Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Elderly House

This is the swinging door between the kitchen and dining room. I has been down for about fifty years, based on the paint color on the kitchen side and the wallpaper in the inset. The last picture is the closeup of the very vintage wall paper. During the latest painting, we found evidence of this paper on every wall and the ceiling. In a small dose, it is quirky and a little cute. Covering the whole room...vertigo, people. The green color is a very close match to the first color the kitchen was painted. I also happen to love this color, so it was an easy choice.
I went to a garage sale this weekend, and the lady was selling a large number of doors that belonged to her house. Notice I said belonged to her house, not to her. I love old houses. I do not love people who refuse to consider that thier house has already lived loger than they have, and will outlive them.
I think that houses start to be an entity unto themselves, absorbing some of the life that we do- or do not- bring into them. Old houses have to put up with a lot- we change, modify, re model, paint over, scrape off and so on. Sometimes our efforts are for the better, respecting the spirit and form of the house, and making it an even better house. Sometimes, our efforts are for the worse, trying to make the house into something it is not, was not, and never will be. There's a poor bungalow down the block whose owner, in the Nifty Fifties, wanted to live in a ranch. Instead of moving to a ranch, they re-mangled the house in the image of a ranch. They failed. On a block of neat little bungalows, it was always the house that didn't quite fit- something was wrong, but it was hard to put your finger on it. The owners since then- there have been four families that I know of- have each tried, with varying degrees of dedication- to make it back into a bungalow. It is a long haul back, but the one before this one had a woodworker as a husband, and he made a lot of good progress. The current owners are building nicely on this, and it is possible that the house will some day look like it was supposed to look.

My gratitude for the former owners of the house for putting these doors up in the rafters of the garage is boundless. After seeing the house who's owner was selling it's bits, I decided the day had come to tackle re- hanging the door. It was actually less of a job than I thought. I had needed the hardware for the top hinge, as it was missing, and I finally found it on sale at Rejuvenation I didn't know if the bottom hinge, and it's spring, were in working order, so I was glad to have the whole set. As it turned out, the bottom hinge was just fine. I replaced the top hinge, sanded the bottom to account for the new sub floor in the kitchen, sanded the top and the side to get it to swing freely, and cleaned the wood side with Howard's finish restorer. Since it was easier that I had thought, I had time to paint the kitchen side. Someday I will find someone to bleach the two doors that have been re-hung to match the color of the trim, but for the meantime, they can grow old together. It was a nice morning's work.

1 comment:

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