May 25, 2010

Weekend Update

One weekend. One rec/guest/playroom painted, carpeted and ahhhh sigh, almost done.

Up to this point, the rec// room has been our place to store everything we don't know what to do with. Like piles of Es' clothes she's outgrown (dilemma: should we keep them in case we decide to have a 3rd? ay ay ay); extra furniture that doesn't quite fit in in the house, but yet won't really work with the rec room once completed (dilemma: to keep or donate antique furniture we've collected over the years); old sports equipment and trophies (dilemma: are trophies recyclable?) ha ha. Seriously, I'm just jealous I don't have any of my own, except of course for a second place ribbon in a Grade 10 cheerleeding competition...

According to our sweet neighbour, Fred, who has lived in his house since it was built in '55, the basements in these houses were unfinished. Likely the basement was finished soon after the new owners moved in as trim is similar to the original. Hence the wallpaper (AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!) that matches the wallpaper in the rest of the house.

Egyptian Themed wallpaper. Will be staying up for a l'il bit then the warriors will be photo-documented, conquered (updated) to more modern wallpaper.

The rec room was stylishly finished with vertical teak coloured boards and cream/burgundy patterned linoleum squares similar to the Armstrong ones pictured below:

Courtesy RetroRenovation.

The room is accented with a teak bar, complete with white with gold flecked Formica and a seriously mad, mad atomic style wall bracket light: identical to the Donald from Rejuvenation.

We're trying to be purists, we really are, but the room just felt like a teak cave with cold floors, so we decided to paint the walls a lighter colour and carpet the floor.

Our messy dark teak cave (BEFORE). Bar is located at the back near the highest concentration of crap.

We were sensitive to its original design, however, and left the door and window trim, baseboards and the entire bar in its original teak colour. We also did not carpet behind the bar.

For your viewing pleasure, a photo montage of our progress over the weekend.

Lily and Pops priming the teak. Good closeup of the linoleum pattern.

Hubs painting the ceiling with primer. Yellow from years of a smoker in the house. Reason # 951 never to smoke in your house. Nicotine stains are DISGUSTING and almost impossible to remove from say windows, walls, ceilings, blinds etc. etc.

Me moppin' after painting is finished. Note cute little shuffleboard'esque design of the linoleum. Still intact under the carpet.

After the carpet is installed. Deerfoot again. Of course. Extra padding was added underneath so it's like walking on a marshmallow.

The room complete. Jason polished up the baseboards and trim with our favourite wood preserver, Howard Feed-N-Wax. Made from Beeswax and Orange Oil, this stuff is magic on all things teak and is totally natural, non toxic and fairly inexpensive. I spent a good portion of this week Feed-N-Wax'in my living/dining room trim and teak furniture. Man has my life ever changed. New Swizzle Convertible Sofa Bed from Nood. On sale. Plus no sales tax. Rock on.

Next on the list is to [never] make some curtains with fabric (Kirby Black) from Fabricana in Richmond, BC and build Ikea shelves for toys. We will be adding a teak sideboard of my Gran's to be used as a tv stand.
Now - bring on the visitors! Seriously, we'll take just about anyone at this point.


May 18, 2010

The Lawn Competition That We're Not Winning

Here's a sweet little pic of the kidlets hamming it up on our front lawn. And look at how we lucked out with a swack o' perennial flowers blooming in our lawn.

Wait. What? Those aren't perennials?

They're weeds?

Guess we'll add that one to the mile long list of things to do this long weekend.

Turns out, after a brief survey of three streets that surround our house that yes, we do indeed have the ugliest, most gnarly lawn of them all. Something to be proud of, really. I've seen more landscaping trucks driving slowly by our house shaking their heads than I care to share with you.

Jason did some research on dandelion infestations* because I REFUSE to use any chemicals on our lawn.

Baby + sitting on lawn = hearty green snack

Also, in Calgary, ground and grey water is routed directly into the Bow, UNFILTERED. The main reason why there is no street car washing allowed. So anything that we put on the lawn ends up in the river, which we drink. Ahh, the circle of life.

He found out that lo', you can eat dandelions! Good in salads, dressing and even makes a decent wine. So really, by cultivating our dandelion infestation, we're really embracing sustainable urban gardening. Edible landscaping. I'm sure everyone in the neighbourhood will love us for it!

Here's a recipe I found online. Looks like something you do to cooked spinach to make it taste good. No matter what goodness you cover cooked spinach with, it's still just a bunch of slimy leaves.

Dandelion Greens

1 pound dandelion greens**
1/2 cup chopped onion1 clove garlic, minced
1 whole small dried hot chile pepper, seeds removed, crushed
1/4 cup cooking oilsalt and pepper
Parmesan cheese

Discard dandelion green roots; wash greens well in salted water. Cut leaves into 2-inch pieces. Cook greens uncovered in small amount of salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Sauté onion, garlic, and chile pepper in oil. Drain greens; add to onion garlic mixture. Taste dandelion greens and season with salt and pepper. Serve dandelion greens with grated Parmesan cheese.
Recipe for dandelion greens serves 4[00].

Anyone want to come over for dinner? I'm serving Severely Neglected Lawn.


*oh, speaking of infestations, did I mention we have a cute little mouse family in our garage? Super.

**sure glad I have an entire lawn made up of dandelions for the pound that I'll need for this recipe - is this a recipe for an entire neighbourhood?

May 13, 2010

Treasure Hunting - An Aside

As a certified geek with multiple degrees in Nerd, I have always fantasized about finding treasures in the walls and rafters of old houses I work in. I think it's one of the reasons why I became an archaeologist. Treasure hunting for secrets that people hid long ago. When I worked at Fort Steele in the summer of 2000, one of the features we focused on were outhouses. The outhouse is where you would go to hide your secrets - evidence of affairs, drinking problems, cheats, lies, scams. Because the outhouse is the last - no, actually - the only place you wouldn't want to look for evidence. We found countless liquor bottles, and jewelry, shoes, knives, hardware, marbles, etc. We also found out what people ate (yes - kind of gross) and the time of year of the 'deposit' (evidenced by the seeds found in the layers). If an outhouse was aged well, there was actually no smell and fairly easy to dig. Aaaannnd random aside done.

How thrilled was I when Jay, for some god forsaken reason, was recently poking around in the basement rafters when he felt something in the back corner. He pulled out a long tube of paper, unrolled it slowly and found a decent sized sample of wallpaper (like we don't have enough of it permanently embedded on the walls), and an old black and white photo of some kids standing in front of an old farm house. And something that could not have been more exciting as far as rafter finds go. Paint chips of all of the colours originally used in the house! YIPPEE!!

A little background on Mid Century Modern paint palettes. MCM colours were a departure from more conservative and staunch colours in the 1940s and the brooding 'manly' colours of the first quarter of the century. They reflected the period after the war - a period of great optimism, innovation and focus on family and the home.

The MCM period essentially redefined the home to fit growing families and women who no longer had to work due to the end of the Second World War. Not unlike today, where we're at the forefront of redefining how we live (think of how different appliances are today - Dyson vacuums, front loading washer dryers, tankless water heaters, and the emergence of newly designed, energy efficient housing).

I adore the MCM period of design because houses were designed both to entertain guests and with women in mind: ample storage in cupboards and closets, spacious rooms to sache through with your button up dress, well planned kitchens with clever shelving and the hyper modern appliances that you could buy in designer colours like turquoise and pink while cute little cartoon birds sing at your windowsill...

And there was no fear of more feminine colours in the house. We've (ok I've) experienced firsthand the distaste for keeping our pink bathroom but really, if done tastefully, why fear a feminine bathroom? I don't know about you, but I spend way more time in the bathroom than Jay. If my bathroom is pretty, I feel pretty. ha ha. Anyways, this is a whole other posting that will be arriving shortly. Back to paint chips.

All the paint chips found were Pittsburgh Paints - from the Maestro Colour collection. That pink that we so tenderly cherish in our hall is called 'Carnation'. As stated on California Paint's website who feature a sparkly brand new MCM paint line (1940s-1950s):

“One of the iconic colors of the 1950s, this clear, strong pink was popular in all aspects of fashion and interior design. It had strong connections with the First Lady at the time Mamie Eisenhower, a foremost color trendsetter. During the era the color was commonly referred to as “Carnation Pink” (California Paints as quoted in Retro Renovation)

I want to be a colour trendsetter!! Hmph. *stamps foot

The living room and some of the bedrooms were painted in 'Baby Blue'. The upstairs bathroom with the pink fixtures was painted in 'Green Glow' and the back wall of the kitchen cabinets and the downstairs office was 'Turquoise'.

The 'Ceramic Rose' was actually an exterior colour for the trim, window sashes and basement level siding. I imagine that the stucco was likely painted a cream - stucco is very difficult to colour test. To accent the house, the exterior fence was painted Baby Blue.

A tough little predicament for heritage purists out there. Now that I know the original colours and they are kind of hideous, is it ok to repaint in a scheme that we like?


May 11, 2010

Why I May Just Be The Greatest Wife That Ever Lived...

Jason loathes squeaky floors. So much so, that he thought he would fix a creak in our BRAND NEW kitchen floor by drilling screws into the floorboards from the basement. Yes. I did actually say 'drill screws into the floorboards'. And yes. He did think this was a brilliant idea.

I had no idea what he was doing when he called me to go up to the kitchen.

He asked jokingly: "any screws poking up through the floor?"

Me: "Yes, Jason. There is actually a screw poking up through the BRAND NEW floor"

*Illegible muffled swearing from below*

Me to Jason when he is inspecting his 'handiwork': "Why would you EVER think that was a good plan?"

Jason: "But I was only off by this much" (holds fingers together in a tiny pinch)

All I gave him was a look. That's it. No yelling, no tears, no silent punishment for three days, making him sleep on the couch.

Nope. I'm point collecting. First, the move to Calgary. Then a trip to Vegas this weekend. Coupled with a future fishing trip. I think el wifey needs a new little blue box.


Oh, PS. The floor still squeaks.

May 5, 2010

Dear Sink...

Why do you have to be so difficult? Why do you have to be cracked? And why can't I find your doppleganger tucked away in a corner of the local New and Used, marked down to $15? Why do you insist on making me look in every Craigslist, Ebay bid, every architectural salvage, and used building material store online in Canada and the United States to find a match? Why do you have to have the cutest taps, that don't seem to exist anywhere and that only fit a slant back sink, the rarest sink type in THE ENTIRE WORLD?

And why, oh why, when I find something close to the original, do you have to be lavender or pink, from Pasadena, CA or Toledo, OH? And $400 US? What's up with that?

I think we need to break up...


Bathroom Reno

Yes. Sadly, there is very little redeemable of our downstairs bathroom to restore. The original terrazzo smeared together with a later 70s linoleum (saying bad 70's linoleum is redundant - it's all bad), the shower board behind the white 3x3" tile saturated with water/mold and well, that's about it for the bathroom - it's tiny. We are reusing the original Universal Rundle toilet - lovely lines as far as fixtures go. The sink, which is wall hung with a slant back that holds a sweet little Mueller fixture is cracked and according to the guy who repainted our upstairs bathroom - is "toast".

Original sink, toilet and white square tile above sink.

So I have been on a manhunt to find a replacement from the same era. It is proving 'challenging' to say the least and I am now scouring the Ohio Craigslists' and salvaged building material stores (and oh yes, I started in Canada, then moved to western US. I am slowly moving east).

Jason and his brother, who so kindly came out for a visit just after we moved in, took a sledgehammer to the bathroom shower one weekend in March.

The demo crew taking a break on the front steps.

They quickly discovered that in 1950s houses, drywall was designed to withstand nuclear warfare and is connected by this impenetrable web of metal mesh. Once you start removing drywall, it's hard to stop. They ended up taking off just a 'leetle beet' too much. Oh, well. By doing so, though, we found out that hey - no water damage beyond the shower! Something I'm sure we would be wondering otherwise...

We hired a general contractor to finish the rest (Cornad Contracting) and work started this week.

For one of the only reno's we will be doing in this house, we will be undertaking the following. With a wee bit of help from our g/c, Fred, Murray the electrician (he's excellent and made some super suggestions to add period appropriate lighting) and Justin the plumber (I will add contact info shortly) and various others that are coming and going all day long:

  • New concrete board in shower and opening up door so anyone over 5'7" doesn't have to duck to get in
  • New shower door and taps and shower head (by Moen) (pix to follow)
  • New 'tile-o-rama' from our BFF Corrine at Deerfoot Carpet & Flooring- dark grey floor tile, white subway in the shower with a 3" border of teal/blue glass penny tiles, dark grey pebble on the shower floor (heavenly)
  • Refurbished wall hung sink, which at this rate, I'll probably have to ship from Zimbabwe - using original taps
  • Original toilet
  • Original vanity mirror
  • Original light over vanity
  • Paint yet to be determined, by the Johnston clan

We're at the boring insulation/vapour barrier/lot's of hammering that gives me a headache stage so I will spare you progress pictures at this point. But maybe that's exciting for some of you. Whatever floats your boat.

Me, the vanity and some studs.