Not much to report on this year. I have a few more things left to do on the exterior, including getting new copper gutters soon, but I'm mostly switching focus to interior projects. I've been working on stripping the built-in cabinets in the dining room, a very tedious project involving dental picks and removal of all trim. I'm pretty much done stripping the main part of it. But I still have all the removed trim, cabinet doors, drawers, and shelves to strip (easier since they have all been removed). Then the process of refinishing and attempting to match other woodwork begins. I'll post all those pics when that project is complete.
Made a pretty cool discovery this past week that I'm excited about. All the woodwork in my house was painted over without properly prepping the surface first (thankfully). Until this past week, I assumed that refinishing all the woodwork in the house would be a long, laborious process, like the built-in cabinets have been, and would involve stripping down to bare wood and refinishing from scratch. I've tried basically every paint stripping method known to man over the past 8 years and so far everything that involved removing paint from the surface of the wood also meant removing the original finish on the wood. I decided to try one more method: steam. As an experiment, I ran out and bought a cheap $55 wallpaper steamer and tried it on a section of trim in an upstairs bedroom. It immediately removed the top layers of latex paint, with minimal effort. However, there is one or two layers of oil-based paint under that which the steam doesn't seem to have much effect on. But, since the surface doesn't seem to have been prepped properly (sanded), that layer comes off with a bit more effort with the paint scraper, but not too bad. What I did find interesting though, is that someone had obviously already stripped this bedroom woodwork once before. After getting the oil-based layer off, I noticed gouge marks in the original finish that weren't coming from me. Fortunately, these gouges don't go all the way down into the wood, so I believe with some light scuffing and a new layer of shellac, they'd disappear. We'll see.
I then went and tested another area, downstairs in the dining room. The paint on the baseboard has areas that already flake off easily, so I had a feeling it would be easy to remove. I put the steamer on and in a matter of a few minutes, I was able to remove most of the paint (100% latex) from the entire face of the baseboard. It peeled off in large pieces with practically no effort. Right down to the original shellac finish, without having any effect on the original finish at all. Completely amazing! I then tried the trim around the window in the same room with mixed results. Some of it was like the upstairs trim, it had a layer of oil based paint that was more stubborn, and some came right off easily like the baseboard. It's as though someone has already stripped it before but then gave up half-way through and decided to paint again. Because some areas have a layer of hippy green oil-based paint and some areas of the same trim don't have that layer. I do think that I can remove it all, with some more coaxing though. So my plan has changed from stripping and refinishing all the woodwork in the entire house, to attempting to salvage the original finish on most of the woodwork, if possible, which would shave years off of the interior restoration.
The biggest hurdle is that at some point, they painted the top edges of baseboard the same color of paint as the wall (oil-based), but left the face of the baseboard original (too lazy to mask the top edge basically). Then, years later, they painted the face of the baseboard, which is why it's just latex whereas the edges and window trim have a layer of oil-based paint. And same in the upstairs hallway. That is the only section of the house that was never painted. All the woodwork is original, and the doors are the original finish. But the edges of the vertical trim are painted, even though the face of the trim is not. That is probably going to be the most difficult part of this procedure, removing the oil-based paint from those edges without damaging the shellac. So we'll see if it can be done. So far it seems promising. If anyone has any ideas on how to remove oil-based paint from shellac without removing the shellac, let me know.
Another thing I've been doing lately is researching the history of the house. I will post an entire entry about this topic soon, I hope. So I'll just give some teasers for now. I'm still hunting for an old photo of the house (before the 1955 photo) and so far have been unsuccessful. I've done some genealogy research on the original families (2 related families owned my house for the first 47 years) and recently discovered that one of the original children who grew up in my house just died 2 years ago. I don't think I'll ever forgive myself for not doing this research sooner and speaking to her before she passed. But I have tracked down some of the grandchildren of the original owners and am reaching out to them, hoping for pictures and stories. I was able to find a picture of one of the original children of my house, sitting on my porch steps with a bunch of other kids, in 1925, in a book written about Lakewood. And I was able to find out who the owner of the tin toy car found in my attic was. The only boy to grow up in my house in the first 47 years (the toy was made in 1922). I believe they purposely put this car in the attic, after his death, for someone to find years later (me). The boy died at 21 years of age of a pulmonary embolism after having bronchitis. I have a picture of him and some of the other family members. I will post when I figure out more of this story.
While doing research on the history of my house, I managed to find the original building permit from 1914. In the comments, it said "duplicate of" and listed another address in the city. I went to that address and found that, sure enough, there is another house nearly identical to mine, without the dormer. Everything else, down to the style of leaded glass windows, is the same. Same fireplace, same front door, same layout, same flooring (narrow 1.5" wide tongue and groove oak). The owner was kind enough to give me a tour of his house and I was able to learn some things that I didn't realize about mine. For a long time, I've wondered why the edges of the molding at the top of the door and window trim (the little crown piece of molding), didn't touch the wall. I have all these little crown edge pieces on the sides of all the door and window molding, that go partially back to the wall but not quite. Well, it's because there used to be picture rail molding all around the master bedroom, and possibly the living room. So that same crown molding, at the top of the door and window trim, continued around the entire room. The cut pieces happen to all be cut at the exact angles that the pieces attached to the wall would meet, all miter cuts. In the rooms where there was no picture rail, those little edge pieces of crown molding go back flush against the wall. So someone removed all the picture rail. Fortunately, I think I have enough salvaged, matching profile trim, to replace it in the master bedroom.
I also found some original wallpaper underneath some trim in a closet. In hours of online searching for historic wallpaper patterns, I was unable to find anything even remotely similar.