Thursday, March 31, 2011

Getting a handrail on things

Whenever you look at bringing an old or historic home back to life you will be confronted with terms like

For the most part, people seem to use the words "renovation" and "remodeling" interchangeably while "rehabilitation" is the dirty word, whispered fearfully behind closed doors. No worries, rehabilitation really only means "bringing a habitat back to a livable condition". Yes, our Darling Duckling is a "Rehab" property and it took me a while to come to peace with the term. Before it always sounded scary and frankly, depending on the property in question it can be (remember the movie "The Moneypit"? Yeah, like that) - an all encompassing renovation taking the house to the studs and rebuilding it step by step.

Well, no. If you're bringing the plumbing up to code, the wiring and the heat and air system, guess what? You're rehabbing a property and it doesn't matter of it's a 1950s bungalow, a 1880s Victorian or a 1980s concrete block home. Rehab is good! It can be painful, expensive, even dragging on but the end result is so worth it.

So, we're rehabbing our house with bits and bops of restoration thrown over time as much as our budget allows.
Inside our house we're allowed to do whatever we want - there are no rules and/or regulations in place that tells us what we have to restore, when and how, nobody to tell us that we cannot have high-gloss ultra modern cabinetry and modern art on the walls.
Outside we are required to make sure things look appropriately historic. I mean, geee, that's why we are living in our historic neighborhood - we really love the way each house is different, how vintage touches exude charm and pride in craftmanship and how everything fits together in a naturally grown kind of way rather than the cookie-cutter neighborhoods that won't even allow you to hang a flag outside your house so you can find your way home.

Oh, look! I'm going off on a tangent! Heh ...

Anyways, some restoration projects will have to wait until our budget has recovered from the rehabilitation shock therapy, for example the stair case. We know the original molding of our staircase is intact and will be kept safe in its drywall enclosure until the great day we have enough of the appropriate kind of spindles, a befitting handrail and money to rebuild that and a new newel post for the bottom step.

[There's a peek through the door for you]

For now we'll be keeping the half-open divider wall and the 80s handrail but we found something that will allow us to make it look a bit nicer than those cheapo brackets that are currently holding up the handrail.

[Source: Van Dyke's Restorers, soon to be featured at the Duckling]

They match the design of one of our interior door knobs (our house is a treasure trove of door knob styles) and their solid shape works great with less frilly, more down-to-earth approach of a Bungalow-style house like ours. I'm not 100% sure how historically accurate they are for our house - they were clearly in use and available for purchase when our house was built - but that's the extent of my knowledge. Those vernacular style houses - houses built by small builders - are a style-muddle in and of themselves caught in transition between the more official styles. Oh look, another tangent ... I should probably take a break right now :o)

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