Archives for the month of: March, 2012

We’re still at the dirty work phase. In fact, by the looks of things, I think we’re going to be here for some time. Big loud sigh.

I should know better after so many years of projects.

Watching one whole side of the house sway back and forth in an unexpected storm back in 2000 after we’d cut away the sill and jacked up the walls and excavated down to the dirt seems like childs play to me right now.

It’s that old house “well, we won’t really know ’til we open up the walls” line of thinking that always gives me a knot in my stomach, or more accurately — knot in my wallet. This week it happens to be, “well, we won’t really know until we pull up the floor.”

The storefront walls and ceiling are pretty much gutted. And starting this past Monday, Glenn The Carpenter (GTC) started taking the floor apart. The old black and white linoleum tile floor (for the record I love original linoleum…but these had to come out to get to the floor(s) underneath), sits on top of a subfloor, which sits on top of what was probaby a gorgeous tongue & groove wood floor, which sits on top of strapping, which sits on top of the original three inch thick massive plank floor. Add 200 years worth of nails…which GTC reminds me of every time he tells me he’s had to get another new saw blade because the nails ate the last one. It’s not a good thing when he brings home a credit appication from our local hardware store and suggests I open a charge because we’re going to be shopping there often over the next few weeks.

Here are some shots Vince took today of GTC’s floor removal progress.


Add in new concerns about “well, we have everything opened up so let’s put some more support in the basement” and I’m wondering about this can of worms. But then I remember how this place is so much a part of us and I fall back into old-house-steward mindset.

(That steward mindset stuck around for about 5 minutes.)

Did I mention there’s the work we’re going to need to do to sure-up some of the massive ceiling timbers/joists before we even begin to think about framing the walls? Three beams/joists will need to be doubled up, or cut back a couple feet, and then we’ll create a “T”, by using some kind of bracket and as equally old looking beams to connect back to the weight bearing sill. I’ve found a blacksmith who is coming to the house on Saturday to take a look at creating some original looking brackets that can be used to make the “T”. If we weren’t exposing the ceiling beams this would not be an issue…but we are…so.

One of the three ceiling beams that will need repair/support is the one pictured below. See the brickwork inside the wall? At one point probably close to when this place was built in 1798, and John Atsatt or some other owner was using the building as a carpenter shop to assist in some part of the whaling ship building process at the shipyards in our backyard, there was a chimney in that wall connected to a fireplace or a stove in this room keeping people warm. And clearly there was some sort of fire based on that beam damage. Glass half full — I’m glad the whole place didn’t burn down.

The way I see it — it’s the same thing as if I was into restoring an old car. Or if Vince was obsessed with collecting something. We’re pretty passionate about bringing this place back to the way it was…and some day soon we’ll make the shop as strong as the rest of the house, and certainly more beautiful than it is today.


Lisa Bengtsson is from Gnosjö in Southern Sweden. Illustrator/designer/graphic powerhouse — she rose to fame in Sweden and internationally with her whimsical line of wallpapers. Her most popular, Familjen (“The Family” — as seen below), features empty picture frames inviting people to fill them in with their own treasures.

I love this design. I can see using it across the whole back wall of the shop. Here’s a room with the same paper.

What REALLY got me going were some other designs I found on her Website. She has a line of kitchen towels with some of her wonderful illustrations. And being a dachshund owner and lover of all things dachshund, these had Vince and I laughing out loud. Love them!

Wasn’t that the name of a show on HGTV sometime ago?

Well, Glenn The Carpenter found this vintage pool ball in the wall as he was finishing up the demolition work on the storefront. I wonder how it got there.

I love the patina…and the #14’s typeface.

Maybe I’ll frame it and hang it in the shop when the project is all said and done.

This past weekend more progress was made. More ceiling came crumbling down. One wall was gutted to show the over two hundred years worth of different approaches to framing. I need to take some photos of the interior to show the progress. One cool thing is we discovered the remains of an old chimney in one wall, and what appears to have been a fire. A fire that chewed through one of the massive timbers. Gotta talk to the architects about that. Glenn The Carpenter scoffs at the idea of needing advice. He may be right. He’s already sourcing some old beams to make the repair. But speaking of architects, we met late last week with our neighbors Peter & Libby from Turowski Architecture and they presented some design ideas for the front of the shop as well as side elevations. In regards to the front, I think I know which one of the 3 designs below we’ll go with. The top design has a double door which feels very New England general store to me. But then the bottom right design is simpler. Hmmm. Well, more progress…and progress is good.

We’re making slowwwwwwww progress down in the storefront, aka “the shop”. Between our busy schedules and the architects busy schedules, we’re waiting on some plans and well, there’s nothing imminent pushing us. But, we’re still making progress so that’s good. “Baby steps” as Vince likes to say.

Glenn The Carpenter spent a few hours this saturday taking down more of the ceiling. It is an incredibly dirty job. There is so much debris. It looks like a bomb went off down there. This shot below is after several dump trips and several barrels worth of debris were taken away.

Vince and I spent a couple hours today just sweeping to try and keep up with the debris and dust. Tons of dust. Tons and tons of dust. Thankfully the shop is detached enough from our residence that we’re able to keep the dust at bay.

What’s going to be really exciting is how we decide to restore the ceiling. The beams are amazing. They’ll need to be cleaned up when the whole ceiling is down, but I can’t imagine covering these up ever again. Of course the realities of having to insulate and run electrical and things like that are important, but I’m certain there’s a solution. I bet we can just insulate in between the beams and then either run beautiful shiplapped boards — or plaster. Something tells me we may go the shiplapped route. We’ll see.

For now, here’s a look at a few more feet of the ceiling gone and the beams hidden above the many layers of debris. They’ll be beautiful when all cleaned up.


A few weeks back I posted about our trip to NYC for the NYIGF and my purchase at the Marimekko store of their tunturipollo fabric.

We had some curtains made for the upstairs living room as well as roman shades for the adjoining kitchen.

Here are a few (bad) shots of how the curtains look. Need to get in there another day with better light, but for now these will do.

Not used to having anything on these windows, never mind a pretty bold color like this. Interesting to see how much lighter they are during the day when the sun is shining through.

They’re growing on me.


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