As the floor crew removed the scarred maple in prep for the new red birch floor, the smells were reminiscent of time spent in Dad’s workshop helping to steady boards as they passed through the table saw and from an even earlier time when he hand-sawed wood in the garage while I dulled a drill-bit. It was a favorite pastime, sitting on the garage floor, concentrating on a block of wood and carefully turning, turning, turning the crank of the hand drill through a board. He kept one bit just for me as I was imprecise in judging my stopping point and the concrete never budged.
So, too, the renovation sounds evoked memories, although less than melodic, as crowbars wrenched wood and pulled nails screeched. Previously, Richard and I performed the hours and hours of kitchen and bathroom demolition (1987). This time – older, wiser, and financial solvent – we are paying someone to do the dirty work of removing the old and much abused living room flooring that hid for decades under carpet. This week’s old house discoveries included:
An entire section of the original subfloor was never nailed to the floor joists
Maple flooring poorly patched with mystery wood when heat ducts and cold air returns were moved or replaced over time
Bowed living room walls – We have known for years that the wall between the dining room and the living room was out-of-square by nearly two inches which is why, in 1987, the dining room parquet was laid at an angle but now we know that that east and west living room walls are not straight
Electrical wiring tucked under the baseboard on what had once been a front porch as it was quicker than drilling a hole where the electrical outlet was actually located.
All relatively easy fixes or work-a-rounds, although the surprising and definitely not to code location of the electrical wire in the sunroom was discovered when nicked by a power saw which required adding a junction box and new wiring.
Oh the joys of 21st century renovations in a house built in 1925 and moved in 1927! But the new red birch hardwood floor will be beautiful.
With Boston looming large on my calendar, followed by a week at home and then flying to Montréal, (I am still befuddled as to how I have 13 travel days in just one month) I am focused on home-centered tasks; the garden this morning and moving furniture this afternoon to prepare for the new living room floor.
Green beans – picked, blanched and frozen although an evening’s serving size has been set aside to sauté with thyme.
Blueberries – harvested and baked; this time in scones.
Tomatoes – just for eating; and likewise
Peppers – ready for some dish yet to be selected for our summer dining menus.
Our house was built in 1925 and moved in ‘27. We are only the second family to live here. In the 1980s, as first time home owners, we undertook a myriad of refurbishing projects. Our after work evenings and nearly every weekend were filled with stripping layers and layers of paint from wood trim or removing layers and layers of nicotine infused wallpaper, so saturated that when dampened the room smelled like an old tavern. For a few years, we tolerated ugly orange shag carpet in the former front bedroom, now our TV room, and then put in hours of scraping the black foam backing that had been glued to the maple hardwood floor. (Who glues down carpet, anyway?!?) For years, the re-telling of that year’s remodeling tasks was the biggest story in our Christmas letter. And then the house was finally ours and we were content for two decades. In 2008, we added the screened porch that is our favorite summertime room, a new garage was built in 2012 and a rain garden replaced the old narrow driveway, and our favorite builder performed a major bathroom facelift just as I was retiring in 2017.
Now, after so many quarantine days, we have decided 2022 will be a year of home projects as we replace the last of the single pane, double hung windows, remove the carpet and lay new hardwood floor in the living room, and re-finish the dining room and kitchen parquet. Unlike the 1987 remodeling when a construction manager organized the sub-contractors, these projects feel sufficiently discrete that we will coordinate the work ourselves. Although, as I continue to wait for a call back from the asbestos abatement expert, (damn that 7 foot x 10 foot section of porch linoleum under the living room carpet!) I am beginning to wonder at the sanity of this decision. I hope these blog posts will help keep me sane.