PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE…WHEN MOVING AND RENOVATING AN OLD HOUSE

Butterfly at the house in the summer.

Butterfly at the house in the summer.

This pretty Monarch was hanging out on the goldenrods at the back of the house in the summer when I went to get some interior photos. I can’t wait for spring and summer again. I love the warmth of the sun, the flowers, the chirping birds, the beach…I could go on. Right now I’m looking out the window and it is snowing and -10. I know summer will be here before we know it. Anyway, I thought this photo would be okay for my post on patience. I consider myself quite a patient person and I went into this whole house moving and renovating project with a good attitude knowing it would be a bit of an adventure. It has been a bit more challenging than I anticipated though and we haven’t even moved the house yet. We seem to run into obstacles often which I suppose isn’t overly surprising since it’s not everyday you move a house. Finding a property to put the house on was our first challenge. We did find a piece of property that we purchased which ended up being more complicated than we thought. I won’t bore you with the issues we are dealing with regarding the property, but those issues are ongoing. Another test of patience is the kitchen which originally was going to be a simple ceiling fix and saving lots of money by just painting the existing cabinets. However, when part of the ceiling caved in due to roof leaks it became necessary to completely renovate the kitchen which I’m looking at as a blessing in disguise. Also, I think we may have underestimated the amount of work that had to be done to prepare the house for moving including taking off the bricks and basically gutting the basement in order to disconnect all of the wiring, etc. The weather is something that we have no control over, but it has a lot to do with when we can move. Unfortunately the freezing temperatures make it very unlikely we’ll be digging the foundation before moving but we still have to move the house while the ground is frozen. So it will likely hang out on blocks until we are able to dig the foundation and pour the basement in the spring. So maybe it’s just the January blahs but this week has been a tough week in the house moving department. I am just looking forward to putting the house back together and decorating (I can’t wait). That is why I have to keep telling myself to be patient…patience is a virtue. On the plus side, a lot has been done thanks to my husband, brother-in-law and other help…including my brother-in-law’s dog who happily hangs out and acts as foreman.

Canine helper Grey.

Canine helper Grey.

Things are coming along nicely in the kitchen and dining room. The cabinets are all off and it is down to just the drywall and plaster. That will be the next job and then opening up the wall into the living room. It looks pretty rough in here but that just means the future ‘after’ photos will be all the more dramatic.

Kitchen 'before'.

Kitchen ‘before’.

 

The old kitchen cabinets are gone.

The old kitchen cabinets are gone.

 

After kitchen cabinets are taken down.

After kitchen cabinets are taken down.

And the basement work is complete. A lot had to be done in the basement in order to prepare to move the house.

Basement work is done.

Basement work is done.

 

Basement work is done.

Basement work is done.

 

COOL HEATING OPTIONS

Hydro heating ad.

Hydro heating ad.

The frigid temperatures we’ve been having here lately have me chilled to the bone. Living in a one hundred year old home brings with it some heating and cooling issues. Parts of the house we live in lack sufficient insulation so in the winter there are a few rooms that are much, much colder than the general living area. I am really looking forward to having a home with better heat. My husband and I have been looking into our heating and cooling options since we’ll be starting from scratch.

The 1965 house we are renovating was originally heated with electric heat that came from radiant ceiling cable that was installed in the ceilings of each room as well as some electric baseboard units and each room had it’s own thermostat. I had never heard of ceiling heat prior to this but it was apparently installed in many homes in the sixties and seventies (and likely before and after) but seems to be a thing of the past.

Thermostats throughout the house.

Types of thermostats that are located throughout the house.

According to a 1960 Hydro electric heating ad “electric heating units can be built in to the baseboards or the walls or ceilings and they take no useable floor space. Electric heating eliminates the furnace and the necessity for fuels of any sort. Separate thermostats in each room let you choose the exact heat you want for each room. No need to heat the whole house to increase the temperature in one or two rooms.” Sounds simple and smart to me.

Only in the fifties could a thermostat be this elegant looking…

1955 General Controls thermostat ad.

1955 General Controls thermostat ad.

 

General Controls thermostat ad, 1955.

General Controls thermostat ad, 1955.

The original home owners also used a wood stove to heat their basement which had a family room and play area along with a spare room and storage. This was the old Clare Jewel brand cooking wood stove unit. It would have kept the basement nice and cozy and heated the house during power outages.

Vintage 1960s Clare wood stove.

Vintage 1960s Clare wood stove.

Another popular option back in the fifties and sixties was radiant baseboard heating using hot water to emit warmth into a room rather than heating the air directly.  A 1959 ad from Crane Limited about hydronic heat says “Only a hydronic system can give you the radiant warmth you want for family health and comfort. It’s just like indoor sunshine!”  Radiant heat using water is making a big comeback. It is quiet and provides an even temperature from the floor up and since there is no furnace or ductwork, no dust or dirt is circulated throughout the house. That is a big advantage, especially for those with asthma or dust allergies (which I unfortunately have dealt with the last  few years.)

Trimline baseboard heating ad, 1959.

Trimline baseboard heating ad, 1959.

Forced air furnaces seem to be the most popular form of heating homes today although radiant heat seems to be gaining popularity.

Royal Jet furnace ad, 1955.

Royal Jet furnace ad, 1955.

And to add some warmth to a bathroom why not add an infrared heat light or heat lamp. These instant heat recessed ceiling heaters from a 1955 Pryne product catalogue were quite stylish.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

They sure look happy.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

1955 Pryne infra-red heater ad.

We are going to put radiant in-floor heating in our basement which should give off sufficient heat to keep the basement warm and will also help to heat our main floor. We are considering installing in-floor heating for the main floor as well but we need to look into the cost to install it. It may be more costly up front but is very energy efficient once in use and virtually maintenance free. One of the cons of radiant heat is that you still have to find a way to cool your house in the summer so you would still need window air conditioning units or ductless air conditioners…otherwise known as mini-splits. Going with a regular forced air furnace is probably the less expensive route and one unit can provide heat and air conditioning. Radiant in floor heating and ductless air conditioners are definitely appealing though, especially knowing that the air in the house would be cleaner and dust and dirt wouldn’t be circulated through the air as it is with a forced air furnace. We’ll see, a little more research and pricing is definitely needed to make a final decision on this.

NIFTY RETRO APPLIANCES

Vintage oven ad.

Vintage oven ad.

Now that I’m deep into planning our kitchen I have to give some thought to appliances. Vintage appliances were so beautiful with their pretty colours and stylish chrome accents. I love that the oven in this ad matches the kitchen’s yellow cabinets. It is the 1959 General Electric Keyboard Cooking Range that could bake, boil, roast, grill and barbeque too with a companion oven. Any housewife would have been thrilled to have had this range. She looks like she’s been busy cooking a turkey, baking two dozen cinnamon buns, boiling potatoes, whipping up some sort of hors d’oeuvres and serving iced tea…all in a spotless kitchen and in heels – impressive!

I managed to find an original 1960s turquoise range, range top and porcelain sink online but unfortunately it is far away and shipping would have been out of the question for such large items. I would love to go with the next best thing, retro appliances like those from Elmira Stove Works – they are so pretty. The company’s Northstar line includes stylish retro ranges, refrigerators, range hoods, dishwasher panels and microwaves to match. They come in some pretty colours too like Robin’s Egg Blue (my favorite), Mint Green, Flamingo Pink, Candy Red and also Textured Black, White and Quicksilver. Their website is www.Elmirastoveworks.com and there are dealers throughout Canada (yah!).

Elmira Stove Works appliances in Robin's Egg Blue.

Elmira Stove Works appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue.

Big Chill is another company that offers a line of retro appliances in a variety of colours including Jadite Green, Beach Blue, Cherry Red, Pink Lemonade, Buttercup Yellow, Orange, Black and White. I don’t like their blue as well as the Robin’s Egg Blue from Elmira Stove Works but I really like the Jadite Green which was also the colour of many popular small appliances in the fifties. Their website is www.bigchill.com and according to their dealer map, the only Canadian dealer is in Toronto.

Jadite Green kitchen appliances from Big Chill's retro line.

Jadite Green kitchen appliances from Big Chill’s retro line.

Both make beautifully vintage looking appliances and I would proudly cook, bake and refrigerate with either make but sadly, I don’t think we have the budget to spend more money on our appliances than we spend on our kitchen cabinets. To give you an idea of cost, the fridges start around the $4000 range. Oh well, a girl can dream right?

And if I have to go with regular appliances what would be best for our kitchen and fit in better with the retro look? Stainless steel or white? The stainless would match with chrome hardware and accessories but the white would look more streamlined with glossy white cabinets. I’m really torn on this one.

I’ve scanned a few vintage appliance ads that will make me want to go retro even more.

How beautiful is this decorative 1959 Frigidaire refrigerator in blue? It has a fancy design on the door and even on the ice compartment. And it had the freezer on the bottom like many of todays refrigerators. I would feel like a kitchen queen too if I had this fridge.

1959 Frigedaire ad.

1959 Frigedaire ad from 1959 McCall’s magazine.

Why can’t today’s refrigerator’s have pretty colourful trays and drawers like this. I love how they’ve styled this photo – it’s colour coordinated to perfection – her shoes match the drawers. And I love how well the fridge is stocked…it looks just like mine. I always have freshly made iced tea, a turkey, cake, vege tray, jello salad and a half dozen frozen desserts ready…just in case visitors pop in.

1959 RCA Whirlpool gas refrigerator.

1959 RCA Whirlpool gas refrigerator.

The Cook-o-matic range sounds fabulous. It came in six interchangeable colours that could be quickly changed for a small cost – chrome, gold, red, copper, pink and blue. What a great idea.

Vintage Cook-o-matic oven ad.

Vintage Cook-o-matic oven ad.

I would love to find one of these vintage Nutone Fold-Away range hood fans and in this aqua colour.

1960s Nutone Fold-Away Range Hood.

1960s Nutone Fold-Away Range Hood.

I’m way behind the times seeing that they had dishwashers in the fifties and I still don’t have one…but I will in our new home (yah!)

Vintage Kitchen Aid dishwasher ad.

Vintage Kitchen Aid dishwasher ad from 1959 McCall’s magazine.

I might just go and look at an Elmira fridge just to see it in person and imagine how good it would look in our kitchen…it can’t hurt to look.

FLOORS ‘BEFORE’…AND VINTAGE FLOORING

Dominion Linoleum.

Dominion Linoleum.

Picking out flooring hasn’t really excited me all that much in the past but the challenge of finding something with a vintage feel for this house has got me pumped. I have never been so excited to scan and scour online flooring sites for samples of linoleum and vinyl. First, I spent a while looking at vintage flooring and kitchen ads to get inspired by all of the great designs available in the 50s and 60s. They had some really great flooring patterns and were very creative with their tile colour and placement.

We don’t have to replace all the flooring in the house though. We are lucky that the bedrooms and the hallway have the original oak hardwood flooring which is in pretty good shape and will look amazing with a good sanding.

Hardwood flooring in hallway and bedrooms.

Hardwood flooring in hallway and bedrooms.

There is hardwood under the green carpet...can't wait to tear that up.

There is hardwood under the green carpet…can’t wait to tear that up.

I think the front entrance was also hardwood originally but the previous owner replaced it with a modern ceramic tile. This is off topic, but don’t you just love that door.

The front entrance area.

The front entrance area.

The living room has old stained carpet that needs to be ripped up and unfortunately there is no hardwood underneath of it, only plywood. I’m not sure what was originally in there but I’m guessing maybe the green carpet that is in the hallway.

'before' of the living room

‘before’ of the living room.

The kitchen and dining room had a new laminate floor installed within the last decade but since we will be completely renovating the kitchen and dining room from scratch we will be replacing it. I found the original owner’s flooring information and I believe the original flooring in the kitchen and dining area was Armstrong corlon in the Tessara pattern and the bathroom was Armstrong corlon in the Montina pattern (I’ll try to find photos of these online). The door from the dining room and kitchen (on the right side below) will be opened up at least five feet so it will be open into the front entrance and living room. I’d like to try to find flooring that would work in the kitchen, dining room, entrance way and living room creating a good flow from one room to the next.

Looking at dining room area from kitchen.

Looking at dining room area from kitchen.

The mudroom, laundry room and powder room all have this embossed linoleum which I will be replacing. Being a mud room and entrance area I will want the flooring in here to hide all of the dirt that will be coming in and stand up to lots of ware. Right now this area is really dark with the panelling and large wood cabinets but we’ll brighten it up to make it an inviting entrance.

The mudroom 'before'.

The mudroom ‘before’.

Powder room 'before'.

Bathroom ‘before’.

So now the search is on for some flooring that will have a vintage look, go well with our decor, and stand up to a busy family and a dog. To start, I looked into what flooring options were popular in the 50s and 60s and found some information on each from a 1959 Canadian Homes & Gardens magazine article titled ‘Guidebook to Handsomer Floors and Ceilings’. Linoleum was one of the most popular flooring materials with a low cost and a variety of colours and patterns. It washed with warm water and could be waxed with water-base wax. And I know personally from my parent’s embossed linoleum that it held up well (their 1974 house still had it in the kitchen when they moved last year) but it did discolour in spots from the sunlight. I love the colourful linoleum tiles below that bring some colour into this mostly white kitchen.

Dominion Linoleum flooring from 1957 Canadian Homes & Gardens magazine.

Dominion Linoleum flooring from 1957 Canadian Homes & Gardens magazine.

I love everything about this turquoise kitchen. For starters, the turquoise cabinets are so beautiful and I love the glass panelled doors, the hardware, the white tile backsplash, countertop and that flooring. I may not have chosen the coral colour but I adore the inset tiles in front of the cabinets – I would use those in my kitchen floor for sure. This linoleum is also from Dominion Linoleum, a Canadian company who says this about linoleum in their ad ‘today’s linoleum is designed to please and pamper. Its resilient, noise-nulling composition is kind to the feet, soothes the nerves.’ That sounds pretty good.

Kitchen linoleum flooring by Dominion Linoleum, 1957.

Kitchen linoleum flooring by Dominion Linoleum, 1957.

And one more ad from Dominion Linoleum – I just love all the creative designs and the bits of colour added. So different from most of the boring flooring we see in homes today.

1960 Dominion Linoleum ad sold by the yard or in tiles.

1960 Dominion Linoleum ad sold by the yard or in tiles.

And check out the linoleum tiles below – wow!! This was from a 1949 Eaton’s catalogue. Marble design tiles in so many colours…and stars too. And back in 1949 each tile was 12- 14 cents, star design tiles were 50 cents. These 9″ x 9″ tiles were made by Kentile of asphalt, asbestos cumar resin.

1949 Kentile linoleum tiles.

1949 Kentile linoleum tiles.

Rubber tile flooring was also a popular choice and came in a variety of colours and patterns so one could be creative with their flooring. It was easy on the feet being rubber based and quiet so it was a good choice for children’s rooms and could be laid on any floor in the house. It was also washed with water and could be waxed with water wax. Here is a 1959 ad for rubber tile flooring shown in 22 lovely colours made by Tower Limited.

Rubber tile flooring in 22 colours from Tower, 1957.

Rubber tile flooring in 22 colours from Tower, 1957.

Vinyl tile came in lots of colour and pattern options including fun spatter and confetti patterns. According to the 1959 flooring article, vinyl tile was suitable for basement rooms as long as they were waterproof. The drawback with vinyl tile (this has likely changed since 1959 though) is that it could get scratched easily. It also cleaned with a damp cloth and could be waxed with a water wax. I love the last tile in the top row called Prairie Sunset, white with flecks in coral, yellow and turquoise. These particular Armstrong tiles had asbestos in them…like a lot of flooring did up until the 1980s. So even if you could find this original tile unused you wouldn’t want to have it in your home. Maybe I’ll be able to find something with a similar look.

Armstrong vinyl tile in 1965 Beaver Lumber flyer.

Armstrong vinyl tile in 1965 Beaver Lumber flyer.

The vinyl roles of flooring below had metallic gold flecks in it although you can’t really tell in the photo…it probably looked great in real life.

Vinyl flooring available at Eatons, 1968.

Vinyl flooring available at Eatons, 1968.

Ceramic or clay tile was seen in many bathrooms and kitchens in this era…just think of the iconic mid century pink bathroom full of pink tiles. I am hesitant to use a lot of tiles in the house. In the home we’re in now the old tub surround area was all the old small ceramic tiles and although I loved their turquoise colour I didn’t enjoy cleaning the grout. These photo illustrations show rooms with clay tile…everywhere.

Fully tile bathroom, Clay tiles, American-Olean Tile Company, 1952.

Fully tile bathroom, Clay tiles, American-Olean Tile Company, 1952.

Another clay tile kitchen. Tile on floors, countertops and far wall, American-Olean Tile Company, 1952.

Another clay tile kitchen. Tile on floors, countertops and far wall, American-Olean Tile Company, 1952.

Well that covers many of the flooring options from the fifties and sixties.

I have found a few flooring options so far that have potential. At the top of the list so far is Azrock’s vinyl tile in ‘raw silk’ below which has warm greys and a hint of aqua blue from what I can tell but I’ll have to check it out in person. There are a few more shades I like including ‘grey knit’, ‘fur’ and ‘silly string’. The link to see all of the colours is http://www.azrock.com/Products/tabid/242/Default.aspx?cid=201

Azrock vinyl in Raw Silk SKU V-280 www.azrock.com

Azrock vinyl in Raw Silk SKU V-280 www.azrock.com

 

 

BATHROOM ‘BEFORES’

1950s Briggs bathroom ad.

1950s Briggs bathroom ad.

Our house will have three bathrooms. The bathrooms on the main level are both small…really small. The main bath is 6.5′ wide x 9.8′ long so there’s just enough room for a small shower, sink and toilet and the other bathroom on the main floor is just a teeny tiny powder room in the mud room entrance area. It may be tiny but I know this one will come in very handy being in the mudroom. The third bathroom will be a full bath created in the new basement.

There isn’t much to show you of the main bathroom. I’m not sure what the original bathroom looked like fifty years ago but it was recently renovated. When the home was vacant again and they thought the house would be demolished they took out the newer bathroom fixtures to use elsewhere so that is why it is in this condition. It may be small, but it will still be stylish when it’s done.

The main bath 'before'.

The main bath ‘before’.

Here is the before photo of the ‘powder room’ or the bathroom off of the mudroom…powder room sounds so fancy.

Bathroom 'before'.

Bathroom ‘before’.

For the powder room I was thinking I’d like to find some vintage or vintage looking wallpaper.  Something that’s fun but not too busy for this tiny room as I don’t want to make it look smaller than it is. I’m hoping to keep the white tiles that go halfway up the wall and I think a vintage sink and toilet like the ones below (preferably in the aqua) would look so perfect in here. For inspiration I scanned some photos from a vintage 1950 Kohler Co. catalogue. I love that fixtures came in so many pretty colours. This particular line came in white, Cerulean Blue (above), Spruce Green, Peach Blow and Tuscan – a pastel yellow. The surfaces were made of vitreous china and enameled iron. I guess the only disadvantage of coloured fixtures is that you had to be really committed to loving that colour for a really long time.

Bathroom in blue from a 1950 Kohler Co. catalogue.

Bathroom in blue from a 1950 Kohler Co. catalogue.

Kohler bath in Tuscan yellow, 1950.

Kohler bath in Tuscan yellow, 1950.

1950 Kohler bathroom ad

1950 Kohler bathroom ad

Kohler bathroom, 1950.

Kohler bathroom, 1950 with pretty pink tiles.

Crane was a Canadian company that carried colourful fixtures as well. This ad showed them in Shell Pink, Sky Blue and Pale Jade. Both Crane and Kohler are still in the bathroom business today but I don’t think you can buy their fixtures in these colours any more…how sad.

Crane colourful bathroom fixture ad.

Crane colourful bathroom fixture ad.

1959 Crane ad.

1959 Crane ad.

Colourful bathroom fixtures were popular from the 1950s through the 1970s but eventually faded away for the most part. I’ll never forgot the mauve fixtures my parents had in our bathroom though and their home was built in the early seventies.

And to add a bit of chrome to the bathroom I’d love to get recessed toilet paper holders and soap dishes. There must be a company that still makes something like these. This fine line was made by Hall-Mack, the ‘makers of America’s most distinctive equipment for bathrooms…’ That sounds perfect for my fancy ‘powder room’.

1952 Hall-Mack bathroom accessories.

1952 Hall-Mack bathroom accessories.

Or the luxurious ‘relaxation unit’ that holds toilet paper, cigarettes, matches and an ash tray as well as a mirror backed book shelf – wow!

1952 Hall-Mack relaxation unit bathroom accessory.

1952 Hall-Mack relaxation unit bathroom accessory.

I’ll add any bathroom updates or plans and I will definitely add photos of any vintage fixtures or wallpaper that might end up going in one of the bathrooms.