Monday, November 02, 2009

The Old Farmhouse

This will be a long and boring post for some of you, but I know there are lots of family members who will enjoy this update!

Yes, I know I complain often about the old farmhouse life, with the dust bunnies and the drafty walls and the creaky stairs, but now and then the old girl will surprise you with the most exquisite hidden treasures.

When Colby's mom and stepdad came up last weekend and helped me with some wallpapering and some painting in the living room, I had no idea it would spark a fire under me to completely renovate the entire main room. Once I had the painting of one half of the room done and the matching wall paper up, I was too excited about the whole thing to stop there. My main problem with the changes? The carpet no longer matched. It didn't even come close to matching. It had to go.

Bright and early Monday morning after taking Josh to school I cleared out the room and pulled up the carpet. And the carpet pad. And the tack boards at the edges of the room. Which actually takes a lot of work! I was thankful that there was this big ole' crowbar sitting around the house waiting for me to put it to such a use!

Under the carpet was this linoleum, we figure it must have been installed in the early 60's based on the style and the one very old clipped out coupon for 7 cents off a box of tin foil that expired in 1964 that we found under the edge.

So after that 400 lbs or so of old flooring had been removed, I had to stand back and just stare in awe at the 100+ year old maple flooring beneath. It had been hiding there all along, covered up for nearly 50 years!

The wood stove still stood in it's place over by the old brick chimney covered over with plaster. It was far too heavy for me to move. I can't even lift a corner of it. So that evening when Colby got home he engineered a way to get it up onto a wooden cart with wheels and wheeled it off to the other side of the room so we could remove the carpet and linoleum there and FINALLY build a nice hearth.

It had already been a long day of pulling, lifting, scraping, etc. but we couldn't stop. It was so much fun! At the very end of the day, before we fell into bed, Colby decided to get out a little dish of warm, soapy water and a scrub brush and just see what the floor would look like CLEAN. It was amazing.

The next day I moved all of the furniture back into the main room and started removing carpet in the other half of the room. (which hasn't been painted yet)

Under the linoleum we found two more cold air return registers that we didn't know about. One of them actually had nothing under it. I pulled up the register and looked straight down to the basement. Wow.

Once I'd gotten up all of the carpet and linoleum and scraped and pulled up all of the nails and staples, it was time to pick up Josh from school. On the way home I picked up a big bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap and a long handled scrub brush (plus a heavy duty hand one just in case). Only a few feet into scrubbing with the long handled one I bent the handle completely over. And that area wasn't nearly as clean as I wanted it to be. So the rest of that afternoon I spent on my hands and knees scrubbing for all I was worth. Somewhere in the midst of that I had my "Worst Mommy of the Year" moment when my girls took themselves over to Grandma Rose's house to watch TV completely without my knowledge. There were several frantic minutes as I made myself hoarse and searched every outbuilding half a dozen times. I think I got a few gray hairs for that one and about 5 years taken off my life. Anyway, let's not dwell on that, shall we?

Scrubbing that floor was an incredibly muddy task. The amount of dirt and grime that came off of that wood was amazing, and I would scrub, scrub, scrub one small area, then quickly wipe off the grime with paper towels or newspapers because it completely soiled a rag so quickly and thoroughly that I was spending too much time trying to rinse it out each time and I didn't want it to soak back into the wood.

When it was wet it was pretty and you could see all of the burling and different shades of dark and light woods.

When Colby got home that night, he helped me do a second scrubbing on the cleaned area. I couldn't believe how much mud he still made the second time around.

There are still many square feet yet to be scrubbed, but our first priority was to get the hearth built and reinstall the stove so we could heat the house with wood again as quickly as possible. So on Friday Colby began the task of building the hearth and laying the stone tile. First he had to go down to the basement and brace up the beams so the extra weight wouldn't be a problem.

We had found a place next to the door to the stairwell where the old wood floor had been patched with newer wood flooring that didn't match. It isn't the same width and includes some pieces of oak, it looks like. We talked about removing the maple flooring where the hearth would be placed so we could patch that area properly, but in the end decided against it - I wanted to keep the floor under the hearth intact if at all possible, and really the old patch told a story and adds to the history of the house. The patch was placed there a VERY long time ago, when they removed the old staircase that went up from the living room straight up to Joshua's room, before the addition of the kitchen.

The bottom of the built-in bookcase was removed and you can see how many layers of paint there were over the old lathe and plaster wall at the back.

The building of the hearth went smoothly, and while it is still a ways away from being done, once the 9 middle stone tiles were placed and set, we were ready to let that cure over the Sabbath and be ready to reinstall the stove Sunday.

Tiles set in place and drying Friday afternoon. They will look a whole lot better when they are cleaned and sealed, but that won't be until after the rest of the tiles have been laid and grouted.

With some furniture in - gasp! the couch without it's cover! - and livable for Sabbath.

Sunday afternoon we put the stove back in place and lit a nice warm fire! Yes, there's still a long way to go to finish the hearth, the floor, and the mantle, but we are hoping to have it mostly done by Thanksgiving!

This is a rough sketch that Colby did on a piece of lumber of what the end result will be like once all of the tile has been laid and the mantle built.

Last night after we had stacked some more firewood and put the kids to bed, we curled up on the couch. I started reading our new book to Colby while we listened to the snapping, crackling fire in the stove and soaked up it's warmth. There is no doubt that we are very blessed!

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