Monday, May 9, 2016

Fourth-Day Flood (part 2): Baseboards and Brass

For 5 days you couldn't hear yourself think anywhere in our house
as the industrial fans dried out the walls and ceiling space. The
effected baseboards were removed to be dried and straightened
off-site, but we never saw them again.

If you've ever dealt with structural damage--be it from water or termites or what-have-you--then you know that fixing the secondary damage is more costly than eliminating the problem. In the days following the flood, we were led to believe that our biggest headache would be the dining room repair, not the bathroom plumbing itself. (This, of course, would prove incorrect.)

As soon as it started raining from our dining room rafters, I was on the phone with our home warranty company (thoughtfully and thankfully provided by the sellers). Unfortunately, they were worse than worthless. The plumber they made us use recreated the flood the next day, and then declared he could not help because "there might be mold." The water abatement company they made us hire tried to overcharge us by thousands of dollars and threw away the 110-year-old baseboard moldings they were supposed to dry and straighten off-site. (The baseboards would be the most costly repair: a carpenter had to make a mold and then fabricate them to match the rest of the house.)

The warranty company then refused to pay for ANY repairs; they decided "the plumbing issue was preexisting," so subsequent damage was not covered by our home warranty. And they didn't care that it was "their" subcontractors who caused the most expensive damage after the initial flood.

The dining room as it stands today: bright, calm colors, lovely
flowers, and 18 framed-by-me botanical studies. I love how 
the modern color palette emphasizes the centennial architecture.
There we were--just one week after moving into our house--with a huge hole in our ceiling, no baseboards, a nonfunctioning guest bathroom, and mounting bills. And so our house remained for 8 months, until we were able to hire carpenters and painters.

Finally it was time to have some fun! I chose grey-and-teal thermal draperies for the dining room windows then coordinated the room's paint colors. My mother (and probably everyone else) thought I was crazy when I decided I'd be painting my ceiling teal. Grey walls, teal ceiling, white trim. This was a bold choice because the room can be seen from most angles downstairs.

Less controversial, but equally impactful to my detail-oriented eye, is my continuing restoration of the room's hardware. This house is FULL of solid brass, unlacquered hardware--door knobs, casement hinges, window latches, you name it!--that have been covered with paint over the decades.

It took me hours to polish each piece, but the
results are gorgeous. I love how the tarnish
remains in the tiny crevices and adds dimension
to the pattern, as it does in my equally beloved
sterlingware!
Until we moved here, I was a vocal brass hater. In our first house, I spent years slowly replacing every monkey-metal doorknob, hinge, and faucet with brushed-nickel fixtures. That cheap yellow metal they produce these days makes me cringe and "colored" my impression of brass. But I've done a 180. It thrills my soul that these solid metal beauties are hiding under sloppy DIY projects waiting for me to, quite literally, make them shine again.

I acknowledge that I am strange. I paint ceilings teal, and I LOVE polishing. In college we AOIIs would clean the house once per month, and I was the only person who wanted silver duty. Back then I did it all by hand; this time I had help.

A few weeks before I started this polishing project, David and I bought a nail grinder for Copper that is made by Dremel. I soon realized that the nail grinder could accept almost any Dremel accessory--including polishing wheels! I burned through 30 polishing wheels getting the dining room hardware clean, but the result is worth the time, effort, and cost.

So at the 8-month mark, we had our dining room back. But the upstairs bathroom? Still out of commission with undiagnosed bathtub problems...


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