28 July, 2008

Minor Progress on Basement Office

There's not much to report this week home-improvement wise. I think the economy is hitting a lot of people pretty hard, as a few of my clients have been a little slow to pay--30, 60, 90, 120 days late in some cases. They're good clients, and they do pay eventually, but it is a bit of a burden. So I've taken on a couple of extra projects this week to keep the cash flow going (you freelance types know what I'm talking about) and it's been kinda nose-to-the-grindstone 'round here.

But I get sick of looking at the computer all day, and if I lean too far back in my seat, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, not working, and I feel guilty.

I know it seems a bit narcassistic to have this gigantic 3-piece mirror sitting on my desk, where I can easily admire myself all day. But it's a very cool, very large, art deco mirror that the previous owners left behind; I imagine it belonged to a dresser. We found it in the basement along with two other antique mirrors, which I'm working on rewiring to hang up. This one is sitting on the back edge of my desk until we decide on a more permanent home.

So, tired of the overall view at my desk and in need of a good stretch, I decided to take down the drywall in my office now, rather than later.

My office is the only room in the basement where the sheetrock is intact, nailed up in large, whole sheets rather than the patchwork we found in other rooms; so we didn't expect to find any termite damage at all. I pulled all the nails myself, but the sheets are taller than I am, so Ted helped me haul them to the garage to the ever-growing pile of basement debris. The USG label on the back of the sheetrock has a patent date of 1921, a copyright of 1924, and a manfacture date of May 1926; USG is a Chicago-based company. Mom was talking to one of the neighbors this week, who said her house, our house, and the one in between were all built at the same time, which I'm now guessing is 1926.

I'm about halfway done with the tearout. Here's how the wall looks without the drywall on it.

Look at that absolutely gorgeous beam at the top near the ceiling; it's beautiful, solid, and there's no sign of termite damage whatsoever. I'd love to be able to figure out how to keep this beam visible without it looking stupid or awkward. Unfortunately, it's flush with the studs, and we do have to put new drywall up on this wall, because this is the wall we will run electrical through. It's the load-bearing wall that runs down the center; the opposite side is part of Ted's office. (Note that one of the studs has lathe marks on it; I'm absolutely convinced now that our house was built from reclaimed lumber--probably what brought the termites in in the first place!)

The old wooden skiis and the horsecollar mirror are estate sale bargains--five bucks for the skiis, and twenty for the mirror! I never had them hanging at the condo, because they didn't really fit, but here in our rustic basement they seem right at home.

The next two pictures show the exterior walls. It's hard to photograph these, with the light coming through. It's a lot of light for a basement. The beams above the windows are like the beam in the wall, but they are painted the same 1930s battleship gray as our porch (we found the old paint samples in our basement, check 'em out). How could they have done that to the wood? The plan is to strip them when we get around to installing new windows. These windows do nothing to keep out the cold, and are single-pane glass. As historic as they are, we need something more energy efficient if we expect to work down here this winter.

What's going to be more difficult is figuring out an effective means of stripping the paint from the brick. The brick is a lovely light reddish orange, and I think it would look stunning when cleaned off. The lower half is concrete, half-painted green, and I may try covering that in bead board; I'm just not sure yet. I've tried a few low-toxicity stripping products on the paint, such as SoyGel, but so far no luck.

So, that's it. Not much progress to report, but the office is where I spend the majority of my day, so any little bit of progress feels good.

In an unrelated photo, here's a color combination we particularly like--the green, beige, red, blue combo might, just might, work on our front porch entrance, which is currently painted stark and boring white. This is of the top of a house on our street; it's several blocks closer to the lake on a more affluent, slightly older stretch of road:

And here's our place. It's definitely color challenged. What do y'all think?

And in completely unrelated news, here's last night's cocktail. Are my garnishes getting a little over the top? That mint sprig (more like a whole plant) looks like something from Royal Ascot.


modernemama said...

doesn't that mint tickle your nose... or forehead when you're drinking?

Joanne said...

Heh-heh. You think it would, but I'm a pro at this.

Anonymous said...

That is the funniest looking thing ever! And you continue to torment those of us that have never had one........


Sandy K.

Jen said...

The mint makes a great stirrer. And I bet it is good to chew on later.

Good pic of you in the mirror in your office.

Neat sheet-rock label find.