… and we are back

We have been overseas in Scotland for two weeks. No, we are not looking for another home restoration project, but we did find a couple fixer uppers.


A beautiful example of a 14th century castle that needs a little work. Watch for rude watchmen and falling cows. This is Doune Castle – “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” was filmed here.


This one requires an expert designer as well as an expert in structural integrity. The McDuff Castle was built in the 11th Century of red sandstone that is slowly crumbling away.

Stay tuned for more on our own castle in Astoria, Oregon!!


I know I am getting ahead of myself with all the interior work that needs to be done, but I can’t help thinking about house exterior colors. What color are we going to paint this house! Go bold? Stay very traditional? Not sure.

Of course, everyone has their own opinion… which makes things harder.


Found this chart of traditional colors from the Victorian period when this house was built? Would one of these work? Can they still mix these colors?

I also found some examples of color combinations I like. I’m inclined to go a little bold right now. The blue with cream and light green trim is “speaking to me.” This could all change. 🙂 Stay tuned…

Love – hate relationship with a floor sander

We have wood floors (some kind of western fir tree) throughout the house. We decided to sand them all clean and put some kind of clear finish on them. Unfortunately, the upstairs floors had a couple coats of paint on them.


We rented a sander from the local hardware store and started the project. We went through oodles of sand paper! The paint just gummed it up! What was underneath was beautiful though.

The newly sanded floors being protected with Osmo Oil (http://www.ivyhillosmo.com/ ). These are all natural oil and wax based floor treatments. Worked great!

Tubs, toilets and tapers

Plumbing work on the newly redesigned upstairs of the house was done simultaneously with the new walls. The change from one very large bathroom upstairs to two smaller (although really good size) ones required new plumbing everywhere. We are not plumbers – so we hired a great local contractor.


First, we needed to remove the downstairs kitchen ceiling to access and then replace the existing plumbing. Interesting! We found that the ceiling had been dropped quite a bit. We discovered the old paint and cute wallpaper. New plumbing will be higher so we can raise the ceiling!

Note: All the new supply lines and drains will be on the INSIDE of the house. The old drains were on the OUTSIDE of the house. Coming from an area that sees 20 below zero in the winter – this was alarming.


Tubs and toilets… one of the “small” bathrooms upstairs got a six foot tub! The other will have a large shower. More on that later…


Plastering is an art form (as far as I am concerned) so we hired an “artist” and expert to get the job done quickly.

Our designer/carpenter/craftsman (son) is doing a lot of this work himself (https://www.swyftdesignworks.com/ ). We add additional help when we can. We know our limits though and our skills do not include plumbing and taping/plastering.



Do you remember our red cedar sheathing and walls throughout the house? Well, we decided to have an accent wall in each of the upstairs bedrooms. We pulled all the tacks and threads out and did a bit of sanding (see previous posts about netting and wallpaper in old homes). They are looking really nice!

Walls come down – walls go up

Following the new design plan (see previous post) – new wall construction began…

All the tongue and groove planks are now bare. The new stud walls are starting to go up. Wiring too! Designer and Dad working in tandem.


After the electrical inspection… we insulated between the walls to cut down on noise and then installed brand new sheetrock. New rooms starting to actually look like rooms!


Before we can create the new and improved floor plan design, walls have to come down. It’s always a surprise to see what is under the existing wall coverings.


Our smiling designer starts the process. Underneath paint, wallpaper and newer  sheetrock or cheap wood paneling we found bare wood. We were surprised! Where is the old plaster and lath?

The bare wood planks are tongue and groove western red cedar with thousands of small tacks with thread hanging off each one. NEVER saw that before.


We did some research and discovered that a less expensive way to cover walls in the mid to late 1800s was to stretch fabric netting over the bare wood and then cover the netting with wallpaper.  An article in  Old House Journal 1991 describes the process. Interesting!

We are doing a restoration of the house, but this is one technique we will probably not use.


The entire house – – sheathing and all inside walls are constructed with one inch thick, tongue and groove, cedar planks. The house is a large wooden box. Very sturdy!