In 2001 I achieved my dream of owning an old house. In 2008 I sold it after seven years of renovation. Some of the rooms had been ‘updated’ in the 1980s. As I replaced carpet with wood floors, sheetrock with wainscoting, and trim where there was none, I learned with the proper ‘bones’ any house could look like an old house.
Some women love to shop for shoes; I love to shop for salvage!
My Studio – Before
My Studio – After
When I found this streamside hunting cabin, I knew its steep gable and general proportions were that of an old house.
Windows are the soul of an old house, and I had two sashes left over from my first house, two given to me by a neighbor that I only had to replace some glass on, and the rest were $15 per sash ($30 for a double-hung 2-over-2) from the Historic Albany Foundation Architectural Parts Warehouse.
Some of them are even wavy glass.
None of my windows are in proper casings. I just screwed them in with deck screws.
A porch, columns, and gingerbread are things a cute cottage can’t be without.
These columns were $60 apiece at New York Salvage in Oneonta.
I split one in half with a circular saw for pilasters.
The beadboard porch ceiling and tongue-and-groove fir floor is half from my old house, half from New York Salvage. Altogether it was one of the largest expenses – something like $400 – but a good deal of the beadboard is inside. The chippy paint and imperfection of damage and age is worth it.
My chippy dark green screen door is from Albany ($25), and I know I have to find a way to reproduce the missing spindles and repair the brass screen, but I love it to bits.
The gingerbread ‘wheels’ and hardware are from New York Salvage. John has great stuff, including a letter from Rachel Ashwell tacked up on his office bulletin board because she’s a customer, too!
The little brackets on the window cornices are from another $25 New York Salvage door missing its screen and in very poor shape.
I bought it mainly for its door hardware that floored me with its simple beauty.
The plywood gingerbread I cut with a scroll saw is not as thick as it should be, but I’m not a real carpenter so I pretend I don’t notice.
Trim is very challenging to find at salvage because it’s easily damaged when pulled out during demolition, so I am lucky I found this at New York Salvage. When the snow came off the roof it pulled this section off, so now you can see what a difference a little finishing trim makes.
I know the ends of the flat roof are clumsy. I know 'what to do' with a hip porch roof, but they’re too complicated for me to build, so I made a flat roof. Setting the rafters and columns were the only thing I asked for my husband's help on this house.
At least these little corbels ($5 each) from New York Salvage help make it nice.
I found them near this very pretty window frame. Don’t worry, John at New York Salvage has most of his inventory indoors, and he did a massive clean-up in the fall!
I’d love to wrap the house in old shiplap siding but it would cost too much. The rough-milled board-and-batten siding is cottagey and late Victorian anyway.
My floors creak and it occasionally smells like an old house, so I’m perfectly happy. Especially when people say, “Wow, I didn’t know there was an old schoolhouse in this clove!”
Until next time, stay shabby!