Wednesday, 22 May 2013

No Asbestos - Yay!

The test results came back from the lab in Vancouver... Our linoleum flooring contains NO asbestos! We are pretty happy about that.

I'm hoping to start pulling up the floor in the bedroom in mid-June. I wonder if we should do the walls first, leaving the lino to protect the wood floor during that part of the reno...

We received the drawings and plans for the foundation repairs today, too. Ack!! This work will not be cheap, which is no surprise to me, but it's still a bitter pill to swallow. As I've said before, however, these repairs are truly necessary - they are a life-saving maneuver for the Little Blue House.

I think we will try to help out with the porch removal, skirting removal, and the hand excavation of the foundations, in order to offset the costs a bit.

For now, I am glad that we don't have to deal with asbestos. That's some good news!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Always Look on the Bright Side...

I'm trying to remain positive. We had some not-so-good news from our contractor in Atlin. I appreciate his candour, but I must admit that I was initially disappointed by the news. He says that the work on the foundation can be done... it is achievable, but...

However, he warns that the project could become a "money pit." This should not come as a shock to me. My husband and I are not really surprised by this warning, but we do have to carefully evaluate our options. The contractor is going to give us a detailed assessment of the problems that he discovered in his initial look underneath the Little Blue House.

I asked if he could give us a couple of options for this summer's foundation restoration project. Option One would be a basic "let's save this tiny house" job. That would probably include adding a few new support beams and posts that would not rot in the future. This action would stop the home's slow and crooked descent into the earth. (For those of you who have not seen the photos of the foundation, you can click here.)

Option Two would be our ideal restoration, to include a vapour barrier, radon barrier, and floor insulation, in addition to extensive repairs on the support structures underneath the LBH. I imagine that this option will be out of our price range. :(

The problem is that the house, when it was moved from the Gold Rush town of Discovery over 90 years ago, was simply plunked down on the dirt where it currently stands. As I've said in the past, the LBH sits on dirt, crooked 2x4s, rotting posts, logs and broken beer bottles. At that time, people didn't see any merit in leaving a crawl space underneath houses. For us, that means that most of the excavation will have to be done by hand. Labour costs a lot of money, and we both work full time and we have 2 small children, so we don't have much time to spare ourselves. Long story short, we are going to have to compromise.

I really want to save this little house. We love it. It is historically very significant in Atlin. It is a piece of the town's colourful past as part of the Gold Rush era. It was the town's last operating brothel, for crying out loud! We can't just let it fall down. There are enough falling-down-buildings in Atlin already.

I would like to preserve it. I am trying to look on the bright side! 

The Bright Side

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Vintage Wallpaper Found!

Last week I thought I'd take a peek under the wallpaper in the bedroom... I couldn't get the furniture out of the room and really start in on it, since I was on my own last week with the kids. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I ripped a piece of wallpaper off just to see what was underneath.

Here is the inside wall of the bedroom. We are going to move the dresser and wardrobe out of there before we start work. The two beds and dresser will go to the dump - they are done.

Current Bedroom Wallpaper

In the picture below, you can see where I tore a strip off the wall; the paper in that spot was already peeling off.
Old Wallpaper Underneath

The wallpaper that I uncovered is quite beautiful, although I know we won't be able to save it. There is too much damage along the edge of the trim, and on the outside wall there is going to be mildew or old water damage, too.

I was so happy to see this paper though - I think it was gorgeous in its day, and it was probably a nice quality wallpaper, with about 7 different colours. The pattern includes two birds and what look to be roses. I spotted light grey, dark grey, metallic silver, red, blue, yellow and green.

We plan to remove a good piece and preserve it, perhaps in a picture frame. We will see what is underneath this vintage paper. I can see some sort of fabric there, and perhaps there is more wallpaper, for all I know! Then, underneath it all, maybe plaster and lath?
Original Wallpaper

When I removed the section of wallpaper, it  came away with some of the ugly brown ceiling paper, too. That will also have to be removed. I am concerned with the ceiling, as it appears to be crumbling... I have no idea what's up there at this point. I have read a little about plaster buttons, and I suspect that is what I see in the top left corner of the photo below. I read that these buttons should not be used... I must research this subject further!
Peek at the Ceiling...

There will be plenty of explorations to come, and I will document our trials and tribulations here!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The Room in Question

This is the room in question. For those of you who have been reading my blog for some time, you'll recognize the photographs below, as I've used them before. But for those readers who are new to the Little Blue House, below you will see a glimpse of the room that needs the most attention.

This room was, and will be, the master bedroom of the LBH. This room was the private domain of the home's former madam, when it was a brothel. Thus, I find the deep red curtains to be an appropriate entrance to the bedroom.

We are going to start some exploratory work in this room next week. We have not been using this room, as it's musty and mousy and it needs help. I know for a fact that this room is the start of the former mouse highway that led into the LBH. Thankfully, the mice have taken a hiatus from most of their mousy expeditions in our tiny house. I removed the incentives for the pesky vermin, and I installed a number of annoying and potentially deadly hazards along this former route: irritating noise-makers that create sounds only tiny mouse ears can hear (and that apparently hurt their hearing,) attractive but sticky little traps that could hinder or stop their progress, and lastly, rat poison. Thankfully, we haven't had much trouble lately, but it's been cold, and now it is warming up. I am glad that it is getting nicer - I am sick of winter, but the mice may also be glad. Hopefully they are not hitting the mouse highway into our beloved Victorian house. I will let you know how the mouse battles are going soon.

I am dreadfully excited about hauling the old beds and falling-apart-dresser to the dump next week. Then I will have some room to get to work in this room.

Doorway to Master Bedroom

In my last post, I explained my fervour over wallpaper. I think, sadly, that my husband believes that I've gone quite mad over renovating the LBH. I say that with tongue in cheek, however, as I know he is, too.

The photo below shows the current wallpaper in the master bedroom. It's badly wrinkled and warped, and there is a spot on the outside wall that feels damp/mildewy. This is the scariest spot and it is the reason why we are starting the multi-phase reno (which will take years, we are sure) with this particular room. It is, without doubt, the room in question.

Original Wallpaper in Master Bedroom

Thursday, 2 May 2013


Our next project is the renovation of the Little Blue House's original bedroom. It is the room in the LBH that is in most need of repair. It's really a question of "worst first." (And believe me, this house needs work!) This room reno is going to be our first foray into DIY home repairs... We've never tackled anything of this magnitude before, and I imagine that we will have to call in some help along the way.

At least we will have a contractor working on the foundation and floor insulation in July, so there will be some expertise on-site. As we live far away from everywhere up here in the North, I am researching wallpapers now. One of the finishing touches on the room will be wallpaper, of course, and it's not like we can just run out and find Victorian wallpaper nearby. Ha! Most of the other renovation materials will be relatively close at hand, in Whitehorse, Yukon. I think...

Here are some samples that I had sent up here from the USA. The company is Bradbury & Bradbury, and they specialize in wallpapers from the 1880s to 1960s. Right up our alley! The photos below are somewhat crummy pictures that I took with my phone, but you can get a much better idea of their beautiful work on their website at:

Perhaps some of my avid Victorian house aficionados reading this blog can comment on which paper they like the best? Or, perhaps you may recommend something entirely different? The wallpapers below are all from Bradbury. (Just because I received the samples today in the mail!)

Glenwood (Arts & Crafts)

Willow (Morris Traditional Roomset) in Dove Blue

Warwickshire (Damask Collection) in Antique Gold

Bird & Anemone (Morris Traditional Roomset) in Dove Blue

Passion Flower (Herter Brothers Tradition) in Jasper