Bringing the Stairs to Life

Prepare yourselves for about 7,000 pictures of our staircase… We are REALLY thrilled with how it turned out and I find myself just standing and staring at the beautiful wood that’s come back to life.

Here are a few shots of what it looked like before. Over the last 130 years, these floors have been painted, carpeted, and beat up. Not all of the treads are original but things like the landing are. The landing was in the worst shape as you can see in this second photo… carpet glue, paint, dirt, and years of wear-and-tear left it in dire need of some TLC.

Hubs took to woodwork like a fish to water. I swear, I don’t know how he just knows how to do stuff… but he does. First, as in every project we do, we made it safe. When it doubt, there’s ALWAYS lead in the paint… so we went the long, circuitous route of encapsulating ALL the paint on the stairs first, just to be safe. The last thing we’d ever want is to just take to sanding and then have lead paint dust particles floating in the air for forever. This step easily added a week to the project because it involved applying the goop, scraping the goop, properly disposing of the goop, cleaning said goop- a lot- and then letting it all dry.

Once it was dry, THAT’S when the sanding started. They started out like this:

Husband sanded and sanded and sanded. He would get up, sand for a few hours, work until midnight, and do it all again the next day…. but those floors.

Then they looked like THIS… so we got to testing stains and settled on Minwax’s Red Oak.

I stained the treads, painted the risers, AND did research. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a photo of a home built in the same time frame as ours. It was of their staircase and for a hot second I thought it WAS our house. I got REALLY excited… and then less excited when I realized it wasn’t. However, it had this stunning Newel post lamp that got me wanting one. I took to eBay and found the most beautiful antique French art nouveau piece. The price was right and it was on my doorstep three days later.

The art nouveau distinction leads me to believe it is 1900-1930s time frame The wiring was all original. It still worked but I was concerned with fire safety so I made an off handed comment about how it would just be decorative. Husband (remember when I called him the smartest person in the world?) was like, “Uh, why? I’ll just rewire it.” It was a very Elle-Woods-Gets-Into-Harvard moment when I said “You can DO THAT?” and he cocked his head to the side and was all “What? Like it’s hard?”
So he just went ahead and re-wired the darn thing. He even managed to keep the original switch. So now we have this beautiful, almost-period-specific piece of ART in our entryway. It is so, so beautiful. Now you can see why I can’t stop staring!

Now when my family gets here tomorrow for the holiday, they’ll be able to truly enjoy such a grand entryway staircase. ❤

To wrap up, here are some side-by-sides!

Enjoy your holiday. Be blessed, be thankful. We’ll talk soon!
The Brick and Maple

 

3rd Floor Dreamin’

IMG_2177Today I’m going to introduce you to the third floor… the part of the house that has been virtually untouched over the years. We don’t use it for anything other than storage at the moment but over time, we have BIG plans for this space.

Simply put, the space is huge. The third floor alone is twice as big as the first apartment Mr. Brick and Maple had when we were newlyweds. I’m not exaggerating.

Winding up the twisted staircase, you will discover limitless possibilities, endless potential, a virtual clean slate.

There are two clearly defined spaces. Going straight forward from the top of the stairs you’ll enter what we believe used to be a ballroom. The floors are original and HAVE NOT BEEN PAINTED. That fact alone makes me want to break out in dance! All they’ll need is a good sanding, some very basic patch repairs, and a nice glossy poly sheen.

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In this space, I want to build a reading window with built-in bookcases and thick, plush linens for the most comfort. We’ll strip the column (it’s a chimney) to expose the brick. The corner hidden behind it will be a bright and cheery homeschool space. We’ll likely move our games and Wii system up here to use as a rec room as well!

These rooms at the top of the stairwell will require the most work- only because we envision making a guest suite out of the rooms. If we have people visiting and staying up here, I don’t want them having to go all the way downstairs to use the bathroom. We plan on converting the smaller room (on the left, surrounded in tan) into a small 3 piece bathroom. Sink, toilet, potentially a shower stall… and the room in surrounded in blue (with the two arched windows) will be a guest room.

I love all the little details in this space, like antique carved hinges and simply beautiful floors. These were covered in carpet when we moved in… pulling back the carpet pad was like hearing the Hallelujah Chorus.

When the original family sold the house in 1919, it began to change hands. A LOT. Prior to World War II it was converted into a boarding house with separate apartments. We believe part of this space would have been rented out either to soldiers and airman passing through Scott Air Force Base or to single women coming to the city to work. One of the more notable residents was a cousin of Gen. Douglas MacArthur.

MacArthurAbendNow whether or not their apartment was on the 2nd or 3rd floor, we can’t be sure. But it’s still a fun historical tidbit! 🙂

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I am VERY excited about this project. It is something we will slowly be working on over time… right now I’m still in the Pinterest phase which is probably why I’m so excited. Check back with me later when the actual work starts and I question what exactly we got ourselves into.

Happy Monday from The Brick and Maple! ❤

Craigslist Strikes Again

It’s gotten to the point in our almost-ten year marriage where anytime my husband hears me say, “hey babe- come look at this,” he knows he’s in for an entire afternoon of hair-brainedly (that’s a word, yes?) chasing down something I found on Craigslist.

Once it was a SINGLE OWNER, absolutely pristine, 100-year old Werner piano, WITH THE ORIGINAL CLAWFOOTED STOOL, listed for a hundred bucks. It was 45-minutes away in Rock Hill, SC — this was when we were living in Charlotte, NC. Did we have a truck? Nope. Did we have someone to help lift it? Nope. Did we even have a trailer hitch? No way. But we DID have the hundred bucks and a fun afternoon procuring said trailer hitch and renting a uhaul. We somehow, miraculously, managed to get it out of the historic Rock Hill home, down the concrete steps, and onto the trailer bed.

No joke, this piano is easily the same weight as a newborn elephant. We drove it home, in the rain, with me sitting backwards watching out the back window, making husband stop every few miles to make sure the straps were secure. I’m really fun to be around when antiques are involved.

Other Craigslist adventures have included the time someone asked me to pay for something with a $20 and a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, the time our eternal souls were threatened because our *free* First Come, First Serve pile of firewood had already been picked up, and yesterday, when I managed to find a stained glass window the exact size as the opening above our laundry room door and ended up standing in the Home Depot parking lot in Collinsville, IL listening to Mr. Window Guy explain the hazards of lead paint. For a long time.

Thanks, dude. Our house is upwards of 130 years old. Strangers to the threat of lead paint we are not.

We still have to frame out the window and touch up the paint… it’s old, it’s a little bit broken, but it still works just fine. Kind of a metaphor for life. 🙂

 

We prepped the space by removing some older screws, cleaning the frame, and then sanding down some of the existing trim to make it fit just exactly right.

You can tell this was an existing exterior window. One pane is broken… and so grabbing it from the back of Mr. Window Guy’s truck was kind of like me white-glove handling The Declaration of Independence. If the Declaration of Independence only cost $25 and lived in the back of some dude’s truck.

Like I said, it still needs to be framed in just a little bit, and freshened up with some paint… but it just instantly adds so much to the space in our kitchen. It is my joy in life to continue bringing this house back to its former, Victorian glory.

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Until my next Craigslist find,
The Brick and Maple Family ❤