The Little Things…

I often wonder about the characters who lived in this grand house decades ago. What were their lives like? Now and then, we get a tiny peek – whether it is a date etched in the cement, a name scribbled on the back of a baseboard, or a small discovered treasure.

Baseboard with original owner name
Back patio concrete – 1925?

When we were removing what we think was a built-in wooden laundry box/hamper from Chloe’s closet, we found some tiny cards that had been tucked behind the wood.  At some point, they must have fallen through the space between the box and the wall.  There are four cards that appeared to be part of some kind of game. Chloe did a bit of research, and she found out that they were from a board game called Uncle Wiggily.


More research uncovered that this was a game that was created in 1916.  Apparently it was based on a book series and Uncle Wiggily was one of the characters. According to the website, Howard Garis, an American writer, created a series that ran daily in the Newark News. The series had a cast of characters including an elderly rabbit (Uncle Wiggily Longears) and friends: Baby Bunny, Skiller Scaller, Alligator, and Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy.  January 10, 1910 marked the first day of the series’ publication and it eventually became nationally syndicated with over 15,000 stories during its run. The popular series spawned a board game, which was first introduced in 1916 by Milton Bradley.  The cards we found look similar to following online images of the original game (circa 1916-1920).

Sometimes something as small as a couple of game pieces can provide a whimsical glimpse into the past.



Room by Room – the Great Room

A wonderful feature of this old house is the grand living room. It is huge!  Several comments have been made about pushing the furniture against the wall and holding a full-fledged dance party.  It could happen.

In the process of restoring the floors.

This room has a grand old fireplace with intricate wood detail and two sets of French doors (one to the front porch and one to the back yard). We have not used the fireplace as we do not know the condition of the chimney and there are very few wood burn days in the Central Valley.  The wood trim and the crown molding continue in this room and add to its character.

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The wood floor in this room is also spectacular – old growth timber, quarter cut, gorgeous patterns. When Tim, our floor restorer, saw the floor in this room, he said not to let anyone else touch it – he wanted to be the one to bring it back to life.  We all agree that he did a great job!

One of many designs in the floor

We elected not to penetrate the ceiling to install built in light for this room. This meant less holes (and less expense).  However, now we need to add more floor and table lamps as the lighting is just a little too subdued.

Minor wall penetrations for this room!

There was no wallpaper in this room (thank goodness!), but it was painted a washed out shade of yellow and the crown molding had a wide blue stripe.  As  result, the fine wood trim and molding were not well showcased. In addition, the bold stripe in the crown molding made the ceiling feel lower.


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Painting the trim in the room would have been a huge job, so we cleaned it up a bit and decided to paint the walls a shade of latte. This color is enough to provide some contrast and really highlights the trim.


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We have enjoyed hanging pictures in this room (and in the dining room and entry as well) using the original picture rail molding.  We purchased picture rail hooks and wire, which allow us to hang pictures without making holes in the plaster walls.  If we want to change the location of a picture, we can just slide the picture rail hook along the molding.  Cool.


Room by Room – Kitchen and Dining

The kitchen, butler’s pantry, and dining room all received fresh paint in the renovating process. The kitchen and butler’s pantry were covered with the same wallpaper that had graced the breakfast nook.  This wallpaper was next to impossible to remove.  We did get most of it off in the kitchen; however, in the butler’s pantry, we ended up just using some primer and covering it with paint.  I was a bit nervous about the bolder color (ryegrass) that we chose, but now that it is on the walls, I really like it.  A new light fixture to replace the wooden/brass ceiling fan was a final touch.


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The dining room’s once pale pink walls were brightened up with the same shade of blue as in the entry. Besides painting and refinishing the floors, the dining room was also subjected to multiple penetrations as part of the electrical upgrade.  We really wanted to keep the original chandelier and wall sconces; however, when the fixtures were reattached, we discovered the very old wires within these fixtures caused major shorts in the circuits.  The sconces are still in the process of being painted and wired, and we are still hopeful that we can find someone to re-wire the main chandelier. Stay tuned.


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We had the privilege of hosting 20 plus family and friends for Thanksgiving 2016, so one final set of pix!

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Sun Room – Check!

Fortunately the sun room was not covered with wallpaper, and the existing paint was in pretty good condition.  We were able to match the paint, so after the electrical work was completed, it was relatively easy to get this room done!

Before and during:

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We added a new ceiling fan and mounted the television on the wall. We even have pictures on the walls. A good feeling!

One space down – 15 plus to go.


The Tree-House Effect

As young children, how many of you longed for that tree-house experience?  You know the one: that magical fortress high above the ground accessible only by a rickety rope ladder.  Or better yet, the retractable ladder that can be pulled up and out of sight as a way to deny access to unwelcome visitors.

My own children have never had the experience of inhabiting a tree-house as we always lived in brand new houses which included extremely small trees.  We did have a wooden play structure in the backyard (built with love by their grandfather and father).  It had climbing stairs and a towering platform.  But let me tell you, that was no tree-house.  Well, now my kids are in their teens (or a little past that for some of them), and they are finally experiencing that true tree-house effect.  In case you are wondering how this relates to restoring a rather old house, let me connect the dots.

First of all, our house has two floors with a very functional staircase – well constructed and in great shape.  That being said, we have been in the process of refinishing our wood floors, and we have been able to work around (or walk around) the “you can’t walk on the floors while the finish is drying” stage quite successfully. That is until today.  You see, today is the day our very capable floor refinisher started the staining of our dining room and front entry.  Two issues here: the staircase spills out into the front entry and our dining room is in the center of the house from which you can access the entry, sun room, living room, butler’s pantry, and breakfast.  Yes, this room has a lot of doors.  That being said, we are unable to easily move from the front of the house to the back of the house or the top of the house to the bottom of the house.  Our construction crew has rigged up an “alternative access route” by securing a rather tall ladder to Chloe’s patio. Hence, the makeshift tree-house effect.

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I do feel for our construction crew as they happen to be working on the electrical on second floor this week.  That means they are having to use this path of most resistance to get up and down.  Tomorrow we have the inspector coming to look at the work on the second floor.  Yes, he/she will also need to use our makeshift staircase.  That should be an interesting sight.

Good news – we should have full access by Saturday (just in case you were wondering, Mom. We won’t be making you climb any ladders). And our floors have been coming out beautifully, by the way.

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What were they thinking? Part 1

The Kitchen Sink:

So what issue of any design magazine thought this was a good idea?  Yes, I am talking about that teeny tiny sink in the corner.

Sink 1

You may think, a small rinsing sink or perhaps a place to wash dirty hands when the large sink is full of clean dishes.  Or, a way to rinse soapy dishes while preventing the large sink from overflowing with the water running from the tap (aka faucet – my people call it a tap). Yes, all of those could be potentially interesting uses for a very tiny triangular sink.  However, the design minds behind this particular sink in this particular house tasked it with the function of being the garburator sink (aka garbage disposal – my people call it a garburator ).

We thought – okay, we can give that a try.  We attempted to rinse plates before putting them into the dishwasher.  Half of the food scraps ended up in the large sink which then needed to be fished out so they wouldn’t block the drain.  With dinner plates being almost twice the size of this gem of a sink, other scraps washed right off the plate and onto the counter top. In addition, I can’t count how many times we (well some of us) completely forgot that the large sink didn’t have the garburator and rinsed out that oatmeal bowl.

Well, today I was very excited when I came home and saw that the garburator had been moved to the more logical drain of the large sink.  The little sink is still there and its purpose is still to be determined; however, it is no longer the point of frustration it once was.

Sink 2

Ah yes, the little things can still make an impact even in the midst of a very large project.

Monday Musing

After a quiet weekend, Monday is back with the sounds of hammering, sawing, and drilling.  Before I left this morning, our crew was moving furniture out of the breakfast nook, so I knew that could be where we might see some progress today. We haven’t had any power in that room for a couple of weeks, so I am excited!

When I returned home this afternoon, I could see that they had been busy working. The dining room now houses our kitchen table and has a makeshift light.  The breakfast nook and the sun room are covered in plastic.

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The kitchen is apparently off limits according to this not so very subtle sign.


Lead paint is part of occupying an old home, and our crew takes this very seriously. I am thinking we might be eating out tonight!

There may have been an absence of power tools humming on the weekend, but that didn’t mean there was an absence of work.  Project wallpaper removal was in full swing, and we are happy to say the psychedelic stripes are no more!

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One room down, many, many more to go…