Congratulations! It’s Victorian!

So, let’s review.

488 in c.1930s

Here’s the house in about 1942. Our goal and inspiration for change…

488 from the outside, C. 2003, probably taken by Katy Gray

…from this. The legacy of mid-century modernistic tendencies (i.e. clean lines), practicality (because that never-have-to-paint siding really is much more practical than wood), and budget. None of which aesthetically serve a 1896 Victorian built by a banker wanting as gracious a home as his substantial wealth would allow. Our lovingly playing catch-up with that aesthetic service brings us to (drumroll please)…

IMG_5875

…this. Not bad. Pretty darn spectacular, in fact, if we do say so ourselves. Hardly recognizable as the same house.

IMG_5890

No matter what angle…

IMG_5928

…you view it from, the transformation is astounding,…

IMG_5866

…the results elegant, gracious, and welcoming,…

IMG_5939

…and already offering new places to congregate or step away from the crowd.

IMG_5981

Our home feels like a Victorian mansion from the outside as well as the inside, finally,…

IMG_5957

…and it wears its vividly historic colors proudly, from up the block…

IMG_5944

and down.

I think the banker would be pleased. I know we sure are.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 7:40 am  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

Tying Up the Loose Ends

We’re at the point of cleaning up some final details.

IMG_5898

We created replica lattice for the bottom of the porch. The original idea was to clean up some original we found, but it would have been prohibitively expensive.

IMG_5908

We finished up the faux stone paint treatment on the foundation of the house.

IMG_5815

The front door trim has been created…

IMG_5873

…and painted, giving the front door surround a substantial and clean look. Especially as it’s contrasted by the naturally finished original oak door.

IMG_5870

A new house number display and a painted and rehung mailbox finish off the entry. (The wreath, while fetching, is not part of the holiday decorating plans. The letter carrier would not be happy as the mailbox opens from the top.)

The last big project is a new roof for the house, which, while not adding to the aesthetic, does have the benefit of keeping out the weather. And then we just keep working away at the last small details until the project is finished. At least for this round. You know what they say about historic houses….

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 6:36 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Pillars!

Exciting developments!

IMG_5823

We have added¬† most of the standard porchy frills, including…

IMG_5728

fluted pillars, round and square…

IMG_5754

and railings, complete with ranks of turned spindles.

IMG_5769

These elements work harmoniously with the existing trimly furbelows…

IMG_5776

to add a truly elegant character to the sheltering and structural functionality of the porch.

IMG_5921

Some of the round pillars were original to the house, making up the first porch. They were cut down for the little porch, and built back up for our new beauty.

IMG_5810

Unfortunately, measuring twice doesn’t always prevent mistakes, so we had to do some adjusting to get a perfect fit.

IMG_5743

But, you’d never know it from the final product.

IMG_5786

The square pillars were constructed in situ. (That’s almost a visual history of the clamp right there.)

IMG_5705

Those were the last major elements needed to make the house look like it truly belongs in our historic neighborhood.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Corbels and Consultations

We’re busy and excited.

IMG_5671

Still no pillars, but lots of activity on site. The fellow in the dark shirt on the right is shaping corbels out of blocks of wood.

IMG_5666

And here they are being painted, along with spindles, and doesn’t the paint gun make that job a heck of a lot easier!

IMG_5610

Here are the corbels installed, along with a glimpse of the finished paint job on the third floor dormer.

IMG_5609

A view of the porch’s completed yellow pine ceiling, and someone already enjoying its expansive shelter.

IMG_5619

A close-up of the faux finish on the house’s foundation. We decided, upon experimentation, that removing the green paint would be way too resource intensive. It’s a much better fit with our color scheme than the green would have been.

IMG_5686

The owner, architect, and contractor consulting. We’re much closer, but there’s still a ways to go before all the details are taken care of.

IMG_5618

A beautiful Minnesota October day, one of the last hurrahs before the snow flies, part of which we spent lunching outdoors. Maybe next October someone will be enjoying lunch on this welcoming front porch watching the world go by.

Published in: on December 8, 2014 at 12:12 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Natural Beauty

While there’re are still some fairly major changes coming (pillars!), there’s also a lot of finishing detail happening.

From Eric Carrington, New Look Remodeling 2014-10-18 151027

The porch trim is all painted out, as are the pillar supports. The front paint job just lacks the black detailing. It’s a very handsome picture. (Picture taken by Eric Carrington of Newlook Remodel, our painting contractor.)

From Dad 2014-10-24 WP15_03_40_Pro

This is from about a week later. If you look closely, you can see that the porch ceiling (yellow pine beadboard) has been completed, and they’re putting up detail trimming under the porch fascia.

IMG_5582

Here’s a better picture of the porch ceiling, as well as a close-up of the fascia.

IMG_5591

The beautiful Douglas fir floor, in all its autumnal glory, contrasting vibrantly against the gray and white of its painted companions.

IMG_5588

The redwood treads of the permanent stairs…

IMG_5573

…and their white painted risers.

IMG_5577

Just finished painting the last pillar support plinth.

IMG_5586

A view of the original front door with its newly painted white surround. I’m not sure what the plans are for the unpainted strip of trim at the top of the door surround. The dental molding will be replaced, at least. I guess every construction project wants to maintain a little mystery!

Published in: on October 27, 2014 at 10:44 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Pillars and Flooring and Molding, Oh My!

It just gets better and better.

IMG_5450

We’re starting to see some of the finished white trim on the porch. They’ve also finished the trim on the second floor; the ugly brown stripe has been replaced with clean white and black wrapping around the house.

IMG_5494

And later, even more white. This picture gives a different idea of how the shape of the porch works with other elements of the house’s architecture. It’s an arresting conglomeration of shapes that somehow come together in a harmonious whole. Plus, the contrast of under the porch and over the porch is visually interesting – different light values, and a much stronger sense of the horizontal and vertical below; it’s almost void of any other type of element. Above, you get a better view of the new second floor molding just below the roof line.

IMG_5479

And look! Gray and white on the porch wall, so recently painted it’s still shiny and you can see the brush strokes.

IMG_5495

More details of the roof molding. It looks almost Japanese to me at this stage – the contrast between the painted and natural elements and the intricate-but-simple shapes, I suppose. Not to mention the juxtaposition of the built and non-built environments. I like it.

IMG_5504

A peek at the new porch floor. The dropcloth offers protection from construction damage, but I peeled it back for a better look. Douglas fir is a beautiful choice for flooring, and it contrasts so nicely with the gray.

IMG_5551

There’s been one element conspicuously absent from our resplendent Victorian porch so far – the pillars! Here they are, ready for more paint, and patiently awaiting the chance to escape the carriage house.

Ladder against house from Eric

Speaking of painting, here’s a vertiginous view that gives you some idea of what it takes to paint a three story Victorian – a real head for heights. (Picture taken by Eric Carrington of Newlook Remodel, our painting contractor.)

Dad at front door from Eric

Here’s Bill, owner of the B&B, standing proud on his new porch. (Picture taken by Eric Carrington of Newlook Remodel.)

Published in: on October 20, 2014 at 5:47 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , ,

A Puzzle and an Art Gallery

The porch has come a loooong way.

IMG_5237

It’s much more substantial looking with impressive molding.

IMG_5268

Here’s a better look at what’s been done from below. The support structures are in place on the roof, sheathed to keep out the weather for construction. You can also see here the final disposition of the architectural elements – the porch roof both wrapping closely around the 2nd floor bow window and resting right on top of the flush 1st floor window. It all makes so much more sense!

IMG_5300

This is the side support beam for the base of the porch. This porch isn’t going anywhere.

IMG_5316

It’s a bit like a 3D jigsaw puzzle; the intricacies of all the elements and forces working together to create a stable and beautiful structure.

IMG_5308

And now for something completely different:  a residential construction site still life.

IMG_5366

Even this far into the process, I’m still noticing details on unfinished parts of the house. Here’s an interesting discoloration and crack on one of the back corner pilasters. Was it originally two colors? Is this evidence of two different pieces of wood, showing their natural coloration? Some sort of burn damage? Although I don’t think I’m seeing any of the textures that would go with that last. Hmmm.

IMG_5374

The painting is coming on as well. The back of the house shows the contrast between the old paint scheme and the new, without the scaffolding. Very different. The windows are giving us an art show too, courtesy of the beautiful prairie skies. You can see on the right window that the screens and storms haven’t been put back yet after having been removed for painting.

IMG_5356

A detail of the finished paint job; silver, black, white, and gray. Dignified, crisp, and clean.

Published in: on October 20, 2014 at 5:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

All it Needs is a Lick of Paint

Well, that’s not quite true, but the paint sure helps.

24

From the white siding and green trim it’s had for at least 35 years (and who knows how much longer) to gray siding. And it’s quite the process on a house this size. I wouldn’t want to be up on that ladder.

25

Yeah, the green’s really not working with the gray. How about white, instead?

26

Much better. Clean, crisp, and classy. What an interesting arrangement of window shapes, too.

27

The white also shows off the details in the trim.

28

And the warm lights of home glow welcomingly against the gray.

29

The carriage house is being painted to match.

30

Still useful for storage even if this is the only horse calling it home now-a-days.

31

A preview of the finished paint design. The addition of the black really makes everything pop.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

A Roof in the Making

The difference between a patio and a porch is the roof. This is definitely a porch.

17

On the stair overhang you can see the bones of the eaves, currently resembling a stylish pergola. This also offers a different view of how the porch will interact with the other architectural elements of the house. I love how the temporary views offered during construction give you a chance to see things in a way you haven’t before, and probably won’t again. Plus the play of line and shadow in this picture is just cool.

18

The porch roof supports are designed to miss the corner pilasters, even though the eaves will cross them. This minimizes the damage to these important vertical design elements, something for which the smaller-porch-that-was builders must have been thankful for. Remember, the house wasn’t re-sided until later, so the pilasters were still exposed after the smaller porch went up. In fact, they were more prominent at that point than ever before.

18.5

The groove caused by the porch eaves in the left-hand pilaster isn’t too bad. And it’s important as a guide for the new construction. There’s a lot the designers learned about the original porch from the traces it left behind.

19

The permanent floor of the new porch will be much more attractive than the temporary.

20

I’m not sure the same can be said for the ceiling. But I’m sure it’ll be better protection from the weather.

22

You can see how the new roof joists are nestled right up to the 2nd floor bay window, working their way around it.

23

And here you can see the complicated interaction of the various roof elements, accentuated by the play of light and shadow, and in stark contrast to the organic chaos of the trees beyond. I’d like to say something about the juxtaposition of the milled wood and living trees, of nature bent to humanity’s needs, but I’m not sure what. So I won’t.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,

Built on a Foundation of Stone, Old and New

A grand porch must have grand supports.

09

Solid cement pilings, partially buried, and the visible portions clad in the very same stone pieces that made up the original porch’s buried pilings, excavated to make way for the new. The same local limestone makes up the house’s foundation; one bit of natural material that didn’t escape the mid-20th-century paintbrush, sadly.

10

The same ancient stone is used in hundreds, if not thousands, of structures in this part of the city, including the walls of what’s reputed to be the oldest extant house in St. Paul, located on W 7th St. It’s now in the courtyard of a restaurant.

11

The other completed limestone-clad piling with the roughed in pillar support on top.

12

One of the pillar supports by the stairs. You can see here how the bit of floor leading to the stairs extends beyond the general front line of the porch, adding square footage and more opportunity for pillars. The more pillars the better, obviously!

13

Although most of it is gone, there are a few bits of the porch-just-removed that are staying, mainly because they don’t interfere with the new construction, and are not worth the trouble of getting rid of. One such are the porch supports, that bit of cement block you can see through the floor joists here.

14

Another, surprisingly, are the old porch stairs. Cast out of solid cement and made to last, you’d need a jackhammer to remove them.

15

Why bother when they fit so nicely under the new design? Also, as Bill says, it’s something for future owners and renovators to get excited about when they find them. It’s important to leave a legacy.

16

You can see that the support structures that will be hidden are plain cement block, not nearly as attractive as those that will be exposed, but equally strong.

There’s something appealing about that last picture. Harmony in the chaos of construction. Permanent and temporary elements working together to create a solid, beautiful final product. And a domestic construction site on an autumn day with sunny summer still reflected in the windows.

Published in: on September 25, 2014 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.