Friday, April 12, 2019

Yet Another Non-problem

I have been caught up in a low-level fret about where to set up a project. The ideal room didn't seem adequate. Pulling out a tape measure and reading the numbers resolved the matter in seconds -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Extreme Editing

Since we live on East Coast time, it is seldom necessary to turn on artificial light during the summer months. To simplify maintenance, I cleared rooms of their lamps and the various small supports that serve as tables. Gazing at a couple of conventional reading lamps, I realized that the forms are closer to a voluminous nineteenth-century oil lamp than to the eighteenth-century candlestick that is period for this architecture. The plan is to substitute a featherweight state of the art LED task light for a reading lamp, should one become necessary. The task light is a fair candlestick equivalent. The other plan is to stall on replacing the old lamps when October rolls around. Parcelling out cubic inches of habitable space is best done with caution, no matter what the size of one's quarters -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


In the early Seventies, Capitol Hill had many small factories. A charming Tidewater neighbor worked for an industrial supply outfit that is still in business farther to the south. Like today's tech community, he walked to work.

Jack said the owner threw a party for the staff at her generous East side house. When he arrived, Jack found an unlocked door with a brass sign that said, "Come on in. If you don't have a good time, it's your own damned fault." -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Kitchen As Parking Lot

The twentieth century domestic kitchen was modeled on the pass pantry,  a service area fitted with cupboards for dishes and serving ware. By that time, industry had eliminated much of the scut work of food preparation by providing canned food and sliced bread. The main room of my 1890 kitchen is a production area. Originally, it contained only a generous wood range, a plumbed sink with no drain boards, and the water heater attached to the range. Presumably the original owner had a work table, possibly one with flour and sugar bins under a zinc or enameled steel top. It seems clear that the neighborhood was laid out to accommodate kitchen gardens. There's a big canning cupboard in the basement, and the Pike Place market is a twenty minute walk away. Grocers delivered.

After we bought the house, more than one friend looked around the kitchen and wailed in pity. I was not daunted. Ignorance, years spent hiking, and sticking to my theory that an 1890 house would be manageable thanks to twentieth century wood finishes and electric appliances overcame my doubts. Susan Strasser's Never Done, the history of American housekeeping that was composed a few blocks north of here, filled in the blanks of my apprenticeship with grandmother. Contemporary small space appliances made short work of fitting amenities into the ells of a room built around a chimney. Six doors in the space make it essential to factor movement into the placement of ordinary fittings.

Over nearly forty years, the kitchen has been rearranged many times to keep up with changes in the size of the family and the way we use the rest of the house. Because the property is in an area that is being developed, I have had no reason to commit to a big budget kitchen remodeling. I have loved every minute of living like an enlightened tenant who is free to experiment. Recently, it became obvious that adding a modular adjustable epoxy-coated cart on sturdy wheels would make it easier to move the free-standing convection oven. To keep the house sweet-smelling, cook bakes fragrant things on the lattice-enclosed back porch.

After the cart arrived from Hold Everything, I knocked it together in minutes using a woodworker's lignum vita mallet. The mallet saves so much trouble that it is worth paying for and storing. The restaurant standard industrial units are modular with the spaces in the house. It's trivial to reconfigure the kitchen. Fifteen minutes will suffice for a complete remodel after I finish tapping out this post -30-
More after the jump.

Monday, April 8, 2019

On the Spot

I've been keeping the warmest room upstairs clear of furniture so that I can work out on the carpeted floor. A standard foot locker against one wall makes a comfortable back rest for lounging.The top is a good spot to set a casual meal. The reconfiguration displaced a slipper chair and an interesting and very useful hardwood mid-nineteenth century table the diameter of a large pizza. The table has been floating conveniently near the top of the stairs. It's on the nylon sliders that are better than wheels.

Longing to sit at a work table right next to the best view on the second floor, I privately contemplated evicting the most comfortable seating in the house. I realized that the little table that serves so well to hold upstairs/downstairs freight is just the right size to slip into a room where inches count. It's also a convenient weight and form to use as a lamp stand should I want to set up a reading area or accommodate a guest. In effect, the table replicates an eighteenth-century candle stand -30- 
More after the jump.