July 26, 2007

Our front door: 1944, 2007 and in future?

We found an old picture of our front door dating from 1944:

And this is what it looks like now, unfortunately:

My husband added one major change to it last weekend: He enlarged the mail slot... ;) We receive a lot of parcels and our neighbour, an adorable elderly lady, accepts them whenever she can. It went a bit over the top in the last couple of weeks and so we decided we needed a bigger mail slot.

The current door is probably from the 1950ies and really ugly in my opinion... We want to exchange it for an old one eventually (or for a new one crafted after historical examples).

We walked through our little town, taking pictures of other people's doors to get some inspiration. We'll have to (and want to) maintain the structure with that fanlight, apart from that we haven't taken any decision yet. Which ones do you like?

July 20, 2007

First (failed) try working with clay...

... or: it doesn't smell the way it looks ... ;)

As described in my last post, we had a hole in our bedroom floor (gypsum) and after getting rid of that ancient mouse nest we had to fill the hole if we didn't want to risk breaking our ankles stumbling into it.

Remember: That was just a couple of weeks after we moved in and we were kind of over-enthusiastic and decided to fill it with clay (original flooring material). My husband organized some clay mixed with straw and poured it into the hole:

And the end of the story? It was far too much clay and far too watery - it actually never dried up and began to mould after some days...

We scraped it all out again and filled the hole with gypsum - the same material as the rest of that bedroom floor...

Finally we layed a carpet:

That's only a temporary solution as eventually we want to lay a wooden floor, but not right now (no time and no money). And a carpet in the bedroom is rather cosy as I must admit ;)

So much for our first adventures "messing around" with clay!

July 15, 2007

Xylophaga or dry rot?

No - just an ancient mouse nest... Shortly after moving into our house in March, we found this and were terrified:

We couldn't quite figure out what it was and thought of xylophaga or dry rot. We saw huge bills arise in front of us to save the house or - in even worse nightmares - the house tumbling down.

What happened exactly? We decided to rip out the previous owner's carpet in the bedroom due to a wood worm-infested coco mat underneath the carpet which was meant to insulate the room.

After riping out that stuff and throwing it out of the window *great fun*

we found a strange kind of flooring. We didn't know what it was back then - thanks to the preservationist, we know now that it is a historic gypsum flooring which had to be layed in the middle of the 19th century for safety reasons (fire break).

And in this floor there was the hole shown above - and in the hole traces of insects, strange fibers and paper shavings. Thanks to the rests of newspaper we found out that it must be an ancient infestation, it was still printed in Gothic letters.

We immediately called "our" carpenter and he laughed at us saying: "Don't worry, it's just a mouse nest, probably more than 100 years old. Your house won't tumble down because of an old mouse nest!"

You really have to learn to react with calmness to all the surprises a 400 year old house comes up with ;)

In the next post I'll write more about how we refilled that hole...

July 11, 2007

Discoveries in an old house (I): Eight (!) layers of wallpaper

I really love our old house!!! Just for fun we tried to look underneath the wallpaper in the bottom area of the walls in our living room. There seemed to be some kind of bulge and we wanted to know what it is. At first, my husband got stock with his finger in the wall, I love this picture :)

Well, the bulge is a - probably very old - wooden plinth:

And sticking to it are eight - yes, 8 - layers of wallpaper. One of them is definitely a 60ies wallpaper...

Layers 1-3, woodchip wallpapers

Layer 4:

Layer 5:

Layer 6 - 60-ies forever ;):

Layer 7:

Layer 8:

And on the clay-wall there seems to be some kind of painting in a still very bright blue. I'm really eager to see that one day:

The preservationist told us that blue colour used to be too expensive, so his guess is that they used little blue cubes (probably with indigo) that where dissolved in water. The walls were then painted with this watery solution. He too is eager to see that wall ;)