As I mentioned in my first blog post, I had admired this home for years and dreamed of living in it. When this house first went on the market, I scarcely dared to even consider that we could buy it - I would be crushed if the dream didn't come true. Eventually, we finally went to look at the house and what we discovered was that despite the house being a far cry from our "dream home", it still felt like the right fit for us. Let me tell you, after looking at so many houses, you start to get a "feel" for houses, a sense of their history. Some homes left us with the heebie jeebies, some were depressing, some simply felt uninviting. Our home, on the other hand, felt happy. Content. Warm, filled with love and goodness. And it still feels that way to me. After learning more about the previous owners (our home was sold as an estate), we learned that they were kind, respected folk, well loved in the community. No wonder this place feels so whole.
However, as I said, the house is less than dreamy- it's at least 120 -130 years old and is a bit ramshackle, as rooms were added on over the years (there is no record of when the original structure was built, but we found newspapers in the walls dating back to 1888). In fact, the son in charge of the estate later told us he was sure someone would buy the property, bulldoze the house and build a new home. What a shame that would be! These old homes are living, breathing beings. If walls could speak.... how many people were born in this home? How many people died here? I often wonder about these things...
Advertisements from the newspapers we found in the wall. Carts and harnesses at half price?!? What a deal! (sorry, couldn't make this photo rotate so you can read it better)
Our goal for this home is to update it, but still be true to the essence of the home. So far, we have only tackled the upstairs/kid's rooms. We've salvaged and restored as much as possible. It seems silly to me to totally gut an old home and try to make it look "new". I love that this house has history, that the floors are rubbed thin in places by years of foot traffic. I love that our floors slope and dip.
Over the summer, we have slowly been working on a mini kitchen remodel. We don't have the time or cash to do a full remodel, but the carpet in the kitchen HAD to go! Once the floor was done, then we could install an island with a dishwasher. When we moved in, I thought I would be ok living without a dishwasher. It's just dishes. How hard could that be? Harder than I thought! With all the baking, cooking and preserving we do around here, I was averaging 2-3 hours a day JUST washing dishing. I couldn't handle it anymore!
Here is a look at our kitchen before we moved in:
View of kitchen from the dining room
View of kitchen from the entry way, pantry door on the left
Pros: Large! PLENTY of cupboard space! A pantry! A window facing west for nice breezes!
Cons: Carpet. Yucky counters/back splash. Cupboards are not so great, but since they are custom built (a.k.a. they are built for the existing space, since nothing is square or level in old homes) we can't really replace them. Hardware is too retro for my taste. No dishwasher.
We have a vision for this kitchen and someday it will be stunning. I promise. But in the meantime, we're concentrating on flooring and a dishwasher, our highest priorities. Everything else will have to wait.
When John ripped up the carpet, we found 2-3 layers of ancient linoleum underneath. We suspected that a nice wood floor was hiding under that linoleum, but there is only one way to find out -rip out the linoleum! Unfortunately, lurking under the linoleum was a thick layer of adhesive that had to be hand scraped off the wood. Every. Single. Inch.
John scraping the adhesive off the floor -he cleared it off in the corner, but you can see it to the right of the gray bucket
John worked in small sections, since the work was so time consuming and we still had to live and function in the space at the same time. It was a miserable job and took weeks to complete. I'm sorry, Honey. You're the best.
After the adhesive was removed, John rented a floor sander to smooth the surface and remove the stains the adhesive had left.
See how much lighter the wood is after being sanded. John is tapping in some of the nails that were sticking up.
Then the floor was ready to be polyurethaned. We decided to skip staining the floor and allow the natural wood color to shine through. I packed up the kids and dogs and moved to my parents for a few days so John could work without the fear of us stepping on the floor while it was wet. Three coats later, and the floor looked terrific! Oh, of course there are wide gaps between the boards, there are scrapes, scratches, nail holes and the outline of the woodstove that must have sat there a looooooooong time ago (complete with burns in the floor where sparks jumped out), but I'm thrilled with it! Goodness, people pay big money to make their floors look "distressed" like this. Ha!
The finished floor! Notice the dark outline of the woodstove. Just so happens that was exactly where we were going to put a carpet runner anyway. It covers the spot perfectly!
This past week, John built me an island to go in the center of the kitchen and installed a dishwasher. I am in a state of utter and complete bliss. A dishwasher! My very own dishwasher! Now I spend maybe 20 minutes doing dishes. My counters are no longer piled on either side with dirty or clean dishes. I might be the happiest person on the planet.
There is still much to be done, but it's exciting to see progress!