Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the butler's pantry

As I mentioned last week, part of what's filling up the trash bags in the entry is the butler's pantry.  While it's not a small space, it has been a cluttered catch all since we've lived here.  First it housed all of our moving boxes and both cats while the house was in its dangerous uninhabitable stage, and it has morphed into storage of our salvaged built-ins, tools, vacuums etc...  Not pretty.  Not useful...

Oddly the only picture I could find -
note the presence of the rad, and the damn boarded window

Now while I would never harm an original space or floor plan, there was abundant evidence that nothing about the space was original.  We know the space itself was added along with the kitchen wing before 1895.  One wall was old plaster board with a skim coat of plaster, and there were shadow marks and cut moldings in both the hallway and kitchen from where doorways used to exist.

It's possible/likely that those two doorways once led to servant's stairs - a theory supported somewhat by framing and the odd seam in the floor, but nothing definitive.  Once the kitchen doorway was decommissioned and closed the space almost certainly housed an icebox - as evidenced by the extensive rot in that section of floor and nowhere else.  After we reopened the doorway there was room for our fridge to sit in the space (although we still need to frame in the back where it protrudes into the pantry).

Before we bought the house.
Note the "inspirational" kitchen photo taped to the built-in.
my nostrils are obviously photoworthy

You can see the original dark green paint revealed after scraping layers of paint and 60's vinyl shelf liner off the walls, on the left you can see the new fridge peeking out.  

The demo stalled after doing what was necessary for fitting in a fridge (two years ago), but the house was so clean and orderly after the holidays, I had to do something to cope!  So I took down the offending hallway wall...


 The demo was straightforward, and I was lucky enough to find these wallpaper fragments in the debris between the walls, dating to when the original plaster in the pantry was demoed.  Please folks, do your own demo, and take the time to go through the debris, it's worth it...

While the doorway was exactly where I expected it to be (on the left), the rest of the framing had me befuddled. 

The walls were doubled, and there were what seemed to be arbitrary pieces of wood tacked on here and there, with some horizontal pieces thrown in for good measure.  The reused framing lumber (identified by the existence of plaster lines where there shouldn't be) further confused the matter.  I did eventually figure it out though, the answer?  Pocket door...  At some point this wall was built with scrap lumber, and a homemade track and stop.  The soft-close stop was what really had me confused - it consisted of a short angled chunk of wood with an old floorboard tacked to it.  The floorboard had just enough length to bend when something hit it.  

Naturally this throws a wrench in my plans, so further work is on hold until we figure out if this monstrosity stays or goes...

Thursday, January 15, 2015

revisiting the basement

Everyone's been posting resolution type posts as of late, and I'm pleased to report we've already fulfilled all of ours.  You see, after the miserable year we had we vowed to begin our year the day we brought Maugrim home.  The day before Thanksgiving seemed as good a day as any to start fresh, and so far, so good.

leave it to the malamute to find the coldest spot in an already cold house...

That said, after several spectacularly fun get-togethers, the restoration ball is once again rolling (or at least picking up speed).  No sooner did the decorations come down and the tree get dragged to the curb than Mount Trashmore was resurrected in it's corner (to the delight of the puppy), made up of equal parts basement and butler's pantry.  The basement has been near impassible for close to a year, so some attention was long overdue.  While there's not much I can do about my ballooning collection of rusty light fixtures until the third floor's finished, much of what was down there were simply things that needed to be sorted into bins after coming home with us from estate sales and demolitions, and their various cardboard boxes thrown away.

and this is only one basement room of four...

We bought some racks to store our salvaged trim, so once I finish demolishing the "keep out" room, those will go up and we'll be in much better shape down there.  Our pile of doors also finally moved under the stairs where they'll be safely out of the way, unblocking an original basement door that has never been accessible since the first time we looked at the house.  There's also a bike, antique sofa and antique fireplace insert that need to be craigslisted.

two sets of salvaged vestibule doors,
just waiting for the magic day we start the porch

It's easy to forget this began as a fully finished basement -
the Bennington doorknobs are a nice reminder however

I'm still finding odds and ends down there, including the veneer face to what I guess was an antique radio, an antique drying rack (after looking for one to buy since starting the laundry room 3 years ago), and one of the original cistern spigots.  The spigot is embarrassing.  We've been wondering where it might have been since buying the house, as it turns out it was in the middle of everything, winterized under a a box stuffed with insulation.

There are a number of other things in the works, so I just need to get back in the habit of writing.  More to come, hope you all had a lovely New Year.