Kansas City Architectural Salvage: Closed on Tuesdays

December 4th, 2009

We went through Kansas City en route to Chicago for Thanksgiving on a Tuesday so many of the best architectural salvage places were closed. Antiquities and Oddities Architectural Salvage, raved about by our architects, is open Thu-Sat. Urban Mining is only open on the first Friday weekend of the month, when their place is stocked with “our fresh inventory, displayed by over twenty hunter-gatherer-artists who have spent the month combing the urban core for wonderful finds.” Foundation Architectural Reclamation does seem to be open Tu-Sat (11-5), but it looked too high end for us.

Plus we had tickets to see Wicked. We’d missed it in Chicago, Memphis, and Tulsa so we made a special effort to see it en route to Chicago. We brought my mom, so she stayed with the Little One at the hotel-with-a-pool while we went downtown. Thumbnail: The concept was wickedly good, but didn’t really stand up to three years of hype.

And on Wednesday, we had miles and miles to drive. And to argue with the car’s GPS, which really, really, really wanted us to turn around and take the interstate to St. Louis instead of taking US36 to Hannibal MO, and then to Chicago. It was a good Thanksgiving.

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Looking Ahead to Finish Work: Floral Barkcloth Draperies

November 24th, 2009

Don banned me from the house last week while he did the first rounds of sanding the floors. Understandably, since I have dust allergies. In an effort to console me, he suggested that I could start sewing curtains. After I squawked that I couldn’t because I had no fabric, I went on a shopping spree.

After hours on EBay, I have decided that a nice thing about a 20th century house is that, in contrast to the Chicago Victorians I still miss, there are still original furnishings in pretty good shape. I discovered I have a crush on barkcloth florals (and, less expensively, material from “the barkcloth era”), especially flowers that look a bit like real flowers, such as cabbage roses, irises and hydrangeas.

After an exciting flurry of bidding,* I am awaiting the arrival of these fabrics:

sea-green-faille-peonies-hydrangeas.jpg  milky-tea-faille-peonies-hydrangeas.jpg pink-roses-irises-barkcloth.jpg pink-hydrangeas-barkcloth.jpg midnight-blue-barkcloth-roses-irises.jpg blue-sheer-faille-roses.jpg

Once they come, I’ll have to see how the colors and patterns work together before deciding which ones go where. I expect the four on the left to end up in our master suite, and the two on the right in my sewing room. I also expect that I may need to buy some ticking or something to finish them off with. I’ve got my draperies books in hand, and will be thinking about these issues while watching for the post to arrive.

The fabrics should also help us narrow down our upstairs colors. I have a half dozen bluish-greenish-sageish colors on the wall, trying to decide. Don likes the samples that are a close match for our exterior color, but I’m thinking something with more blue. Whatever we choose, I am going to try something fairly dark in the bedroom since my grandparents’ cherry bedroom set will go there, and cherry looks really good against a dark color.

(Sorry if the paragraphing looks goofy. We’re trying to fix it.)
*Not so much bidding as buy-it-nows, although I did win some ‘or best offer’ offers, too.

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Flooring Letter

November 23rd, 2009

Dearest Reader,

I will try not to worry about catching you up on all that has happened since I last wrote five months ago except to say we have drywall, primed walls, color on more than half the walls (including ceilings), one flush toilet, one cold water sink, at least one electric outlet on each floor, switched lights in some places, and no heat. And Daddy is still dead. I will also not wait to post until I get new batteries in my camera. The Little One is asleep and I want to post before she wakes up.

We have no heat because the city won’t let the gas be turned on until we have passed our final inspection. Or until the weather gets real cold. Whichever comes first. The city claims to be concerned about people clogging their furnace filters with construction dust and burning out their furnace. We are grateful for the soy insulation since it keeps the house fairly warm, even with the single-glaze windows (which Don has rebuilt so they are much tighter than they were). And we are grateful for the working windows and good cross-ventilation since they let the house warm up quickly when we open them during the day.

So, we’ve been dealing with the floors since they are a dust source. We pulled and denailed most of the floors last year, but were planning to leave the living room alone. Were. Then we decided we should pull them while we’re at it so that we could install a border around the whole dining room/foyer/living room. It turned out most of the living room floors had dry-rotted, so it was good we had lots of Dallas flooring. We barely had enough Fayetteville salvage from four bedrooms, the kitchen, foyer, hall, dining room and living room to reinstall in the family room, kitchen, hall, and laundry room. We put down roofing felt which I hope will deal with the dry-rot. Previously, there was no moisture barrier between the downstairs rooms and the basement. (The Fayetteville floors are red oak, and the Dallas floors are a mix of red and white oak.)

We installed a nice log-cabin border, and learned how to fit pieces in between the borders. Much slower than straight laying of floors. Although the Dallas salvage floors were cleaner than the floors we pulled, they had more bad ends. (We had to pause while Don’s floor nailer spent a week in the shop, so he painted for a while. I was fairly picky about which pieces we used for the border, which also slowed us down.)

We’re refinishing the pine floors upstairs. They have no subfloor (or else they are the subfloor), but they’re old pine and they’re sanding out pretty. We laid a new floor in my sewing room, too, of mostly quartersawn oak because its subfloor was plywood and new. It turned out to be a good thing that I racked most of it before I got bifocals (progressive lenses, actually) because bifocals make all the growth rings and edges of the floor curve up around my peripheral vision. I was seasick after racking for about an hour with bifocals.

Don drove to Alma, Arkansas to pick up a U-Sander a week ago Thursday. It is supposed to be very safe for novice floor sanders to use. It is indeed safe, but very, very slow on newly laid salvage floors. After an afternoon of using it, we rented a drum sander as well. Our neighbor (who also helped us get started on laying floors and laying borders) uses the drum sander to take the edges and top layer of finish off the floors, and Don goes along behind with the U-Sander and palm sander to do the finish work.

We paused Saturday a week ago to go to south Arkansas to bury Daddy’s cremains. Or Don paused on Saturday – the Little One and I took Friday off, too, for a 15 hours in the car, touring Arkansas with my mother, brother, and niece. We missed the NE quadrant, but saw everything else: from Fayetteville, to La Hacienda in Conway, through Little Rock, to Monticello for the night. Then on to Fountain Hill, Crossett, Hamburg, Magnolia, Wickes, Duckett, Old Potter, and home. Deer season opened Saturday, so we saw a lot of dead deer and pickups on the side of the road and a lot of people wearing blaze. I wished we’d been wearing blaze at the cemetery – it was late in the afternoon, and I was a bit worried. However, nobody got shot. Always a good day when nobody gets shot at the cemetery.

Since then, Don and the neighbor have been sanding all day and into the night. We’re fortunate that the neighbor comes with one of the Little One’s best friends, so the Little One plays all afternoon and into the night. Don has just left (7:30 a.m.) for what we hope is the last push to finish the drum and U-sanding so we can return the rental sanders tomorrow and enjoy Thanksgiving without dust. I spent a while yesterday filling nail holes where we face nailed. I have some more to do today after the Little One wakes up.

I think we’ll sweep the floors and dust down the walls tomorrow morning so the dust can settle over Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, we will finish cleaning sawdust out of the house and apply a low VOC finish. (Hard oil, followed by wax, followed by a wax finisher.) We’ve decided not to stain the floors, although the hard oil packaging says it may add a hint of amber color.I hope it turns out as nice as I expect. Don keeps saying how much better the floors (and the house) are coming out than he expected. He’s right. A father-daughter house-hunting pair was walking through the neighborhood yesterday, and stopped to discuss housing prospects. (She’s a Vendorville transfer.) Our front door was open, and they both commented on how beautiful the floors were.

Perhaps I will post again soon. Hope all is well with you and yours this Thanksgiving.

All my best, Lisa

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Life is complicated

June 28th, 2009

Passed our rough in re-inspection last week. Reinstalled some windows. Easier than expected. BioBased insulation goes in on Monday. (Supporting northwest Arkansas innovation.) Frantic rush to get speaker wire in before the polyol goes in. Dry wall the week after. Hit a stump with our construction loan so we ended up scrambling to pay for the sheathing, siding, and repainting ourselves. School is out so we have a second grader in our house. Lease is up August 1 so we three will be moving back in with my mom. Not my mom and my dad, because, four weeks ago, my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died at home, with all of us with him, a week ago, on Father’s Day, during the summer solstice – the shortest night of the year. Memorial service Tuesday. I miss him.

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Washington Elementary House Walk

May 6th, 2009

Our grade school is hosting its annual house walk. Proceeds go to the library, and mean that there will be no selling of cookie dough or the like for us although the Little One was a top seller of Girl Scout cookies in her Daisy troop this year – she really enjoyed it.

We are still not ready to be on it unless somebody wants to tour a house with no windows or indoor plumbing or lights.* We do have rough-in plumbing and more than a mile of wiring installed.

Like last year, we’re hosting a house – the Hunts’ house, which I think of as the Januarys’** new house (since they bought it when they moved out of our house in about 1960). We haven’t been inside, but we’ve been in their garden when it was on a garden tour last spring. It is very French (as you might expect, since they own French Metro Antiques), with a brick wall around it, and has two beautiful Montmorency cherries. The cherries are probably what started me thinking about permaculture/sustainable agriculture/joys of having fresh fruit in your own yard.

Little One and Montmorency Cherry Tree June 2008 Montmorency Cherries French Hand Pump Under the Cherry Tree   The brochure has photos of this year’s houses, and here’s the list:

  • Jack and Anne Butt 526 E. Lafayette
  • U of A Chancellor Dave and Jane Gearhart 523 North Razorback
  • Terry and Renee Hunt 432 North Washington
  • John and Jennifer Lewis 137 S. Kestrel
  • Philip and Jennifer Maynard 315 N. Washington
  • Raymond Niblock 601 North Highland
  • Jan and Stacey Sturner 1 West Mount Nord
  • Reception and Refreshments at French Metro Antiques 200 West Dickson

This is a great collection of houses, both old (the Hunts’ house is pre-Civil War) and new (the Chancellor’s house is about a year old), for a great cause, so buy a ticket and take a tour. Tickets are available at French Metro Antiques, or at any of the houses the day of the tour.

*Strangely, we do seem to give a lot of tours of our house. The neighborhood seems to believe that a house with no plumbing, little electricity, and fewer and fewer windows every day is an improvement over the five-flat of college students that it was. (We stopped by the house yesterday morning, and three four windows in the living room were gone. I thought we weren’t doing those windows until we moved in, but apparently the siding needs to be replaced there, too. Don says the bright side is that we will only have to rebuild three or four windows after we move in. I guess that’s true. I’ll feel better after he’s put back one of the 87 gazillion we’ve taken out and rebuilt. I think he will, too.)

**Tom January stopped by our house last week while Don was there. He remembers watching the big house fire from Washington, and not being able to go home. He said his parents bought the house from two sisters, presumably the Brown sisters. Don thought he was pleased with how the house was going. (He didn’t think to ask whether he had any pictures of the house.) I think he’s going to stop by with his wife soon. I’d enjoy meeting him.

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Why I want a bathroom big enough to lie down in

May 3rd, 2009

Last night the Little One came in and announced that her stomach really, really hurt. Soon after that, she was throwing up all over our bedroom floor and herself. Yuck. After I got her cleaned up, she and I spent half an hour lying on the bathroom floor, joined intermittently by Ceefor Cat, while Don cleaned the trail from bedroom to bathroom. While lying there, I remembered how I cracked up our crack team of architects by telling them that I really wanted a bathroom big enough to lie down in. (I believe they said that that might end up on their wall of famous requests from clients. I am sure that it came soon after spending a fairly horrible night in our bathroom.)Our rental bathroom is big enough, but I sure don’t like lying there when I myself have no reason (beyond sympathy) to lie there. Eventually, I carried her back to my bed, where she stayed until she had to barf again a couple of hours later. (She got to the toilet in time.) I am looking forward to a bathroom of our very own, but hope we won’t have to use it for sleeping. 

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Tree-Lined Streets

April 14th, 2009

I loved the tree-lined streets of our neighborhood. Even though we had to cut down five trees over the summer, I loved the settled feeling that you get from tree-lined streets. Except that our streets have considerably fewer trees now. Yes, we got hit by the ice storm the end of January. (Also got hit by lethargy, so I drafted this, but didn’t post, but since then, we almost lost our computer so I shall stop aiming for perfection and see if I can just post.) We spent Monday night-Friday morning at my folks’ place on the Hill because 45+ trees fell on their driveway. We had planned to take advantage of their their in-line generator and work on windows, but it refused to engage, so we were very glad for their wood-burning fireplace. Wednesday, Don and I hiked down and hitched a ride to town with neighbors. We then backpacked supplies back to the house. Thursday afternoon, a four-man crew spent six hours clearing the driveway, and our apartment got power back that evening. We didn’t go back to the apartment until daylight Friday — and, two months later, the driveway is still pretty alarming at night. The Hill got power back Sunday. We got cable, phone, and internet sometime the next week. (One of those package deals.)Before:april-2007-driveway.jpgDuring:backpacking-up-driveway.JPGUs:ice-palace.JPG don-in-ice-palace.JPGOur apartment escaped unscathed. Our house lost the electric mast, and four more trees. The redbud in the front yard, a massive pecan by the driveway (which fell into the dumpster), and a couple of little trees in the side yards. The debris was piled up chest high.FEMA estimated six months to remove it all, although the contracted removers have already made two passes through the city, and are starting their third (and final) pass. The chipped trees from Fayetteville (about 150,000 cubic yards) are sufficient to mulch 800 acres 5 inches deep, so disposal is going to be a problem. I wish we were further along with the house so I could mulch my gardens with free mulch.

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As seen in the paper today

January 14th, 2009

Frank and Ernest are (is?) not on my must-read comics list, but every so often they nail it.
Frank & Ernest

(And … how cool that you can just embed the strip like that. Yay for technology!)

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Bathroom tile

January 6th, 2009

Don met with the plumber today. He starts next week, which means we may one day have indoor bathrooms again. Although it has been convenient to have this potty-house.jpg in the front yard (complete with weekly maid service), we probably shouldn’t plan on keeping it forever.

Having seen a half dozen houses with original square-edged subway tiles and floor tiles (hex, penny round, and rectangles),* I want some for our house. The modern beveled or pillow-top tile doesn’t look the same. Here are some sources:

American Restoration Tiles seems to best echo the combinations and shapes I’ve found in Arkansas. Not surprising since they’re in Mablevale AR (near Little Rock). They also have the penny round tiles. I feel a field trip coming some day. (We’ve talked a couple of times about stopping while we’re in the area, but the timing has been amazingly bad. Like Saturday. We drove back from Orlando, and went through Little Rock at 7:30 p.m. on a Saturday. Not a good time to find a tile company open.) The real problem is the price. I don’t have precise prices, but it looks like it will be $32/square foot for the subway tiles and up. Maybe less for the floor. Except I love the penny rounds, which are $42/square foot and up. We have considerably less in the budget for tile.

Of course, there’s always the real deal. Only there are no real deals for salvaged tile. This source wants $3.75/tile for antique, plain subway tile, which I think comes to $20/square foot. Plus shipping from New Jersey.

Maybe I’ll go over budget on the upstairs floors, install wood floors downstairs, and beadboard and/or stencil the walls until we can afford subway tiles. (I’m thinking about using 1/16″masking tape to simulate the grout line, and maybe faux marble in between. In the dry areas, obviously.) We have a lot of beadboard salvaged from the house. It’s all painted and splintery, so it’s not as nice as the beadboard we used in LaGrange Park,** but it’s free, and original to the house.

Or maybe we’ll go with linoleum. We recently bought green porcelain sconces (on clearance from Rejuvenation), and I recently saw a nice bathroom floor done with black and green linoleum squares set on the diagonal.

*We went on a Little Rock house walk last Mother’s Day where we saw a half-dozen examples of antique subway tile, and that solidified my desire to have square-edged tiles instead of rounded edges. But I apparently took only a single picture, and it’s not particularly gorgeous. Still, here it is.


Here is part of my collection of floors in Arkansas:


** I also am lacking in pictures of the beadboard, as installed in the main upstairs bathroom. Not surprising since the bathroom is very narrow and the beadboard is on the narrow wall. Still, here’s one picture.

LaGrange Park bathroom with salvaged beadboard

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Fairy houses

December 25th, 2008

While waiting for financing, we have been doing other things like rebuilding windows, planning our landscape, and making fairy houses. The Little One had some specific ideas about how a fairy house should look, which she sketched out for me.

fairy house, pastels fairy house, pastels (2) fairy house illustrated, pen and ink

She told me later that one of them was round. However,Don built a regular-shaped house, which she declared was even better than a round house. He painted them with leftover spray paint, and then the Little One and I scavenged shelf lichens, moss, and acorn caps on a nature walk on the Hill. She furnished the interior with sage and thistledown because she knows just what fairies like, and I got to use a hot glue gun for the first time. Fun.

fairy housefairy house through the window
fairy house front door

Sometime this winter, we’ll spray it with a coat of polyurethane, finish the other one, and put them out for the fairies to enjoy. I think she still believes in fairies, although the gig is up for Santa. Merry Christmas!

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