Thomas and Zilpah Ludlam House (ca. 1790)

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Enclosed (finally) and ready for Ole Man Winter

The frame was raised July 25th and now, some four months later (Nov. 30th), the addition is enclosed and totally weatherproof.  The cedar siding, its beaded edge planed board-by-board by my carpenter extraordinaire-husband Scott, is finished on both the addition and that part of the original house that was disturbed when the addition was framed.  The cedar shake roof was the first thing we did after the frame went up, for obvious reasons.  The windows are in, as are the front and back doors.  Scott made the doors--nothing in this house (except for building materials like nails, caulk, plywood, etc.) is from either of the "big box" home improvement stores--and the doors are both hung on their antique, wrought iron strap hinges.  The standing seam metal roof over what-will-be the screened porch is in place and the gutters (most of them) are up.  In short, the addition is ready for winter.
The back of the addition has a lot going on, with the bay window, the larger porch (which will be screened in next spring) and a smaller open porch that shelters the basement entry and the back door in the ca. 1975 addition.

The landscaper has begun extending the gravel driveway and will leave me plenty of room to plant (an herb garden? boxwood?) in front of the addition.  Once the new clapboard ages to match that on the main block, the brown gutters will disappear.

Before we can get the framing approved by the building inspector, we need to have the plumber, HVAC folks, and the electrician do their work.  The plumber, who is out west deer hunting, will start in a few weeks.  He came by last week to look over the job and decided he wanted to personally help with the lay-out.  I like to hear that.  One of the few things we thought we would buy from a "big box" store was a corner shower for the bathroom.  I looked them over on-line and picked out the one I thought would be the best for us.  I mentioned our choice to the plumber and he let me know that a local plumbing supply store carried a better-quality brand that could be purchased (through him, at a discount) for about the same price. We checked out his suggestion, liked it a whole lot more, and purchased it through him.  It was about the same price as he said it would be.

The HVAC folks--Grace Energy in Rio Grande--started yesterday.  They're putting in a Unico high-velocity air system with a Unichiller to supply both heat and air conditioning.  They were very happy to see deep crawlspaces and a small (but dry) basement that give them plenty of room in which to work.  We will be so happy to disconnect the electric baseboard heaters when the time comes!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Joy of Stripping (doors that is)

A house not far from here, one-half of it built about the same time (ca. 1790) as ours, was torn down 10 years ago with the promise to local officials of better things to come.  Of course, the vacant lot is still vacant and the promise to build something new on it was just as vacant.  The older half of the house was built in the early 1700s and I'm really wishing I'd seen both halves before the bulldozer arrived.

A friend of ours had either bought or rescued some paneling and several raised panel doors from the ca. 1790 half.  He put them in storage, thinking he'd use them one day.  Learning of our addition, he agreed to sell us three of the doors and we were thrilled.  They fit perfectly; one for the bathroom, one for the laundry room, and the shortest for the coat closet under the stairs.  All three were coated with multiple layers of paint, the most recent a nice, colonial blue latex that did not complement our color scheme at all.

I'd stripped all of the doors in the main house so I knew I was in for a long, laborious process with these three.  With the weather still hitting the 60s, and chillier stuff coming any day, I decided to start now and get as much done as I could.

The blue came off easily.  So did a flesh-colored coat followed by a white coat underneath.  Below the white was a faux-grained layer that probably dated to the mid-1800s when the wood-look became popular.  As I scraped that off, I was astounded to find a polychrome scheme that sures looks original underneath.  The photo doesn't do it justice.  The raised panels are a lovely yellow ochre, highlighted by a frame of barn red.  The largest raised panels are decorated with a stylized tree/leaf pattern done in the barn red.  The frame around the panels appears to be a lovely off-white.  The smaller raised panels have a random barn red pattern, somewhat swirled.  All three doors have the same decoration and color scheme.

I had planned to paint the doors a nice historic off-white, all over.  But seeing the design, I know now that I have to recreate it, at least on two of the doors.

I should point out that I used the smelly, harsh chemical stripper since I was working outside.  I've used the SoyGel stripper with great success, but decided to use the quicker stuff because I was working with plenty of fresh air.  I have half of a gallon of SoyGel (which is very expensive, but very eco-friendly and very effective) left from our restoration a few years back, and I'm saving that for the wainscot I need to strip in the dining room later this winter.