The progress and surprises

Week three started yesterday, and the work continues in satisfying increments. The demo of the cabinets is complete, the tile has come up and the rough-ins for the electric and plumbing are nearly finished. Because I am impatient by nature, I am restless to get to the part where we put the finishes in, but truly most of the hard work is unseen in the final project.

This magnificent change, though, sustains me:

view into dining room before

View into dining room after demo

This is the view into the dining room from the kitchen. Before, there was an awkward window, but the only doorway was down the front hall. The after picture below is the same view, albeit a few feet to the right. The closet has been removed and a large casement opening has been created, echoing the pocket doors that lead into the living room. When they’re open, the sight line from the back door will go straight to the front windows.

I am so pleased! Originally, I wanted to take down the whole wall to the left of the dining room, too, but it would have greatly complicated the project, since that wall is load-bearing, and the ceiling heights get incrementally lower as you moved towards the back of the house. The living room in front is 11ft, the dining room is 10ft, the kitchen is 9ft and by the time you get to the back of the house, the sunroom is 8ft. I picture that if you pushed hard enough from the back, the whole first floor would collapse neatly together like a Victorian house nesting doll.

Another advantage to keeping that wall on the left is that there is a powder room under the stairs. If current trends prevail, there will be a great number of dinner parties and party parties in the house over the years, and when you’re coming in and out of the bathroom, the wall maintains a degree of separation between church and state, so to speak.

ALSO, in the post-demo photo above, you can see the greatest triumph of the renovation so far. The floors! Under those builder grade tiles, a two inch layer of concrete and one magical layer of tar paper, the original floors were mostly intact. We were able to cancel our floor order and will put the money into restoring these. It’s way more labor, and more expensive that new flooring, but you just don’t uncover 150 year old floors and send em to the glue factory. That would be heretical.

orginal floors

Interestingly, the floor was laid under the wall with continuous long planks extending from the dining room to the kitchen. I believe the wall we opened was original, and it doesn’t really make sense to me that the floor would have been laid before the wall was built. One of the very many house layout mysteries.

Original floor sunroom

The sunroom floors are a bit worse for the wear. They’re not the same finished pine boards in the front of the house, although they are nice thick solid planks. Also, when the cabinets were removed from the old kitchen, we discovered this:

house crack

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s going on here, but those pin-pricks of light are a separation of the exterior wall. On the day it was discovered, is was snowing, and standing a foot away, you could actually see the flakes falling outside. It’s since been sealed, which wasn’t too big of a deal since the house has long settled, but combined with a leaky sink, there was a lot of water damage in that corner, and the whole section of boards will have to be fully replaced.

The other big ‘surprise’ was the wiring in the sunroom. This room had previously been the kitchen, and fairly recently renovated but, according to the electrician, it looked like there was spaghetti in the ceiling combing newer electric with knob and tube. Which is terrible! And probably meant everything in the old kitchen was ungrounded. We were able to rearranged some priorities in the budget to fully rewire the room.

Knock on wood, this means we’re probably past the stage of uncovering any more big issues, at least right now (fingers crossed, toes crossed, with pockets full of pennies and rabbits’ feet).


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