Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Touch Points, Door Chimes and Elbow Grease

One of the things that gets both Scott and I going are touch points. You know, the things you touch or see in the house that either please you or make you write a list of things to get done.

One of ours is light switches. When we moved into our condo in Geneva, IL one of the first things we did was switch out all the old switchplate and outlet covers to make them all match. We had planned to do the same thing at 3301, but when your house has 85 percent original ivory ribbed Sierra Electric switchplate and outlet covers you have a little research to do. I found three lots of Sierra Electric covers on eBay that match the originals in the house and was able to purchase them for just over two dollars a piece. I now have inventory of outlet covers and single, double and triple gang switchplate covers - enough for what we need now and when we remodel the bathrooms, reconfigure the kitchen and whatever else might hit our fancy.

I had received most of my new switchplates and outlet covers, so on our snow day a couple weeks ago I had plenty to do. Most of the original switchplates and outlet covers from the bedrooms, hallway, living room, dining room, etc. came down and were thoroughly cleaned and detailed. I also cleaned all the switches, a tedious but strangely satisfying job. The original switchplates and outlet covers were all reinstalled along with my new vintage ones, where previously a collection of different style and color switchplates and covers had been. I'm not saying I've replaced everything, but there is definitely more continuity for those touchpoints. Cross one minor annoyance off the list!  

On to the next job, woodwork in the entryway! The main entry is two 36 inch solid wood doors. The front (outside) of the doors is painted black, something that will change this spring when the weather allows for the doors to be off the hinges for a while. The back of the doors is stained to match the rest of the woodwork in the house. They appear to be continuous grain and were a bit worn and in need of some love. Out comes the Murphy's Oil Soap and some warm water, some generous cleaning and our all-time favorite Liquid Gold to renew the wood and hide 52 years of nicks and scratches.  The surrounding woodwork and the coat closet door received the same love and overall the effect is quite lovely.

One of the things that was bugging me was the light in the entryway. It was dingy, not really my taste and just didn't make me happy. I had found the perfect fixture, right design, color, appropriate to the period, super lovely and $400. Watching the cash flying from our wallets at an alarming rate these days, I hadn't pulled the trigger on the purchase. I asked Scott if he could figure out how to take the fixture down. Two minutes later it was sitting on the kitchen counter. We vacuumed the part of the fixture still attached to the ceiling and I took about 15 minutes at the sink showing the old fixture some love and a good bath. While still not exactly my taste, the fixture is original to the house, works and quite frankly looks great.

Last but not least, I finally tackled the doorbell.  This recessed area has a handmade wood grate over it that I hadn't yet been able to remove.  I knew there was a vintage doorbell in there and had narrowed down the manufacturer, but hadn't been able to see it up close.  So after cleaning the other woodwork in the entryway, it was time to dig into the doorbell. The grate, it turns out, was a press fit into the recessed area and once removed revealed my coveted doorbell - a working vintage Miami-Carey Innsbruck model duo-tone doorchime!

After taking appropriate photos, I set about the task of cleaning the woodwork around the alcove and the grate. The grate required a little bit of repair, a small piece from one of the press fittings had broken off.  A bit of wood glue and we were ready to put it all back together!  


It's amazing how the wood trim and the grate came alive with just a little bit of love and some elbow grease. Between the switchplates, outlet covers, doors, woodwork and my cool doorbell, not a bad snow day!

P. S. While I was puttering in the house working on touchpoints, Scott was outside shoveling 7 to 13 inches of heavy snow off our fairly large driveway. My wins in the house that day didn't seem to impress him as much as they did me.  I wonder why?