Sunday, March 25, 2012


    A year ago when we bought this house there was a bead board wall with a door enclosing the back stairway.


The bead board itself is pretty unique, albeit damaged.  I have searched all over town for a double bead board of this thickness and width, to no avail.

The stairs had had some of the support timber cut to fit a washer and dryer beneath the stairs.  This alteration lead to unsafe stairs.   See how the stair treads are lower on the right hand side?

    The wall has been down now for some time and, don't you know, we saved the bead board to be re-installed.  It is time to do just that.  Since we are re-configuring the wall to rail height in order to open up the space a bit, it has taken a bit of puzzling as to how that can be done.

    Donnie has properly supported the stairs and recently finished repairing the cracked and damaged treads (see my previous promo for Gorilla Glue).  It is time to build the wall.

Here's what I did one morning last week....

The old railing is off the new drywall by about a half inch at the top of the stairs.  

I removed the handrail to access the first section of bead board

A putty knife works to get through layers of paint and separate the section of board.

Nails hold the board to the top step

My saw makes quick work of the nails.

The board is removed and saved to replicate the angle.

I cut a board to be a nailing flange for the longer and wider piece of bead board.

There's more to come.  We just about completed the wall install yesterday.....Check back!


   I am a confirmed fan of Gorilla Glue.  We have used it here on Hawthorne Avenue to repair numerous things.  Most recent repairs include a split stair tread on the back stairs and this splintered mantle.  Check out what I did...

Locate and clean out area to be repaired

Spray on water to dampen area to be glued

Apply glue


Allow glue to work.  It will foam up and dry solid.

Cut away dried foam and sand

Ready to receive paint

TAH - DAHHHHH!  After all that, I have a viable surface on which to paint.   And I thought I was going to have to dismantle the mantle (ha ha) and replace the entire piece of wood to make the repair.  High praise for "Gorilla Glue". 

***Stay tuned to learn of Wallace's favorite repair adhesive.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


   I have almost always enjoyed choosing paint colors for my home.  In fact, to this date, I have even been the one to do the painting of the rooms.  The year I was pregnant is one exception as I, somewhat reluctantly, had my husband take over the job of painting the baby's room.  I get a kick out of shuffling through paint samples and envisioning our furniture and art in newly colored spaces.

    Right now I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with choosing colors for an entire house all at once.   There is so much to take into, artwork, light (or lack thereof), flooring, fabrics, other's opinions....
Did I say overwhelming?

    Yesterday evening I made a dent in the paint choosing task.  I packed into my car 4-5 major pieces of artwork, color samples, several fabric swatches and a photo album of furniture.  In addition, I packed a cooler with a bottle of chilling wine and diet Coke.  Billye and I headed to Hawthorne Avenue, ready for inspiration.

    A good friend met me at the house.  We walked around the house, chatted, perused color samples, had a drink, listened to some tunes, and caught up.  I thoroughly enjoyed her company and value her color opinions.  When I told my brother my proposed plans for this evening he said to be sure to take a sober look at any color decisions before telling the painters my choices.  No major decisions were made but groundwork laid.

Here is the entryway .... the view from the front door.  Any suggestions?
I welcome them all.

The room to the right is the dining room, straight back is the kitchen,
and all the way back is the new family room addition

Friday, March 23, 2012


    Tax credits (both federal and state) are available as incentives to rehabilitate properties which are historically significant.  Rehabilitation Tax Credits reduce the amount of income taxes owed by tax payers who rehabilitate qualifying historic buildings.

Reduce my taxes owed = A good thing

For several months now I have been working on our historic rehabilitation forms.  Since we are not a commercial building we may apply only for the state tax credit.  As one might imagine there is a maze of regulations to navigate.  And OHHHhhhh, the paperwork involved in this process!

    Our Hawthorne house is located in a designated historic district on the National Register.  The house, in fact, is pictured in an early photo in the book RICHMOND: A Pictorial History from the Valentine Museum and Dementi Collections by Thomas F. Hale.  I have spent hours writing and documenting and detailing the condition of this house (upon purchase in March 2011) in order to qualify for the aforementioned  tax credits.  Today I hand delivered all the documentation and official forms to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources and left with my fingers crossed.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


     All those times I have said that I'm finished with priming .....well now, I really am.  Saturday morning the painters arrived.   Hurray!

The driveway was so packed with painters' vehicles I had to park on the street.  Fine with me.  I love to see action like this on Hawthorne Ave.  These guys arrived at 7 AM and spent much of the day protecting and covering surfaces.  It was nice seeing someone else with a priming brush in his hand.  The owner came out at least twice today to check on progress and to assure me that no matter what it takes they will make me happy.  Sounds good to me. They have numerous days ahead of them but assure me they are on MY job until they finish with a satisfied customer.

Covering windows and brickwork and spraying on a primer

My job now in regards to paint is, simply, to choose colors for all surfaces.  Yikes.


Saturday, March 17, 2012


    It was a beautiful day here on Hawthorne Avenue and I chose to do a little more recycling.  Remember the corbels from the other day?  Time to get them in shape in order to pass them on to the cabinet maker.  These 4 corbels will be used as brackets for the counter on the kitchen island.

Friday, March 16, 2012


    Close to a year ago we found 4 matching windows in the basement of our Hawthorne house.  They were in such a state of disrepair.  Surprised?  Not!  We assumed they had been removed from the house, however, once we had gutted the house down to the studs, we realized they had not been a part of the main house.  A couple months later a former resident stopped by and we learned some things about the house and its past.  Not only was it pink in earlier days but also it had a small garage or carriage house.  

    We decided to recycle 3 of the mystery windows by using them inside the house, and, in doing so, I solved the mystery of the 4 windows.  As I scraped away the old glaze and stripped away layers of paint I uncovered PINK paint.  The windows must have come from the old carriage house.

Since the master bathroom is on the north side of the house it receives very little natural light.  We decided to use one of the windows on the west wall  of the shower in the master bathroom.  Set at 10 feet high it will allow in light from the adjacent room on the west without sacrificing any privacy.

The rectangle framing at the top of the photo is the space created in the shower wall for the old window

 In order to center the windows, we cut off an inch from the bottom of each old window.

Some people can use the table saw with confidence.  Not I.
The table saw intimidates me so I remain at a distance.

After building a frame, we level and install one window in the shower wall.

The installed window as seen from the adjacent room

    Very happy with how the installed window looks, Donnie and I build 2 more windows and install them in the stairwell on the 3rd floor.  The large window on the west side of the house floods the stairwell with afternoon light and the newly installed recycled windows allow the light into the north and south side rooms.

Two windows in the 3rd floor stairwell
  After the painters prime the house interior, I will return the original old glass and glaze each pane for the final topcoat of paint.

    That is my kind of recycling!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


    It is my guess that no contractor has ever had a customer pay closer attention to every detail.  My husband knows what he wants and will hold you accountable if you have contracted to deliver a product.  He continues to check up on the progress of every contractor and it doesn't matter what or how high he has to climb to check.

On 2nd story roof looking UNDER the built-in gutters

Checking the joint where old trim meets new trim in a repair

Checking up on the roofers before the slate goes up

I'm glad he is on my team!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


     Exiting this door will lead you to a second floor deck over the family room addition.  It is my suspicion that, once it is completed, it will be another favorite spot for Miss Magnolia.  Until this day she had not been out the door to experience the view.

The deck is right off what we have been calling "the music room."  Being on the west side of the house, it will definitely be toasty hot come summer weather.  For now, it is a cozy spot on a sunny spring afternoon and a perfect sunset spot whatever the temperature.

The posts, though approximately 12 inches taller to meet current building codes, are modeled after a single remaining balustrade post from the front of the house which we found in the basement with dozens of balusters and a 5 foot section of railing.  A stretch of turned balusters will run between each new post and the new deck will be complete.  I anticipate the completion by this coming week.

Saturday, March 3, 2012


      So a one year anniversary is just around the corner.  One year of this house project, that is.  To celebrate, we are going to take the weekend off.  Our seriously neglected beach house, just an hour and 1/2 down the road, needs a little attention and, quite honestly, I need a little bitta beach house!

This is where I will sit.

I'll perhaps do a little bit of this...

This will be my view.

And perhaps....if I do not sleep through it.....

This is how I might wake up.

    I can feel my blood pressure dropping just contemplating the possibilities.

Friday, March 2, 2012


    Friday has come and with it arrives another opportunity to enjoy a new Friday tradition. 

Dot's Back Inn is on MacArthur Avenue, a mile from our Hawthorne house

Dot's has numerous great choices on the menu and daily specials but, for Billye, there is only one choice.....

Dot's fries and diet coke with a straw.