1902 Victorian

Bringing our old house out of the disco era and back into the Victorian.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Tell Me a Story

In this month's issue of Old House Journal, an article cites six reasons why it's great to live in an old house. One of the reasons is that every time you undertake a project, you discover new things about your house.

It's amazing how many layers we've uncovered in one room, in one 104-year-old house.

On the beadboard there are at least three different colors of paint (it's hard to tell if there are three or four because some areas are discolored). The first layer was a cream color, then charcoal gray, then beige, then possibly a different shade of beige.

Present in the paint are shapes that tell a story of what the bathroom once looked like. The square of charcoal where the toilet was. One long horizontal line with two vertical lines underneath - a shelf?

The latest discovery is the beadboard under the little patch of slanted ceiling at the end of the room. You can also see the cedar shingles above it that once formed the roof.

I've always thought of this room as an addition to the house, but now I wonder if it is part of the original 5-room-plus-hall construction. The bathroom pokes out from the main house about 18 inches and has its own little gabled roof. But these two mysterious boards cutting into the beadboard had us confused.

Then Darwin came up with a solution that I think makes a lot of sense. Maybe at one time the bathroom was a lean-to porch with a ceiling that began at the top edge of the beadboard on the left wall and slanted up to meet the beadboard on the right wall somewhere above the point where the ceiling was lowered to.

That probably makes no sense in writing, but standing there in the bathroom it is the perfect explanation.

Now to figure out what they did with the window. We can't figure out if they somehow cut down and rebuilt the original window or if they replaced it with a shorter window of similar style. Also, we're trying to figure out whether we should try to restore it to a window of the proper size.

The window looks weird and misshapen now, but we figured out that's because the bottom piece of trim under the window sill is missing. If we added a piece of trim, the window would at least look complete.

But then I think about the outside - if we one day decide to remove the aluminum siding on that part of the house (which I hope to do), we'll have to make some kind of repair to the hole where the bottom part of the window once was.

So many decisions to make that affect so many other things.

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deb said...

go for the bigger window... always a plus in the bathroom to have as much natural light as possible

6:04 PM  
halloweenlover said...

I am amazed at the progress you two have done. WOW! Has it taken forever to expose all the beadboard? Did you find a better system?

I think a bigger window would be beautiful, if you can do it. That room is going to be just awesome when it is done.

9:46 AM  
John said...

I think Darwin and you are right about the bath being a converted porch. That was pretty common for the time period. The Devil Queen's original masterbath was an enclosed area stollen from the back porch.

I'd be surprised if the current bathroom window was cut down version of the original. In my limited experience, most folks are too lazy to put in that much effort. It's most likely that they pulled out the original and replaced it with a smaller window.

I think the window was shortened to accommodate the bath tub. I looked at some old pictures of the bathroom you posted, and I looks like the original window would have nearly sat on the tubs back edge.

Personally, I recommend going back to a bigger window too. We did in our masterbath and we love them.

11:13 AM  
Leah said...

What a great big bathroom you have!

1:25 PM  
Kristin said...

John, yes the window was replaced to accomodate the bathtub. Our bathtub might interfere with it also, if we don't move it down the wall some. I do want to move it down and after seeing Darwin's handydandy copper soldering skills (after he accidentally sawed a hole in the pipe), I think we (he) could do it.

2:57 PM  

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