A Designer’s Renovation – Part 4

The Renovation’s Time Capsule

Ever planted a time capsule? Grab a newspaper, maybe a hockey card or a note you wrote when you were 10 and along with a few timely treasures, stick it in a box or tin can, then bury it in the back yard?

I did. I must have been around 10 at the time. My friend Maral and I found a little box and put some tokens into it. I can’t remember what, and we buried it in our “fort”, amongst the trees at the end of our street. I wonder if it’s still there…

Then you hear stories. So and so was cleaning out the attic and found a priceless teacup. Or that neighbour of that guy, tore down a wall and found a sack of cash. Must have been stashed there a hundred years ago!

Warning: Yucky stuff

No such luck here! The first thing we found was a treasure trove of mouse droppings. Yes. Poop. So much poop, in our old bedroom ceilings, that we put on overalls and masks and, with many a shriek, took down ceilings, insulation and drywall.

Steven in his Hazmat Suit tossing bags of insulation out the window into the bin.

Small body parts fell on our heads. We uncovered nests, likely for squirrels or raccoons. We were horrified. We had been living under that toxic stuff for five years.

See those black dots? I took it easy on you. This photo is rated G.

WHERE DID THEY COME FROM? About two weeks after we moved in, we went away for a few days. When we came home, we found droppings in a closet. We set up traps. Let’s just say, that a week later, we hear them in the walls. We called the exterminator. Bye bye mousie. Never seen one since. But the guy told us, that in all likelihood, they had been in the house for years. YEARS!!! And there would have been a mighty lot of them. So imagine, although our home had been mouse free for 4 years, what had been living there when we moved in.

Had I known that doing most of the renovation ourselves (mostly Steven, I just help once in a while to claim status), would have resulted in feces showers, I think we may have opted to have the tear out done by others.  Sleep does not come easy after a day like that.

Some less yucky stuff

Once all of that was gone, we got to the fun stuff. After tearing out the floors, my brother-in-law Ben and I,
found old newspapers glued to the subfloors. It stopped us in our tracks. We sat and read the floors with coffees and giggles.

We took the mantle off our fireplace. There was a note there that the previous owner had written and stuffed in. “Mr Blank built this in 1971”.

Then we pulled apart the kitchen. And there we found a hole in the wall, where we think an old coal stove had been vented in the 40s. The vent hole was stuffed with newspapers. Now that was fun! Here are a few pics of the papers we found. They were from August of 1954.

This one is my personal favorite. I can’t even believe what I read. The world has come a long way.

I am going to pick a few to frame for when the renovation is done.

Being an avid reader and lover of history, this was the best day ever! I climbed up on a stool and gently pulled these bits of our past from the wall. Much of it was covered in plaster, but after some careful archaeological work, I managed to keep most intact.

I found out that a Viking fridge went for $315.00. A wool suit for $19.95, and that Grand Union Carroll’s Grocery store opened on Wednesday August the 25th, 1954 at 9am, on the corner of Jane and Wilson. A roast was just $0.59/lb. Wow.

A while later, as Steven tore up the floors in the old kitchen, he found the Sunday Sun Comics from July 1990. So we know the home underwent a big renovation in 1954, in 1971 the main floor addition was put on and in 1990 the kitchen wood floors were put down. I snagged a picture of my bedroom window as they tore it out as well. 1977. That was when they raised the ceiling in the master bedroom.

What a time capsule my house was! Most of it is gone now. Kept neatly in a pile in our little cave. A little was left behind. And we will add to it. I have to make an airtight folder and find a newspaper that has announced recent wild events. Can you imagine someone finding that in twenty or thirty years? That is, of course, if then next renovation doesn’t include a bulldozer.

A lot less drama. A lot more fun. And something to keep in mind when you one day take your renovation journey. Why not stash away your own time capsule?

….so on a tangent…I once worked on a home that was over 100 years old. As my contractor and I were going through some things, there was a knock on the door. A woman, in her late 90s came in. She had lived there as a child. Her parents, the original owners. She took us on a tour, and told us where everything used to be, how it had looked and stories about her life there. It was a living, breathing, time capsule. And a humbling one at that.

Just keep in mind; there are many sentimental folks out there. And when they one day move into your home, knowing a little about the people who once grew a family, fell in love, cooked too much KD and had a dog named Jack, makes a new home feel a little more lived in, a little more inviting, and a lot more meaningful.

Have a terrific week! And remember…#theresnoplacelikehome

Have a terrific day!

Next week join me as I try to figure out a kitchen plan. It was one of the hardest things I ever did!

PS: To be honest, there were many times during this phase that I wanted to run over to Darla’s house and show her everything we had found. I really missed her. And until the inspector was sicked on us, I still really thought there would be some way we could make amends.  She moved out at the end of July. No goodbyes.

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