Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)

Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)
Thomas + Zilpah Ludlam House, ca. 1790

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Honey, could you make me something that looks like this?

Our progress is steady, but slow.  With just me painting and Scott doing everything else (with some intermittent help from his son, Scotty, who is as good a carpenter as his father!), we have started to embrace the idea that the addition will be done in the spring.  We originally thought maybe Christmas.  Sure, we could hire several carpenters and have it knocked out in a few weeks, but the cost goes up exponentially and with Scott retired, what's the point?  It's not like we don't have a kitchen or a bathroom.  Really, we're just missing the laundry room, and I can survive the laundromat indefinitely.

The weather has not cooperated with the outside painting....way too much rain, or the threat of rain, or it's humid and hot, so I've been working on several pieces of cabinetry that Scott made for the addition.  Carpenter that he is, he loves the challenge of making anything out of wood.  All I have to do is find a picture of a piece of furniture I adore and ask him, "Honey, could you make me something that looks like this?"  I am so lucky that he is so talented.

We found a pair of old raised panel shutters in the workshop when we bought the house, so Scott used them--and some old wood in his stockpile--to make a jelly cupboard for the kitchen.  But it's not just any jelly cupboard.  Open the doors and there are three shelves (one designated for my cookbooks) along with 4 drawers to keep batteries, rubber bands, coupons, tissues, and paperwork out of sight.  I decided to paint the cupboard with milk paint (Salem Red) and then give it a crackle finish.  I'll finish up with a raw umber glaze to fill in the cracks and give it an antiqued look.   Right now, it's been coated with the crackle glaze and is ready for the final coat of milk paint.

Scott also made a hanging cabinet for the kitchen with glass doors using old pine that was recycled from a 100-year bridge being replaced.  Its design is based on an early 19th-century piece we saw in an on-line auction catalogue and fell in love with (but knew we couldn't afford!)  The heart pine is beautiful and I knew instantly that this piece would NOT be painted.  I also knew I didn't want a traditional brushed-on varnish finish either.  After much research and poking around online I found the Sam Maloof finishes offered by Rockler.  They're pricey, but are applied by hand and contain a mix of linseed oil, tung oil, and varnish.  With rave customer reviews (five out of five stars), I decided to try it. 

Four coats are recommended and it does take time. A lot of time.  You have to wipe it on generously with a rag, then wipe as much off as you possibly can, changing rags frequently.  This might seem counter-productive, but after four coats, the piece has a patina that is gorgeous.  It's then followed up with one or two coats of a tung oil + carnuba wax mixture (applied/wiped off the same way), also by Maloof.  Everyone who sees the piece raves about the finish.  Definitely time well spent.

I've been finishing this up-side down, so I turned the photo upside down so you can see what it will look like hanging up.

Last, but not least....Scott used the same recycled heart pine to make a "dry sink" base cabinet for the bathroom.  We bought a hammered copper vessel bowl and a copper faucet/fixture to go on top.  Again, the design is based on an antique dry sink we saw in a country decorating book.  I've stained the piece and have one coat of traditional, polyurethane varnish on it thinking that its use in the bathroom warrants a waterproof finish.

Money tree update:  The dollar bill fell off the tree a few days ago.  Scott found it on the lawn, still tied with what looks like the cellophane opener from a pack of cigarettes.  It's tattered, bleached from the summer sun, and has a bite out of it, probably from a squirrel who thought it might be edible.

I've done some thinking about this money tree.  True, we didn't hit the lottery, win the Acme sweepstakes, inherit a windfall, or buy/sell the right stock.  But we haven't gone over our budget (yet) and that's pretty remarkable.  Some things have cost less, others more, but right now it's pretty much a wash.  So maybe the money tree was more about hanging on to what we have, than spending what we don't have.  I'm good with that.  Should I tie it back up?