the electrical so we will be working with an electrician to re-use the plates where possible.

Esme now seated in the kitchen. This funky clock wallpaper is accented by a floral motif on the side walls. The original colour in this room was a teal green. Floors have been replaced likely in the 1970s and are in rough shape.

Floral wallpaper in the kitchen. Note outside layer of wallpaper to the left. The original owners must have really liked this wallpaper as there is two sometimes three layers of the same paper. The same deal in the hallway.

Clock wallpaper in the kitchen. Kitchy but pretty cool!

Original hardware on the cupboards. A little ornate for my taste so we are replacing with a more streamlined chrome model.

Mactac hell in the cupboards. Note the marble Formica as a back splash and counter.

More to come! I'm currently busy unpacking boxes desperately trying to locate my coffee maker and wine. We have made some recent updates to the kitchen so I will post again shortly.