Saturday, July 08, 2017

Recreating the Historic Front Gable Roof

During the work on the exterior carpentry and eave reconstruction, I was able to uncover quite a bit about how the home was originally constructed. A hint about the original roofing and gutters is still in place on the back of the house. The small pantry addition still has the original recessed gutter and purlins for a shingle roof.   

Here is an illustration that shows how the shingles would have been adhered above the rafters and how the crown molding would have concealed the original tin-lined gutter system. It would have looked very "clean" on the outside of the house but these systems were difficult to maintain so many people had them torn out and replaced with a standard exterior gutter and downspout. On the main body of my house, this section was chopped off to make way for the modern asphalt shingles and pre-formed aluminum gutter. 


On the front of the home, the demolition of the shingle roof and gutter replacement creates an awkward detail. The gutter end is exposed, the crown molding on the eave is non-existent, and the crown at the gable eave is cut and exposed.  

There were two possible ways that the gable molding would have been detailed. The "right" way uses a fillet that joins where the gable fascia meets the front eave fascia and only has a crown at the gable. This is more common in high-style, architect-designed homes as it mimics detailing related to particular Classical orders. The "wrong" or "carpenter" manner is a crown that runs across the front and wraps around the side eave. The gable crown is cut to meet the top of that lower crown. Our house was detailed with the "wrong" detail. This is fine as it was a mass-produced home with little input from an architect so many of the intricate details were likely resolved in the field, by craftsmen.

During the demolition of the front eave, we discovered that the shingle roof still exists under the front gable. We made a decision that since this piece faces the street and is highly visible that we wanted to bring back the look of the original shingle.


The roofers demolished the asphalt shingle and revealed the original roof. It is as we expected but it terrible shape. We decided to replace the entire thing with new shingles to match the original. We also requested that the crown molding be added back to the front eave. Unfortunately, we won't be able to resolve the detail of the crashing moldings and gutters because we do not intend on re-roofing the entire home and replacing the gutters back to the original configuration.


The guys at Hanson Roofing made quick work of this small project. They specialize in historic roofs so we knew we were in good hands with them.




We couldn't be happier with the final product. The new shingle roof looks great and we think it will look even better once we re-paint the front gable shingles and trim. 





Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Hall Part 3 - Building the mirror and coat rack

When we first moved into the house, we found a dismantled dining room table in the attic. It was made of veneered wood but the wood under the veneer looked pretty nice. I am not sure but it might even be oak. I saved not only because I save everything but because I knew I wanted to use it in a project some day. Another thing that the house came with was an assortment of mirrors.
I thought that this was the perfect project: to build a sort of built-in mirror / hall tree for the front hall. I began by sanding down the wood, removing most of the rough spots and all of the finish.
I made a very simple frame and then stained and finished it in much the same way that I finished the rest of the wood in the house. For the mirror frame finish, I used tung oil instead of the typical varnish though.

What is nice is that the finish allows the character of the wood to come through but there is also quite a bit of distress visible from its former use as a table top.

I mounted the mirror in the frame and then mounted it to the wall with butterfly anchors. Two screws are also installed, top and bottom, through a stud in the middle of the wall. It is very sturdy and isn't going anywhere.
I used brash washers and screws for mounting so it has a simple yet classic detail.
I was originally fretting over getting expensive fancy hooks from one of the restoration companies but couldn't choose so I ended up at Home Depot and bought something inexpensive instead. I installed two hooks on either side of the mirror for coats and two double-hooks at the bottom for keys and umbrellas.


I am ultimately happy with the hook choice. Hopefully this will keep stray jackets off of the furniture as well!
I finished out the room by hanging one of the prints that I made last summer. It is great to have this room finished!

The Hall Part 2 - finishing and painting

The finishing work was fairly simple. Like the rest of the woodwork in the house, I have it stained and varnished. I chose the colors for the hall some time ago but it took me a while to sort through the hundred or so cans of paint in my cellar to find the two that I chose.
There are two colors, though they are very close shades of gold. I painted the area below the chair rail a little darker than the color above the chair rail.  

Overall, the hall looks great and it is nice to have a finished entry to the house.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Hall Part 1- You would think such a small room wouldn't be such a big project

I don't know why I waited so long to start this project. It is a small room and should be pretty quick, right? The problem is: when I did the wood cleaning and refinishing throughout the rest of the house, I quickly learned how difficult it was to strip doorways. Though this is a small room, it has two doorways. I also knew that I wanted to create a built-in mirror/coat rack in this room so it would take a bit more time. 
 After we moved in, we bought a wardrobe and placed it in the front hall to store coats. Before moving it in, I had taped an outline of where I wanted a future mirror to be. Of course, when I pulled out the wardrobe, the tape, from ten years ago, was still there.
The room had other issues too. There was pealing canvassed walls and cracking plaster that needed repair. I decided not to fuss with these elements all that much and just did a plaster patch and repaint over the papered and plastered areas.

The wood in this room was much like the rest of the wood ocne was in the house: splattered with paint, poorly stripped, dirty and all around crappy-looking. I spent quite a bit of time with the denatured alcohol and steel wool cleaning it all up.





The door was a particular challenge because it has quite a bit of detail. I cleaned out the lambs tongue molding and made some minor repairs to the door. 

I then stained all of the wood and this room in much the same way that I stained the wood throughout the rest of the house. I followed up with a varnish over everything.