Thursday, July 8, 2010

Page One: Whipping an old house into shape

Taking a few minutes from the tasks at hand to let you know my progress in getting settled.  As I said earlier, we have just moved to the Ohio River Valley into a 1934 Spanish revival.  We are the fifth owners of this home and have taken on making it ours.  I don't know if you understand those of us who like older homes.  Sometimes, I curse and swear in trying to understand it myself.  Older home ownership is the ultimate recycling take what you get and try to keep as much as you possible can to maintain the dignity of the older architecture.  Which can mean you either pay someone to do this or you do it yourself.

DIY is a siren song to those of us who like projects.  The plethora of ideas of what you can do with such a home is part of its charm.  I guess you can call it a muse.  You walk through the rooms and imagine how you can make the most of each space and if you are like me the ideas become overwhelming.  So, having owned an older home before I prepared myself with a project notebook to record ideas for each room.  This way I can hold on to those fleeting thoughts and ideas that come to me in the middle of doing something totally unrelated and then I can sleep at night because I have tucked those thoughts away in a safe place.

Yesterday, I tackled what would seem a very simple project of cleaning the front solarium.  This is the main entrance to our home, and I adhere to the Mount Vernon plan of setting up the rooms.  That method is starting a the front door, clean and work your way around the house until you make a full circle and arrive back at the front door.  It is a good method which keeps me from tethering off onto multiple things that require attention.  I always know where I am.  But, I let sneak into my head the idea that this would be simple to do.  Never, NEVER, when working on an old home assume that each project will be simple.  You will drive yourself mad and be found by kind folks out wandering the streets.

I started at the top of the room and worked my way down to the floor.  Also a good idea when you are cleaning as the dirt and dust follows the way of gravity and will end up back on a clean floor if you begin there.  I started with applying lemon oil to the wood paneling, window sills, skylights and ceiling.  I amazed myself by making this job easier as I used a foam brush to do the first application.  I did a section at a time which I let sit while I went off to putter on other things.  I wiped down the previous section each time before I went on to applying oil to the next.  So, it took me 2 days to finish the room entirely.  Not because it was a large room, but because it was beastly hot.

Then, I tackled the windows and remaining walls.  I had to do some paint scraping around the door and windows which my single edge razor blade handled like a pro.  Next up...the floor.  Quarry tile flooring is durable and when sealed, very easy to maintain.  My quarry tile had not been sealed, so had a lot of ground in dirt.  It took all afternoon to scrub and rinse the floor.  I wanted to use a cleaner for this tile.  I tried a number of options, dish soap, vinegar, spray cleaner, all worked so so.  The best cleaner by far was baking soda dry, scrubbed with a wet scrub brush.  This lifted so much of the stains and ground in dirt.  Whoopee!!

Here are two picture of my results:

Now, I am off to pat myself on the back and enjoy a large glass of ice tea.  More to come...

1 comment:

  1. It looks gorgeous, mom!! I cannot wait to relax and enjoy a cup of iced tea with you on the porch. Save some work for me when I come to help :-)