Hatton House Diaries

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

The Front Door Finishing December 13, 2013

The doors, after sanding to even out the finish, no shellac yet.

The doors, after sanding to even out the finish, no shellac yet.

When we bought the Hatton House, there was a gorgeous door already in place, however it was painted on the exterior, but in a horrifying state of unfinished on the interior. Someone had stained the door with a single layer of stain, but they’d done in haphazardly, so that parts of the door had no stain at all, and parts of the door had stain pooled into corners and left to permanently damage the color of the wood. I stared at this door for two years, trying to sort out how I was going to attack it. I have tried to avoid using heavy duty strippers, and I couldn’t sand away the spots where stain had collected. I decided to try to finesse the coloring in the wood in combination with removing the dark spots where I could.

I started with a light sanding of 200 grit paper to take the dirt and hopefully even out some of the variation in color from the stain job. It didn’t take out all the color variation, especially in the window muntin corners, but it helped, and I hoped would be enough once I blended it with the shellac. Several people I’ve talked to use colorants in their shellac, but I opted for pure shellac and a stain coat from General Finishes Gel Stain in color Java.

This is what we were up against: stain on the face of the muntins, but not the sides, except where it pooled to almost black in the corners.

This is what we were up against: stain on the face of the muntins, but not the sides, except where it pooled to almost black in the corners.

I coated the doors with a thin coat of shellac, followed by a coat of stain in areas that needed to be darkened. It was a bit tricky, feathering in the stain over the areas that got too dark in the previous owner’s coating. Each coat took about 90-120 minutes per door, as it took so much time to coat all the surfaces around the window panes without completely trashing the stained glass. Once I was happy that the color was as balanced as it could be, I alternated coats of shellac with extra fine steel wool until I’d built up a nice sheen. I think there were three cycles of shellac by the end of it.

The end result is pretty great. I love how the shellac pulls out the grain in the wood, and I think the variations in stain are to the point where they look like aging more than mistakes (that’s what I’ll tell myself at least). I used denatured alcohol to lift some of the wax from the trim around the door, and I’m pretty confident that with a little work in the spring, the trim can be brought to look just as great as the door does. Stay tuned….now that I’m getting more confident with wood working projects, it may be time to tear into the endless supply of those projects.

The finished product. Completed doors that look amazing (but don't photograph well) in the daylight.

The finished product. Completed doors that look amazing (but don’t photograph well) in the daylight.

 

The Soccer Room December 9, 2013

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 10:22 am
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The before photo, try not to judge.

The before photo, try not to judge.

There have been a few happy bonuses of the Minimalism Game, a project in which we spent the month of November decluttering. Once I started clearing out our clutter, it allowed me to see things differently. The decluttering itself freed up some space in the last corner of unpacking the house from our move two years ago, and what I was able to sell totaled about $600. Suddenly, the project of finishing the soccer shrine in the alcove off our bedroom didn’t seen to insurmountable, with space cleared and a budget for paint and poster frames.

We finally got the air conditioner moved back up to the attic for the winter, moved the spare wood flooring to the hallway for future project staging. Once we’d decluttered the main bedroom (part way at least!) we were able to rearrange the furniture to include the piece on the right into the main room. The bookcase on the left was in pretty bad shape, having entered the world as a fiber board covered cheapo that was harassed by years of projects and paint splatters and other abuses. We inherited it from the previous owners of the house, and decided it was better suited for use in the basement ceramics studio, so down the stairs it went. That allowed the boxes to move out long enough for painting, and Ikea cables to go up just below the ceiling line. Then the room started to come together.

Our collection of scarves went up around the top of the room, hung over the Ikea cables, and grouped by US game/tournament scarves, AO chapter scarves, club scarves, and international scarves. We moved the Stokke Keep shelving unit in to house our collection of signed jerseys, balls, shoes, and other assorted ephemera. I still have to find the official World Cup licensed condoms from 1998, and I need poster frames for a few pieces, and I thought I would transfer my pin collection to ribbons and hang those, and there’s a matter of rearranging the window treatments in the bedroom so this room has something that fits, but I’m pretty excited about the progress so far. You can follow our continued soccer adventures at my other blog, www.soccerfamilystyle.com.

That's more like it! The soccer shrine coming together.

That’s more like it! The soccer shrine coming together.

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The 2013 qualifying set, the 2010 Total Jackassery scarf, and various Korea and Germany era scarves.

International scarves

International scarves

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Weird collections: the Germany hat I wore to my first USMNT game, and an ironic licensed beanie baby holding a collection of World Cup condoms. Oh, and unrelated CJ Sapong’s shoes.

 

The Finale – Minimalism Game December 2, 2013

Filed under: Family Stuff — hattonhousedsm @ 7:21 am
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One last push…we lost count, but there was at least 200 items in there!

December 1! What a ride! I’m so grateful for this month of decluttering. It has been such an amazing ride, and completely changed how I look at “stuff.” Things that surprised me:

1. How much stuff lives here. We got rid of over 500 things over the past 30 days, I stopped counting the trash stuff, so we went over the daily count. I didn’t even touch my attic, and I still have so much work to do on all the bedrooms. I thought if we did this, my house would feel empty, but in reality, there are corners that feel right, but most of it still feels cluttered. How did we get so much stuff?

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Our friend Steve heard Doug had purged several sweaters, and scored himself a whole new wardrobe. Pantless wardrobe, but hey, it’s something!

2. You have to change your thinking. Minimalism Game forced me to rethink clutter. Instead of “but I want that” or “I need to keep that” or “it’s too big a pain to sell that” it was “How am I going to get rid of this stuff fast enough?” Changing my thinking amped up my ability to let stuff go.

3. Clutter takes up too much mental energy. Seriously. I didn’t just get rid of stuff. I got rid of the nagging feeling the stuff created in my mind. Which meant I had time to think about staining my front doors, decluttering the alcove off our bedroom that never really got unpacked when we moved in two years ago, and finally got me to clean out all the too small clothes my son keeps trying to wear to school.

4. Life is too short for all that clutter. We had brunch with our friends Steve and Rachel, and the conversation turned to our decluttering project, and our fears that we will die as hoarders buried beneath piles of architectural magazines. Steve got a bonus of sweaters, and hopefully, the inspiration of Minsgame up their December….or at least January.

 

Days 24, 25, 26 – Minimalism Game – I Had No Idea How Much Stuff We Had November 26, 2013

Filed under: Family Stuff — hattonhousedsm @ 11:43 pm
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wpid-20131126_165114.jpgIn getting ready for my daughter’s birthday party, we converted the front parlor from summer use to winter use, which in the land of no garage means moving the bikes downstairs, which meant that I could then see the lost treasures of Spring gone by. Under a table, behind the bikes, was a huge box. In fact there were three boxes total that were hiding behind bikes (because like coats, we also have more bikes than people in this house). In two of the boxes, there were lights that I bought at a garage sale to change out some outdated fixtures in our rental house. In the third box, there was a giant pile of stuff. I counted: 76 items, all ready to be donated (and 4 items worthy of selling) that I just never got to the Thrift Store this Spring. JACKPOT!

I now realize that I had nothing to fear in this project. I thought this would be the hardest week. Where was I going to find 20+ things per day to get rid of? Now, I’m panicked because in four days, I’ll officially be done, and I’ve done one corner of the cluster f*%& that is our master bedroom. I haven’t gone through all the lotions and potions I keep in the bathroom but never use. And the attic…full of boxes of mystery, that I haven’t even cracked open. I’m pretty sure I could do Minimalism game for at least one or two more months and not be done. I’ve gotten rid of 351 things, and only in a few corners of my world does this place actually look decluttered. I’m going to have to think about how I want to use my last few precious official days…not at all how I expected to feel at this point.

P.S. That’s Pumpernickel, one of the mousers from Days 22-23 in the background, waiting to mail the silverware and collectibles out from our Ebay sell off. Remember my silverware stash?  It sold for $214.05. Not a bad haul for junk in a box!

 

Day 22-23 – Minimalism Game – Live Mouse Attack! November 22, 2013

Filed under: Family Stuff — hattonhousedsm @ 10:21 pm
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wpid-20131119_215503.jpgWe live in an old house, and we have cats. I have become accustomed to the occasional small bird or mouse delivered to me as a prize. I appreciate this service that my cats provide as a primitive, yet communicative report from my feline exterminators of their chemical free termination of a household pest. I do not, however, want to be part of the process.

When I hear a commotion in the dining room, the last thing I want to see is two cats chasing a mouse around. I know I’m a much bigger threat to the mouse, hypothetically, than the mouse is to me, but I am just not cool with a mouse running through my dining room. I’m also not cool with my cat grabbing this mouse in her mouth with authority, but somehow not killing it.

I know, it’s my fault. I thought “You should take the cat and mouse to the front porch and remove the mouse now.” But I really don’t want to be a mouse killer. I want to draw the line at mouse killer owner, mouse killer enabler. That’s enough, I don’t need literal mouse blood on my hands. How the heck do you kill a mouse? I’m a city girl, and I’d prefer to stay that way. I don’t want to be the sort of practical Iowa woman who knows instantly how to dispatch a mouse ten different ways when faced with one in her dining room.

So I left the cats to their mouse, but those little suckers let the mouse go! Jerks! The mouse, who was very smart, made a break for the closet, which was a horrifying mess of all the things we’ve ever had to hide on the first floor in the past two years, in addition to a minimum of three coats for every conceivable temperature for each member of our family. Once I pulled everything out of the closet in a desperate yet fruitless attempt to give my killers access to the mouse interloper, I realized I had my day 22 declutter opportunity. Which turned into my day 22 and 23, because you wouldn’t believe how much crap you can cram into a closet, and yet still end up with a full closet of stuff you might actually use at the end, but 45 items later, my closet was a little closer to reasonable, and I may have just found my next remodeling project: sealing the holes in the closet and adding shelves to keep stuff off the floor. The closet will not be a mouse refuge much longer, interlopers!

 

Day 20-21 – Minimalism Game – Flatware From Another Life November 20, 2013

Filed under: Family Stuff — hattonhousedsm @ 9:38 am
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$_57Remember how I hate selling things? I have a ton of stuff that falls into that “not willing to let it go/sell it”category. It’s so much easier to put the flatware from the beginning of our marriage in a box and forget about it. It was a really nice set, but looked kinda silly next to the new plates we got in….wait for it….2006. So I’ve had this set of flatware in a box for SEVEN YEARS. Because you could save it for the kids, for the apartment they might have 15 years from now. Or should I sell it to Replacements? Or Ebay it?

UGH! Decision time! Ebay it is. http://www.ebay.com/itm/321251514094

 

Day 19 – Minimalism Game – Did I Seriously Move All These VHS Tapes? November 19, 2013

Filed under: Family Stuff — hattonhousedsm @ 9:26 am
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wpid-20131117_192638.jpgI guess I thought VHS was making a comeback? Or that we would get a VHS player and I would someday take time to watch this stuff again? Er…again…as if “The Devil’s Own” ever got out of the package. (It was filmed in my hometown, and I think I bought it in a homesick weak moment).

OK, so I kept the videos of my senior year play and our graduation video, which I will convert to DVD, and I’m sad that my FIRM videos are no more, but seriously….when did I ever expect to play these?

This Minimalism stuff is pretty freaking cool. I’ve realized a couple things in this process:

1. I had so much more crap that I DO NOT need than I thought I did. I’ve gotten rid of over 231 items, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what I need to toss/sell.

2. All that stuff is draining. It sucks the energy out of your life with an emotional weight about 100x it’s physical weight.

3. Getting rid of stuff makes me feel stronger. By doing stuff I’ve been putting off for years, I feel fearless about facing the next big challenge. Who knew getting rid of stuff would be so empowering?

I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel as we get into the big number days, but so far…I’m a huge fan.