This Old House, Glaser Edition

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Tile is the Thing!

Of the three fireplaces upstairs, two are in excellent condition. The one in the homeschool room was bare wood, propped up against the chimney. We never found the pedestal supporting one of the columns. Tammy’s brother and partner painted all the fireplaces and repaired the one in the homeschool room. The master bedroom is the only one with a mirror, and Tammy’s father is fixing that. Two fireplaces are not tiled (the ones in David’s bedroom and the homeschool room), which is a project for us down the road. The tiles on the floor of the master bedroom fireplace are cracked, but we have not decided what to do and our only plan at present is to clean the tile.

Of the four fireplaces downstairs, three are in excellent condition. Tammy’s dad is fixing the mirrors in the ones in the living room and dining room, while her brother and partner painted the wood. Some of the fireplaces have cracked tiles, but nothing so severe to need replacement. Cracks reflect the character and age of the house!

The fireplace in Steve’s office had a damaged board with a crack running underneath the ornamental centerpiece. Tammy’s father, as a Christmas gift to Steve, is repairing the fireplace in the office. Using a heat gun, he has already peeled away layers and layers and layers of paint. About an eighth of an inch layer of paint covered the wood. Tammy’s dad bought a piece of oak to match the original wood. Steve plans to select a new ornamental centerpiece for the new board. We have decided to go with varnish, rather than paint since the wood is so beautiful.

We have visited in several homes built in the same era. The home of Tammy’s parents does not have tile like ours. A few months ago, our neighbors showed us their home, which had served as a bed and breakfast for many years before they purchased it. Some of their fireplaces have the white tile found in Steve’s office and Pamela’s bedroom, but none had the colorful tile found in the master bedroom, dining room, and living room. Gorgeous wine-colored tile decorates one of their fireplaces (and it probably hides the soot well). Yesterday, we finally saw a home with colorful tile!

Every two years, the town’s garden club hosts open-house tours of some of the old homes and businesses in the area. In 2004, Tammy’s parent opened their home for tours. The garden club spruces up about six houses on the same block and decorates them festively. They charge $10 for tickets in advance ($15 for ones sold that day) to benefit the gardens that beautify the area. The police block off the roads, and people walk from house to house, one of which serves refreshments.

This year, the garden club decided to add a new feature—music from a gazebo in one of the yards. They solicited areas musicians and singers brave enough to sing a cappella out in a cold gazebo, and Tammy was one of them. She sang obscure Christmas songs and a few favorites and took requests in between songs, encouraging onlookers to join in the carols—and they did! The audience was small, but included the King, Elvis himself, sideburns and all.

After finishing her stint as song leader, Tammy joined Steve at the home next to the gazebo. The homeowner graciously showed us her home—her fireplaces are stunning! Her fireplaces gloried in the white, wine-colored, and colorful tile! They are in mint condition with the exception of the unavoidable tile cracks, and everything is beautifully preserved. Even the tile pieces with raised medallion stand out unlike ours, which are worn and hardly noticeable. Because the owners of this house have maintained it throughout the years, the rooms had the original ceilings and plaster walls! We left that amazing place with a bad case of tile envy!


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