Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Aged Beauty

It has been said...
"You can only perceive beauty in a person as they get older"
-Anouk Aimee

I suppose the same could be true of old houses.

-aka my dear husband- 
(Soupbowl was a nickname given to my husband when he was in college.
It affectionately referred to his haircut-which was said to have been caused by his mother putting a soup bowl on his head and cutting his hair around it)

So Soupbowl and I have been working diligently and through all hours of the night to restore and enhance the beauty of unit #1.  Unit #1 is a small apartment located on the second floor of our 1900 Victorian.  It is the last of three such units that we have had to lovingly and painstakingly repair in the past four months.  All of which-I am happy to report-are now rented.  
This also explains my lack of blog posts from December to now ;-) 

I must be honest and say that there were times when the very last thing that I wanted to do was stumble out of our cozy bed on a Sunday morning, put on my "grungy" best, and gather and load the old gray truck with tools we had just brought in the night before.  I must also apologize to dear Soupbowl who was the recipient of my dislike toward having to get up and out on those groggy Saturday and Sunday mornings.  

Upon pulling into the urban alley behind our majestic old girl and managing to miss the stray whose head was buried so deeply in a misshaped aluminum trash can-that we saw only his hind legs and wagging tail...I digress.    
As I was saying-upon pulling into the urban alley a sense of peace washed over me.   I don't know if it is because of the comfort that comes from stepping into a building that has existed for more than 100 years-longer than most lifetimes-and knowing that even with all of that time behind it and all of those experiences of people moving in and out-its beauty and charm remains...and I would argue may be better now than it ever was-especially with four such dedicated and adoring hands giving it the attention it deserves.  

Getting out of bed doesn't seem so bad now.  

The above photograph is the original fireplace-in pristine ;-) condition.  I am amazed that it is all intact and in wonderful shape frankly because this unit has seen its share of youthful tenants, early morning keg parties and even survived a fire.  
Ah the fire-Soupbowl (who has owned the house since 1992 and who used to live in the main unit) was awakened one night by a frazzled young woman who had attempted to cook a waffle on the stovetop and managed to ignite a sufficient enough spark to have the fire department come and put it out.  

The kitchen in unit #1 is very small.  It appears to be much larger now because of Soupbowl's brilliant idea to knock out a wall and create the half wall that you see above.  But alas-there was an issue.  The issue is the small pole that you can see poking out of the top of the half wall and extending all the way to the ceiling.  Is it a water pipe? Is it a gas pipe?  We did not know either and -because of this- were very hesitant to get rid of it.  
After some long sessions on the internet and a few discussions with the Ace Hardware guy down the street (tip: if ever in doubt about what you tools you need or what something is in a old house-ask the neighborhood hardware guy-chances are if the store is in a historic neighborhood-he knows it, stocks it or knows who stocks it), we discovered that it is neither a water pipe or a gas pipe but was installed to be a support for the wood floors.  Imagine that!

The other side of the kitchen (above) is sporting a new coat (couple of coats actually) of white paint.  Such a nice contrast to the mahogany stained butcher block counter tops that Soupbowl created from an old microwave cart. 

I adore the butterfly hinges mounted to the outside of the cabinet doors.  Two of the hinges broke during demolition (if you can call unscrewing the doors so that they can be painted-demolition) Lucky for me that replacements were only one online purchase away.  Unlucky for me that they come in a variety of sizes :-(  Who knew?  The problem was averted when Soupbowl found a pair of hinges on one of the main unit's kitchen cabinets and was able to steal them without compromising it's style or charm.  

It wasn't just the butterfly hinges that I adore about this wonderful old house.  It is all of the details-from the heavy moldings to the ornate iron vent grids- from the mullioned windows to the amber glass doorknobs.  Even the radiators are beautiful.  I am astonished at the workmanship and attention to detail that went into it's creation.  And to think that those who built it did not have power tools or Ace Hardware guys-it is truly astonishing and awe inspiring.  It makes me want to create.  

Close up of the column of the original fireplace mantel.
Even the fireplace screen is decorated...
The Victorians truly have a place in my heart.
I too, would decorate every surface.

Which brings me back to where I started.  The reason for getting out of that cozy, warm bed every Sunday morning for four months....and for the great sense of peace that arose in arriving at 1139 Clarkson Street...


to create an adoration for the beauty that can only come with age.  


And to our old majestic girl....ROCK ON, Clarkson!

May inspiration, adoration and peace be with you...
wherever you are.


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