The Cross House

CARRIAGE HOUSE: Part 2

In a previous post I detailed how my plans to paint the north facade of the Cross House were thwarted by an unexpected opportunity to rent the carriage house, thus forcing me to focus my attentions on the carriage house.

When I purchased the Cross House property, the previous owner had renovated the carriage house, and this work was about 85% completed. The kitchen was all new, as were three bathrooms, and all were also mostly completed.

The sensible thing would have been to finish the last 15%, and get the carriage house rented.

But sense & sensibility have rarely been a part of my life experience. Indeed, I seem allergic to these qualities.

My worry was that by finishing the work, it would endure till the end of time. This caused me some measure of anxiety. You see, the new kitchen was all Home Deport with nary the slightest vestige of an old kitchen. Sigh.

Same for the three new bathrooms. Sigh.

Then there was a carbuncle grafted onto a corner of the dining room, made necessary when a handicapped-accessible bathroom was installed several decades previously when the carriage house was converted into a troubled boys home. Thus, the elegant rectangular dining room was now a curious L-shape. Sigh.

The front porch was huge, L-shaped, and seriously rotted. It needed to be wholly rebuilt. Sigh.

Right away I demolished the rotted 1921 porch, and the offensive carbuncle of a bathroom. The rest? I was teaching myself a bit of sense & sensibility. Like people who work out daily to build muscle, I exercised on becoming more sensible. Because the carriage house would be rented, I knew that 99.9% of renters would be THRILLED with a new Home Depot kitchen and bathrooms.

When I wavered, I just did some more S&S workouts. No pain; no gain.

 

SOME BACKGROUND

The carriage house is an 1894 structure with a 1921 first-floor interior (when the carriage house was converted into a house). Because the Cross House is so huge and so demanding of my time and energy, the carriage house has been kinda orphaned and ignored, even though I am highly aware that it is pretty cool in its own right. I love being in it. It has great energy and interesting spatial qualities.

 

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This is the carriage house when I purchased it, save that the kitchen counter had just been renovated to an L-shape. You can see the huge 1921 porch to the left. Note also the modern bathroom jutting into the dining room. Oh, the horror. Note also the triple closets in the bedroom; we will return to these.

 

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Shortly before I purchased the Cross property, the owner gutted the kitchen of the carriage house. The original kitchen was created in 1921, but was totally redone circa-1950. This is what it looked like a few years ago. Note the window to the left; it faces north. Had all this not been gutted, I would have restored what you see in the image. I would have installed a period-correct counter. I would have restored the cabinets and polished up the chrome hardware. I would have installed period-correct linoleum flooring. I would have…

 

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…installed cool period-correct wallpaper, and…

 

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…installed a cool period-correct ceiling fixture. In short, I would have had a lot of fun playing up the circa-1950 kitchen, as not a fragment of the 1921 kitchen existed.

 

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However, all my fun thoughts were dashed because this is what was in place when I purchased the property. A brand new Home Depot kitchen. And 85% completed.

 

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The south window, overlooking the sun porch. The floor and walls are covered in those 12×12 ceramic tiles you see everywhere now. All the trim was varnished originally. Note that more ceramic tiles are ABOVE the upper cabinets to the left. Note also the soffit above all that. The soffit is all that remains of the circa-1950 kitchen.

 

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The upper cabinets covered up the north window. Sigh. The stove goes on the left. The vent hood was 1970s and did not work.

 

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Right after buying the property, I gutted out the bathroom which protruded into the dining room. There was no way, no way, I could or should adjust to such an affront. When the horror was gone, planet Earth was just a tiny bit improved. Did you feel the better energy?

 

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Remember the circa-1950 soffit? What, I wondered, was behind it? My thought was that I would make a hole, see what was inside long hidden, and then repair the hole. And guess what I found?

 

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I found 1930s wallpaper! ZOUNDS! I am freakin’ out, man! Freakin’ out!

 

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I then made the hole a bit bigger…all the while thinking: I can repair this. I can!

 

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But somehow, I do not know how (I swear!) the hole got bigger and bigger and bigger…

 

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…until the circa-1950 soffit was toast. The room suddenly looked MUCH taller. OK. So I maybe got a bit carried away. But it was just a soffit. I could tidy up the mess, and figure out how to live with the Home Depot remaining. Yep, I had a plan. I knew I could stick to it with just a few dozen S&S squats.

 

12 Responses to CARRIAGE HOUSE: Part 2

  1. I LOVE that wallpaper. I wish I could see the missing repeat (the bit below the yellow plate). The three designs I can see would make darling embroidered pillows.

    And the carriage house is much more spacious than it looks from the street — probably because it looks small when compared to the Cross House.

    Your renters will be very, very lucky to live there, because you’re right — the house has a lovely flow and energy to it.

    Looking forward to your next post. It’s always fun to see your progress on both your houses.

  2. The cherry wallpaper is fabulous. Too bad about that Home Depot kitchen, the 1950’s version was way cooler. Recessed lighting angers me, 12×12 tiles on the walls angers me more, grrrr. Since you are renting it, I’d keep the cabinets. That’s more money toward the main house for you. But remove those tiles, please for the love of walls REMOVE them! lol

    I really love the old 1930’s wallpaper, it’s so cute and makes me want to throw on an apron and make a casserole.

  3. Sorry Ross but don’t like how they did the kitchen. I know you will come up with something that will make it look better.

  4. I have always loved the Carriage House and knew I would love to live in it even without seeing the inside. But NO, I would not live there with the Home Depot kitchen.

    As for the S&S slip and the mysterious disappearance of the soffit, (LOL)… For some reason it reminds me of one time my teenage son shaved his face and kept going until his eyebrows were completely gone. Actually, the shaved soffit looks a lot better than his bald brow.

  5. I am catching up on your blog so I don’t have to wait to find out what you did . . . all I have to do is click to the next post! yay! That kitchen deserves to die. It’s everything ugly about modern kitchens. Ew.

  6. A belated comment. The first of the Austin books I read was Sense and Sensibility. It was 8th grade in a school with a wonderful library but P&P was always checked out. My first exposure to words that kept me scrambling for the dictionary and comments such as “he was on the wrong side of 30.” Stuff that sticks with you decades later. I do believe Miss Jane would be pleased to sit down to tea and company with the likes of the you, Mistah Ross. And, if I didn’t embarrass myself, I’d luv to tag along. Keep writing and restoring. This tired ole world needs it. Thanks!

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