Monday, February 10, 2014

what's black and blue and sooty all over?

That'd be me folks.

Now I know house restoration is rumored to be quite the glamorous pastime, but let me tell you, I don't have enough makeup in this house to cover-up the bruises.  These aren't accidentally hitting myself with a hammer bruises, these are deliberately crawling into places I don't fit bruises.  While the goal of closing up the third floor suggests that the holes will get smaller, the fact is most needed to get a lot bigger first.

Our third floor is quite spacious, with two large bedrooms, two smaller bedrooms and a nice sized bath, hallway and linen cabinet.  Although all the rooms have 9 foot ceilings, they are still tucked in under the eaves which gives them charming sloped ceilings.  Under these slopes however, the darkness lurks.  Rot, squirrel, mouse and raccoon nests (and droppings naturally), destructive stop gap repairs, moldy insulation, and a century of soot and cobwebs and silver cream pitchers.

Let this be a lesson to you that when you're sitting on the floor scraping wallpaper with construction cat in your lap and the inexplicable urge to stick your hand in a hole and take a picture overwhelms you, listen, for it is the will of the House Gods.  This little creamer must have been in a box in the attic that was knocked over, and it rolled down the sloped ceiling into the knee wall next to the chimney.  The most amusing part of the find was the mouse nest that was inside of it, complete with evidence that said mouse had a bit of a nibble of his new abode. Actually, that's a lie.  The most hilarious part is that while I made the hole big enough to get in, it wasn't quite big enough to get back out again.  Naturally the trained monkey was several states away at the time, and I nearly resorted to sending an SOS to a friend across the street who has our key (I had, in a stroke of lazy brilliance brought my phone in with me since I was too euphoric to go looking for a flashlight)!  Some momentary panic, and some forceful rearranging of ribs, and I managed to extricate myself.  Sadly, it's not the first time, nor will it be the last.

the hole in question
Lucifer Sam - the construction cat

Other than that it's been a week of cleaning and clearing.  We've already thrown away about 20 bags of scraped wallpaper, old insulation, rotted wood and plaster etc...

see those plywood shelves in the dormer?

they didn't put up much of a fight...

The worst though has been pulling out the nests - 3 contractor bags full - the smell and dust and reaching blind into deep dark places had been some of the worst work I've done in recent memory.  Also, I've yet to find a single stick of wood up here that hasn't been clawed or chewed into pleasing (and no longer structural) curves.

Almost clean!
We've insulated and spray foamed the larger gaps, reinforced the rot and squirrel damage, and done some electrical work.  Assuming we can get the blueboard up the stairs we should begin the process of putting things back together soonishly...


  1. I don't think I'd ever have been brave enough to put my hand into a deep, dark hole like you did. Even if it meant not finding that beautiful little creamer! My God, those pictures make me laugh and shudder simultaneously. ;o)

    P.S: Glad you made it out of the too-small hole alive!

    1. Me too! The sole benefit of working this time of year is that at least the creepy crawlies are at a minimum as far as dark dirty holes are concerned.

  2. You are a brave woman! I've stuck my hand in lots of the eave spaces but I'm not brave enough to actually go in! I hear you on the nest front. We had quite a few squirrel nests to remove when we were getting the spray foam installed. I'm jealous of your 9' ceilings up there. Ours are only 7'6". Good luck! My other half in anxious to get our third floor done so he can have an office. Unfortunately there are quite a few steps before we can get to that.

    1. Your third floor is looking beautiful Heidi, I love everything you've done up there. Your site seems to be eating my comments though! As for climbing in the eaves, I've read too much conflicting info on sprayfoam, which left crawling in myself to air seal what I could....

  3. This post is amazing! I love that you just had to look in that hole and then found the old creamer! I'm so glad I found this blog. You inspire me.

    1. This house is amazing really, it's been so much fun to share a bit about it on the blog - I only wish I had started it sooner!

  4. I've just spent tons of time going thru ALL of your Pinterest pages! We seem to like a lot of the same kinds of things! An appreciation for old houses, our neighborhood history, antiques, etc. Something you might enjoy (if you don't already know about it) is this link to search old newspapers with a key word.
    and this page has lots more info;page=browse
    and looking thru old House and Garden Magazines link

    Hope you enjoy these links!

    1. Oh yes, I know them well Sue! The house was so bad the first winter that we spent A LOT of time doing research, it was too cold and miserable to do anything else! I keep hoping to find a stockpile of the antique home and garden magazines at an estate sale, but it hasn't happened yet...


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