Hatton House Diaries

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

Finished! Let There Be Light…in the Kitchen! April 14, 2013

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 11:05 pm
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The finished product!

You might remember last week’s future project from our favorite things, which was a chandelier that was destined for our kitchen once it had been re-wired. The best thing that came out of the #FavoriteThings blog post for me was a group of virtual friends that will peer pressure me to complete projects in a timely manner. I think it was a day or two after the Favorite Things post that host Victoria Barnes was peer pressuring me via Twitter to post photos of the chandelier. 

So I stayed up until 2 AM, two nights in a row, learning how to rewire my prize, and then struggling through the actual project of shoving wires through S-curves (the secret: start with the sharp curve first). The most time consuming part was figuring out what needed to be done. I start most of my projects at Miller’s Hardware, where they can usually set me in the proper direction on a project right from the start. My first trip there, I was armed with just a photo of the socket, and they had no idea what I needed, and asked me to bring the fixture with me. But when I returned with the fixture, they still couldn’t tell what I needed because they couldn’t see the bottom of the light bulb socket. They advised me to contact Hansen Electric, which was totally unacceptable to me. I wanted to rewire this sucker myself, dammit, and I had all the knowledge of YouTube behind me! What could go wrong? I mean, if I’m doomed to let someone else do it, I’ll screw it up good trying first.

I figured if I could cut the wires to the chandelier arms, I’d be able to spin the arm wires out and look at the sockets. So I started unscrewing the entire fixture, keeping track of where things went using an egg carton (by the way, my husband was right, just don’t tell him…my life was made easier because of the photos I took prior to dismantling this thing, so I recommend extensive photo documentation IN ADDITION to egg cartons). Once I had the top and bottom unscrewed, I clipped the wires (point of no return!) and voila! Those sockets came out with very little effort, and even better, seemed in good enough shape that I didn’t have to replace them, just the wires. 

Wire, bad. Sockets, good.

Wire, bad. Sockets, good.

I got the wires shoved through with no small amount of convincing, and learned that my blunt force method of wire stripping only serves to break wires. Eventually I got everything capped and taped together, and then stacked back up and screwed back together, and today after several days of “Hey, we should hang that light tonight!” it is finally done and looking amazing in my kitchen. $60 fixture, less than $10 of materials, some glass cleaner, and I have a gorgeous new fixture that’s just what I wanted, aesthetically and in a new skill: restoration rewiring!

 

 

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Egg carton, good. Photos of how it goes together, better

 

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: Past, Present, Future April 9, 2013

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 4:39 pm
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Victoria Barnes posted the MOST amazing Craigslist find this morning, and it helped me make my final decision…I’m posting all my contenders! It’s the only way to be remotely worthy of linking to her post. Plus, I realized, my three things are a past project, a current project, and a future project! You get to see some progression, all in one post!

wpid-2013-04-09_09-52-57_426.jpgFirst, there was the dining room chandelier. When we bought the house, it had a two-arm Greek Revival lamp that had been converted from gas. It was okay, but it bothered me that it was so small for our seats-twelve dining room. But with a thousand other projects to contend with, I resigned myself to living with it. BUT THEN…one of my neighbor posted a photo to facebook of a chandelier that he had just rewired. It had cut glass kerosene reservoirs, crystals, brass beads, it was just SO LOVELY!! So perfectly Victorian and delicious, I had to have it. It wasn’t where I should have been spending money, but I didn’t care (and I did get the neighborly discount..rationalize, rationalize, rationalize!) It makes me happy every time I walk by it. And that Greek Revival light? It moved one block north, to the house that’s been lovingly named “The Greek Lady,” even though it’s really Colonial…they meant well, and “Colonial Lady” sounds more like a company that makes muffin mixes.

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colonial fireplace

Not this one….

My next favorite is a fireplace mantle that I just found. I’ve discovered that I don’t really do things the way I should in this house, y’know, with a plan. I work my way through inexpensive projects, while trying to work out financing for the big projects (don’t even get me started on Neighborhood Finance Corp…it’ll work out someday). The next thing I was willing to spend Money on was a fireplace mantle for the dining room. Our original was urban mined before our time here, and it felt like the house was wounded and bleeding. It needed a mantle band aid, STAT. I’d been looking, but everything fabulous was $3000, and everything else was too big, not big enough, and generally $1000+. Sigh. Then, in the last booth at the Des Moines Home and Garden Show, was the Habitat for Humanity ReStore Store booth with a lovely Colonial Fireplace. It wasn’t Mr. Right, but it had Mr. Right Now potential. Plus, it was a steal, so I bought it and brought it home.

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THIS ONE!

As soon as I got it here, it bothered me. Putting a Colonial band-aid over a Victorian wound didn’t seem right. Of all the rooms I wanted to screw up, the dining room was not the one. I could go into details about the lovely woman that haunts this room, and how I want her to be happy, but let’s just leave it that, one day, it’s going to be my masterpiece. So, back to Craigslist I went, and this time, instead of just looking in Des Moines, I searched Iowa City, Omaha, and Kansas City. There it was, my precious. The perfect size, with mirrors, and just right level of decoration. It needed to be finished, but it was already stripped. Jackpot! I emailed back and forth with the owner, negotiated the firebox, which made my heart race, into the original price. I went and bought it, as well as some tin ceiling she had, which will show up in future projects, and brought it home. It looks so lovely. My master plan for the dining room is slowly coming together! Rubs hands with evil laugh! Oh, and you can take the Colonial one off my hands here!

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wpid-2013-04-03_17-48-40_484.jpgFinally, a preview of my future favorite. This find is from Urban Finds, at the 2 Crazy Redheads booth. (Ignore the Easter eggs in the photo, we’re still Jewish, but the next door neighbors invited the kids to partake in their hunt.) I’d never been to the once a month junktastic Urban Finds, but I think I’m about to be a regular. First of all, 2CR is run by a woman I’m Facebook friends with, but have never met, so we created a little scene upon figuring out that we’d finally managed to meet each other in real life. Then, I found this chandelier, which I think will be perfect for my kitchen, for $60. Best part? It needed to be rewired! I’ve been on an adventure of learning how to rewire fixtures, which makes me totally excited, learning a new skill! It’s the best part of this house…learning all these lost art skills. I can’t wait to get it finished and walk you all through the process! Stay tuned, for the next episode of #FavoriteThings!

P.S. I’d love to see links to your favorites in the comments!