Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stairwell I

A Cathedral Ceiling

Bill has been working on the new stairwell space this month, and here is the cathedral ceiling above it in progress. The prominent beam here required a lot of repair work, but now you can no longer see the front lawn through the space above it! Next comes some floor trim there and more linen wall paint to the right...

The other end of the stairwell required custom fit wall trim and flooring while the new rail post was created and notched into place. The post will have a wood rail and nine thin steel cables attached soon.

This wall is made of very rough and old sides of pine boards which Bill sanded with an orbital sander, enough to nearly burn the motor out. After additional hand sanding it now has two coats of primer. Preparing the wood here and in the foyer took much of Bill's time; including carving out and sanding beam cracks besides sanding and filling every surface so that you want to touch it all as you navigate through it eventually.

The paint color on the stairs will be "Glacial" by Restoration Hardware, which seems an appropriate pale color for this small space in a house so close to a glacial lake. We will also use this color on the inside of the front door to separate it from so many surrounding wooden parts.

The light fixture I've selected for the top of the stairs is a maritime polished chrome pendant from Restoration Hardware, which will provide much downward light and match finishes with the rope rail fixtures. The rope rail was custom made to length using hemp and cotton twisted together and fastened with sailor's knots, by "" in the UK.   


Update: Top of the stairs and stairs finished; after and before.

We continued to open the adjoining eave spaces to allow for a curtained closet and sculpture, while having room downstairs to create a full closet next to the new staircase.

This picture shows the  eaves opened up although it was taken while Bill replaced major roof beams.

We were able to build a  new closet downstairs next to the stairwell, using an original old door Bill built-out wider and taller. The inside is entirely built of very wide; old King's Wood boards we found for building "new" walls in this house. Inside the closet is an early art deco light fixture and outlet found on ebay.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Iron in the Details

I have just hung the old hand-forged whaling lance I found at the "Sow's Ear" (great mid-Cape antique store), made in New Bedford during the years Cape Cod colonists fished for "Right Whales"; 1620 - 1750. Right Whales were migratory, slow moving whales who wintered over in Cape Cod Bay and were pursued in small boats from shore until depleted.

The founding of a fishing colony was one of the main ideas in the settling of Massachusetts, and the colonist's charter gave them unrestricted fishing rights. "Whale of the best kind for oil and bone came daily alongside and played about the ship", was written by Pilgrim fathers W. Bradford and E. Winslow. The Mayflower was also a whaling ship before and after coming to New England. 

Laundry on the Line

I grew up in a family of women who hung their laundry out to dry. My grandmother had lines and pulleys out her Brooklyn brownstone windows and my mother had long lines besides varied turning ones my father constructed for her in our backyards. The first time I saw Old Farm, I envisioned a long clothes line running along the property edge in full sun which would dry and brighten the many sheets, beach towels and clothes that may be used here. (I also envisioned a large compost pile behind the garden shed, most importantly, and both were installed as soon as weather permitted after we actually purchased this place.)

It was easy to make clothes line supports from sticks of left over lumber and I hammered two roofing nails with large heads into the tops to trap the clothes line since it can be quite windy on the Cape. The laundry line vision included anchoring a long line from the garage top to a utility pole, which could be tightened over time. Two loads of laundry can be dried here on a sunny day...and beach towels always.

Scandinavians hang their laundry out as long as possible; sometimes in the attic in winter, and in pens behind apartments where we would usually park a car. The below is part of a large picture taken by a photography student who did a series of my laundry on the line in Hopewell (while we were restoring the house), and surprised me with this print and note on my porch one day!

Hanging laundry is a great way to be greener since clothes driers use most household electrical energy and wear fabrics out faster besides. It takes little time to coordinate with the weather and hang a load before work I found. Alex brings his laundry from Boston to do at Old Farm and Christian, Leif and their roomates share my wooden clothes drying racks to use in their apartment exclusively.

Remembering Roots

As our family works together to restore Old Farm, I am remembering my own family roots and how they seem to be a part of this scheme? This has been a reflective project I think and my mother has recently given me pictures of my Norwegian grandparents who influenced me in lovely ways. My grandfather was the only one of nine children in his sheep farming family, to immigrate to the USA. He was "most smart" I was told in that he was the fastest sock knitter in the family who could also rock a cradle with his foot and read his homework all at the same time. He was a big man with big hands (which also played the fiddle) - and handsome features like my grandmother. They bought a brownstone in the Norwegian section of Brooklyn and he worked as a construction carpenter in NYC most of his life. My grandmother ran the house and made her own bread and patterns for dresses my mother and aunt wore for special occasions. Her kitchen was full of white and gray painted furniture and her small garden had large blue hydrangea bushes which bloomed under long lines of clothes and sheets drying.
My grandfather told me about special painting techniques he used occasionally, like rolling a suede cloth up a wall of thinned contrasting paint to create a unique pattern. He also helped my father build both of the houses we lived in growing up while my grandmother cleaned them thoroughly every time she visited. I still have the socks that my grandfather knit for me and the sweater his sister taught me how to knit.

These are my lovely memories of them.

Here are my older sister and I in dresses my mother made for us, continuing a tradition of making special dresses and women sewing for their families.

Going to the Library

As soon as I get to Old Farm for a visit, I go to the library to stock up and see what activities are scheduled during my stay. Sturgis Library (above) is a few miles from Old Farm and housed in the oldest library building in the nation; Reverend Lothrop's original house built in 1644. The house portion of the library contains over 2000 early new England family histories (including two very thick volumes of the Lewis family geneology and owners of Old Farm), as well as over 3,000 deeds, diaries, letters, naval histories, ship and whaling logs, pirate encounters and photographs stored in a climate controlled vault used by famous authors such as Nathaniel Philbrick who wrote "Mayflower"; and the 1605 Bishop's Bible used by Reverend Lothrop.

I recently bought the above three old storybooks about boating in the Sturgis Library Bookstore for $2.00 each, during an antique book cover exhibit. I'll keep them upstairs at Old Farm for the boys to discover.

We are biking distance to two libraries from Old Farm, and when you join one Cape library, you have joined them all. Lectures and free concerts are well attended at Sturgis I've noticed.

This carriage house built in 1700 (across the street from Sturgis Library) sold last year for $35,000. It is quickly being restored by some lucky person Bill thinks (what a nice studio space on historic Rte. 6A?).