03 April, 2008

Basement Discoveries, The Good and The Bad

We celebrated our one-month anniversary at The Box House this week with a fun activity we like to call Garbage Night. Each week, we bring up another load of left-behind junk from the basement and try to figure out what to do with it. Here's the garage, a.k.a. The Staging Area:

Most of what's there is junk, pure and simple. We'll recycle the cardboard boxes, and our friend Andy is coming by sometime to get the old radiator cover. And those two wooden chairs, which I thought I'd eventually rehome, I've decided to keep instead. They are solid oak and if I refinish them and put on new seats, they'd be cute little chairs for...somewhere in the house. But the rest of the stuff? I don't know. The old wooden Krakus ham crates are a little too far gone for me to want to save, and nobody came a'running when I offered them for free. I won't feel too guilty chucking them, because at least wood is biodegradable. But there's lots of other crappy furniture and fixtures that we don't want and apparently no one else does, either. So that all gets shoved to a corner for one giant Salvation Army pickup sometime this summer.

I know I've complained about it before, but it is very frustrating to have to find time to deal with this when all I want to do is start working on the house. I'd rather spend time assessing the overall structure and creating a priority list of projects than deal with this stuff.

Still, there have been a few pleasant surprises in the basement, such as fragments of one of the original stained glass windows. I think most of, if not all of it, is there. We're not exactly sure where this would have been originally. It matches the piano windows in the first floor unit, but does not fit any of the dimensions of the current windows. My best guess is that it might have been for the stairwell window, falling halfway between the first and second floor. In any case, I want to try to find a stained glass art class to either restore this to hang in a window, or create a light box for somewhere in the interior.

One of two piano windows in the first floor living room.

Here's a not-so-pleasant discovery. We took down the grotty ceiling tiles in the storeroom under the front stairs and found evidence of past termite damage. The mud tunnels are what they travel through; if you brush them away, you can see there is damage to the wood. We had found some damaged boards in the dining room, which were already replaced, and recently found one in the stairwell landing--just on the other side of these boards in the photo--that is also damaged. (The part about this that irritates me is the sanding guys must have spotted that one, too, and chose to stain it anyway rather than tell us it was partly hollow at one end.) The mud tunnels are random, and only extend for a couple of feet. It does not look like anything current is going on and we haven't found any insects anywhere in the basement, except for the occasional spider. Still, I'll need to research this more. Unless they came in with the wood, which is quite likely, they somehow managed to get into the house before. I don't want that happening again.

Here's a great discovery--the original kitchen doors for the units upstairs. They are swinging doors that must have been removed when the kitchen was tiled. We'll be reinstalling these when we do the kitchen remodels, whenever that will be. (Boy, I need a haircut. Um. And maybe some makeup.)

A bad discovery. The brick underneath the windows along the north wall had a lot of efflorescence. The P.O.'s had painted the walls, and the efflorescence was pushing against the paint, making it easy to flake off in this section. Unfortunately, there's quite a bit of mortar loss, too. One of our top projects for the summer is to determine how to stop moisture from building in this wall, which receives little sun, as it is in between houses. Our inspector suggested regrading, which we'll have to discuss with the neighbors, probably.

All in all, it's been a mixed bag of discoveries the last week or so. But I think we're nearing the end (ha!) of the pile of stuff we have yet to remove from the basement.


Amalie said...

Always something, huh.

Our POs removed a casement window and installed a "permanent" 220 window unit in the dining room. The CH/A has rendered that whole get-up useless, and I'd been hoping against hope that we'd find the original window somewhere. No luck. I plan on building a stained glass window, or installing clear glass that doesn't open and hanging a stained glass panel in front of it...I'm actually hoping one of the panels my grandfather made will work.

What you have there is just the style I want!

Marilyn said...

Joanne, my first thought when I saw that picture was "I hope she saves the chairs!" They've got possibilities, those two.

Think of Garbage Night as some kind of archaeological dig. There might be more treasures in there. Do you need a big plate of scones to get you through the next one?

Jennifer said...

Great find on the window! I bet there will be a couple more good surprises down there...

Joanne said...

Amalie--I'd love to see the stained glass panels your grandfather made. My grandmother was a stained glass artist, and we have a panel of hers we plan on hanging in one of the windows.

Jennifer--I hope there'll be more good surprises! We've started pulling out some of the crappy wall board, and have found a few mundane things, like prybars and boxes of nails, but I hope to find a treasure tucked away in them, too.

Marilyn--I've been drooling over your scone pictures this week. If only my computer had smell-o-vision!

Jennifer said...

Except for the mud tubes and mortar situation everythng looks great - Consider yourselves lucky for your finds. Our PO left behnd things like cigarette butts & pet stains.

Joanne said...

Oh, we had our share of those, too! Used band-aids, cat poo...and a box of old underwear! :-)