Sunday, December 25, 2016

happy merry everything

This fall and winter have been busy.  All of the holidays that matter have piled up upon one another (I didn't even tell you that we had the kid's first birthday luau in the finished schoolhouse), and in just this next week we have Hanukkah, Christmas, HAMukkah and New Years.  So happy everything friends!

On a less festive note, while on our way to capture a Christmas tree our car was totaled.  While thankfully everyone involved was fine, we weren't quite ready to part with the car, or the money for it's replacement.  Where this leaves the porch fund is anyone's guess, and it's something we'll just have to figure out in the new year.  Nonetheless, meet Hagrid, our Expedition EL, and officially the newest used car I've ever owned, not to mention the biggest.   Lets just put it this way...  I can fit whole sheets of blueboard and plywood in the trunk, and we could have towed the whole schoolhouse home with it.

I hope your holidays were much less dramatic, and that if you find new cars in the driveway they were left there by Santa.  Many thanks for reading and sticking with me through these past few years, I hope you all have a fabulous holiday!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

in watercolor

Some of you may know that little old Thornfield won Old House Journal's spine contest a month back!  A perk of this was a custom house portrait by Rob Leanna.  The portrait is here, and it's beautiful.  In fact, it looks like one of the hand colored drawings from a period builders catalog, which is pretty much perfect...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

before the snow flies

The weather has finally changed enough that I think winter may actually be just around the corner.  This long warm fall was a blessing, but as is typical with projects, I still failed to get my punch list finished.

As I mentioned before, there's little in the way of helpful photos in this post.  Organizing and transferring photos has been an onerous task, and I was so disgruntled over the summer I just stopped taking them...

 On the "before winter list" were a bunch of long overdue pile consolidations, with buggy wood trashed or burnt, a bunch put on it's respective surfaces where it belongs, and cutoffs given away as wildly desirable barnwood (strange, school wood doesn't carry the same cache).  I also got around to winterizing the basement doors - and while I didn't get a chance to paint them, I did paint a bunch of other bits and pieces.  Included in those bits and pieces were the smallest gable, and the pair of dining room windows.

Check out that vinyl!
I'm not exactly sure what possessed me to rip it down, but my gut was right...

Money ran out for new storm windows, so the window restoration of the bay will wait.  Getting the existing broken triple tracks out will be hellish, and is just not worth doing until we have something to replace them.  We also need to replace many missing bullseyes, but again, it'll have to wait...

Also done is the onerous digging of the french drain.  There seems to have been a stream that once came down the hill, which through the years now translates into a torrent of groundwater that was keeping the new brick floor of the schoolhouse perpetually damp.  We dug down and put in a small retaining wall of cinder blocks we've dug up from around the property about three feet from the schoolhouse, and installed the french drain up against the sonotube foundation.  There was nothing special about the install - landscape fabric, gravel, perforated pipe etc...  but it wraps around the side and back of the building and seems to be doing a stellar job.  We still need gutters, but at least we can push them back a couple of years.

The wall used up the last of the block, for which I'm beyond grateful, and it doesn't look too terrible.  At least, comparatively I suppose.  The rest of the super huge blocks (which we think were the foundation to the most recent garage on the property) were stacked to finish off the retaining wall where Mount Trashmore once was.  It'll have to be redone as some distant point, but for now seems like it'll be fine.

There's been a bunch of other happenings, hopefully I'll be able to catch you all up in the next couple of weeks, before turning attention to porch planning and interior winter work.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

six years

Well, our housiversary seems a logical time to start trying to post again doesn't it?  While I have several posts in draft form, the issues with One Drive discontinuing their guaranteed unlimited storage and subsequently blocking access made organizing and accessing photos for the posts impossible.  We're using dropbox now, since we already used it for work.  But it's been a steep learning curve for me, and a long process to transfer and attempt to organize our photos.  I may just publish the drafts sans photos, if I don't they'll never get posted.

In any case, work has been continuing!  The schoolhouse is officially done and is only awaiting the rest of it's paint and the restoration of it's shutters (next spring).  The Karmann Ghia is finally parked INSIDE, and it's a wonder to behold.  Various patches and repairs have been done on the exterior, including two restored windows and a small gable.  The radiator that we pulled from the now demolished rectory has also finally been restored and is installed and working.

Perhaps the biggest revelation is that the great porch rebuilding will be beginning in April.  At this point our current entry porch is beginning to fold in half and collapse, and I can't bear the thought of investing time and money into propping the decrepit thing back up.  Even the bare bones version of the rebuild is costing at least 5,000 more than we have to spend because of the work involved in the curved gazebo and conical roof.  The logical thing to do would be to rebuild it as a polygon, but where's the fun in that?  This initial iteration of the porch will consist of a painted osb floor, and 6x6 porch posts to save on money, and similarly, we'll cobble together something for the railings.  Like resurrecting the staircase, the priority is the structure, the decorative details can come later.  I'm sure I'll have a tremendous number of questions as we go on, but first I suppose it makes sense to make sure people are still out there reading.

So, on this first wintery day, make yourselves warm alcoholic beverages and toast to year six of Thornfield's restoration!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

selling off

Pittsburgh is not overly large, nor does it particularly care about it's history.  And its people, by and large, are not super enamoured with antiques.  While these things sadden me, they also make it possible for me to obtain lots of stuff that I couldn't otherwise afford.  Some of this stuff, as it turns out, I don't need.  And although it's fun for me to take them out of their packing and pet them sometimes, I'd much rather they be used and appreciated.  To that end, when we head to NYC this week to see the Dresden Dolls (tickets to which were my mother's day present) I'm planning on bringing some of my lighting to sell.  I desperately need money for the porch, so this must happen.

Off to the big city is a pair of Tudor Revival 5 light chandeliers, with their original bronze and iron finish.

And sure, while those are pretty spiffy they can't hold a candle to my set of 15 aluminum Art Deco slip shade fixtures.  

The coolest pull chain switch ever, just fyi...

And yes, by set I mean a matched set, including one 5 light chandelier, 3 two light drop fixtures, 3 two light flush mount fixtures and 8 single shade sconces (obviously, I have all the shades as well, but they are meticulously wrapped and stashed away).  The pictures clearly don't do them justice, but this isn't ebay is it?

I'm not in the habit of using this blog as a platform for selling, but I post these here because I KNOW no salvage yard will give a hoot about keeping the set together.  But, it's important to me.  So, if any of you dear readers feel that you must have either set, do let me know.  Obviously, rewiring and some paint stripping will be required...  And don't forget, the deco fixtures are famous, as they're the ones that were rented for The Last Witchhunter (I'll ask them to keep their egos in check).  And if you know of any other contractors that buy a house just for its huge garage and can't get rid of its pink fixtures fast enough, send them my way.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Driehaus Museum

In clearing out my desktop (it's too miserable here to be doing much of anything else), I realized I never posted the last of the photos from last years Chicago trip.  What should be the most beautiful of the posts is somewhat lacking.  Lets just blame the combination of crowds, dim lighting and stained glass.  It's fairly easy to find excellent overall photos of the sumptuous interiors of the Driehaus Museum, but here are some details of interest (tile, Tiffany and delicious floors especially).  And a tip; make sure you sneak into the opposite sex bathrooms, the woodwork and tile in each is exquisite, and not worth missing just because you have the wrong sex bits.

So, as usual, in no particular order...