Reclaiming Home

I’m one of those people easily sidetracked. So it’s no surprise I’ve not posted in a while, sidetracked as I was by the Holidays, completing our floor restoration, and starting to put the house back together. It’s going to take longer than when we moved in because we have a lot more stuff now, and much of it looks terrible on top of the now-beautiful floors.


We have a lot of amazing resale/vintage/street find items, but they need TLC and time I’ve not yet given them. Until then I need to be creative in reassembling the house to the cultured bohemian vibe (is there such a thing?) I hope to create.

TBM and I decided to give gifts to our house this year for Christmas- she’s been such a good girl in all we’ve put her through. One of my gifts was shelves for the room we call the library, ironically, because in the past, what we had to hold our books was an old swayback Billy from Ikea and a bunch of wine crates standing on end. We threw Billy out when we started hoarding at the end of the summer, because he fell apart in our hands when we moved him, and when I started putting the library back together in late November, I despaired over stacks and stacks of books and no place to put them. I thought about boxing them and storing in the attic for a future when we’ve got funds to build a custom library, oh, perhaps something like this:

Click photo for link

That’s gonna take some time.

While reclaiming the house, TBM has moved his studio from the second floor to the first and he decided not to take along some track shelving he had hanging on a wall. It dawned on me if I reused it in the library, along with the wine crates, I probably wouldn’t have to store our books. But it seemed one slim set of shelves would look lonely in this room with twelve foot ceilings. So my gift was purchasing more tracks and shelves- a simple Rubbermaid system from Home Depot. I wouldn’t have chosen black, but that’s what I was reusing from upstairs and I wanted everything to match.

I used Rubbermaid single track shelving with brackets for our new library shelves. Fairly easy to install with a power drill, level, screwdriver, and major patience.

I used Rubbermaid single track shelving with brackets for our new library shelves. Fairly easy to install with a power drill, level, screwdriver, and major patience.

I sang praises when I placed shelves on the brackets and everything was LEVEL!

I sang praises when I placed shelves on the brackets and everything was LEVEL!

Loading one wall of shelves with books (this is not the same wall as the last two photos). Organizing our books made me want to re-read so many of them!

Loading one wall of shelves with books (this is not the same wall as the last two photos). Organizing our books made me want to re-read so many of them!

A word about hardware: Our walls in some places are plaster; in other places drywall. I used a stud finder to locate as many as I could, screwing the upright for the shelf directly into the stud. Where I couldn’t find studs, I used toggle bolts. It took three trips to the local hardware store to get bolts long enough to provide “clearance” behind the upright and into the wall, mostly due to concern that the bolts would protrude too far inside the wall and not allow our pocket doors to open and close. In the end, 4 inch-long bolts worked.

A word about drilling: I was worried about making big ugly holes in the wall, but relaxed knowing they would be covered by the uprights (when we build that custom library, we’ll deal with the holes). It’s important to drill the hole just big enough for the toggle to fit through, but not so big that it swims around too much inside the wall. I used a 3/8 inch drill bit, which was just right.

Here’s a finished wall of shelves, though now we need bookends to avoid the tilted look going on.


Another time I’ll post pictures of the completed room, with which I must say I am quite pleased. But the nicest result: the pocket doors (glimpsed on the left in this photo) open into TBM’s new studio. Time was, TBM would hole away in his studio upstairs, but since moving downstairs and throughout the Holidays and start of this winter, he’s been keeping one pocket door open. It’s wonderful to have him so central, to have his music flowing through the house, to let the Large Breed to go from room to room and plant himself where he pleases. Not surprisingly, that’s usually on the floor in TBM’s room, where the dog slumbers and snores as TBM creates wondrous sounds during the day and sips whiskey at night in a plump chair in the corner next to the mantle.


Restoration Story: Update


A couple of weeks ago I posted about realizing that our floor refinishing project is actually a restoration project. I need to remind myself that restoring takes time and requires sustained patience. We really are making progress, but there is still so much to do that I become overwhelmed. Friday evening I told TBM I would probably have a meltdown before the weekend was over, and today was the day. Continue reading

Restoration Story


I posted a while back about the love of old things beginning at home, in reference to the house I grew up in. It was a wonderful place, an equally perfect setting for tea parties or haunted houses. When TBM and I were looking at houses to buy and we saw the one we now own, one of my first thoughts was “Too much like the house I grew up in. I don’t want it.” Also: I was really hoping for a “fixer upper,” though TBM did not agree, and this house had been recently renovated. It was the most amazing house we had seen, with good old bones and a still-intact soul. We had been through a lot of renovated houses in the shabby chic town where we reside, and many of them had been voided old structure charm: Outside they said “historic”; inside they said “modern condo.” Not interested, thank you very much. But this house was different- thoughtfully renovated, interior footprint intact, and full of special features: a tin ceiling, pocket doors, exposed brick, front and back staircase, and twelve-foot ceilings. In the end we bought her and have been slowly making her into a home.

Continue reading

Slow down, you move too fast…

Late Saturday afternoon TBM and I were working on the floors in a room that used to be our living room, but will become his studio once the floors are done. It’s a decent size room: 12.5 x 14.5 feet. I was repairing holes and damaged boards, and TBM was using the heat gut to remove the last dregs of paint from the corners and around fireplace. Then he casually picked up the orbital sander and started to work, a final sanding to open the pores of the wood to accept stain. I noted the time: 5:24. After an hour he had sanded four boards, a width of about four feet. Continue reading


While I’ve been in Colorado, I’ve anxiously awaited news of progress TBM is making on the floors. His plan of action this week is to complete one room and make certain when I return that I like the color before he continues. He’s starting with the library, mostly because it’s easy to isolate, but also because two weeks ago I moved the books, bookcases, bric-a-brac, and all but two pieces of furniture into another room in preparation for staining. It was the least I could do, literally, with a few hours I had before work one day. Well, methodical man that he is, TBM decided to HAND SAND the damn floor before cleaning and laying down stain. His words: “I thought I needed to be exacting in trying to get the wood to look new.” So he spent two and a half days carefully sanding, then cleaned the floor with TSP. Only late yesterday did he actually start staining and only today did he send visual evidence: Image You might not think this looks special, but I was moved to tears when I saw it. Yes, it’s just a brown stained floor, but it’s not yellowish or orangey or red, and IT’S NOT PAINT!!! Continue reading

Stains of Many Colors

As we finish the last details of sanding, we are still trying to nail down the color we want for the finished floors. Better said, I’m trying to nail it down, and TBM is trying his darn’dest to please me. All along I’ve said I don’t want a light color: too “country” for this old house with ten-foot ceilings and really good bones. I think she’s asking for something more sophisticated. Continue reading