While I purchased the house in 1979, I wanted to take advantage of the river view--my house is located on a bluff of the Mississippi River. In 1983 I built a room off the kitchen, looking east, as well as a deck. Loved it; loved it.
In the corner
I had a free-standing fireplace, and next to that the TV, and next to that
the view out the windows. The room wasn't heated, which saved my life. When
the house furnace spewed carbon monoxide, since there were no heating vents,
I only got a sick and discovered the problem in time.
Work also began on removing the asphalt and asbestos siding to discover the trim. It also was my first failed attempt at determining a color scheme (left). Yuk.
The first renovation of the kitchen replaced cheap cabinetry with real wood maple/birch ones obtained from salvage companies—which set me on a constant hunt for repurposed materials that fit the historic character of the house. I even deconstructed some cabinets from salvaged doors and hardware.
The kitchen featured a circa 1930 stove and antique Dutch tiles that served me for 34 years. But in 2013 I gutted and renovated it. The old stove found a new home. So also the "music room" became my office.
I laid ceramic tile on the floor which I would never again do. That wasn’t replaced until the second kitchen remodel. Then I had to replace first floor baseboards, doorways, etc. That is when I really was active at the local community education woodshop at the local junior high school.
The new back stairwell is oak. Handrails are from the notorious Faust Theater (Dale and University Avenues; demolished 1995). The second floor bedrooms of the original house retain their window and door trim and maple flooring. One bedroom features a sweeping view of the urban river valley from its balcony, and its maple trim was recycled.
In the living room I created a new set of baseboards and an inlay on the floor where doorways were removed or changed through the decades. There were no baseboards (I ripped up the wall-to-wall carpeting) so I made new from maple with wenge quarter rounds and top moldings. These latter were three inch boards of wenge that I got at a discount and ripped into strips and then routed out the top molding. For the floor I used a center of wenge, bordered with oak then walnut (above). I also replaced plaster walls that were crumbling with sheetrock—both floors--and had the house insulated.
While all this was going on, I was incrementally painting the exterior of the house with the new four-color scheme, one side at a time. This meant that I had to remove two layers of siding (asphalt and asbestos), repair the siding and create/replace new trim where I found it had been removed (a “shadow” of trim indicated missing pieces), and then prime and paint! The new color scheme was brought about with multiple trips up and down the ladder to the gables until I arrived at what I liked.
My design sense needs a gradual, incremental approach until I get it right, and some projects are not completed until I get the right inspiration. At the same time I was fencing and landscaping with an extensive vegetable garden, and also replaced the plumbing (copper replaced lead) when I remodeled the second floor bathroom.
That takes me through the 80’s and everything was going on at once—it was a blessing that I then lived alone! (The last several years I’ve been sharing the house with my partner of 17 years…)
The interior of the first floor of the original house had lost its original woodwork except for the front stairwell and maple floors. The redesign of the front formal rooms now reflects Scandinavian and deco influences with a mix of maple, walnut, oak and wenge (salvaged tropical timber, almost black, with distinctive figure and a strong partridge wood) for flooring and trim.