22 June 2010

Getting our house back

In a way, we are starting to get our house back after three months of disruption and disturbance. In another way, I am starting to realize how we truly are getting an entirely new, much more spacious house.

The downstairs entry hall — the only finished room we have at ground level, the rest being unfinished garage and utility room space — had served as my computer room since 2003. My messy desk was down there for all to see, along with a television set and, starting in 2004, a single daybed that we had bought for overflow house guests, since we had only one guest room.

The entry hall all cleaned up

Now that entry hall will be exactly that, and not a home office with a messy desk in it. The room gets a lot of daylight through two south-facing glass block windows on the stairway. It will be a perfect place for houseplants. And now we have the new armoire, which makes a perfect coat closet for us and for guests.

The radiator (see picture above) will hang on brackets
under the lighthouse painting.

For the time being, I still have an old armchair and footstool in the room. There's a big TV under the stairs, where you can't see it, and I'll be able to sit down there to read or watch movies until the upstairs room is painted, later this summer. Then we'll move the TV, chair, and ottoman up there.

The new wardrobe and my temporary TV room

We have company coming from California on Sunday. Yesterday, while Walt was putting the third coat of polyurethane on the pine floor upstairs, I decided to do some cleaning on the ground level.

First I scrubbed the tile floor to get off all the black scuff marks and dried plaster residue left by the work crew. They had stored boards and drywall down there during the travaux, and had mixed up buckets of plaster there to take upstairs for "mudding" the taped drywall panels. The entry hall was a mess, to say the least.

One more shot of "the dance floor"

I told Walt we might as well re-hang some of the pictures we had taken down during the work phase, to make the place a little more inviting. We'll have to take them down again when we start re-painting the walls down there, but that's not much work. Then we can re-position and hang them up again. The big armoire will be easy to cover with a tarp when painting time comes.

Up in the attic, before the work began, we found three wooden boxes that the previous owner — a man named Jean Kientzy — had left there. He was the man who had the house built 45 years ago, and he had at one point in his career lived and worked in Kourou, French Guyana, where the French government launches its satellites into space. La Guyane is on the northern coast of South America.

The lid0ff one of Monsieur Kientzy's shipping crates

Evidently, when Monsieur Kientzy moved back to France after his tour of duty in Guyana, he shipped back these three wooden crates holding some of his belongings. Shipping origins and destinations are stenciled on their lids, as you can see in the picture above. I brushed, vacuumed, and washed out the crates yesterday, because I think they'll make good plant stands, either in the entry hall or on the sunporch. Or maybe even upstairs.

Here's another one of the wooden crates.

Who knows, I might decide to varnish them, since I think we ended up buying a lot more varnish than we will need for doing the floor and stairs. Varnishing has become an inside joke now. Everytime I mention of piece of furniture that we'll have to move, Walt says: "Hey, maybe you can varnish that too!"


  1. Your house looks great! The entryway is beautiful. Can't wait to see the finished ballroom.

  2. Hard to believe the French are
    still mixing their own "mud."
    So much easier to have it pre-
    mixed in 5-gallon buckets, which
    when empty are very useful...as
    long as one doesn't collect too
    many,of course.

  3. My best incentive for cleaning house is when company is coming. Your entry looks spic and span, wished mine could.

  4. Entryway looks great. I bet those crates must be solid wood, aren't they?

    Sorry to point this out , the verification word is "dingi", not fair from Blogger :-)

  5. Wow, Ken, that really, really looks nice :)) And, I mean both the entry hall and the upstairs! I love the new armoire, and I think it fits in well there.

    The crate is cool :) We have a big wooden crate down in the basement, and it seems to be of similar proportions. I wonder if it was a shipping crate, too. (Our house is from 1907, and Elliot's family lived here for almost all of that time, so the basement is fillllled with stuff the origin of which is unknown to us!).

    Wonderful post! And... I'm enjoying looking at the two flags flying in the air everyday when I open your blog. Especially now, as July 4, and then July 14 arrive, they bring a nice summery, patriotic oompf to things:)

    (verification word: mette: Il faut que je mette du vitrificateur sur le parquet... et sur la caisse. (Au fait, what word would you use for this big wooden crate... cageot? caisse? autre chose?)

  6. It looks beautiful and it has been fun looking at the progress (and set backs...). When I read your blog and Walt's, your adventures in the stores, I swear, my mind is in France for few minutes.

  7. Judy, the only translation I can think of for that kind of crate is the good old 'caisse'. 'Cageots' are much smaller and lighter and used mostly for transporting vegetables.

  8. Ken and Walt, you have done a beautiful job. That entry way is just as pretty as can be. And the beautiful floor in your new room sparkles. Chapeau!

  9. How nice to get an expanded house without needing to move! Congratulations.

    And I love the top of the crate; it would look great hanging on a wall, very interesting. If you ever want to get rid of it, I'd be happy to take it off your hands (nudge, nudge).

    Sorry to hear the weather's been continuing un-summery; we're back in the Bay Area until August and it's lovely here, no fog at all, a nice change from drizzly Europe.

  10. Were the Kientzy boxes empty?

  11. I see the wallpaper is GONE! The entryway looks so different now- more spacious. The armoire looks lovely there and is that a new light fixture in the ceiling?

    You have really been busy using lots of elbow grease- it is remarkable how much you've accomplished in three months time.

    By the time your guest arrive you'll be due some down time.

  12. chm, thanks!

    p.s. to chm: Guess what... my students didn't like the Ronsard poetry set to music, either! They laughed and laughed, and, when I told them that you hadn't cared for it, either, they laughed some more and said that they understood why :) They (a class of all young women) didn't care for Ronsard's poetry, either... they didn't like his message in the two poems I gave them, which they felt were saying, in effect, "Listen, babe, you're hot now, but you won't be when you're older, so take advantage of my hitting on you today, because no one is going to hit on you later". They were a fun bunch of young women :)

  13. Judy, LOLOL — MDR!!!!

  14. Starman, the boxes weren't empty but they didn't have anything interesting in them. Mr. Kientzy's second wife, who sold us the house, worked for the French tax office before she retired. The boxes were full of old tax forms — not filled out — and some form letters. Good stuff to burn but not fascinating reading.

    The Beaver, the boxes are some solid wood framing and some plywood panels.

    Judy, I think of cage when I see the word cageot, and see a crate that has slats with open spaces between them like a cage. The ones we have are boxes — des caisses, comme l'a dit CHM.


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