Monday, August 29, 2011

Finish Work At Last

When we bought the Cheney Cottage, there were only two of the original light fixtures left. The University had replaced all the regular lights with large florescent fixtures (probably back in the 60s, judging from the fixtures). We took them out while the house was still sitting on its original site, so they're long gone.

But two original fixtures were left in place. One was a wall sconce, on the wall directly opposite the top of the stairs. The other, a hanging pendant light, hung over the stairs. They had both been painted white (the University painted pretty much everything in the house white).

The pendant stayed in its original location throughout the moves. I remember standing under the second floor, after the first floor had been pulled out, and noticing it hanging there. I also remember seeing it through the window as the house made the turn from Bancroft to Shattuck, as the second floor moved toward Albany Village.

The sconce didn't stay in place: we took it down during the prep of the house, before we cut the second floor free of the first, and put it in the china cabinet downstairs. It stayed there until the first floor arrived on 62nd Street, and we found it waiting for us. (We also found two bags of Milanos, that had been in the house for the full year - still edible).

Once the house was reunited, we finally took down the pendant, and brought both fixtures back to Parker Street. During our free time (when we weren't working at our jobs or working on the house), we'd scrape the paint and polish the fixtures. We finally finished them on Saturday, and rewired them.

The pendant light originally had a glass globe, which was long since gone, so we went down to Ohmega Salvage to buy a new one. Ohmega is an odd place: Some of it is incredibly over priced, but there are still deals to be had, particularly if you aren't looking for things that are totally finished and in perfect shape (which is exactly what most of their customers are looking for - we're definitely in the minority).

We saw two glass fixtures that would work and were the right size. They were priced at $150 - each! Tom and I said "no". But then, out back, behind the main Ohmega building, they have lots of broken light fixtures, dirty shades and odd mismatched pieces. We found a globe there that fit. It was substantially cheaper: $5.00 plus tax. So we saved $145.

Now the two restored fixtures, plus the new globe, are back on 62nd Street. It practically brought me to tears to put them in place. Installing light fixtures definitely qualifies as "finish work" I hooked the fixtures up to the new wiring. They're done.

And if I do say so myself, they look great.
Compact florescent bulbs, natch
Today was a clean up day. As the new roof is going on, Eric's truck is sitting out front, loaded with all the layers of the old roofs. We also took the bags of broken plaster, old wiring and broken sash cord, and threw them onto the truck. Tom worked out in the yard, hacking away brambles and getting to debris piles, and sorting through them, throwing out what was unusable and salvaging the good stuff.

Tomorrow is a day off, but Wednesday we'll be back. My plan is to finish the kitchen wiring, and hopefully finish the lights on the second floor. Plumbing is next. And, with a new roof, we can start repairing plaster and refinishing the floors.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Week

So we're facing it: we're not getting anywhere doing this on Saturdays and Sundays. The Cheney Cottage, though a small house, is still a lot of work.

The house is getting a new roof, so it will be waterproof. And we've got the siding up, most of the exterior trim is back in place. But the punch list of things left to do is incredibly long.

So though we're making progress, we need some concentrated time. So this is the week. Tom and I are both taking the week off work, and we're going to put some serious concentrated time in and work on getting the place done. The wiring, the plumbing, the heating system, the plastering.

We were going to start today, but we decided to spend the day on Parker Street, a somewhat restful and quiet day before the big push. We spent the day doing some small chores for the Cheney Cottage - like finishing cleaning up the two light fixtures that were left in the house. It was mostly the calm before the work.

Still no financing in sight, but we have to just push on and get the place closer to done. Stay tuned for updates.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


I haven't been writing much on the blog, because we've only been working on two projects. They both involve scraping.

Inside, the stripping of the dining and living rooms continues. The dining room is totally stripped, but the scraping is still underway. In the living room, everything except the ceiling and the rest of the baseboards is done. On the stairs, the railings are stripped and scraped.
More progress scraping the wainscoting in the dining room

On the outside, we're working on putting back all the missing trim. All the tirim has multiple layers of paint on it, and all of it needs to be scraped. So we scrape the trim down before installing it on the house.

But we see progress being made. The trim is done on the east side, and on the front, all but one piece have been re-installed. The west side has new siding, and now all the trim, except the band board and a couple small pieces, have been replaced and are ready for paint. Even on the back, most of the trim is done.
The west side of the Cheney Cottage, with the new siding and much of the trim re-installed

Every week, when we observe Garbage Day, we've been putting out bags of paint scrapings. It's amazing to see how much paint we've removed, both inside and out. It's also still shocking to realize that, when the trim inside the dining and living rooms was originally painted, it was painted bright orange. We still can't understand why someone thought bright orange paint was more attractive than shellacked redwood.

Next weekend, we hope to complete much of the wiring, so the electrical box can be installed, and the wiring hooked up (we still have the temporary power pole and an extension cord running to the house). Then the plumbing work begins in earnest. The radiators will be re-installed, and we'll work on getting hot and cold running water.