Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parting is such sweet sorrow

We started our renovation of the guest bathroom in the middle of the house. It's a small bathroom so we thought we'd take off some of the sheetrock to see what is behind it, hoping we will find something original that we can use and create space.

Well, the first thing we discover behind the sheet rock are exterior redwood slats! Several times painted and once was actually on the outside at some point which leads me to believe that our kitchen was once just a deck or porch. The paint has that quintessential victorian coloring and is comprised of solid, old-growth redwood. I had to run down to the tool library to find some way of pulling out the nails without fracturing the board and the good people there gave me some 'parting' tools that allowed me to take out the nails on the board.

After taking off the bord, I see the back of what appears to be wainscot. After removing sheetrock on the other side, I find something called "Tyle-bord" nailed to the original wainscotting. All I found on the internet about that are a few ads dating back to 1948-49.
"About Tyle-Bord products. Tyle-Bord Company Incorporated manufactured building materials, the company was based out of Seattle. Frank Hobbs was President of the company, John G. Mitchell was Vice-President, and George R. Torrence was Secretary-Treasurer. View of model kitchen with Tyle-Bord ceiling and walls.

After carefully removing the bord, it was on to the wainscot and the slow process of pulling out the nails that held it to redwood studs. After a while, I successfully pulled out about eight 4' high wainscot pieces. They unsnap like a puzzle which is cool. There is about 3 layers of paint on it and this means more paint removal.

It's interesting to think about how styles change of the years and how much the house is layered with a sort of history of 'modernizing' and 'updating'. Now, it's cool to bring these houses back to the original and I'm happy that the previous owners were good enough (or lazy enough) to have covered some of the original house that protected it over the years.

In my research, it is interesting to learn that drywall had been considered a pretty cheap wall to have. Many people still don't like it for a variety of reasons and even though it was invented in the early 1900's, drywall didn't become popular until well into the 1950s.

It's a Bonanza!

My brother-in-law Bill tells me that we definitely have oak floors and most likely old-growth redwood heart for wood siding. My sister Sylvia remarked that the oak in the floors were around since ancient Egypt and that Oakland once had the most oak trees anywhere in the United States. Now, sadly enough, there is one oak tree left in Oakland and is called "Old man" and lives somewhere near Merritt college.

A few nights ago, I caught an episode of Bonanza and the episode started out with the Cartwrights cutting down a huge tree on the Ponderosa, Nevada. All the sons remarked how this one tree will build many homes and some ships. Pa reminded them that the tree was very old and there "long before Jesus was born". He then said, "What we take from the earth, we put back.", and then proceeded to plant a brand new young tree in its place to "grow for a hundred years or more". I never remembered Bonanza being so 'green-friendly' and it just seemed so poetic the way actor Lorne Greene said it. I'm glad we are cleaning the floor up and will soon make it available for everyone to see and walk upon. I have a new appreciation for the floor
and house and will do the best I can to repurpose any of the old wood so it will continue to be a part of the house.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No Wood Expert

When you live in a home made of wood, it is good to know what types of wood you are dealing with. To me, wood is...well..."wood". I know a redwood when I see one as well as a pine but almost always in their original, natural state. I know what a 2x4 is having had it come crashing down on my head now and then.

As I begin to either scrape off paint or remove things I've discovered very different types of wood in the house and I am having a hard time figuring them out. Here is a sample of the parlor hardwood floor after scraping off the varnish; a sample of the wood from a window trim that had at least 3 coats of different paint on it and a sample of wood siding found in the middle of the currently renovating bathroom that was covered with a piece of door casing. Please chime in if you can tell me what type they are so I am more the wiser. I promise I will no longer think of wood as just "wood". :)

Monday, February 15, 2010

Tile Practice

After a free tiling lesson at Home Depot a week or so ago, George did some practice tile work on the kitchen counter. Let me just say, it's the best part of the original kitchen now. He even designed a decorative square of that cool blue glass tile.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

a new tree

This morning we bought and planted a Santa Rosa Plum Tree. We'll see how that goes
& grows...

and then there were daffodils!

About two weeks during a break in all the winter rain we've been getting, George said, "Come outside, you have to see what I found!" I'm thinking, hmm, what did he find? Good or bad? So I went out back and these bunches of blooming daffodils appeared seemingly out of nowhere! Isn't that a nice surprise :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Expanding the bathroom by adding a pocket door.

The only bathroom currently in the home is ridiculously small and needs to be re-tiled and cleaned up as I notice a small leak where the old tile meets the tub. From the basement, I could see that there was once a tremendous water issue that ruined the floor and boards beneath and were replaced with new wood and cheap floor. The patch job was pretty lame so I'm going to have to replace it so it looks and feels better.

The majority of this work needs to wait until dryer weather but in the meantime I will put in a frame for a 'pocket door' that will make the bath bigger and harken back to the past since, historically, pocket doors were a common design element in houses. The pair of doors that slid right out of sight into pockets in the wall was a common feature of elegant homes in the 1890's. Over time, pocket doors fell out of favor, probably because they were hard to open and close, noisy, and often came off the track.

Now pocket door kits are much better and easier to install so I will begin this project pretty soon. Here is my artist rendition of before and after.

Hardwood Floor in the parlor slowly comes alive

So after 10 days of chemically removing the varnish and gunk on the parlor floor, this is what we have.
The next step involves sanding the floor and choosing a wood stain that appeals to us. Fortunately, the floor only has a few minor dings and scratches that can apparently be fixed with little wood patches. Andrea and I also just signed up with the 'Tool Library' a few blocks from here so we can check out (for free) all the equipment we need to sand the floor. After that, we tackle the baseboards and window trim all covered in at least 4 layers of different paint.