Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Nesting Boxes for the Chickens May 27, 2012

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 9:46 pm



Restoring Painted and Dingy Door Hardware May 24, 2012

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 6:23 pm

One of my friends from the State Historic Preservation Office told me that if you soak your old, dingy, painted hardware in a crock pot filled with water and a little dish soap on low overnight, the paint will fall off and it will be clean again! This I had to try!

Turns out, it works like a charm! Now if I could just find matching strike plates, I’d be all set!


Local Business Find: Bygone Era Consulting May 2, 2012

Filed under: Keep It Local,Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 5:11 am

imageRiver Bend is full of people who are super smart about home renovation done properly. No one better exemplifies that than David Sweet of Bygone Era Consulting. I found out about him because he’s one of very few people who work on steam heat in Des Moines, and he’s about the only one with expertise in our single pipe system. He also restores antique gas and electric lighting, old plumbing, and does pre-purchase evaluations of older homes. But we became friends over woodwork.

As I was working on refinishing the trim for our bathroom addition, people kept mentioning that I should talk to David, because he’s so knowledgeable about refinishing trim with historic accuracy. He doesn’t just strip wood down and slap a coat of poly on it. He restores the original finish using old world chemicals and techniques. I finally called him and made an appointment to have him come check out our projects.

As luck would have it, our appointment was for April 16, 2012, Greek Easter Monday. When David arrived, he touched our mezuzah, so I asked if he was Jewish. He said no, but he was active in the Greek Orthodox church, which led me to share that while I was Jewish, my non-Jewish grandmother was Greek, and I was thinking of her and the Greek Easter traditions she had taught me. Suddenly, David was singing (beautifully) Easter hymns in my kitchen, and I was ready to hang out and absorb knowledge as long as he wanted to stay.

In addition to being well versed in various traditional religions, he’s a genius with wood trim. He lifts decades of wax and grime off gently, respecting the history and soul of the wood, and then rebuilds the finish to it’s original glory. It’s mesmerizing to watch him do it, as he tells stories of lazy house maids who would go for years without properly stripping the wax of the house trim. I thought the trim would be the biggest chore (OK, it still might be by the time I finish the miles of it in this house!) but it was a pleasure taking lessons in wood finishing from David Sweet.

Bygone Era Consulting is too old school for a website or Facebook page, but you can reach David at 515-729-4169 or davdsweet@aol.com.