‘General’ Archive

Fireplace Project Complete March 23, 2009 3 Comments

Victorian parlor fireplace

After a few weeks of dust, multiple different contractors, and some of our own elbow grease, the fireplaces are all done. I’d like to thank Joe from Warm Solutions and Paul Stefas from Plumbing Solutions for all their hard work. They all turned out great, look very period, and generate a lot of heat.

For those who are curious, the fireplaces are made by Valor. The two downstairs are pilotless systems that require no power to operate. The flame is ignited via battery. The remote on these can be set to sense the room temperature and adjust the flame accordingly. Very nice for energy savings by just heating one room. Perfect for a bedroom.

The one upstairs is your standard insert with a pilot light and a remote but if you have been following this project you’ll notice that the whole mantle is new as well. The old craftsman style brick was torn out and replaced with a more period Carrera marble unit.

Older posts regarding the fireplaces:

Top Parlor Gets A New Fireplace March 6, 2009 5 Comments

The dust has hardly settled from the work that Joe and his crew from Warm Solutions did today but I had to re-assemble the room anyway. I have had this party planned for a while and there was no turning back. Luckily Joe made sure everything was in on time. The unfortunate part is, I have to take everything back out after the inspection so we can plaster and sand. At this point, we can assemble and disassemble this room in 20 mintues considering we’ve done it nearly 6 times already. I’m just glad to have my living room back even if its only for a few days.

Older posts regarding the fireplaces:

Gas Inserts for the Old Fireplaces February 27, 2009 7 Comments

Like many of the old houses I come across here in San Francisco, the fireplaces are non functional. This is due to a number of reasons. Lack of upkeep which leads to safety issues, bad landlords or past owners, or disinterest in dealing with San Francisco’s Spare the Air days. For those of you not in the know, if you have a wood burning fireplace and you use it during a Spare the Air day, you can get fined. This means you must turn on the news or go online to find if you can use your fireplace.

Anyway, when we moved into our place all three of the fireplaces were not working. We are still unsure of how original they are but when I find out I’ll provide updates. What I do know is that there was only one original fireplace as there is only one real brick chimney. At the time it burned coal. The other two, the top parlor and bottom parlor, were just framed in “bump outs” with vents in them. The strange thing is, the bottom parlor only had a vent and no gas line at all, but the top parlor had both.

The two wood mantle and tile fireplaces we are keeping as they are very old and are very fitting of the time period regardless of their originality to the house. Those are in the front parlor and guest room, which was at one point the dining room? The white one you see is a craftsman style brick that resides in the top parlor. That’s the one we demolished and are having replaced with a Carrera marble mantle and gas insert. They should be completed in the next few weeks and I’ll update as that happens.

Newer posts regarding the fireplaces:

Refinishing the Floors September 28, 2008 No Comments

This is not a job for faint of heart which is why we opted for this job to be done by the professionals. One might think to themselves, “hey I can sand, why not do them myself?”. Wrong! If you’re refinishing one small room, maybe. Even then, it will take you at least a weekend with some trial and error not to mention tool rentals and back breaking work. This is not something you want to attempt with a Craftsman belt sander and a few friends.

Do what we did and hire an expert. In this case, we called Jesus Estrada, owner and operator of Architectural Floors. Him and his crew were in an out in less than a week and thats doing over 2,000 square feet! They paid close attention to all the little nuances of our 120 year old floors. Our floors are not tongue and grove but flat white oak nailed right to the subfloor. Also, each room has decorative inlay, some are very intricate and some are simple bands of cherry around the room.

In any case, Jesus and his crew reset every single nail in the entire house, sanded all the floors down, completely puttied them, and sanded again. Then, and only then could they put on a coat of chestnut stain and three coats of varnish. This was no small job and we are quite happy with the results.

See more photos of the floors here.

Let the Restoration Begin! September 16, 2008 3 Comments

The project is an 1890 San Francisco Victorian house.  Over the years it has been through a lot.  Its seen two massive earthquakes, a series of negligent owners, and a whole lot of ugly wallpaper but its still standing. Luckily, my housemate and I are here to restore it to its original grandeur with some updated amenities as well.

When we got it, it had recently been converted back into a one family home as it was originally intended.  At some point along the way, it was converted into to separate units and a lot of that can still be seen all over the house.  For example, the kitchen is on the second floor!  The previous owner decided to remodel it there rather than bring it back downstairs but thats another story for another post.  There are also still two gas meters as well as two electrical boxes.  Its going to take a lot of work to bring it back to its original glory but we’re up to the task.

Hopefully over the years we will be able to discover more about the house’s history but its going to be a challenge.  After the 1906 earthquake a massive fire ensued and burned almost all the records of the home.  The only records that remained were the water records which were stored in another location.  Thats the only thing linking this house to the year it was built, 1890. So stay tuned as we document the houses history, renovation, and hopefully its rich history though all the years its been sitting on this hill.

See the photos from the open house here