1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Month: December, 2013

Architectural Salvage As Art


Architectural salvage stores are one of my favorite places to visit. Even just a few pieces salvaged from an old house are enough to attract my attention. Every old door, window, doorknob, or banister seems to have a story to tell if only someone will take a moment to listen.

At the same time, there is some sadness because these are remnants of often grand buildings that no one was able to save perhaps due to lack of interest or lack of funds. Nevertheless, there structures can live on in a way through reuse of salvaged pieces either practically or decoratively.

This photograph is an example of purely decorative reuse of architectural salvage, a gift from my mother this Christmas. It is a piece of metal ceiling tile that has been simply framed, much like a sculptural frieze to be hung on a wall. It is roughly 28″ wide 17″ tall.

This came from the Oliver Hotel in Crewe, Virginia which has a rich history connected to the Norfolk and Western Railroad. It is interesting to imagine how that railroad history may have intertwined with the history of the hotel, and further where this may have been located in the hotel.

As a piece art, the color is perfect for my bathroom which features a cast iron bathtub with similar dark browns and blacks and other framed art using these same colors. Although this does appear monochromatic, it allows towels and other items to be changed without color clashes.

As framed sculpture, the relief is more pronounced when placed higher up, closer to a light source and closer to the original viewing angle intended by the designer. It works well over the doorway for a transom window effect, but I might move it later. At least it is being treasured again.

You may want to check out this post about the cast iron bathtub.

This photograph was taken December 2013. If you come across some of these unframed tiles and would like to try this for yourself, the frame appears to have been custom made to fit the tile. Metal screws have been used to fasten the metal ceiling tile to the frame using the tiles original fastening holes.


How To Tell When Your Heating and AC System Probably Needs Replacing


If you have flipped the switch to “HEAT” and set the temperature to the highest number possible, but nothing is coming out of the vents, and likewise, if you have flipped the switch to “COOL” and set the temperature to the lowest number possible, but nothing is coming out of the vents…

If your thermostat just won’t stay where it’s supposed to on the wall (partly because you’ve been jiggling it so much to get it into just the right position to get it to work)…

If you have been heating and cooling your house on borrowed time for almost seven years beyond the system’s expected lifetime…

If you have occasionally used your oven to “help the old system out just a little in the morning” but are now doing it more often even though the weather hasn’t changed that much…

If you ever hear an odd rattle or metal hitting metal sound like a fork caught in the garbage disposal…

If the red arrow for temperature on the thermostat does a crazy little springy dance that would be sort of cutely entertaining on a child’s toy but looks extremely worrisome on a heating and cooling system…

But perhaps most surely…

If you have your emergency credit cards paid off and are secretly celebrating being debt-free for an entire month and are thinking about framing all of the “nothing due” statements…

Then your heating and air conditioning system probably needs replacing.

This photograph was taken December 2013, the day before my heating and air conditioning system was replaced. I had a wonderfully warm and cozy house to come home to last night. It has been the biggest single expense with this home renovation, but very much worth it.

“Merry Christmas, my old house! Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

When “Nothing” Is Much Better Than “At Least Something”


Sometimes a photograph with not much in it is a beautiful thing. Here is a really good example of this. What had once been an awkwardly out-of-place door cut into the wall decades or so after the house was built is gone with the original floor plan restored.

It took a good amount of work to get everything even and seamless between the original wall and my replacement section that filled the doorway. The extra efforts were definitely worth it, and to anyone who has a similar project in mind, I’d like to offer a few friendly tips.

The new studs and plasterboard were recessed enough to match the position of the wall’s lathe boards. This meant that although the buildup of material applied to the plasterboard would be more than truly needed, it would equal the buildup to the basic lathe and plaster construction. Addition is easier.

Pieces of thin flexible mesh tape were imbedded into the plasterwork to provide strength and prevent future cracks between the old and new work. The final coats of compound were smoothed and evened with a large board that spanned both surfaces, much like using an extra large joint compound knife.

This corner is now one of the first things you notice when entering the room. It is the largest section of wall without any window or door or fireplace, just an expansive empty corner waiting for some comfortable seating and perhaps a wooden game board and some art history books.

Here is a “before” look at the corner of the living room where a door had been added to turn a closet into a hallway into the bathroom.

Here is a “during” look at the original wallpaper that was revealed while working on this project.

This photograph was taken December 2013 and cropped some just to emphasize how nice it is to have a corner with nothing in it. Later there should be photos of how this how this was a correct choice in the architect’s original floorplan.