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Anyone else out there decide to purchase a house that was built before the Titanic sunk? And then decide to renovate it yourselves? Perhaps you’re familiar, then, with super cool things found during renovations.
When working through home renovation survival, it is important to find the joy, even when your kitchen is in a dumpster. Giggling at the random things found within our walls helped our renovation projects seem shorter, more bearable, and downright fun!
Here’s a tour of the things found during renovations -and thus learned about! – in our century-old two family home.
Now, I know what you’re thinking.
Ironing boards are not inherently interesting.
I agree. And honestly, does anyone even iron anymore? We personally purchase clothes with anti-wrinkle material, and just use a steamer if things really went south.
But prior to our generation, people physically ironed their clothes.
Back in the day, there was a specific ironing board closet built into the wall, in between the studs, for easy access and hide-away storage.
Where did we find the beauty of a relic in our house?
Behind the kitchen counter.
Yes, behind that glorious kitchen counter in our second floor kitchen, someone decided to build in the built-in. (Just… why.). While that seems silly by design, it became really cool for us because…
When we opened the door, we discovered its interior was in mint condition!!
We popped it out at safely as we could and shipped it up to Derek’s Uncle Bob at Bob Who Relics. He spruced it up, installed shelving, and created it a built-in bathroom storage cabinet in his home.
How slick is that? The depth of this cabinet is literally perfect for most personal hygiene products.
Ok, I know. Lumber, like an ironing board, isn’t inherently interesting. But hear me out. Useful lumber is one of the best things found during renovations.
Lumber gets expensive.
One of the best ways to save money on your home renovations is to save the good wood while you work.
In our case, the good stuff included miles of old trim from our first floor. Beneath the six layers of white, white, pink, cream, white, and cream paint, we discovered that the trim in our house is the most gorgeous pine!
How do we know it’s nice? Maestro Karl explains: wood grain that is closer together comes from a real tree. Wood grain that is farther apart comes from a manufactured piece of wood.
When cutting, its dust is superfine. Even its smell is lovely!
And if you work with a carpenter who really knows what he is doing, he or she can rip the lumber down in a table saw to get rid of the paint, revealing the wood – here, pine – in its au naturel state.
Cast Iron stove
Ok, this one I found to be more annoying than cool. When we first purchased our house, the kitchen boasted giant pipes sticking out of the walls. Look at that mess:
After four years of just living with it (and not having a ^&*%ing flat wall beside which to rest a table), demo day arrived. And we found….
Why was there so much immobile rock inside our walls?
Let’s think it through. 1912. No utilities. No running water. No gas Viking stove with 12 burners. Or radiators.
Ah yes. This was home to a cast iron stove.
This also explains the chewed-up brick flooring directly underneath said wall of bricks.
But why a pipe 5 feet up on the wall?
Ah, yes. No electricity either. So, you put your little lamp on the top one, and cooked your food via fuel from the bottom one. This also kept your ENTIRE HOUSE WARM. Can you believe it??
Fortunately, our plumber helped us knock this out. Once confident that this mess of pipes was not connected to anything, a few solid swings with the sledge took these bad boys out forever.
The bricks now remain both behind the new sheetrock wall and under the new floor, and that is where they will stay forevermore.
Soda for sale!
One of the crazy things we discovered after purchasing our home was evidence of someone living in the basement.
Yes, the unfinished part of the basement.
They managed to fashion themselves a ceiling made of cardboard and old metal signs. Derek pulled out this makeshift ceiling to find… this:
We once again passed this relic on to Uncle Bob, who brought these 7-Up signs back to their former glory using paint thinner. Look how cool!
Old stair rail
Here’s another neat discovery of things found during renovations. When we ripped out our old staircase, Uncle Bob was adamant that we rescue the old stair rail and ballusters.
Yes, that ugly pink one.
Instead of adding to a garbage dump somewhere, he turned it into a headboard. Just, WOW!
Have a look at Bob Who Relics to see more of his creations. Perhaps he’ll inspire you to think twice before throwing something away from your old house renovation.
When cleaning out the first floor cabinets, we came across this old lottery ticket:
Lo and behold, it was a winner! What a “Red Hot Heart” treat!
Two whole dollars!
Did I attempt to claim the winnings at the corner store? You bet I did.
Unfortunately, too much time had passed for it to cash out. Next time, dear Valentine…
Demo day is always an adventure, and our first floor kitchen renovation was no exception. After swinging away for a half a day, we came across another one of those cool things found during renovations.
This time – a mason’s hammer!
Looky there, a perfectly handy hammer, in excellent condition, ready for deployment on our project du jour.
Some poor guy was probably helping build our house, when along came his coworker who plastered the wall closed, unbeknownst to him, shuttering his sweet hammer forever.
Thank you, dear craftsman who left it behind. You have blessed us with a quality tool for ages to come.
That thing swiped into our demo crew’s hands in 5 seconds, proving especially helpful when chipping plaster away from the ceiling corners.
A pirate’s life
Another more entertaining (yet slightly less helpful) tool found in our walls?
Derek discovered this conveniently hiding in our basement ceiling. You know, behind the cardboard.
I know not why the previous owners stealthily hid a 20” machete in the basement ceiling – perhaps anticipating a zombie apocalypse?
We didn’t find this tool to be as useful as the hammer. I can’t say I anticipate a real-life Fruit Ninja showdown anytime soon.
However, should we need an authentic pirate costume one of these days… we’ll be all set.
Well, that’s the sum of things found during renovations here at our two family house. Discovering its history has been a delightful journey, from old-school ironing boards to the hammer that helped construct it.
Have you discovered any fun items within the walls of your home while renovating?