Bringing The Living Space Back to Life

When my husband and I inherited a 1920′s-era clapboard house surrounded by the Ozark National Forest in northwest Arkansas, we jumped at the opportunity to bring this beautiful (and rather neglected) home back to life. I simply did not realize how much work it was going to entail, or how many different skills I would start to pick up during this process. The first thing we did was have a friend who is a professional roofer help us put on a new tin roof, the traditional choice for many of the older houses in this area. Our friend knew what he was doing and suggested tearing off the old roof that had been redonesometime in the sixties. We then began the long, messy process of removingthe old shingles and hauling the debris away. After that, we were able to start from scratch. Weinstalledtheedging first, then the metal panels (we went with an R-panelled tin roof, as it is easier to construct), then finished with the flashing. A local construction claims consultant told us that the traditionaltin roofs in the Ozark area were all silver, but we couldn’t resist adding a little color to the old place and so the roofwe put onwas bright green. The original color of the house was white,but along the way, someone had painted it a rather sickly brown and a lot of it was peeling. So our next big project was to scrape off the old paint. We did this first by hand with pull scrapers, then went back over it with electric sanders. This took a lot longer than I thought it would, but we used scaffolding for this part of the project and that seemed to save a lot oftime and energy. When we were done with the scraping and sanding, we put on a thin layer of anoil-based water repellent,then theprimer and then two layers of oil-based exterior paint in a lovely eggshell white.The old porch, with the cedar posts and native stone foundation that is typical of Ozark houses, was well-preservedand didn’t require much apart from repainting. The windows wererelatively new and in good shape, too, though we did recaulk them for energy efficiency and repainted the trimming. That was the bulk of what we did for the house’s exterior. What surprised me was that the interior work proved much more difficult. We gutted the interior walls right down to the framing.This proved to bepretty disgusting, as there had been mice living in the walls for a long time andthere were a lot of old nests and excrementto contend with.However, we were able to get it cleaned out thoroughlyandwe had professionals to come in for rewiring and plumbing the house, since both were in pretty bad shape. Wethen installed, sanded and painted the drywall throughout the house. It amazed me how heavy and tiring drywall work is, but again, I really liked the look of it when it was done. Most of the house had been recarpeted in the 60′s with some seriously ugly shag carpet, but once we ripped that monstrosity out, we found some really lovely golden pine flooring which we sanded, stained and polyurethaned. We added some rusty-yellow Mexican saltillo tiling to the kitchen and bathroom. The bathroom we pretty much left alone except to install a new toilet: it had a claw-footed cast-iron bathtub that I just fell in love with.The old cabinets in the kitchen had to be ripped out (again, this was much heavier work than I realized) and we installed some Mission-style cabinetry in white oak as well as a stainless steel electric range and refrigerator to update the place. The kitchen was the final stage of this project. We now use the place for weekends and vacations and will probably retire there. I am glad I had to opprortunity to try outthe process of remodeling, but it still surprises me how much large a skill set you need to bring an old house back to life. come to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

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