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Rear Restoration

The final side of the house! The rear (East facing) side of the house has offered some new experiences and challenges.

Originally, the rear of the house was much different than it was when I moved in. There was an exterior open back porch originally, much like the front porch but smaller, coming off of the kitchen. At some point, long ago, that porch was enclosed. I typically HATE enclosures but in this case, it was done well and I need the added space in the kitchen so I'm leaving it enclosed rather than trying to restore the original back porch.

The basement includes the area under this porch which I believe was the coal room. My house does not have a traditional coal chute and I cannot see an area where one would have been. However, the basement window on the side of this enclosed porch is tilted at an angle, and none of the other basement windows are. So I believe the window was used as the coal chute.

Above the porch was a balcony. The door to the balcony was located in the bathroom. The door had long been closed off along with a small bathroom window which was right next to the door. There were clear lines of clapboards filling in where the door and window used to be. The balcony railings had been removed but you could see where they had attached to the house.

I salvaged an original balcony door and original storm door with a frame from a house last year. When I removed the clapboard and sheathing that filled in where the door was, the new salvaged door and frame fit like a glove. Height and width were absolutely spot on! It was amazing. Once it was installed, the top trim lined up perfectly, and there was exactly enough space to fit the side trim against the ends of the clapboard on both sides. I haven't installed the storm door yet.

I scored some balcony railings from someone's tree lawn on garbage day. They match my original front porch railings but taller, EXACTLY what I needed for the balcony. That will be installed once the new roof is installed.

I will eventually put a window back where it was closed off but currently, the tile for the shower is right there and I'm not demolishing my bathroom (yet). When I install the clawfoot tub, I will put the window back. I will install a separate shower on the other side of the bathroom.

There were 3 windows installed, one on each side of the enclosed porch. The windows were French-style windows, not double hung like the rest of the house. I hated them! My plan has always been to replace the windows so they'd match the double hung style of the rest of the house. Of course, I would never use replacement windows for reasons stated in a previous post. I wanted the windows to match the rest of the house as much as possible. Wood framed, double hung, pulleys, weights, the whole 9 yards. The best way to accomplish that? Take windows from another historic house. So on the 3 houses that I salvaged last year, I removed 2 windows, frames, weights, everything. The challenge was that the windows would need to be really short since this room has a shorter ceiling height than the rest of the kitchen. And I wanted the new windows to be above counter level.

The 2 windows I salvaged were nearly identical in width but way too tall. Simple fix, I thought, just cut them shorter. Not quite that simple. Once you cut them shorter, new holes need to be cut for the pulleys. The little access doors for weight access were too tall once the frame was shorter. The sash, fully open, would have prevented the access door from being opened. So those had to be cut smaller. Then, of course, the sashes themselves would be too tall. I had to have custom sashes built (over $200 for one pair of sashes). The downside of new sashes is that they are new growth wood instead of the old growth that the originals were made out of. I considered disassembling the original sashes and shortening them but I don't have the time or patience for that job. The original sills had the edges broken off, for aluminum siding. I removed them and had new ones custom milled to match. The weights will need to be cut to balance the weight of smaller sashes (that will be an interesting guessing game). Then, after all that trouble, might as well put wavy antique glass in. So I removed the glass from my collection of old rescued sashes I've recovered from people's tree lawns and had it cut and installed in the new sashes. Not really a fun job. It'd be nice if you could just go to the store and buy brand new wood old-style double hung windows, frames and all.

On the 3rd side of the enclosure, my plan has always been to install a small back door. I salvaged a 30" door and frame from one of those houses last year for just this purpose. However, there is no existing framing to accommodate a door, like there was on the balcony. Also, the central air conditioning unit is exactly in the way and needs to be moved first. So for now, I just closed off this window completely. I will probably revisit this back door project at a later date.

There was one interior corner of the enclosure where there was no corner trim. Every other interior corner has a small square piece of corner trim that the clapboards butts up against. This one corner was missing this trim piece and the clapboard butted into each other at a 90 deg angle. This bothered me. I decided to install the trim. This is quite the challenge when the clapboard is still there. I had a piece of trim custom cut by the lumber yard to match the dimension of the others. Then I had to cut the ends off of all the clapboard to accommodate the trim, not fun when the clapboard is still attached to the house. Then I had to loosen the ends of the clapboard, remove nails, pry it away from the house, and try to slide the trim into place.

On top of all that, I still had to strip the paint, repair and replace clapboard, replace the sill edges on the windows of the built ins, sand, prime, and caulk.

In summary, the rear restoration included:
-Installing a balcony door
-Replacing 2 windows with custom built double hung windows
-Closing off 1 window
-Replacing 8 window sill edges
-Replacing 2 drip edges
-Repairing broken trim
-Installing interior corner trim
-Replacing a lot of clapboard
-Stripping all the paint
-Filling holes/cracks
-Sanding everything with 80 grit
-Washing with TSP


  1. Looks great! You definitely go all-out with the details.

    We also have a little porch enclosure built on the original back stoop, but it was done so poorly it's laughable. When I I do the back next year, I will probably just replace it with a small roof. Our house has a mud room between it in the kitchen, so another enclosed room is redundant.

  2. Very impressive.
    You do excellent restoration.
    Looks great

  3. Your work is meticulous and beautiful! Could read your blog for days...!


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