Friday, July 26, 2019

Floodwater doors, ‘60s wallpaper and changes in priorities

When Beth and I moved into the Retro Ranch in December 2016, there was so much to do to restore this lovely home that we had to set priorities on what needed to be addressed and when, not to mention, what we could afford. There were infrastructure projects such as the furnace, electrical systemschimney workand plumbing.  The exterior projects of tree careremoval of shrubs, bushes and trees long past their prime and, of course, painting. (Did we forget to mention rocks?) We enhanced the living spaces by paintingnew door handles and locks, closet systemsand other countless touch points. Some projects overlapped both cosmetic and infrastructure: the bathroom renovation, the laundry/half bath project, the new garage door and on and on. The point of rehashing the various projects is to note that some things we wanted to do were so far down on the priority list they didn’t even make the radar two years ago.

For our long time reader (you know who you are) or for those interested enough to read the early blogs, the very first “project” we did in the Retro Ranch was to pull up the wall to wall carpeting that was both long worn out and was covering beautiful red oak floors. Hardwood floors fell out of style in the late 60s and early 70s so many beautiful floors were covered in carpet. To install the wall to wall carpet in houses with hardwood floors, unfortunately, meant that for doors to swing freely over the carpet, shortening the doors was required. So like a teenage boy’s pants during his growth spurt, we now had beautiful mahogany doors (bedrooms, closets, etc.) that were obviously too short. 

While this was something that bothered us it was low on the priority list. To replace all of the doors would be expensive but finding the “right” doors (ones that fit the house) would be even more challenging. Enter our friend and wood artisan extraordinaire – Daniel Moulder of Moulder and Craft. Daniel looked at the solution as a way to make the Ranch even more appealing; why not add decorative extensions to the bottom of the doors? So with a maple trim strip and mahogany extensions, Daniel was able to make “floodwater doors” into a unique, decorative accent throughout the house. They match the baseboard trim height and look like they have always (should have always) been part of the house. What an amazing idea and craftsman!

There was one more thing to complete the living area and bedroom wing of the house, and that was replacing the wallpaper in the halls. While the current wallpaper was in surprisingly good shape considering its age, it was very tired and actually a bit musty. Beth has been looking at wallpaper patterns almost since we moved into the Ranch. Did we want something that made a statement? A fun retro print? Something that accented the other colors and design elements? There were many online viewings and numerous samples ordered for review. Visitors to the house were asked their opinions and even more samples ordered.

I have wallpapered before and was planning to tackle this project. However, after seeing the price of the materials and knowing how my eye can pick a job apart, if done poorly, we decided to find a pro. We received a referral, and after Michael (the wallpaper guy) sized up the job (and Beth had decided, finally, which wallpaper would best accent the entry and hallway, while giving a nod to the heritage of the Ranch) we placed our wallpaper order and scheduled the project. Several areas needed to be patched so Ted tDwG was able to do those repairs/patches as a part of his work in the kitchen dining room project - the last reminder of a long disabled alarm system now just a memory. NWHC pulled down all of the trim from the closet door, floor molding and doorbell box.

Michael stripped the old paper off and prepped the walls and completed hanging the new paper in just two days. Given the fight the old wallpaper put up, we were happy we decided to have Michael take on that work. The NWHC crew reinstalled all of the trim and moldings several days later. They even used a run of our new, custom made moldings in the hall as the original strip had 55 year of wear and tear on it.

What a difference these two projects haves made in the Ranch. Everything just feels finished in the living areas. Daniel said the wallpaper reminds him of birch trees. That makes me smile as I walk through our birch grove from the bedrooms through the dining room and into the kitchen, knowing that we are nearly done with the interior restorations of the Ranch.

What will we do with our spare time? There are still more rocks to deal with and various smaller painting efforts to keep us busy before the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues take to the ice again this fall to defend their title.