These are the renovations we did this year (2002-2003)

We've had a number of requests for pictures of the renovations we did this year, as they were quite major. Since we can't send everyone all of the pictures, I decided to scan them in (which I would have had to do anyway) and put them on a web page for everyone to access. We actually misplaced these pictures for a while due to the work and the uproar that the house was in (eighty plus years of gunk floating in the air!), but Ele finally found them again. Then there was the problem of finding the PhotoShop CD Ele had, so that I could break the images down to a workable size.

In reading this, keep in mind that this place was turned into a boarding house years ago, and has been steadily turned back into a proper home. Finally, here are the pictures...

This first picture is (will be; Ele hasn't supplied one yet) of the house before we began. As you can see, the whole scheme is a bit dark. The carpet only goes to the short wall you see. This is not only a bearing wall, but the cold air return and the heating duct, so it has to stay... The carpet/linoleum transition really splits the space to create two distinct areas.

The old entry.

This picture looks to the front door. You can't tell, but the french doors are the entry to the front porch. This used to be a large, wooden external door. Yuck. Not only that, but there was a short wall and doorway into this space at the bottom of the stairs (behind the pillar on the left), and a wall along the stairs. This separated the area you are (virtually) standing in from the stairs and front entry door (where the french doors now are). This allowed the bottom suite to be closed off from the upper. It also blocked the light from a stairwell window from illuminating anything. The area to the left of where you can see was thus known as "The Black Hole of Calcutta".

The old entry.

This is the start of rebuilding the fireplace. I didn't move the box, but as you can see, the base surround is gone, and a new chimney box has been framed. The old base couldn't be salvaged, and the old chimney surround looked heavy and huge. While the new chimney surround is actually bigger, the lines create the illusion of a smaller, better balanced design. Isn't that linoleum tile hideous?

The fireplace begins.

In the process of building the new base. Yeah, OK, so I'm too lazy to look up the proper term. You know what I mean. The code here requires a certain height of the fire box above the floor, which was maintained.

We can rebuild it!

The finished framing, done to code.

The framing is done.

OK, I'm a computer geek. While I do a fair bit of work around the house, my arms were not really in shape to do the parching in one go! But, that is exactly what I did. You can't see it in this picture, but my arms had to be re-attached after falling off a couple times. I have gained new respect for stucco applicators! I've been the Joe mixing the concrete before, but not the one spreading it onto a wire-mesh covered wall. Oi! I worked from the top down, to avoid having to step on fresh cement.


The fireplace is stoned. OK, so you didn't see all the work figuring out the jigsaw puzzle (which was actually pretty fun), and cementing the rocks in place. We kind of forgot to take pictures there. The other thing you can't see is the three friends that helped tear up the flooring (notice it's gone?). They hammered in like nobody's business, and we had the whole floor ripped up in a day. There were at least four layers, and in the library, there were seven! We can't thank them enough! Notice the old subfloor? Yep, we're going to cover that with OSB. We have to even things out a bit, and cover the holes. That's the OSB you see in the foreground. We marked it all to make sure the flooring staples went into joist where-ever possible.

See the end of the wall on the right? That's the wall containing the heating duct and cold air return. Before I started all of this mess, you would have been looking at that mirror through a doorway. On the far end of that wall (four feet, five inches from this end) was another doorway. These split the ground floor into two suites at one point. To the right was another doorway, heading downstairs. Because of the angles, the reflection in the mirror is of the library space. A glorified name for a space too small for much beyond a bookshelf or two. The couch used to back up against the duct wall.

Fireplace with stone, floor gone.

Most of the OSB is down. And yes, those old shelves have GOT to go! They are MDF painted black. Before she met me, Ele believed in doing things cheaply. Since she doesn't plan on leaving this house short of being carried out in a pine box, I convinced her to make it at least a home, and not just a shed.

Those shelves suck!

This is the view from the living room to the front door. The wood flooring doesn't go all the way, notice. The missing chunk will be done in tile this fall, to match the stairwell. The bannister isn't finished either. The birch (all routed and sanded) is the white leaning in the left corner. The handrail will be supported by etched glass, which in turn is supported by the second birch bannister piece.

The front entry!

This is the view from the kitchen entry. The fireplace has been sealed with two coats of stone sealer. The birch mantle and birch shelves (resting on the copper pipes built into the framing, barely visible) still need to be built and mounted. The shelves will actually be resting on regular shelf supports that cover the copper pipes, which are used to give the supports a stable mount. In the front left you see the corner of the nest of tables built by my father from birch cut down on my folks' former property in B.C.

The fireplace.

Looking from the front of the house toward the back. To the right at the back is the kitchen entry. The new shelving unit is on the left. Much nicer, don't you think? The shelving unit was built in one piece, and then fitted into the old hole. This displayed just how out-of-whack the house is. The opening is 4-feet, 7-inches across. On the left (by the outside wall), it rested right on the floor. On the right, it was some two inches above the floor. And before I get comments from the peanut gallery, yes, the shelves are level. No kidding; the floor slopes that much! There will be a birch shelf under the window soon.

The new shelves.

And, finally (for now), the view from the shelving unit, looking toward the front of the house. Again, the nest of tables can be seen on the left.

Looking to the front.

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