Wrapping up 2013

Well first of all, happy holidays everyone!

Yes that photo was staged. And I heard it for even having the trash can there long enough to take it. Now the trash can population on the screen porch has been in flux, reaching a maximum of 9, then declining to 4. There are two more ready to come out of the house though, and that’s probably the end of the firewood. I’ve also filled 2 more cans of wood that’s not fit to burn, which more or less finishes off the wood that’s getting thrown out!

But that’s not the only thing that’s wrapped up. Today I’ve nearly finished the framing that’s required to insulate the house! Here’s what it looks like now:


The short exterior wall in the bathroom is framed out with 2×3’s and 2×4’s turned sideways, braced to the window framing since they’re not very rigid turned this way. There’s a 2-3 inch irregular gap between the new drywall and the old plaster that will be filled with spray foam.


The kitchen’s exterior wall is framed out with 2×3’s to level it for cabinets and stabilize a cut joist that runs directly above it. The plaster is falling off the brick. This gap will also be filled with spray foam. The original window opening is crooked, so there will be a triangular gap filled with spray foam there. The stud wall is set higher to match the heights of other openings in the house. Blinds will hide the gap.


The front living room window openings are re-framed level, larger than I want them so that nothing blocks the openings when I replace the front windows in a few years. The sides of the openings will be drywalled for now, but later I will cover over the drywall with wood and trim similar to the way it was. The old sagging jambs had studs nailed directly into them, so when they came out so did the top portion of this wall. I kind of wanted to save as much of the original plaster as I could, but I have a feeling that this will come off and get replaced with drywall. It will save a lot of time. What does everyone think? Will I miss the plaster here, or is sheetrock just as well?


In the back bedroom the original studs in the wood framed bay have been shimmed out to make an even (well almost even) wall surface. They’re about 27 inches apart, but that’ll do with 5/8″ Sheetrock.


And the exterior brick wall in the same room, which is plaster on brick, has 1×3 furring strips on 24 inch centers. I will glue 3/4″ rigid foam board onto the plaster in between the furring strips and then fill the gaps around it (and that old wall cavity with no plaster) with spray foam. The cinder block patch where the bathroom window used to be has a deeper cavity, varying between 2 and 3 inches, which I plan on having the contractor fill with spray foam.

Now it’s time to Sheetrock the ceilings. Many of them have huge holes in them, and all of them are so full of cracks and old wallpaper that they’re not worth restoring. The front bedroom is particularly bad, and I get the feeling if I don’t laminate something over it soon it will end up on the floor. I wanted a photo of the NEW ceilings sitting on the living room floor, once again piled 4 feet high, but I forgot to take that photo so I’ll end with a photo of more bad plaster.



4 thoughts on “Wrapping up 2013

  1. Mary Elizabeth

    Well, tell your mom the tree and decorated mantel look great, trashcan or no. Happy Holidays to your whole family!
    Yes, Chad, I think going with sheetrock instead of dealing with all that cracked plaster is a good idea. You won’t miss the plaster. Will the brick be repointed from the outside?

    As for the ceilings, you can get composite ceiling medallions for vintage-look overhead lights of the type they had when your house was built. They give an old-fashioned look to the sheetrocked ceiling. Depends what era you are going for in the lighting.


    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Yeah, I think I’ve realized that the perfect flatness of Sheetrock is really hard to tell apart from old plaster. I’m aware of ceiling medallions that are available, but not sure if they would make sense for my house or not. The first floor originally had a closed floor plan but was opened in the 1930’s, at which time the woodwork flooring, and door hardware were redone in a craftsman/Deco/Colonial Revival style. Also, since it’s now an open room, the chandelier is off center. Upstairs, I could consider adding a medallion in the front bedroom, even though I think my house was at the bottom of the South Philly totem pole and may not have had them originally. But I have furniture for that room from a Broad Street brownstone (top of the South Philly totem pole). I might write a glowing piece about my neighborhood’s architecture while I’m on my post-move-in break from renovating. A compare/contrast of the ornament found on homes in the same neighborhood from the same period at different price points would be fun.

      But anyways, I did some work for a friend of my mom’s who’s trying to sell her house (any readers interested in a modest 1920’s Dutch Colonial in Haddonfield, NJ?) and has offered me a light fixture that looks just like this one, but slightly smaller, with only 3 lights. http://www.rejuvenation.com/catalog/products/r2470 So I think that going full on formal with plaster cornices and ceiling medallions in that room might make sense. We’ll talk about it after I’ve moved in. Plus, until she’s able to give it to me there’ll be a reinstalled boob light.


      1. Mary Elizabeth

        Well, the free pan light beats the $780 one, yes? I have two boob lights left in my house, and I don’t like them. I haven’t found what I want to replace them yet.

        Looking forward to your discussion of architecture in different classes. The Victorian house I grew up in was a duplex, built for a young couple as a home and also source of income. When you walked into both apartments, you could tell immediately which was the landlord’s side. The main residence took up more of the square footage of the house and had nine rooms, including a front and back parlor and two maid’s rooms, while the rental apartment had only seven rooms and an unfinished attic. The main residence had elaborate woodwork (crown molding, fireplace mantel held up with columns), some of the original wallpapers, hardwood floors on the first floor, two built-in china closets in the dining room, etc. The rental apartment had no wallpaper and plain woodwork (cove molding on the ceilings). It had one parlor and one fireplace as opposed to the bigger side, which had two fireplaces. When you looked at the front of the house, the windows and wrap-around porch made the house look symmetrical, and it fit in with a neighborhood of what had been mansions and large upper-middle-class houses. Nearly all the other houses on the street were single family. So the whole house kind of sent a message about the different status of the original couple who owned it and the people who rented it.


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