Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Key West Bedroom

Hello, it's Franklin Cat again. Today I am coming to you from one of my favorite places. It is the Key West bedroom in my house. This white bedspread is one of the first places I slept when I was a kitten, and I still love it.

Below is a picture of what the room looked like when we started. White box, light fixture of depression, and industrial ceiling tile. Not to mention dark pine wood floors that had seen better days. Oh, and that carpet? Nasty. Just nasty.

Above is how the room looked when the renovation began. The ceiling tile is gone, and the ceiling is now blue.

The closet needed help. There was only one long pole in it for hanging clothes, and the doors were "ugh" brown.

Despite all these challenges, it all worked out. You can see below - paint, crown molding, new light fixture, and flooring really helped. We used Key West as the inspiration for this room. Can you see it?

The closet doors are painted as well, the money tree in the corner is very tropical, and the bookcase pays homage to Key West's literary figures, like Ernest Hemingway.

There will be a picture above the bookcase eventually. It will be of the Key West Lighthouse.

Below is the headboard we made out of old closet doors and some trim from Lowe's. The shell on top and the leaves are painted to match the wall colors.

The only missing element so far is the picture/s for this wall. They're going to be photographs of Key West that we took on our vacation, but they've not been framed yet.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour of the Key West bedroom. It's been a long, difficult renovation but I think it's been worth it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Upstairs Hallway: The Return of the Mahogany Dresser

Hello, my name is Franklin. Welcome to my home - would you like a tour of the recently renovated upstairs hallway? Of course. My associate Julius is now napping, but I will take the time to show you around.

This is the upstairs hallway. I don't have any pictures of it when we first moved in. Just picture a boring white box with ugly popcorn ceiling, no border or crown molding, and just blah... The vanity is now serving as the linen chest, where we keep the towels and wash cloths. It's made of mahogany, and is in the Eastlake style with some other elements. This belonged to great-grandma Mary Burns, who was known to us as "Granny". It was made by William B. Moses and Sons, of Washington, D.C. The company was founded in 1863, and went out of business in 1935.

The kerosene lamp on top belonged to her as well, and has a Currier & Ives scene on it. It is made of milk glass.

Below you can see the molding, which replaced some really cheap trim that was here before. The mirror was an antique store find, and the door will be refinished to match the door frame. It's too cold outside to do it now.

These pictures are actually watercolors by a Pittsburgh artist, Mary Lois Verrilla. She is famous for designing alot of Christmas seal greeting cards. I honestly bought these for $1.50 at a junk store in Rio, WV. I didn't know who she was, I simply liked the scenes that were painted. The top one is my favorite. And the frames? I got them at the Dollar Tree.

Here is a close up of the border and the light fixture. There is a tiny strip of quarter-round at the top and a rope-like piece at the bottom. I didn't realize that the border was a scene of NY harbor until it was up on the wall. You can see the Statue of Liberty in it. The light fixtures (there are two of these) were in the house when we bought it. There is a bit of paint on this one, but it will be removed soon.
Below you can see the top of the window and more of the border & trim. The window blind was on sale at Lowe's for $23, and pretty easy to install. The wall color is called Pear (a light brown) and the ceiling is Parchment (light yellow).

Here you can see the window and my home office door. It will also be refinished in the warmer months. It was painted when we moved in.

And with each new photo of the house, you can usually find an orb. Maybe it's Granny? - or maybe just dust. At the far end you can see one of the doors that was refinished last summer. It's the door to the Franklin Bedroom.

Well, that's the tour. I hope you return next time. I'll show you around the Key West Bedroom, which is also finished. It's got some cool stuff in it too, but I'll save that for next posting. See you later!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Granny's Eastlake Dresser & Orange Julius

Today has been a long day. I woke up with both cats on the bed - yes, there is now a second cat. His name is Julius, and he is an orange and white tabby. Get it, Orange Julius? Here he is playing with his favorite toy, known as Gray Mousey.

This morning I spent cleaning up the house. We have just finished the second bedroom, and have the master closet back. Prior to that all of our clothes were in the dining room- so either you took them upstairs with you, or you walked downstairs to get them after a shower. Not very convenient! Anyway, that is all done with now, as the bedroom is back together except for some furniture pieces that have yet to be found and purchased in the antique store they now reside in.

My office and the Franklin Bedroom were also reclaimed. The bed and the desks are back in order, and with the exception of a few books everything is back in its place. Even the carpet got a good vacuuming, and at one point I found enough cat hair in the corner to create a new cat.

Not one, but two trips to Lowe's later (I forgot the foam insulation for around the window in the stairwell) - and we were on our way to making the upstairs hallway the next project. That involves very little in comparison to the last few projects. It's a much smaller area for one, and all it needs is new molding around the doors, paint on the walls and ceiling, and some window trimming and dressing. Oh, and before all that, there's spackling to be done. The hardwood floor is already down in the hallway, thank goodness. The walls will be a parchment white, with a light yellow ceiling. I know - a departure from my usual colors. However, I've got a great wide border, about 12 inches wide, of a New England harbor scene that will go around the top of it, sandwiched between molding. It will look great when it's done.

One of the best parts about this project is that when it is finished it will be home to my great-granny's Eastlake dresser, which is made of mahogany. I plan to use it as a linen chest, since it will be located just outside my rather small bathroom. We ordered new hardware for it, since the old hardware was missing all but three pulls - and found some fantastic gold pulls for it at Lowe's through special order. They're on it now, and for the first time in over three years, that dresser is back together again.

I don't have any pictures of any of this yet, but when it is all done and finished I will post them here for you to see. Thanks for reading, and if you need me - I'll probably be at Lowe's!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sheridan Le Fanu

I read a lot of books. I mean alot of books. And many of those have to do with ghosts, monsters, and the supernatural. Not all of them are about Appalachian or West Virginia's ghosts, and I have found that there are many of the ghost/monster genre that I enjoy.

Lately I've been reading the works of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873). I found a copy of this on sale in the book outlet in Flatwoods, WV in the outlet mall there. In addition to this book, I also bought one about John Henry which I have yet to read, but it is on the list. With the onset of this hellish winter, I'm certain I will have more time to read. This work, entitled Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories, is the book I speak of.

The collection's namesake, Madam Crowl's Ghost, is a rather disturbing tale about a young English servant girl who goes to wait on a wealthy old dowager lady who lives in a large country house in England. When Madam Crowl (the wealthy dowager) passes on, she returns to reveal a ghastly secret about her former home.

Other stories, such as The White Cat of Drumgunniol, is reminiscent of the "black dog" stories told throughout Appalachia. It is the tale of a white cat that is like a banshee, appearing to those who are about to die. This type of story shows there is still a connection between the old and new worlds- through stories!

Speaking of connections, the last part of the book tells the ghost stories that surround the Bailey family of Ireland. That family name is a common one in West Virginia. The stories of the Bailey's involve a wizard, a sunken castle, a banshee, and other ghostly/supernatural entities - even a redcap!

Sheridan Le Fanu was a contemporary of the literary ghost/monster story greats of English literature. His works influenced many other authors of his age, including Bram Stoker and Edgar Allen Poe. Although he is lesser well known, his works are nonetheless great in my opinion as an aficionado of ghost/monster tales.

So if you are looking for a good book to read by the fire this winter, and you don't mind a slight scare, pick up this book. I took a chance and discovered an author who really can spin a yarn.