Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year to All

From the Boring Beige Rental with the fantastic view of the Rocky Mountains ...


P.S. Bullwinkle sends greetings, too.


IA

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Riley Lodge: Our Story - The End

The very long and final post in the Saga of Riley Lodge ... hie thee to a scullery for a cup of hot coffee. You'll need it to stay awake for this one.

Over the years, we continued our work on the interior. Once the wood trim had been refinished and put back in its proper room, we'd pick out a carpet, wallpaper would be chosen to match the carpet, furniture upholstered to match both and, when finally satisfied with how it all looked, we'd move on to the next room and repeat the process. In the beginning, almost all our free time was devoted to the house, but as the offspring started arriving in 1989, 1991 and 1993, work slowed down considerably - not only because we were busy with them but also because they, rather than the house, became our priority.

Without further ado, the Before and After pictures ...

Main Stairwell Before ...

Main Stairwell After ...

Before ...

After ...

Second Floor Hallway Before ...

Second Floor Hallway After ...

Parlour Before ...

Parlour After ...

Parlour Pocket Doors Before ...

Parlour Pocket Doors After ...

And more Parlour ...

And even more ...

Fireplace Room Before ...

Fireplace Room After ...

Before ...

After ...

Before ...

After ...

Scullery and Cold Pantry Before ...

Before ...

Scullery After ...

Family Room Before ...

And Before ...

And Before ...

And Before ...

Family Room After ...

And After ...

Bathroom, Asia + Friend Before ...

Bathroom After ...

And lastly, the Attic - the room that holds a special place in one's heart, and the very reasoning behind this blog's name ...

Attic Before ...

Attic After ...

Attic Before ...

Attic After ...

And After ...

Before and after pictures of the Dining Room, Master Bedroom and Former Rooms of the Offspring have been previously posted, and can be found by clicking their respective links ... should you be interested.

Some things were never completed or fixed for purely sentimental reasons: the newel post at the top of the stairs where Kaos, our second Russian Wolfhound, used to sit and gnaw on it; the pocket doors, varnished by the insomniac's  Sainted Father in a satin finish even though the rest of the house was done with high-gloss (he passed shortly afterwards and one never had the heart to redo his work); the swinging door which, judging by the dark mark on the floor, looks to have hung between the kitchen and the pantry was never installed (heavy swinging door + offspring = trips to the hospital with a broken something-or-other). But we've left the door in the basement where we found it, should the new owners care to rectify this omission. 

And when the time came to strip the paint off the dining room windows, the very last set of windows to be done, the insomniac  stopped and put away her putty knives, paint scrapers and dental picks. Because she worried that if the whole house were made to look almost new, we might forget how much work we'd done over the years and how much we had accomplished.

* * * 

And now a message to the new owners, Bob and Leona. Our family extends to you our wish that you'll enjoy as many happy years in Riley Lodge as we've been fortunate to have. One had hoped to include a photo of the four of us standing on the front porch waving our goodbyes to you at this point, but the offspring objected quite vociferously to the idea.

Though you might no longer refer to it as the Gothic Mansion (which was more a reflection on the inhabitant's taste in decorating than the architectural style of the house), perhaps you still shall. After all, Bob did purchase Hylas and the Nymphs, which will remain behind on the parlour wall; even when it was explained that Hylas was likely being lured to his doom by those beautiful red-headed nymphs, Bob didn't even blink and said he still wouldn't mind trading places with him. And having become rather fond of taxidermied black crows, Leona purchased two and asked if it was alright if she named the birds Wayne and Lynne - which brought a big fat lump to the insomniac's  throat, forcing her to turn away to wipe something from her eyes.

As our final days in the Gothic Mansion come rather swiftly to an end, the insomniac  will take one last fond look around the house before locking up with her overly large skeleton key (or maybe just a regular key), will walk down the long driveway into the dark and stormy night (or maybe a sunny day just before the noon possession), and will hopefully manage to keep her dignity intact by NOT turning around for one final glance at the house that has played such a large part in our lives, thereby causing her to break down before she even reaches the end of the drive. Although that seems pretty unlikely.

And though we appreciate your generous invitation to have us back to see your renovations when complete, for once the insomniac  actually agrees with her spouse and thinks the right thing to do is to leave Riley Lodge with nary a backward glance, and head with excitement towards our next big adventure ... all the while worrying about the budget for this one, as well. And if what the psychic said last month is true, then when the Little Gothic Cottage in the Spooky Forest is finally complete, the insomniac  will be moving into her “true spiritual home”. And how many of us are lucky enough to live in not just one, but two spiritual homes in their lifetime? Probably not that many.

Until next time, the insomniac  wishes you nights of blissful sleep filled with pleasant dreams. Goodnight, my pretties.

IA


Oh, what the hell. Neither of them will likely read all the way to the end ... besides, how long can one's offspring stay mad at their Sainted Mother, anyways. Oh, really? That long? Huh.

L-R: The Long-Suffering Spouse, The Youngest,
The Insomniac, The Eldest ...

Oh, and Bob and Leona? That invitation to come back and see the house when you're done isn't totally off the table yet. At least not for the insomniac  ... 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Riley Lodge: Our Story - Life in the Original Crappy Little Trailer

Click to enlarge.

And we settled into ours - the in-law's trailer, which we got special permission from the City to park on the property while we renovated. (One does feel somewhat bad referring to it as the original Crappy Little Trailer. The in-laws were quite generous in lending it to us, after all.) Thus, the very first item on the agenda - more important even than a new roof - was the addition of a toilet and a sink to the third floor attic, as the water-damaged floor in the one and only bathroom had already been ripped out for replacement. It was always a good idea to make one last trip up to the attic before bedding down in the trailer for the night - for obvious reasons.

Days were spent working at our salaried jobs to help fund the restoration; evenings and weekends were spent working on the house. Showers and laundry were done as needed at the respective parental houses. Life in the little trailer was cozy for the insomniac, the spouse and our offspring at that time ... an extremely large Russian Wolfhound named Asia. And when Asia came inside the trailer at nights, everybody stayed in pretty much the same position until morning.

Probably the rainbow makes living in the trailer seem
a lot more idyllic than it was ...

After the relocation, a hole was dug for the new basement underneath the house and a heavy-duty foundation poured, with cutouts in the cement to accommodate each of the beams still running underneath the house.

Pouring the concrete ...

Perched over the foundation,
waiting for the cement to cure ...

Lowered onto the basement ...

Carefully extracting the beams ... all but one,
which still runs down the centre of the basement.

Cutouts filled in with cement ...

Our one regret during the restoration was that we were not able to afford to put the wooden cold pantry at the rear back on. Sadly, the quote to have that replicated would have eaten up far too much of our budget. It came down to a cold pantry or a new roof - the new roof won.

Having salvaged as many bricks as possible from the columns around the original veranda, these were now used to plug the hole at the rear where a chimney had been vented from the kitchen, and to brick up the back where the cold pantry had been. Ridding old bricks of their mortar so they can be reused is not as much fun as you might expect it to be.

HE looks happy because HE just had to LAY the bricks.

HE didn't have to CLEAN the bricks.

The roofer picked the hottest week of the year to install our new cedar roof.

By the third day, he had heatstroke.

He wore a pair of Hush Puppies and carried
a bundle of shingles on each shoulder up that ladder.

It was frightening.

Meanwhile, the insomniac  made a trip to the Glenbow Museum Archives to try and locate original pictures of Riley Lodge so we knew how to rebuild the veranda. As we'd never seen an enclosed veranda, we assumed, as did many others, that the cedar shakes were a later addition and originally it likely had spindles and railings like most other verandas from the same time period in the area.

After having gone through three boxes of Riley family papers and discovering absolutely nothing, we ended up using a picture taken from a 1910 book of house plans as the model.

That new roof made quite a difference ... looks better already.

New brick columns made from reclaimed brick, and restored original columns ...

The completed veranda ...

Ohhhh, look how young we were ...

And Happy, Happy, Happy.

Once the exterior work was done, we turned our attention to the interior. We redid the plumbing and heating, eliminated the old knob-and-tube wiring, insulated and finally drywalled. We wanted to do lath and plaster walls, but again, the cost was just too high.

Insulating the attic ... good times.

After the drywall, we rented a paint sprayer and added a coat of beige-tinted primer to all the walls. Having had no previous experience with industrial paint sprayers, a fair bit of the primer ended up elsewhere ...

A foreshadowing of what the insomniac's  hair might
 look like in the future (like right now), frosted with white ...

Can't blame any of that white in the spouse's beard
on paint though ...

The second the primer dried, we contacted the moving company to get our furniture out of storage; the move-in date firmly etched in our memories as it was the spouse's birthday - October 7, 1987. An ideal time of year to be moving out of a trailer and into a heated house.

The following pictures show how it looked back then, before all the picture rail, plate rail, baseboards, door and window trim that had been labelled and removed at the old site had been stripped of their many layers of paint and reinstalled. It's awfully ... beige, isn't it?

So beige ... and so uncluttered. Ugh.

Before the arrival of the blinds and lace curtains,
and elimination of the salvaged lighting ...

This was our only kitchen cabinet for
many, MANY years ...

Tomorrow ... the final post. The Before and After photos.

IA


* In 2008, the insomniac  returned to the Archives, and after wading through six or seven more boxes of Riley family material that had been donated since 1987, found four pictures of Riley Lodge in the very last envelope in the very last box; said discovery causing her to utter a muffled whoop of exultation and do a quick fist pump of her white-gloved hand (Archives are almost as quiet as Libraries). That year, we hired Mark W. Chambers Architect Ltd. to draw up new plans for the veranda, recreating exactly how it looked in the photos, and rebuilt it. Everything is now as it should be ...