Library

22 Jan

This is one of the two rooms where I spend most of my time. It’s on the sunny side of the house, and from the windows, I have a great view of the Springfield Museums and St. Michael’s Cathedral — beautiful architecture all around.

My house had been a rooming house (men only, I learned from the grandkids of a previous owner, because they were “less trouble”) for at least 80 years before I bought it. Each man had a gas stove and a sink in his room, hence the lack of a kitchen in the house. This was the last occupied room in the house, and the man who’d been in it had lived there for 20+ years, moving in as an adult to the same rooming house where his dad lived. The younger man still lives in the neighborhood.

I don’t think much had been done to the room in the 20+ years he’d been there. There was grease all over the wall behind the stove (where the bookcase to the left of the fp now stands), the walls had very stained and aged wallpaper, the floor had been painted brown and then linoleum and indoor-outdoor carpet were laid over it.

This is a room that cries out for before pictures. They were among the lost photos when the last computer crashed. Sigh. But I can, at least, narrate what was done. I gave everything a good cleaning and had the gas turned off (yup, I still had active gas lines running throughout the house when I moved in). Then I stripped the wallpaper. It came off quite easily, as did much of two walls. The roof collapsed sometime around 2000 (before I bought the place) and there is water damage throughout the house, but especially on the fourth and third floors. This room is on the third floor. So I hired a handyman and he put in two new walls and took out the sink that was in the niche area.

Then, I got in touch with the New England School of Architectural Woodworking to see if they took on projects. They do, sometimes. They took on mine, which entailed us working together to design the bookcases. They installed the large single unit one year, then the two on either side of the FP the following year, as well as doors to the bottom of the niche. Before the bookcases went in, I removed the ick on the floor and had the floor sanded.

Then, I chose my paint colors, and took a stab at peeling some of the caked-on paint from the rosette (this alone took weeks). I got it off and discovered the design was acorns and leaves — very pretty! It had just been blobs before. So I painted away (had to do a bit of ceiling repair, which has held so far, despite a subsequent roof leak…), and found furniture here and there, found rugs there and here, and found a great fabric to sew the drapes at Joanne’s fabric on deep discount. Most of the artwork is by my late grandfather F.L. King, and some are pieces I picked up at auctions and flea markets (where most of the stuff in the house comes from).

A few summers ago, I transformed the closet into a little storage area for files and archives. Both the doors in the room (the closet and the entry door) feature a local specialty — the saw down the middle effect. The doors are so big that they take up a lot of floor space when they’re open normally, so several of us have sawed them down the middle so they fold up when open and take up less room.

I love this room, as do Skunkie and Jerome, and we spend a lot of family time here — me and Skunkie on the couch and Jerome sitting on the back of one of the chairs. It’s so lovely with the sun coming in, and so cozy at night with the drapes closed. It took about three and a half years to be done, and I’m thrilled with the way the room came out!

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