This Old House, Glaser Edition

Friday, September 15, 2006

Master Peace

Back in July, we asked those with an artistic eye to give us some ideas for our upstairs hallway ceiling. We covered the inoperative monstrous air vent with thin plywood, which was cheaper than dismantling it. We had to choose something lightweight to avoid sagging. We received and investigated online numerous ideas: copper panels, metal grates, Tiffany style contact paper, medallions and molding, textured wallpaper, wainscoting material, mirror, paint, "canned" mural, and original mural. We were flooded with so many ideas, leaning toward the copper panels.

Mural in Town Painted by Master Peace Originals
At around this time, a new Mexican restaurant opened in our town. The artwork and murals impressed us, so we grabbed the business card of the artists who painted it, a family-owned business called Master Peace Originals. One day driving around town we noticed Master Peace Originals had also painted one of the murals on the wall of a Mom and Pop dime store, only a block from our house. Our county's citizens are proud of their heritage and commissioned historical outdoor murals, six of which are in our city. Master Peace Originals has painted three of the county's fourteen murals. As our home is part of the town's historical heritage, a mural seemed the way to go. We wondered if a small project would intrigue the artists we had in mind. During David's birthday dinner at the Mexican restaurant, the conversation turned to our house and the mural idea. One of the couples had commissioned the family to paint a mural in their log house and endorsed their work. All of these coincidences seemed to point us to a mural made by Master Peace Originals.

We made an appointment with the artists to discuss our small project. Tammy met the Williams family one afternoon at the house. She saw their portfolio, which included outdoor murals and indoor murals in schools and homes. She especially loved their version of The Secret Garden, painted at a school. The Williams were intrigued by the idea of painting a ceiling, a project they had never attempted. When they saw the homeschool room, Jim remarked, "This would make a great reading room." Sensing kindred spirits, Tammy ventured, "Well, it will be in a way. It's going to be our homeschool room." His wife Liz smiled, "You homeschool too?" One more coincidence!

Sketch by Master Peace OriginalsWe chose an old-fashioned sky light, countrified by the stick in the window propping it open. When Steve suggested Spanish moss, Liz laughed--she had thought of that, but did not include it in the sketch. Tammy wanted a bird, but did not express her wish of a cardinal because the red seemed out of place. Then Liz hesitated and suggested that every painting needed a bit of red, confirming Tammy's gut instinct. They did not have any bird pictures with them, so Tammy sent David over to the house with their bird book. We were all amazed that the one picture in the book with a bird and a window was a cardinal in flight, ready to confront its mirror image. With all these coincidences, we all started to wonder if this were not inspiration from above . . .

The short end of the long story is the final product. We especially love the idea of painting a clear glaze on the window to make it seem more like glass.

A Close-Up of the Mural
Hallway Paint JobThe hallway is nearly ready, except for some touch-ups and the floor, which will be the last project before the upstairs is ready for moving in! We thought you might enjoy the "before" and "after" photo of the railings and the new look of our hallway (you can see the "before" shots of it here). When we moved in, the walls were bare sheetrock with sporadic molding, chocolate brown paint covered the railing's beautiful wood, and all door and window trim was either peeling or layers of paint. Tammy's brother and contractor brought the door and window trim and the railing back to bare wood.

Before RailingAfter Railing

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A Second Blast from the Past

Tammy figured out a way to change the banner on the blog. We took pictures of the photos shared by a woman who grew up in this house, which was in her family for over 50 years. Then we made a montage of our digital images of the photos, which were not high quality. We found some interior shots, but we could not confirm which were from the house, as we have not had a chance to meet with the former owner. Regardless of quality, the pictures are fascinating.

Mary Heading to the BackyardMary Washing the DishesMary started cooking for the family when she was only fourteen years old. Child labor laws were obviously lax in those days! She lived in the cookhouse, which was her little home on the property. She stayed with the family many years and is buried somewhere in the city. The exterior shot is of Mary heading into the backyard.

Not Your Ordinary Window DressingMore Ancient Death ThreatsCookhouse MessThe cookhouse is in sad shape, but we have no plans to demolish it. Vandals spray-painted the Plexiglas window with "Death to the DEA" on the outside. On the inside, they hit the mother of all cash registers and the woodstove with more death threats. Steve cleaned out the cookhouse earlier in the week, but had no place to put the trash because the dumpster was full. The company replaced the dumpster today, and we would not be surprised if we filled it again.

We never mentioned what happened to the cash register. Last Saturday, when Steve finally emptied the carport of all its treasures, he left it plus a box of Barbie dolls with unusual haircuts, a box of miscellaneous stuff, and the smoke-o-rama. We should have taken a picture, but it looked like something from an Art Deco nightmare: a metal floor stand with garish decorative do-dads and three ashtrays at the top that sell on eBay for peanuts. We probably should have consulted Antiques Roadshow first, but the smoke-o-rama was so ugly—it just had to go! The cash register went first. Within two hours, a burly guy asked if he could take it off our hands. To our astonishment, he heaved the whole thing into his truck without help! The smoke-o-rama disappeared later that day. By Labor Day, the Barbie dolls and other junk were under new management.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Porch Lights!

Steve Basking in the GlowNew Porch Lights in the Moonlight
Last Sunday, the electrician worked for a good five hours and installed three new porch lights and a doorbell. He finished most of the electrical work on the inside of the house too. The lights are perfect for the house because they give the porch a sense of depth, but with a soft glow. What a warm welcome we will receive when we return home at night with the porch lit.

Steve did the yard this weekend and started the cookhouse. His spider bites looked nasty for a while, but cleaning them with hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin helped. They are slowly healing, but are definitely not brown recluse bites. Steve's wounds did not show the characteristic red target mark that eventually turns blue nor did they have any craters. Tammy did nothing all weekend! Her throat started getting sore on Saturday and she had a fever with muscle aches on Sunday.

Tammy and David did work at the house on Thursday for an hour cleaning up rubble in the office and sweeping downstairs. David played "hooky" from P.E. on Wednesday, a bright sunny day, and visited Oma and Opa and cousins for an hour instead of riding his bike. Unfortunately, the rain fell all day on Thursday so David accomplished three classes at once: P. E. (clearing out the rubble), Vocational Education (learning the meaning of manual labor), and Health (wearing masks and gloves and opening a window because of the dust stirred by the pieces of plaster). David has not played hooky from P.E. since then!