Monday, August 16, 2010

The Bathroom - Day 1

So, without further delay, here are the pictures from Saturday.

Let me just say that this was one of the most terrifying things ever, initially. I mean, this is my house.  I paid quite a bit of money for this house, more money than I have ever spent in my entire life. As such, even though I knew that walls were going to come down, it was pretty scary to see it happen.  Like, really scary.  I apparently made some pretty hilarious faces, but I unfortunnately don't have any pictures of that.

But anyway, now that I've had some time to get used to it, I am really happy with how things went.  We (well, they, really - I didn't have much to do with it) got so much accomplished in one day!  And the things we found!  I now know what the house looked like before all this stucco and fake stones were stuck to it.  And I know that the doorway to the bathroom was not original to the house, since there was very old wallpaper underneath it.  I had originally though that the door might have opened to a porch or something, but I guess not.  I saved a few strips of the old wallpaper, I have to remember to take some pictures of it so that I can share it here. Also, under several layers of lineoleum, we found a very thin-slatted hardwood floor.  I am really excited about the clapboard and the hardwood floor.  I had pretty strong ideas about how I wanted to decorate the new bathroom, but now that I have found these things, I am getting new ideas that will better allow me to incorporate them into the design.  I am not sure.  I will make posts about both ideas in the near future.

My bathroom was not the only thing to benefit from the flurry of activity on Saturday.  My front yard was also spruced up.  That's how we found the baby bunnies!  Weeds were pulled, bushes were trimmed, ugly plastic fences were removed, and everything is generally improved because of it.  What a productive and exhausting day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bathroom - Before

So, we started on the giant bathroom project yesterday.  I'll post those photos tomorrow, but first I wanted to post a video of the bathroom before we did anything to it, just for reference.  I apologize for the quietness, I am new to this whole video thing. 

Friday, August 13, 2010

An Introduction

Hello and welcome to The Hateful Hovel, as story about my house.  This story starts a little over a year ago, in May of 2009.  Chris and I, somewhat on a whim, decided that we should buy a house.  I hadn't really been digging apartment living to begin with, but the decision was pretty much made for us when Chris's car was broken into one fateful evening.  We contacted my family's realtor, Linda, and started browsing for houses.  It did not take long for us to discover our dream home, right there on the internet.  And it was in our price range!  Could our luck get any better?

It was a beautiful, late Victorian mansion built in 1900.  Three floors, five bedrooms, over 3000 square feet.  Amazing!  We immediately told our realtor that this was the house for us.  We arranged to go see it ASAP.  In the weeks leading up to our walk-through, we did nothing but imagine what it would be like to live in such a house.  There weren't any interior pictures, so we researched typical Victorian floor plans, trying to see what might match the exterior that we knew so well.  We discussed what we would do with the extra bedrooms.  We decided how we would decorate it (steampunk).  We named it The Hateful Property, based on the naming theme in a series of books we both love.  We were pretty much already living there in out minds.

We knew that it was not going to work out as soon as we walking inside.  The first tip-off was the disturbing lack of walls.  The only thing supporting the ceiling was a skeletal system of wooden beams.  There was rubble everywhere, exposed wires hanging from every surface.  The windows had been boarded up.  There weren't any appliances or cabinets in the kitchen.  In fact, there was no real way to even determine that it was the kitchen.  There weren't any stairs down to the basement, only and endless void of darkness was to be found behind the basement door.  There were holes in the stairs to the second and third floors.  There were gaping holes in the floors of the upper levels.  There were holes in the walls and water stains where rain had poured in the broken windows.

It was just awful.  But all that damage wasn't the worst part.  To me, the saddest things were all the small testaments to the house's former glory.  These were the things that killed something deep inside of me.  The inlaid design in the hardwood floor of the entryway.  The beautiful tile work in the rear entrance hall.  The detailed molding around the doors and windows.  The subway tile and original sink (filled with black, stagnant water) in the bathroom.  the sun porch off the bathroom done entirely in stained glass windows...  I wept.  I tried to figure out some way we could make it work, some way we could buy it and fix it.  Ultimately, though, I knew it would not happen.  Neither of us are particularly handy, that we know of (we've never really tried fixing anything).  We are on a limited house-fixing budget.  It just wouldn't work.  I could go on and on about the tragedy of that place, but that is not the point of this blog. 

We went on to look at just about every house for sale in the country that fit our specifications - it has to have off-street parking, it had to be a single, and it couldn't be in the city. I didn't think these were very difficult goals, but I found over time that I was very wrong.  After one particularly horrible house, our realtor took us aside and asked us if we could maybe look at a few semi houses.  She said that it might be a little unreasonable to expect a nice single in our area in our price range.  Chris refused.  "We're not very reasonable people," he told her.  So we continued to search, and eventually began to lose hope.

From the beginning of our endevour, there was a house that I had been avoiding like the plague.  It had been for sale since before we had even started looking, but I had been staunchly refusing to look at it due to several flaws.  It was really narrow, it had panelling in the living room and kitchen, the kitchen floor was a horrible yellow color, and the bathtub was also yellow.  Ugh.  It did, however, happen to be a single with off-street parking in our price range.  Eventually, when we had very nearly run out of houses, my mum convinced me to give it a chance.

I knew, as soon as we walked in, that this was the house we would buy.  Yes, it was ugly.  But that was only on the surface.  It had good bones - and the same molding as The Hateful Property.  It turned out that is was built in the same year - 1900.  And it even had the same house number - 51.  These were all good signs.  Then, when I opened the closet in the kitchen, I noticed beautiful original wainscoting.  I waited until the realtor led Chris and my dad upstairs and then I made my move.  I pried some of the terrible paneling away from the wall and found that the wainscoting was still there - well, at least under that portion of the paneling.  This was enough to make up my mind - I had to have this house.

After a long and arduous few weeks of inspections and meetings and repairs, we finally move in to our (tiny) Victorian home on October 30, 2009.  Since it was a (much) smaller version of our original dream house, we decided it should have a similar (but smaller) name.  So we settled on The Hateful Hovel.

So now, please join Chris and I on our journey to a better house.  I'm sure it will be entertaining, since neither of us have a clue what we are doing.