Meanwhile we were lucky enough to have a retired
neighbor, Mr. Osso, sanding, painting, fixing, and stripping, stripping,
stripping. I didn't mind hard work either, so he and I developed a great working
arrangement. He did most of the stripping while I pushed, pulled, dug, scrubbed,
crawled, and said goodbye to my fingernails. I may have found my prince, but I
still felt like Cinderella, always down on my knees working while everyone else
got to go to the ball.
Mr. Osso and I made wonderful discoveries
together. Under the '60s gold wall-to-wall carpeting in the living room, and
under the tile in the library, we found 300-year-old, wide-plank floors. So we
ripped up the carpet and nails, tile and tar, and when we reached black paint,
we gave up and called in a
professional floor sander. Our knees were red and
sore for weeks. Mine turned black and blue. Mr. Osso kneeled on foam rubber
padding from then on.
Mr. Osso also helped us finish the
we stripped the wainscoting of its many years of paint. Parts of the woodwork
had been scorched by a fire in the 1950s, and though we managed to sand off some
of the charring we had to leave some of it visible. When people first came to
the house I was worried they would notice it; but no one seemed to see it, and I
realized it just played a part in the history of this old house and actually
Formica countertop and linoleum
on the floor…poor house, so humiliated, so misunderstood. I took measurements
for a new sink. I went to auctions every week. It took a couple of months to
find a scrubbed-pine sideboard just the right size to convert. We took off its
wood top, selected tiles for the surface, bought a stainless steel sink. Voila!
Our piece de resistance.
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