A Coat of Paint

When my brother, Turd, bought this house, it was covered by shrubbery and painted pumpkin orange with sidewalk gray trim, but as you can see it was still a great find.  Built in the early 1920′s, it had some of the best elements of the arts and crafts era that was just ending and the revival era that was about to begin.  Inside and out, the architectural details seem relatively extravagant for a such a modest house, and unlike many others I’ve encountered, entirely unique; it appears to have been both designed for its site and done so with conscious effort to make it stand out.

Aside from some unfortunate but not intolerable kitchen and bathroom remodeling, the house was historically intact and well maintained.  The basement was another matter, which I chronicled in previous posts,”The Appalachian Trail” and “Burrowing Underground.”  The neighborhood, which is a mix of modest bungalows, duplexes, and apartment buildings, is just off 28th Avenue and Burnside streets, a nexus of hip restaurants and bars, which is a great asset for Turd and his high-school age sons, but between weekend revelers and events at the nearby arts magnet school, parking was a constant annoyance.  The house had a “garage” underneath, but the driveway and opening were so narrow as to render it useless except as a parking space for garbage and recycling bins, and even if one had a Smart car, the garage was so tight that it would have been impossible to open the door on the driver’s side.

Adding insult to injury, the laughable inadequacy of the driveway led others to believe it was perfectly fine to park in front of it, blissfully unaware that Turd worked from home and had parking enforcement on speed dial.  Still, handing out $97 tickets to others was cold comfort when he had to park way down the block in the pouring rain.  The answer was to cut out the side retaining walls, widen the door, and excavate a few feet from the crawl space inside.  Carefully skirting the incoming gas line and downspout outfall, he was also able to carve out a space for garbage and recycling alongside the  widened driveway.

Inside, painting had to wait until the wallpaper was stripped, which, to my considerable amazement, Turd did himself, and had the plaster skim-coated.  Then I removed the painted-over quarter-round, sanded and painted all the woodwork with oil-based enamel, and replaced the quarter round with oak to match the floors.  The door hinges and window hardware had been painted over, so I hauled out a bottle of gold model paint and carefully painted each piece to match the doorknobs, a technique I affectionately call, “brass, my ass.”  We replaced the ceiling fan in the dining room with a period chandelier, but also made a pesky boo-boo in the process.  At the time he moved in, divorce had left him with  just a table without chairs, and it looked forlorn and lost in the middle of the room, so we moved it toward the window a couple of feet.  Now that he has a buffet and sideboard, the table landed right back where it was intended and the danged chandelier’s off.  As Rick Perry might say, “oops.”

Though the living room boasted a three-piece crown of picture, cove and top moulding, the hall had no moulding at all, so I installed picture moulding about five inches from the ceiling, which, as you can see, Turd has put to use for its intended purpose.  He doesn’t like to put holes in walls, and I applaud him for this hesitancy.  The paint color, originally chosen for the living/dining room but judged too boring for there after I put up the first coat, works well in the hallway, where we also added two additional light fixtures; previously the sole light was  a track fixture at one end with one blinding halogen spotlight pointing all the way to the end of the hall.  Emerging from the master bedroom was like walking into an interrogation.

The next project will be adding a gas fireplace in the basement, for which I’ll build a mantel and hearth to match the fireplace upstairs; watch this space for updates.


  1. Ché Pasa says:

    Nice. I do like that columnar front and that extravagant bow window. Turd has good taste. Nice photos, too. It’s difficult to get good interior photos without the right kind of lens. Which I never have!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Actually, the pictures were taken with my crappy little Kodak; I’m still too dumb to use my iphone camera. It just happened to be a sunny day, so the interior was bright enough to register.
      Night pictures are where you need the good camera; at the front page of this blog, there’s a section called “Give me Park Avenue” which was shot professionally at night with one of those fancy lenses.

  2. nswfm says:

    Nice work. Hate the smell of oil, though. Valspar makes a latex paint with micro pigment particles that covers as oil paint does and is scrubable called Elan for kitchen and bath and one for trim.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Latexes have improved over the years, but they just aren’t the same, in terms of adhesion, leveling, and hardness. (They also dry too fast)
      I guess I’m too old to change.

  3. rukidding says:

    Wow. Gorgeous inside & out. Thanks for giving us a look. You and your brother did a great job!