Home Renovation

Scenes from a Life - Good Ju-Ju

I spent the morning with six women who are all related to Ruth and her mother, Marie . . .

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Rhythms of City Life - Part 2

Around 5pm yesterday, eight months to the day since we moved into this old city rowhome, the chorus of hammers, drills, saws, extension ladders, paint scrapers and brushes that has been the accompaniment to our days went silent. The last of the major work we’d set out to have done on this place was completed. There was no grand finale, other than a tired goodbye from the last of the workmen – painters – and the rumble of their utility van as they drove away . . .

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Two Adventurous Young Women and A Room Renovation

Today’s post is a combo-post – part Ruth’s story, part home renovation story and part story of another adventurous young woman, our Hannah . . .

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Mama’s Garden - Ruth’s Legacy

According to the neighbors, Ruth was an avid gardener and she spent hours puttering around in “Mama’s garden.” This spring, we are the lucky beneficiaries of Ruth’s green thumb. So today’s post is a photo tour of Mama’s garden . . . Ruth’s legacy.

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Living Room - before and after

Today’s post is a photo tour of the renovation/transformation of our living room

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Dining Room - before and after

Today’s post is a photo tour of our dining room, before and after . . .

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Time Capsule House

Friends have been asking to see and hear more about our “time-capsule” house as we first saw it. A little background for those who haven’t yet heard the story: it’s a city rowhome, built in 1915, that was owned by a woman named Ruth. This had been Ruth’s childhood home (she was born in 1925). Ruth grew up and moved out on her own years ago, but Ruth’s mother continued to live in this house until she died in 1989. Ruth then inherited her mother’s house. Even though Ruth had her own apartment across town, she was unable to part with “Mama’s house” and it appears she left everything intact, just as it had been when her mother was still alive. When we saw the house for the first time, it had been sitting, unoccupied but fully furnished, for over 20 years: a true time-capsule. I’m working on writing a book about Ruth’s life, which I’m discovering little by little from the records and memorabilia left to me when we moved into her childhood home. In the meantime, here are more photos with detailed captions.

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Buried Treasure

It’s been a week of unearthing buried treasure, as I’ve stripped ancient and crumbling wallpaper, removed layers of accumulated renovation debris from our little back yard, and continued the journey of discovery through the memorabilia of Ruth’s life bequeathed to me by the Salvation Army.
Here’s a photo tour of this week’s “discoveries” . . .

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The Kitchen

Yesterday, I wrote about getting OUT of the kitchen. Today, I’ll write a little about the months we spent IN the kitchen, renovating it . . .

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Bathroom - before and after

(note: if you receive automatic emails when I post new blog entries and get an error saying “Invalid GET data” when you try to click on the blog article link contained in the automatic email, click on the link at the top of the email that says “Melanie G. Snyder’s Blog” instead)

Friends have been asking to see some before and after photos – so over the next few blog posts, I’ll give you an idea of what we’ve done with some of the rooms so far.

Today’s post: the bathroom . . .

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Before and After - Fireplace & Hearth

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, Ruth’s father bought this house in March, 1923, and in May, he and Ruth’s mother were married standing in front of the fireplace in the house. Though it was in bad shape when we moved in, we’ve been able to clean up the bricks and the tile hearth with the help of a surprising “secret ingredient.”

Here are before and after photos (the photo captions reveal the secret)

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Clairvoyant Calendars and Other Phenomena

I told my daughter that one of my goals when we moved into the city was to revive my Spanish language skills that had lain dormant for three decades. So, for Christmas, she gave me a “Learn to Speak Spanish Phrase-a-Day” calendar. It seems this calendar is clairvoyant. Either that, or there are spirits here, watching me.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the day the calendar declared, “Hay mucho polvo” : “There’s a lot of dust.” Okay, I’ll admit, that declaration would have been true on any given day in this old place. But last weekend, just before we started buffing and restoring the living room floor, I turned to this calendar entry:

“Voy a barrer la sala.” It means: “I’m going to sweep the living room.”

Coincidence? I think not . . .

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The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Okay, I’ve waxed rhapsodic about the charm and character of this old place – the lovely little details that captivated us and tempted us to take on this project. But there were also lots of problems and plenty of, ahem, not-so-charming features. Some of these were obvious and we knew we’d have to address them if we bought this place. Others were, shall we say, a “surprise.” A picture is worth a thousand words, so here’s a photo tour of “the bad and the ugly.” (I’m sorry, Ruth and “Mama”! Please don’t take it personally!)

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Mucho Polvo - Part Dos

Yesterday’s post was about “polvo,” Spanish for dust, and an alternative process we decided to try to restore our hardwood floors without the dust or expense of full-scale floor refinishing. Here’s how it went:

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Mucho Polvo

“Hay mucho polvo.” That was one of this week’s entries on my “Learn to Speak Spanish Phrase-a-Day” calendar.

Translation: “There’s a lot of dust.”

No kidding . . .

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The house that captivated us

So many people have asked to see some photos of “Ruth’s house” as we first saw it . . . so here are a few. Note: in the exterior photo, it’s the rowhome on the left of the 4-home building.

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Old Relics

“What are you writing these days?” my friend Marty asked me this morning.

“Nothing but big, fat checks to subcontractors!” was my smart-aleck reply.

We laughed and ordered breakfast at the Neptune Diner (one of Lancaster’s little treasures – more about that later) where a group of Etownians and former Etownians had met to catch up with each other. Over coffee, eggs and toast, I told them about this house restoration project that has consumed Bruce and me for three full months now (as of this past Saturday . . . not that I’m counting . . . ) I also shared a little bit about the book I’m hoping to write eventually: about the woman named Ruth who grew up in this house and her extraordinary life . . .

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