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Posts Tagged ‘1930’s’

Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot and ask someone about where to find floor waxing supplies, or worse yet, for advice, I dare you.  Waxing floors is “old-people” knowledge.  To figure out how to do it, ask somebody old how their mother did her wood floors.  It was lost as a common practice decades ago, supplanted by cheap polyurethanes and the desire for a tough, resilient finish.

Restoration of houses is so often plagued by lack of knowledge of historical methods.  Rather than do the real thing, lot’s of renovators would rather use a contemporary method and try to fake the antique look.  Plaster work is another fine example of this.  You’ll never match the real thing.  Ask a remodeling contractor how to do plaster repairs, and the answer is: “tear out the wall and dry wall it, then spray it with texture.”  Which, by the way, typically looks nasty compared to actual lathe and plaster with texture.  As if the builders had a job-site compressor with a hopper full of goop in 1935.  I still haven’t been able to figure out how they actually did it, but I’m guessing they sponged it and did the entire house by hand.  Labor was cheap in the 1930s, and materials were expensive.

When we bought our house, we pulled up the nasty light blue shag carpet to find mostly perfect old growth white oak floors.  According to contractors, hardware stores, neighbors, and the internet, the only option was to sand it all the way down to get all the wax out, and then apply a polyurethane or aluminum oxide coating.  Then the  bids on that came in at nearly $6,000!

But we didn’t even want “perfect floors,” we wanted “antique” floors.  Floors that showed the age of the house, and that had the same beautiful warm glow that these originals had.  I spent hours trying to figure out how to do this myself.  I could rent a sander and try to get the floors refinished myself- not that much of a stretch for me, because I’ve done a little bit of furniture finishing.  I estimated the cost of that process at over $1000- if I ignored all the time and energy that would be spent on cleaning up the unbelievable mess created by sanding 1500+ sq. ft. of wood down an 1/8 of an inch.  I’m not one of those people who thinks that I’m Donald Trump and that I can’t be hassled with doing work or spending time- but getting that much sawdust out of all these textured walls and trim would be an absolute nightmare.

So I took a risk and I pursued waxing the floors.

It's a finesse game, so I never got it.

It’s kind of inherent in my personality to distrust most of what people tell me not to do- especially when they don’t appear to have a good reason.  I’m happy to say that we almost have our entire house done with wax now, and I anticipate cost will easily be under $200.

Here’s what I learned:

1.  Wax: to wax a wood floor, you need a paste wax.  SC Johnson makes a good one for about $5 a can, and a can will do about 400 sq. ft.

2.  Restoration and Cleanup: I used Howard’s Restore-a-Finish and Howard’s Feed and Wax. They’re the highest cost items I bought, but a little goes a long, long way.  Both of these products were absolutely magic on the “golden oak” color of our floors.  Rub your stains and paint splatters out with steel wool and soapy water.  Let it dry.  If the stain lightened the wood, apply the restore a finish- in small amounts.  If it didn’t, then apply the feed and wax.  Always rub with the grain of the wood, and try to stick to one board at a time.  If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of the steel wool catching on a splinter and fraying.  Not a huge risk to the floor, but when you’ve got a lot of floor to do, don’t waste your time trying to pick #0000 steel wool out of splinters.

3. Applying Product to the floor: Apply Feed and Wax to the entire floor with a wide lambskin “stain applicator” on a long pole.  Use the pole to quickly smooth out any uneven application of wax.  Do this enough, and you might achieve a nice shine- but it’s not really important at this state.  Leave the floor alone as much as you can for a few days.  Then, using a rag, apply the SC Johnson Paste Wax with the grain and let it sit for a while.

4. Buffing:  we paid about $30 for 24 hrs. of renting a commercial buffer and buying the wheel.  This thing is like wrangling a roid raging rodeo bull.  Start the buffer in the middle of the room the first time- because it will pretty much tear your arms off.  Go slow, and cover every area you can with it.  Use the lambskin application on the corners.

In general, you should remember that the house you’re renovation may have really “thirsty” floors because it’s been poorly (or in our case: not) maintained.  So don’t rush into just paste wax and buff.  Clean the floor thoroughly and apply a feed and wax and wait. Give it two weeks if you have to.  You’ll probably find that your feed and wax sinks right in and looks like it was never applied.  Apply it again, and repeat a couple times before you apply wax and buffing.  Our first round with the buffer was disappointing because all the wax soaked in after we buffed it.  It looked awesome for a month.

The end result of all this is a finish that I absolutely love- and one that you can repair, not just replace.  Any time the floor gets damaged, I apply steel wool and feed and wax.  Once or twice a year, we’ll have to reapply wax and rent the buffer again.  That’s a lot of work.  But at 10% the cost of the alternatives, and when it looks this good, it’s hard to want a poly finish now.

Just look at how “worn” these floors feel.  It feels like every single board is a slightly different shade of gold.  I didn’t buy an old house to try and make a new house out of it- and if that’s your goal, you’ll find yourself frustrated at every turn in a home renovation.

This project was just another confirmation of our philosphy for the renovation: work with the house, not against it.

-David

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I apologize for the infrequent updates. Life is happening and we are keeping busy. We have completed so much and I hope to share that with you guys soon.

"Frame Collage" featured in Martha Stewart magazine.

"Frame Collage" featured in Martha Stewart magazine.

The “great” room or that formal living room that I long for, is not finished. We’ve ignored it because we have had so much to prioritize and work on. I mean what is more important a kitchen or a stuffy room that only houses books? There are a few things we need to do to this room. We have removed the carpet, staples, and some crazy thing covering the original mantel. We now need to trim down the built-ins because they are a bit goofy, replace the mantel since it was removed and covered up with some ugly 70’s thing, and prime/paint the walls. I want this room to be formal, stuffy, and a bit menacing. I want a shade that reminds me of forest mushroom of the rocky coasts of Washington. I guess what I am looking for a is gray brown or maybe more of a brown gray.

While browsing on marthastewart.com, looking at Frenchies and admiring color combos, I came across these 2 rooms. I love both of these mushroomy, putty, seashore brown grays. This first one is a bit lighter. I can’t tell if it is from the lighting. I really didn’t expect this shade to pair nicely with a pale floor and it does. Despite the boring frame collage, I like what I can see of this room. This shade is a great neutral. It mixes well with crisp white, wood tones, and espresso. It’s a bit lighter than I want to go for the big room we have to work with, but I do like it. I would of loved to have this elsewhere in the house.

The second room is quite dreamy. This is the exact color that I want for the formal living room. It’s moody, dark, formal, and slightly rustic. I want to find this color. I’ve been mistint searching again and I haven’t found it yet.

Perfect brown gray shade.

Perfect brown gray shade.

I guess I am going to have to give in and actually get a shade mixed. I may just have to give up on my dreams of painting the entire house in mistints. Anyways, back to this perfect color. Look at how nicely it pairs with pewter, white, tea stained white, and black! This is the exact color I want. I haven’t’ decided if I’ll paint the built-ins putty or the too bright white trim paint that David chose. I guess I should get the room color first.

-Victoria

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lorneI keep finding more and more Art Deco and Streamline Moderne details in the home. This is great because I have always dreamed of a deco home. But, I thought this would never happen. It is difficult to find a home that “fits” with deco without looking too Roger Rabbit and it is very expensive in interior design because the materials are so luxe. I’m talking to you shagreen and other exotic animal hides. I didn’t realize that the home has these subtle details so I didn’t “plan” accordingly. Now I am trying to get into “character” just a little and imagine everything smokier and with the scent of cognac and gardenias in the air.

I began to have Art Deco fantasies (again) after watching Angel. I loved the hotel with its Hollywood deco details and always wanted a room like Lorne’s. It was dark, rich, and had the best details. I know deco is hokey because it was so mass produced and the 80’s fascination with it almost destroyed it (please don’t pair pink neon lights with streamline anymore), but deco is pretty darn glamorous. I won’t have an all out Art Deco home because our tastes are too eclectic and mixed but I do want that vibe to be there. It’s both cold and warm and practical and unromantic. It’s just right for me, “dark” and glamorous. I’ve always loved this aesthetic because I have loved film noir for quite sometime but Angel added color.

Red living room

Red living room

I forgot where I “found” this red living room but I love it. First, it is an intense color. This is dramatic with nothing else added. But, that teal and chartreuse look amazing with it. I know that no room in my house will ever look this fabulous, I can’t stay in my film noir character this long, but I absolutely lust over this room. If I can just have a little bit of this, then I will be happy. It has colors that I will never grow tired of (chartreuse & teal), great textures, and yes, even pops of zebra print.

-Victoria

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The bathroom floor, excuse the messy glue. I'm working on it.

The bathroom floor, excuse the messy glue. I'm working on it.

While we were waiting to close on this house, I was able to thoroughly plan every room out in detail. I had a style journal and was ready to go. This has been very helpful. We’ve been able to jump into many rooms and start working. So far the one room that has not worked out has been the main bathroom upstairs. I had planned for it to be crisp, solid white. I thought the floor tiles were white hexagons (nope). I thought I would have shiny chrome fixtures, glamorous lighting, and I would paint one of my Brocade Home style mirrors a crisp white. It was going to be white, shiny, clean, and OTT. Well, for me to get that I am going to spend much more than I had planned. After I ripped up the 70’s self-adhesive tile flooring, I did not find dainty white tiles. Instead I found a mix match of tiny squares yellowed over time by the glue. Around the floors and walls there is a super shiny black tile. These 2 things do not mix very well. After doing some 30’s research and after convincing myself the black was added much later, I found that this was very typical of a 30’s home. Many people in the neighborhood have the same black tiles. Colors in the 30’s were pretty brash and not complimentary by our standards. We have sanitary white streamline fixtures, shiny black tile, buttery yellow walls, and tiles that are mainly off-white with tiny tiles of jade, baby blue, pink, eggplant, black, and tons of others. I do not want to lose my vintage fixtures but I was hating the floors. How could I make this work for now? Well, I have to have an entirely new direction. No more monochrome white. I was going to go “traditionalist” to the house and I’m going to go Art Deco. So here’s the plan on how to make this work without doing major renovations and “keeping it real”: bathroomideas

-The sink has to be replaced. Don’t worry, the current one isn’t the original. I’m going to replace it with a hanging sink or as David calls them “the urinal sink”. I bought one and it was only $32. Bonus. The awful vanity lighting will be replaced by the black Rufus overhead lighting from Rejuvenation (pictured in my style idea collage). I really want sconces but that means ripping up the plaster and I just really do not feel like dealing with all of that.

-There is no mirror in this space. I would like to have an Art Deco styled mirror. I’ll find one, just give me sometime.I don’t think the one in my collage will go with the lighting but I’ll find something. I’m thinking of salvaging one from a waterfall dresser. Or maybe I can find a cute medicine cabinet at one of the salvage stores.

-The accessories will be the streamline porcelain ones from Rejuvenation as well. This ties in the black glossy tile around the floor. The house has deco hardware. Bonus. I’ll get some black hooks or chrome hooks to go in there.

– The walls will be painted a rich jade shade. I think this will do. It isn’t something I would normally choose but I really think it will bring out the jade in the floor tiles, look great with the glossy black, and look good with dark woods. It will add more of a masculine feel to the room like a cigar lounge. It will still be very deco. Think a Tamara de Lempicka painting with a gangster slap in the face.

– I want a set of waterfall end tables to put in there for storage. I’ll have my deco perfume bottles courtesy of Guerlain and Tom Ford’s lovely bottles plus cigar boxes holding things like hair pins.

– Other items will include a black or zebra print bath rug so we don’t bust our bottoms on the tile (and it will cover it up, haha). I also want a pop of red somewhere. This jade with lacquer black demands it. I’m thinking a lush vase or a house plant. I don’t know yet but something in there must be a rich red. I may incorporate that into perfume bottles. Samsara?

Some obstacles in the space include: The tub is surronded by sometype of plywood painted white. Yep. This must be removed. Should I tile around the tub? If I do what color? It’s all very overwhelming. I don’t think I am cut out for bathrooms.

-Victoria

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Maire Claire Maison moody black bathroom

Marie Claire Maison moody black bathroom

I love black and really dark rooms: squid ink, aubergine, merlot, soot; however, I think these rooms are only photogenic. I don’t know how they would feel in real life. Every time I see one in a magazine or decorating blog, I fall for them. They are dramatic, rich, deep, moody. In middle school I had a friend who’s parents let her paint her bathroom a deep steel shade. It looked like crap. They didn’t use primer and it just looked uneven and felt very claustrophobic. I imagine that dark shades do take much work to appear even and true to color. You can’t be lazy while applying these pigments. Since I am in renovation mode and totally overwhelmed, I have decided to admire dark rooms from a distance.

I can’t deny that I love this Marie Claire Maison black bathroom. It is so dramatic, moody, and elegant. It has a slight purple tinge. Black bathrooms are scandalous. We are so used to seeing them stark white or light and airy sky blue. There is something very rebellious about a black/dark bathroom. So, I love it. I love to look through books of the homes of Old Hollywood stars. Many had these luxe OTT black marble bathrooms. I will never forget the elegance and drama of Valentino’s black marble bathroom. Of course the pictures were black and white, extra dramatic. But we all know that black marble looks good pretty much all the time. However, the more I look at this bathroom with its pop of harvest gold, milk chocolate clawfoot, and jade green floors, I get more of a 70’s drug lord vibe.

It's very Scarface in design.

It's very Scarface in design.

Umm, I’m thinking Scarface in his office surrounded by blow. Don’t get me wrong. I love Hollywood’s perspective of drug lords, especially their girlfriends with their Halston dresses and head scarves, I love the style that Hollywood gives the “gangster”. It’s a bit Studio 54 and  a dash of Dictator Style. When I watched Pacino in Scarface I was more smitten by the fashions and tasteless but expensive Rococo like decor than the story or message. I wanted a bit of Scarface design in my home. There is nothing wrong with self-absorbed, self-obsessed, and tasteless design in the home. Maybe I do want a black room after all? Actually, there has been a change of plans and the bathroom is going all out moody, dark deco, but I’ll share that a different day.

-Victoria

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Who doesn’t love an all white bathroom? It’s screams cleanliness and looks like it would simplify your life. It’s crisp and it has never been out of style. If you want to add color, than do it with accessories, towels and stuff like that. I’m thinking of doing the upstairs bathroom in an all white color palette. I hope to put up my vintage Brocade Home styled mirror, have shiny fixtures, white tile (a pain in the arse to clean), and walls that are a shade of white with the faintest tinge of gray. This has been my plan, if we ever get into that house to start remodeling. Anyways, I am trying my damnest to stay positive and thinking about French bulldog puppies, humid florals, carnival glass, and decorating. This makes me happy.

countrylivingbathroom

Country Living bathroom

The first bathroom is from Country Living Magazine. I like it because when I started searching for bathrooms online all you get are these humongous, monster bathrooms that are at least 1000+ square feet. My life will not have the jumbo bathroom complete with hot tub and an entire sitting room furniture set and a flat screen TV and wine bar. I will have a 30’s bathroom, tiny, efficient, but it can still be cute. I was happy to find a small, cute bathroom. It isn’t completely white but it is almost. I am attracted to this one because in my little mind I thought the tiles upstairs where white hexagon under the awful linoleum. When we walked back through, it isn’t. It is more like this tile. I was heartbroken. I wanted white tile with white subway tile. I wanted it to be the “original”. But, when I found this and saw how they kept that clean and neutral vibe, it made me happy. Maybe I can use that floor. It’s a tiny bath that is still cute and very functional. I love the gray shade add a few more squirts of white and I’ve got my ideal shade for my bathroom. It’s a cute and simple bathroom.

whitebathroom

My "dream" bath

Sorry HGTV but I have never fallen for the colossal master bath bull hockey. I do not want to bust out A Picture of Dorian Gray and relax on a plum velvet chaise lounge, well, at least not in my bathroom. Bathrooms are for hygiene. Not as an oasis, go to a freaking spa for that. I want to go in with Ghost Busters attire and be able to bleach blast everything in sight. And I’d rather spend my dough on making a living space more efficient, investing in a studio, something that doesn’t get doo-dooed in. Plus, I have no desire to clean these fairytale bathrooms. If I had one I would pay somebody to clean the floor to ceiling tile and all those extra showers. I would rather have actual living space. My bathroom is a room that is necessary, not a room to make me feel rich or pampered. If I can’t have the solid black marble Valentino bathroom (or the mansion), then I’ll have my little functional white bath. This other bathroom is my “dream” bathroom. It’s large but still realistic. I love the tile, the tub, the little Saarinen side table. This is my “oasis” bathroom. But, the house we are supposed to be closing on someday, does not have clawfoot tubs. It was more of a “modern” home at the time with “modern” fixtures. The bathrooms aren’t really designed for clawfoots and I really don’t want to do a huge bathroom renovation. Not now. I just want a place to live.

-Victoria

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Seattles Hooverville 1937

Seattle's Hooverville 1937

Since we have no idea where we will be living as of Friday due to this insane mortgage business, we have decided to put our things in storage. This keeps it all together in case we have to rent a vacation home or a tiny month-to-month apartment. Also if/when we get into the house, it will keep our things from getting messed up during the rehab work and out of our way. I don’t need piles of lead paint and fuzz collecting on my boxes labeled “really cute and special dishes” or “clothes that are awesome but I can’t wear right now because my life totally sucks and all I’ll be doing this summer is sweating and peeling wallpaper”. Plus, the stuff has to be out of the current rental. We just need to put it somewhere. I have never rented a storage unit before. I know very little about them. After 3 days of hauling most of my belongings to this little rented garage area in the heatwave of the Pacific Northwest, I have learned much about the Storage Unit a.k.a today’s Hoovervilles. I guess I always thought storage units were for storing your possessions. Maybe you’ve been deployed or must leave town for temporary work. Maybe you’re recently divorced or your living situation has changed temporarily. Maybe you are in between houses, like our situation. Heck, maybe you just have too much stuff and you use this as your walk-in closet to store 300 pairs of designer jeans that you bought with your student loans. I don’t know and I didn’t care. I haven’t thought of it. Maybe you use this building as your meth lab since your neighbors have grown sick of the chemical and cat piss odors emitting from your garage. But, I didn’t think people actually lived in them. Well, I’m pretty sure that they do. Talk about off the radar or in hiding. We have a few “neighbors” at the unit. They park their bikes in the unit, eat fast food, relax on piles of sleeping bags, and read or as one gent likes to do, rip paper into shreds like that one creep from Stephen King’s The Langoliers but a bit more Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. I try not to think about them living there. It’s sad. There’s no restroom and the area does smell like dookie. It’s hot as hell. But, when you are unloading boxes of women’s studies books that you should probably be giving away to a thrift store anyways and you hear coughing fits in the unit a few “doors” down at 8:00 in the evening and there are no doors open or cars, it’s a bit freaky. I didn’t realize what little Hoovervilles these places are. They are much nicer than the originals. At least it is protected from the elements, there is a light and one electrical outlet so you can use your laptop like some of the residents. The concrete floors are icy cool when it is 90+ out. So, I wouldn’t say that it is as bad as the original shanty towns that popped up on private land in the 1930’s. I’m sure they are actually paying rent of some sort. It’s just weird and a sign of the times. I think did they lose their job and mess up their credit? Are they a sex offender that can’t get a job or housing? Are they running from bill collectors or the law? I should really stop asking questions and get to boxing up the odds and the ends that are left so I can go visit this little modern Hooverville in my neighborhood.

-Victoria

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