Archive for March, 2012

1920s Furniture and Floor Lamps

While a lot of my furniture until now has had more of a mid-century modern feel, the house itself was actually built in 1925…which means little to no closet space!

Fortunately for me, since many houses of that time required dressers and wardrobes, there seems to be a lot out there to choose from.  The craigslist g-ds must have been smiling down on me because I found a period dresser and vanity from the 1920s that I am completely loco about:


It’s two toned, has great handles, an amazing round mirror and hand carved details.  What’s not to love?  And did I mention it came with a vanity?!  I can’t help but wonder if there was ever a wardrobe that came with the set.  Or maybe a bed?  Either way, I am very excited to own these fine pieces of furniture and am looking for any information about them.

Another acquisition for this weekend was a groovy globe floor lamp for the sunroom off my bedroom.  Lighting Unlimited in Rockville, MD is going out of business and is liquidating everything at ridiculous prices.  Family owned for over 20 years, I went on a bit of a spree and bought a few designer things that I would never have been able to afford otherwise.  They’re closing their doors on 4/30 – so if you are in the DC area and need lighting stuffs, be sure to check them out!  I may go back for a Tiffany’s lamp for the guest room….

And the following lamp was “just” a craigslist acquisition, but as I’ve never seen anything like it, and wanted to include it as well.  With the rise of Apple products, there’s been a lot of talk about American Industrial Design.  I’ve always been a fan, and am excited about this new phase of modern design.


Delightful Details #2: Arts & Crafts Inspired Banister and Rail


Too plain for Beaux Arts, but not modern enough for Art Deco, this lovely banister has simple, clean lines and ergonomic functionality that I love. With just the right balance of decorative function, this is probably my favorite part of the house.

Petworth? Brightwood Park? It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me.

On paper, the house is officially in Petworth.  Named, I assume, for Petworth, England, which gets its name from Petworth House.  The epitome of manor house living, Petworth House even has its own reality TV show about its maintenance and upkeep.

Yet google maps puts me squarely in Brightwood Park.  And for some reason, cuts Petworth off at Delafield Place.

Long story long – the warring wikipedia wizards and google gurus need to duke it out among themselves at some point, because this girl is just confused.

What I’m not confused about, however, are some exciting local businesses.  For charcuterie, I have to look no farther than Hamilton and Georgia Ave for Three Little Pigs!  They just opened this week and I’ve already enjoyed their full menu.  And I’ll keep coming back for more.  What I’m most excited about is that they’ve promised to hold classes in salting and curing meats.  I.Cannot.Wait.

And I would be remiss in not mentioning my favorite hardware store in the world, Annie’s Ace Hardware.  From the moment I first walked in there, and heard Shakira playing over the sound system, I knew I was in a happy place.  They have since completely cured me of my fear and apprehension of hardware stores, and while I may still occasionally go to Hells Depot because they’re open later, I will always consider Annie’s as my go to place for home improvement products and advice!  And the fact that The Bike House now also resides at Annie’s, I’m appreciating more and more of my neighborhood’s awesomeness as time passes.

Another place I’ve seen in passing and have been very curious about is Washington Deli and Pizza.  With a banner that reads, “Now Baking Bagels,” they’ve definitely caught my attention.  Combine that with some good local press, I may just have to explore it for myself this Saturday.

Surprised By Hardwood!

The main floor of this house has a sunroom extension that we have dubbed, “the solarium.”  It’s 105 square feet of windows facing my backyard, right on the other side of the kitchen and dining room.  My vision is to install benches that would allow for a breakfast space as well as additional storage that my kitchen severely lacks.

I bought a generic white kitchen cart/butcher block with two stools that will be extra work space for cooking, and I expect that it will also serve as the table where most of my casual meals will be eaten.

So only thing left  to sort out is the flooring.  It is the second to the last room with the nasty carpet left over from the previous owners.  We easily disposed of the carpet, padding, tack and staples.  Literally, it probably only took us half an hour.  But what we found underneath was a little disheartening – 1950s sheet vinyl.  Which would have been fine, except at some point someone tried to paint a patch of it silver. Which actually looked pretty interesting – the paint didn’t cover the tile design entirely, so it almost looked like tin.  But for whatever reason, someone clearly stopped in the middle of that project.  In addition to this, the vinyl had tears and was worn down to the plywood at certain points.  So my only option was to remove the vinyl.  Which was a long, arduous and painful process.

Two hours or so later, we discover, under the vinyl by the door, there was some black mold.  So at the very least, this patch plywood would need to be replaced.  After abating the mold with bleach water, I let it sit overnight with the plan of removing the one patch of plywood and just throwing another layer of laminate on top of the existing plywood for a new floor.

Well – SURPRISE!  Under the plywood was another layer of pink laminate tile.  And under that?  THE ORIGINAL HARDWOOD FLOORS!


I’m convinced this is the original hardwood from 1920 because it’s the same wood as can be found in the kitchen and upstairs bedrooms – pine.  And the size of the boards are the same as well.  Here is a shot of the floors in the kitchen.


I need to pull all the plywood up to check the condition of the hardwood throughout the 105 square feet, but if it’s anything like the kitchen, I’m going to want to refinish it.  Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to find that I have the option to expose all the old hardwood.  I’ll need to stain and poly the floors once the plywood is removed, but that’s a small price to pay to have hardwood flooring all throughout the main floor of the house!  And while a “solarium” would probably be better served with laminate flooring, I’m happy to be getting back to the original look of the house.

Delightful Details #1: Glass Door Knobs


I stumble across neat little things about the house regularly – so decided to start a segment called “Delightful Details.” We are starting with these lovely door knobs.

There’s just something about the feel of a glass door knob that’s simply delightful. Luxurious. Classy. Don’t believe me? Give it a try sometime! It may surprise you.

Ready Strip Works!


Putting “Bath” Back In “Bathroom”

Part of the charm of buying a house that was built in 1925 is stumbling upon all of the wonderful little details common to that era.  Ridiculous molding over closets and doorways.  Five inch baseboards.  An early craftsman-esque bannister for the staircase.  Radiant heaters built to survive a nuclear holocaust.  And what many consider among the most charming of all, a cast iron clawfoot tub.

I’m not a big bather.  I like showers – they’re efficient, ecologically better for the environment, and the thought of sitting in filth makes me feel a bit gross.  That said, soaking in a tub after a long week isn’t such a bad idea, just something I think is a better idea than a reality.  But that’s just me.

Well, the bathroom came with a cast iron tub AND cast iron sink.  Through the usual wear and tear of use while painting the house and cleaning brushes, I noticed the paint started to peel and chip in some parts.  And what I found underneath was yet another very pleasant surprise: porcelain enamel!

According to the guys at This Old House, older cast iron tubs were actually porcelain glazed.  So just like the famous Le Creuset cookware company enamels their signature cast iron pots and dishes, apparently that’s how early cast iron bathtubs were coated.

While paying my almost daily visit to my newly opened local hardware store, Annie’s Ace Hardware, I talk to the plumber and paint guys on staff to discuss my options.  Even Annie joins in the conversation to add her two cents.  You never know what you may find when you strip away paint.  So they were all cautiously optimistic.  That said, I bought a bucket of Ready Strip Paint and Varnish Remover, some scrapers and with a pat on the back and wish of good luck – I was off to the races!

It says it’ll take 4 to 24 hours for the stripping chemicals to work.  The paste will magically turn from green to white when its ready and then it’s time to start scraping.  I started with the sink, to just test the waters.  I already regret putting in a non-period toilet in the bathroom, so if at all possible, I would really like to salvage the sink and bathtub.  It’s just a matter of being able to do so myself, or having to shell out the $$$ to have it done professionally.  Stay tuned!