Monday, December 31, 2012

Keeping up the Pace

The downstairs bathroom is nearing completion.  The floor has been cut and is ready to be laid, once Tom finishes shellacking the woodwork.

Tomas shellacking the downstairs bathroom

In the meantime, I spent some of the day painting the laundry room.

The Laundry Room, before we moved the house

The same view today

The other side of the room

There are only two things left to paint: the back door, and the bathtub.  Both will be (what else?) purple.

It also appears that we have found tenants for the Cheney Cottage.  Sabastian will be moving back to Berkeley in late January, and he and a couple of his friends are interested in renting the place. So we may have tenants ready to move in.  Imagine that: people living in the Cheney Cottage!

Tomorrow, the floors in the laundry room and bathroom get glued down; the shellacking in the bathroom gets completed, as does the shellacking in the WC; and the plumbing hopefully gets finished. I'll post an updated punch list then.

Okay, time for bed: tomorrow is another busy day!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Staining the Wainscotting

On Saturday, I finished installing the bathtub, and put the floors in the closets in the bedrooms.  Tom worked on staining the wainscoting in the downstairs bathroom.
The downstairs bathroom

This is just the stain - once it is shellacked, the woodwork will be somewhat brighter.  The contrast of the dark stain against the white plaster walls is amazing.

More staining today.  

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Finished Kitchen Floor

And here it is - we're really happy with how it looks, particularly with the baseboards in place.  The green on the floor has softened the Pee-Wee's Playhouse yellow of the trim, and it goes beautifully with the cabinets as well.
The Cheney Cottage kitchen, looking toward the dining room

Looking toward the laundry room and back door

More tomorrow.....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Punch List

We're in the final phase of work on the Cheney Cottage, and we have a punch list of what has to be completed.


  • The bathtub has to be finished (we need to get the spigot and the shower ring/curtain
  • The trim around the window, and the door of the WC have to be stained
  • All three bedrooms need to haev flooring put down in the closets
  • The plaster has to be waxed
  • The trim in the hall has to be stained/shellacked


  • The trim in the dining room and the bathroom needs to be stained
  • The living room, dining room and bathroom need to have the woodwork shellacked
  • The hearth needs to be tiled
  • The kitchen floor needs to be completed 
  • The kitchen backsplash needs to be installed
  • The laundry room and bathroom floors need to be installed
  • The laundry room needs to be painted (the last of the painting!)
  • The plaster walls need to be waxed


  • The last of the water lines need to be run
  • The weird problem with one of the circuits needs to be diagnosed/fixed
  • The gas meters need to be installed


  • The insulation needs to be installed

It's a pretty short list - we had hoped to have it done, so it could be rented by January 1st, but now we think we'll list the Cheney Cottage for rent on January 15th.

I had hoped to take pictures today, but we worked on the kitchen floor until late, so the only picture I took was of the floor.  The edges have not been done, but the rest of the floor is in and is looking sharp.

The new marmoleum floor in the kitchen of the Cheney Cottage

Tomorrow, we finish the kitchen floor, and install the floors in the laundry and bathroom.  We will do the upstairs closets as well, so the three bedrooms are done.  And we hope to get the last fixture pieces for the bathtub, so the bathroom is done too.

Getting closer and closer!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Benches and Bedrooms

In the front room of the Cheney Cottage, there had originally been three built-in benches.  One bench survived - the one at the bottom of the stairs, tucked into the space between the stairwell and the half-walls into the living room.  Our assumption is that, when the University turned the house from a residence to office space, they removed the other two benches in order to create more floor space.

But the benches were an important feature of the house, in addition to all the redwood trim and paneling that we have stripped.  The largest bench, in the front window, filled the space underneath the 5 casement windows.  All that was left were the end pieces, still mounted on the wall, painted white.  The other was tucked in the space under the stairs.

All that remained of the bench under the windows (with lots of conduit)

Tom Pedemonte has been working his magic at the Cheney Cottage, and he has almost completed work on the two benches.   The new benches are beautiful, and look like they have always been there.

The same view, paint stripped, bench rebuilt

Lots of storage under the new bench seat

The little bench under the stairs

Upstairs, lots of work has been happening, and the three bedrooms are pretty much finished. We still have ti install the radiators, but the painting, carpeting, and curtains are all done.

The rooms were not in such bad shape when we got the house.

The bedroom over the dining room, before the move

But the process of cutting and moving the house, not to mention sitting out in the field for a year, took its toll.  All the floors were badly damaged, the plaster was really a mess.  We had to pull most of the trim off the walls in order to move the second floor.   The place was a wreck:

The same view, getting ready to cut the second floor free of the first

Now we have finished the three bedrooms.  The plaster has been repaired, the floors carpeted, and wiring redone. We also removed the institutional knobs that had been installed, and went back to knobs and escutcheons that are more in keeping with the house.  We even removed the paint from all the brass hinges, making the doors swing much more easily.  So the much abused bedroom has come back and now looks like a bedroom once again:

The same view, today

The other side of the same room

The bedroom over the kitchen

It's going to be a busy couple weeks, but we still hope to finish everything by January 1st.  Then we can turn our full attention to the Delaney House.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Corbels At Last

Here is a pictorial history of the opening between the living room and the front hall of the Cheney Cottage.

This shows the front hall of the Cheney Cottage, circa 1962.  Although all the woodwork had been painted white, the front hall was basically untouched. Note the triple corbels in the arch - this is the only picture we have that showed them.

by the time we bought the house, in 2009, the front hall had been altered by building a wall and adding a doorway.  So the same view looked like this:

It is interesting to note that the two base walls were still visible - the University had built the wall around them, but the caps and the sides are clearly still showing.

Once we bought the house, we started preparing it for the move.  One of the things we did was remove the wall that the University had installed.

Although we were glad to tear down the wall and remove the hollow core door that was there, we were sad that the corbels were gone.  We knew that we'd replace them one day.

Here is a view of the doorway when the house was sitting in Albany under a tarp:

Then, once we got the house put back together, and a new roof on it, we started working on stripping paint.  Here are a couple photos of the opening and the paint being removed from ceiling and woodwork:

 Finally, all the woodwork has been stripped, scraped and sanded, and is ready for refinishing.  So we called Tom Pedemonte, the incredible artist who does our woodworking.  Tom refinished all the wood in the Parker Street houses (the dining room and the back parlor) and has done incredible work for us before.  So we asked him to re-create the corbels.

Tom found "the last clear redwood blocks in the state" and made up the corbels for the opening.  Last week, he installed them in place in the Cheney Cottage living room:

The beautiful woodwork, with the background of the restored plaster walls and refinished floors, is nothing short of stunning.

The house is almost done - we hope to finish it this month.  Our labor of love is coming to an end, and the results speak for themselves.

We plan to have an Open House to let everyone come see the completed house, sometime during the last week of December.  We hope to have the house rented to a family by January 1st.

It's been an amazing road, and we're getting close to the finish line.