Monday, February 22, 2010

And She's Buying the Stairway....

Who among us, who grew up in a 60's era ranch-style home, didn't think living in a two-story house would be the coolest? If you've never lived in one, a multi-story house and it's stairways, is a thing of wonderment. A banister down which children can slide. A landing on top where small children in sitcoms lurk to listen to adult conversations below. Teens stomp UP them and things tumble down them. People crash and die, their necks and limbs tweaked at unusual black and white. Banisters to decorate for the holidays! I was fascinated with the stair lift that was used on The Farmer's Daughter.....*sigh*. And my godparents, Wynn and Royce Krilonavich's house, was huge and seemed to go on forever....

Those who have lived in two-story know the reality is far more tedious. Dirty laundry is carried down only to be washed and carted back up the stairs. Running to your room is a climb, not a simple run down the hall. But the real joy of stairs isn't realized until large items are purchased...beds and desks....and must be moved up those stairs. And when you have a 100-year-old house with stairs built long before building codes, the thrill fades quickly. Our house had, at one time included a second unit which was absorbed into the main house more than thirty years ago and includes not one but TWO sets of stairs. The rear steps are less radical but have a turn halfway up, making them difficult for moving large items. The front steps are direct but steep and narrow. I'm relatively sure we have been black-listed for delivery by most all local furniture stores, their drivers have begun to recognize the address. Hope's high school graduation present was a three-piece desk that was initially ordered wrong and had to be moved twice which did NOT endear her to the burly moving people. My big oak teachers desk, I've been told, will NOT be moved from this house. We may move but the desk will be included whether a buyer wants it or not.
The latest episode of "Stair Wars" started when Mark went to the plumbing store to buy a few supplies for the bathroom project from hell. He returned only to get the trailer to pick up a tub/shower he bought. We're not ready for the shower... but it was a deal! Mark was not blessed with sons - luckily his wife and daughters are a tough lot and, while the shower is not heavy, it IS bulky and cumbersome. We got it up the porch steps and pondered the situation. It would likely clear the ceiling but the banister railing would have to come off. Once that was done, Mark's plan was that we would "just lift the stall up on to the steps". Yeah, right.....So we tried that. The railing came right off but the newel post remained. We tried the lift but, with the post there, it wouldn't clear so we set it down again. That left Hope trapped in the corner for the time it took for Mark to pull the newel post but, once the post was out, we managed to boost the stall onto the steps at which point I had to run up the back stairs to access the top of the stall to continue it's move.

Some bashing and yelling and luckily some laughing came with with trip up. Another door and piece of wall were removed to clear the opening and the stall was home, for the time being.
There is still more work to be done in the bathroom so the shower will have to be moved in and out as the project progresses but now our front stairs are off limits. The total lack of railing is even more dangerous than the crappy railing was before. The newel post was battered and didn't really suit the style of the house so Mark decided that, rather than reassembling it to it's former tattered glory, it is now time to fix the front entry. Nothing so simple as paint since the walls, like those throughout the house, are covered in layers of wallpaper and paint - it's gotta go!
We now have begun this new, additional project by removing the wallboard from the lathe and plaster framework and we're at the point of no return, all because he ran for plumbing supplies. I DID say I wanted a house with character.....


Fred said...

You wrote,Dirty laundry is carried down only to be washed and carted back up the stairs.

We lived in Illinois for a couple years when I was a wee little tyke and I remember we lived in a two story house if only because of the laundry chute. You'd just throw your dirty clothes in it and they'd fall straight down to the laundry room.

Pretty neat, now that you brought it up, but as kids that didn't matter to us. We used to use it to play "fishing". One of us would go upstairs with this toy fishing pole. The other would go down to the laundry room and tie things to the end of the line and the one upstairs would reel in whatever was tied to it. Quite the surprise to see what might have been tied to the line.

Don't know that I've ever seen a house with a laundry chute since then.

julie.strub said...

The only house I've seen with a laundry chute was an enormous 1980s monstrosity up in Lundbar Hills. Not my style at all - but then again, there are days when part of me wishes I had a nice, new, insulated house, and not the 100-year-old fixer cottage!

Good luck on your project!

beachcomber said...

In the course of remodel-talk, we have discussed the laundry chute concept but are leaning towards moving the laundry upstairs. It would be fun, though, Fred. I like the idea of a dumb-waiter since you can transport BOTH directions. At Gabriel's restaurant in Old Town, they use a dumbwaiter to get plates up and down to the kitchen.

Julie, good luck to you as well. They say "misery loves company" and, although this isn't misery, it's always nice to know there are others struggling with the same issues.