Sunday, November 22, 2009

Renovation #1: The Hearth

Since moving into the old farmhouse, we've begun three different renovations inside. Three projects of which not a single one is finished. Outdoor work, the wedding and then the mother of all septic tank upgrades has derailed our work inside. I've known people who will move into a house, unpack and paint every room within a matter of a week or two and their home will not only look like they've lived there for years but it will look like a showpiece. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people. There are times when just maybe I wish I was but, hey, it's not like I have any Girl Guides knocking on my front door these days, and besides, when I do a job, I want to do it right, so time is not of the essence. Gee, maybe I really am becoming a country girl!

The first project we under took was a small job in the kitchen. Upon our first visit to the old farmhouse, as we walked in the door, we were greeted by a cozy fire. Talk about having me at hello. I gotta tell ya, I have always dreamed of having a brick wall in the kitchen. I love the texture that it adds to a room, especially old reclaimed brick. The fact that this brick wall also had a fireplace smack dab in the middle of it was like winning a life time supply of chocolate. Dark chocolate. Are you with me? I hope so.

The house inspector wasn't quite as impressed. He didn't think it was safe. In fact, he was amazed the house was still standing. Uh oh! I recalled that first visit when the agent locked up the house after we had finished our tour, meanwhile the fire continued to roar in the kitchen. I began to wonder if we were lucky that this house was still available to purchase. But there was, and we were undeterred, the way things stood it wasn't exactly an efficient source of heat anyways. We knew we would have to give it a retrofit. You know, fix her up and make her pretty again; so that's what we did. She needed a makeover.

An airtight wood insert and lining for the chimney was ordered and a Scottish mason, named Andy, with a very thick accent and a bad case of pneumonia, who entertained us in more ways than you can possibly imagine, eventually redid the brick work. He told his he wouldn't leave until he had lit a fire and watched the smoke escape from the chimney above and he was true to his word.

My husband built a new mantel the day before Christmas Eve, just in time to hang up our stockings with care. Now we have an efficient heat source that keeps most of the house warm on it's own. We're into the last week of November and we haven't had to turn our furnace on yet; and on a cool, fall morning, having breakfast in front of a warm fire sure is a pleasurable way to start the day.

You might be asking, "what's not finished with this mini-renovation"? Are you? I know I would be. Well, here's the dilemma, and I'm curious to know what you would do in my shoes muddy boots. The brick, was at some point in time,  brace yourself for it, it was, ugh, I can't stand to say was painted. GASP! There, it's out. Andy was mortified. Brick needs to breathe, it's porous, it has holes. If you fill those holes with paint, the brick will get sick and start to die. It will chip, flake and erode away. It may take a very long time, longer than any day I might see but all the same it WILL happen. Still wondering what the big deal is? Have YOU ever tried to remove paint from brick? If you have, I rest my case, if you haven't, well aren't you lucky. Please don't rub it in. It's not easy, it's not enjoyable and do you see how many bricks there are? That's all I have to say about that. So, to paint or to remove, one brick at a time. What would you do?

Be well friends!


Flat Creek Farm said...

Looking mighty fine, I say. What a task! Can't say as I've ever had the "pleasure" of removing paint from bricks, but it sure sounds like a pain. But well worth it, from the looks! By the way, I'm not one of THOSE people either ;-) Whew, feels good to know that not everyone is. -Tammy

Flat Creek Farm said...

p.s. love the new blog look! -tammy

Elle Bee said...

Gorgeous re-do! I love the painting over it too. So pretty. I've never removed paint from brick, and now I hope I never do!