Above picture is from 1938.

P and I have taken on a project that many have labeled as crazy. This c. 1920's Spanish Revival was a foreclosure that had been vacant for about 2 years. This blog is my attempt to document our renovations of what was once a grand old house. Maybe someday it will be again. Someday.

17 September 2011

The butler's pantry - better than we could have imagined!

When redesigning the kitchen, the only thing that remained (and I mean the ONLY thing) was the original butler's pantry cabinet that was located in what used to be the butler's pantry or breakfast room.  We took down the wall between the kitchen and the original butler's pantry room to make the kitchen larger and more usable.  We both agreed that the butler's pantry cabinet was a keeper.  It is a huge floor to ceiling cabinet with solid doors on the bottom and what we think were glass doors on the top.  However, the glass that was in the middle was gone when we bought the house.  In it's place was chicken wire. 
Our dream from the beginning was to have leaded glass panels made for each of the four doors.  We, however, are not gifted in that area of leaded glass.  We thought this dream would have to wait indefinitely.  Our friend J was helping us paint one day and reminded us that her mom was a leaded glass artist and she said she would see if she might be willing to help.  J said her mom would love to help and to send her a pattern we liked.  We sent Mrs. B a picture of a pattern we liked and she and Mr. B spent weeks building the doors.  Here is the cabinet ready for the doors:
And here is a leaded glass panel in Mr. and Mrs. B's shop:
And here is a panel in a door:
P and I would like to say a special thanks to Mr. and Mrs. B for their incredible work for us on this project.  If I remember right, there are 408 pieces of cut glass between the four doors.  We are so thankful for them and their help!  Thanks guys!
Stay tuned for the finished product.  I'm in the process of sanding and painting the door frames now so that we can add the leaded glass.  Hopefully soon... I have two sanded.

08 September 2011

We've moved in!

I am aware that it has been several months since my last post.  But here is an update.  At the end of July, P and I moved into what we lovingly call the haunted mansion.  We decided to hire movers and we were moved in a day.  It was a long day, but it feels great to finally be living here.  We've got a long way to go and a lot of projects on the list, but we're stepping back from this project for a while and back to paying work.  Here are some pictures of rooms that are mostly there.
Kitchen with P's food ready to cook!

P's favorite appliance (and mine too)

Fireplace (with portable a/c) in living room

Living room

26 May 2011

Sheetrock, tornadoes and crazy schedules

It's been a long time since my last post.  Things in our world have been crazy the last two months.  After the April 27 tornadoes, P and I (mostly P) have been involved with Grace's Kitchen (www.graceskitchen.org) in serving meals to folks in Pleasant Grove and Cordova, AL. That has slowed down progress somewhat as our time has been split between serving meals and working on the house.  However, since my last post many good things have happened.  Sheetrock has been hung, finished, and painted (mostly).  It's amazing how much difference finishing the walls and ceilings makes.


The kitchen has come along way.  The walls and ceilings are mostly done (with the exception of some trim), the hardwood floors are installed, the cabinets are installed and the countertops are in!  This all seemed to happen so quickly.  The floors are engineered hardwood glued down on the concrete/tile subfloor.  This was my first experience with gluing hardwoods and it is a messy and slow process.  It came together well and it looks great.

I bought the cabinets online as ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets.  Basically, you get a major reduction in cost when you buy standard sized cabinets and assemble them yourself.  Much of traditional cabinet cost are in shipping/assembly/installation.  With the RTA cabinets, I was able to save enough money to get P's dream countertops.  The cabinets are espresso stained shaker-style and are surprisingly well constructed.  I did order a sample door before I bought the set to be sure we would be happy with the look.  We went with no upper cabinets as there is very little wall space for upper cabinets because of all the windows.  This made the installation easier.  We also modified the refrigerator cabinet to add a shelf for P's cookbooks. 

Since we started the project P has dreamed of Alabama white marble countertops.  I was very skeptical about marble based on all I read about it - expensive, stains easily, chips easily, etc.  P has always wanted marble and it is really good looking.  It also fits well with the age and style of the house.  I agreed to at least price it out and see how much it would cost.  We set a budget prior to looking and when we priced it out, it came out to almost exactly to what we'd budgeted.  P assures me that it will change color with use, but that is the charm and look that marble is supposed to have.  We'll see how it ages, but right now it looks great. 

04 April 2011

Cover charge

When we bought the house, the floors in the living room and dining room were laminate hardwoods.  These were obviously not original and were beginning to buckle in several areas.  When we removed the laminate we found quarter inch plywood.  Under that was the original hardwoods, or should I say, what was left of the original hardwoods.  They had been completely destroyed by termites.  Ugh.  In fact, they were still feasting on them when we began to pull them up.  They had eaten the hardwoods, the subfloor and the floor supports that the subfloor was attached to. 
Laminate floor          

Subfloor destroyed by termites  
Under the subfloor were 2x4s laid on end on the ground. The termites then made their way into the 2x4s, the subfloor and then the hardwoods. 
Channels in the dirt where 2x4s were laid.

We decided to remove all the wood that was touching ground and pour a new concrete slab in the living room and dining room.  This is the best way to prevent the termites from feasting on the new flooring.  I decided to pay a professional concrete finisher to handle this job.  It was nice to watch other people work...

New concrete slab just after pouring.
 We are going to put engineered hardwood floors on the concrete.  The new concrete and an active termite bond should help prevent these little creatures from causing more damage.

26 March 2011

Filling the hole

In the former butler's pantry (now part of the new kitchen) there was a hole in the wall  We were told that the the hole was made by the former owner for a window air conditioner.  The old casement windows have openings that are too small for an A/C unit to fit, so they tore out a 2'x2' hole in the the 14" thick concrete wall.  When we bought the house the hole was covered with plywood on the inside and outside. 

We removed the plywood to do a permanent repair of the hole.  When we removed the plywood we found this:
We decided to fill it back in with concrete block.  The challenge was that the concrete block made in 1925 is sized different than today's typical 8" or 12" block.  We had to trim 8" block to fit the opening.  It took a little time and trial and error, but we ended up with a pretty good fix.  We're going to have to add a layer of brick to the inside to make up the difference in width, but it came out pretty well.  A nice layer of stucco on the outside will make it perfect.

16 March 2011

P finds a mural

In preparing for new paint in the master bedroom, P began to chip away some peeling paint from above the fireplace.  She found some strange colors behind the peach/tan wall color.  She kept peeling and chipping away and look what she began to uncover....

It appears to be a tropical scene with palm trees and water.  Picture Panama City spring break 1986 airbrush tee shirt.  She has since uncovered a sailing ship and additional trees.  We have no idea when this mural was painted or by whom.  We are continuing to chip away to see what else we can find.  It looks like it may have been painted to be a window looking out onto the "beach."  We are hopeful that there might be a signature.