Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ghost House

So ten years in this old house, last December. A whole 'nother decade under our belts. When we moved in here, Kat was just eleven, Matthew was nine, and Alyssa was six. The kids have grown up, and I have gone from thirty something to middle aged. We have had good times, and some tough times, become both frustrated and elated with the house, at times loving it, and at times cursing it. Somehow though, we always come full circle. Yesterday's gripe about the foundation issues gives way to a rush of emotion that the bedroom I have always wanted is finally coming together, although, slowly. The paint is on the walls, pictures hung, the crown moulding is gleaming. I still have to do window treatments and something about the flooring.
And then there is the bathroom. When I first looked at this house, I thought it was one of the strangest little bathrooms I had ever seen. Tiny, no more than about six or eight square feet, including the tiny vinyl walk in shower. just enough room for a toilet. And a very large window right next to it. For years I have wondered about that window.

Why would anybody build a bathroom with a toilet right next to a window? It never made any sense.  I took a picture of it this morning. It is the one thing I have never been very eager to photograph. It's not pretty. It is extremely utilitarian. No frills. Just a bathroom. I have to admit it has been very handy over the years to have one in the bedroom. But I still think it's weird. However, yesterday I had a revelation about that window, and why it never made sense for it to be in the bathroom. 
Four steps up! And don't fall down in the middle of the night in the dark. The Mr. found out the hard way how painful that can be!

It all goes back to the day we first saw the house. I remember, as I walked up the stairs thinking how dark the stairwell was.
As we ascended to the second floor, I could see that over our heads, covered by some plastic light shields, was a tangle of copper pipes, PVC, and cast iron. Also a shop light, that dimly lit the hallway. I didn't like it. When we got to the top of the stairs and rounded into the bedroom, I saw that this little bathroom was the reason for all that mess. It sits right on top of the stairwell. 

I won't tell you the peril I put myself in to get that metal sculpture up there, it would curl your hair. Right below the wall decor is all the plumbing for the bathroom. 

As a matter of fact, one time we had a shower flood, and the water cascaded out all over my stairs, through the hole in the floor where the toilet water pipe comes in. Actually that has happened more than once, but I digress. Anyway, I don't know why it took me ten years to figure it out, but the other day, I was thinking about that window. Then I had a vision. Without that dinky little add on bathroom, that window would have been right over my stairway. It was definitely an AHA! moment. Of course now all I can think about is getting rid of that bathroom. We talked about it, the Mr. and I, at length. Should we forgo the convenience of having a bathroom in the bedroom to bring back the look of the old hallway? I, despite my love of bringing things back  to the "way they used to be" was unsure. I really like having a bathroom in the bedroom. But, the Mr. said, we could turn the other bathroom, just to the left of the stairway rail into a really nice bathroom, and I had to agree. I can't wait to start the demo. Of course, that is way in the future, as there are other more pressing needs for this old house, right now. So now that that mystery is solved, it's on to another. Such as what is behind this Sheetrock in my closet. 

I never noticed it before, until one day, while taking out the garbage, a lady on a bicycle stopped to tell me how much she loved my house. Then she asked me if the rose wallpaper was still on the upstairs bedroom wall. This intrigued me. Rose wallpaper? She said the whole room was covered in ivy and roses. The one day, while in the closet, I noticed this. I am so curious about it. But I just haven't had time to check it out. Plus the closet is full of junk. That would mean actually cleaning the closet before I could get up there and just take a little peek. Not only am I curious about that, but looking at this picture, I am also wondering why they put up those ceiling tiles. What were they hiding? Sometimes I think there is a "ghost" house, hiding under the one I see, waiting for me to uncover it's secrets. I caught a glimpse of it behind the mantle, when I was removing the inch thick caulk that had been applied between the mantle and the wall. I wanted to paint, but couldn't get a good straight paint line, because the caulk was all yucky and wavy. So I pulled it off, and this is what I found. 

The old original crumbling wallpaper, in an ugly thirties green, with the fabric attached. I went to the store and trimmed out the mantle, I did not reapply the caulk. And then, against all my usual ideas about painting woodwork, I went ahead and painted this mantle white. Because whatever this was on here was not coming off.

And in the bathroom, behind the sand texture on the walls, which I painted sky blue (and now regret) was this. 
some kind of faux tile. Made of either cardboard or tin. Feels like cardboard. I like the color, though. 

I imagine it was a very interesting and colorful bathroom. The bathtub, which was painted white just prior to us moving in, is an original cobalt blue, and the original tile ringing the  non original floor in the bathroom is an original  golden yellow. Also the porcelain towel bar, behind the white paint applied by the previous owners is a cobalt blue to match the bath tub and the soap dish. I was amazed when the white paint in the tub  began to flake and peel, to reveal the "ghost" of the original tub. 

So it goes. Every day the house reveals a little more of it's past to me. Whether it's finding a piece of a porcelain doll's leg i(or a toy car, or marble) in the back yard, leftover from the twenties or thirties, or catching a glimpse of old wallpaper behind the sheet rock, she always has something to tell me if I just listen. I love this old house. 

1 comment:

Paula Brennecke said...

I always get 'sucked in' by your writing. Plan to read just a paragraph or two ... then end up at the end. ;)