Saturday, June 2, 2007

Appreciating All Things Old

My husband and I purchased a home almost exactly one year ago, and have been remodeling it ever since. It is a 1925 Craftsman style house and surprisingly this house was very near it's original condition. What I mean by this is that nothing had been updated since it was built, well, except for the addition of many, many layers of paint. We have tried to maintain the integrity of the original design while updating it to what I feel to be a minimum standard of living. For example, we live in Clearwater, Florida and this house did not have central air conditioning. In my humble opinion, that would be the equivalent of living in Mishicot, Wisconsin and not having heat in your house. It still had the original porcelain sink mounted on the wall in the kitchen and typical to the period, it had no kitchen cabinets to speak of. We had to completely remodel the kitchen, in addition to many other “minor” projects like re-drywalling all the walls and ceilings, rewiring the entire house, and sanding every single Dade County Pine floor….
It’s been a very long journey, but right now I would have to say that I am most pleased, not with freshly restored wood floors or the crown moldings throughout every room, and not even with the brand new kitchen. What I am most delighted with is the restored glass and brass interior door knobs! I smile every time I touch one. I can not even begin to guess how many layers of paint had built up on the key holes and brass fittings to these door knobs. I soaked every last layer of paint off (thank you Martha Stewart for you website tips), and with the help of my husband we have reinstalled them to the original solid wood doors. I even stripped the brass hinges, and honestly I couldn’t be more proud of this hardware. As I was gazing at them again tonight, it occurred to me that just as I admire the craftsmanship of the quilts of yesteryear, I feel much the same about these door knobs and doors. Back in the 1920’s when these doors were made, they were done by hand, just as the old quilts were. They were not created on an assembly line, nor was machinery used that you just “fed” the doors through to get the holes drilled out properly to fit the knobs. They really were "crafted".

Though I love the way I assemble quilts today, I can’t help but think back with admiration to the methods that led up to the way we create things now.

I had to show off the hibiscus that came with the house and grows in the front yard. It is ancient, and over the last year, with lots of love, natural pesticides and plant food, I have coaxed it back in to bloom. I do so love old things!


QuiltingFitzy said...

Oh MY! I love your door handles, and the hinges must be spectacular! You are very lucky indeed.

Our last house, we worked on for 3 months. It sold in 4 days with 6 offers. I DO understand how much it takes out of you to restore your home. It is worth it!! And lucky you, you are restoring it to live IN it, lol.

Wonderful photo of the hibiscus.

swooze said...

How neat! I would love to see more pics of your house. I would love to have an old house and restore it, alas dh loves all things new and modern!

Jeanne said...

I was just in Clearwater for a very brief time last week - had to check out Country Quilts 'n Bears on our way to St. Augustine! Your hibiscus is gorgeous.

Rhonda said...

Glad everything is going well. I too, live in an old house. The lumber was taken from my great-grandparents home and used in my grandparents home which I now live in. The wood is as hard as a rock, too. LOL

Greenmare said...

I have been so busy working and only online to email YOU that I haven't read your blog in 6 days!!!!!
egad and erlack!
Mishicot without heat!
You scored!

Christine Thresh said...

Those door knobs are so neat. We partially restored a Victorian house once. I loved doing it. Our kitchen didn't have any cabinets either. We did not re-do it, but painted it turquoise, orange and lime instead.