If you haven’t been with me thus far, I’m in the process of remodeling an old building in the French Quarter. We gutted the building on the inside, getting rid of things like salmon pink cubicles (it had been an office building in the 80s and 90s), and some truly abhorrent carpet. What I was left with was glorious 107 year-old beams, and exposed brick walls like this (this is the second floor):
Downstairs (and entering this room to my right) was a staircase built some time in the 70s. It blocked the street entrance of one of the big front doors (there are two), and you could not even access the bottom of the building in a logical manner. The previous owners had done this on purpose because the bottom floor had been rented out to the restaurant next door as their overflow dining area, and they didn’t want customers to be able to exit through this part of “their” restaurant. (They already had another exit just a few feet away, in their own building.) This staircase allowed the restaurant to occupy the entire first floor, and then the owners of this building could rent out the upstairs (access via the rickety staircase) to other tenants. There were far smarter ways to have constructed the staircase, but why do smart when you can do stupid and cheap? (grrrr)
One of the really weird things about buildings in the Quarter is that they’ll do stuff like this–rent half a building to the people next door and create a new access for the upper floors somehow. You’ll go into a hotel, or an apartment complex, and from the outside, you may look at a single building and think “oh, that’s small,”, but inside, it seems to go on forever. That’s because they’ve rented or bought the buildings next door, cut holes into the walls, and annexed the additional space. It can be very maze-like.
The bottom floor of our building was decorated exactly like the restaurant when we bought it, and we spent several weeks working with the former lessors separating their stuff from our stuff. They’d rented that space for 25 years, but had recently bought their own building (instead of leasing it), and were building their own overflow dining upstairs. Win win, for us, but it was a tangle of electrical–half of ours ran over into their building; some of the sprinkler systems were all tied in together, as well as the plumbing. Kinda a mess.
Here’s the opening of that staircase that was downstairs blocking our front door had to be taken out.
And here’s the hole left after we removed it — this floor needed to be repaired. The best way to do it was to use the same wood from the same era, and the only real certain match was flooring already in the building. We knew we were going to build a kitchen/butler’s pantry in this great room, and the floor of that pantry was going to be tile (and a lot of the floor would be hidden underneath cabinets). Instead of covering up that floor, we opted to steal it from there so we could cover the hole above.
While we were doing this, Carl removed the old joists, because they are gorgeous 107 year-old heart pine, and there were a few other areas above on the ceiling which had the same sort of joists, which had to be removed when we added the third floor structure. Those joists have now been planed, and we’re going to make all our own doors, from wood that was original to the building. (Instead of just covering up the wood and then making doors out of new.)
Here they are, planed and ready:
Here’s the butler’s pantry with its first wall, and the new subfloor behind it:
Here’s a photo of us “threading” the old wood in such a way that it will look like it was always there (over a new subfloor):
I cannot figure out where the photo is that I took the week after this showing the floor whole again; I’ll get a photo of that this week and show that next week. You cannot tell that this floor wasn’t always there. Kinda neat.
Simultaneous to all of the framing (which is just about done) and electrical and plumbing rough in, are the decisions I mentioned last week. One room I’m trying to make up my mind on is a guest bathroom. There will eventually be two full guests baths, and one ADA bathroom, but of the two full baths, I wanted one of them to have a clawfoot tub. Maybe you could weigh in on your choices of the ones below:
Three very different aesthetics, which is what’s making it difficult. The decor style of the whole building is what I’m calling “industrial chic” — which will have some old features, and some more modern ones woven throughout. I love the first one, the clawfoot, because that was my original intention, and then I saw the other two, which both have a “wow” factor. I’m pretty sure that one of the other baths will only have an ADA shower (no tub), and the last room, (assuming it stays a guest room–that’s up in the air right now), would have a soaker tub/separate shower. But this little bathroom doesn’t have room for both tub and shower, and I really want a beautiful tub. A wow factor.
What’s sort of worrying me is that my guest will be uncomfortable because I had a hankering for something I’m not forced to use.
The type of shower/faucet combo I’d use for all three would be something like this:
For the top tub, it would be in rubbed bronze. Middle tub, probably chrome or brushed nickel. For the bottom tub, something a little more modern. All three with the big oval shower ring above.
I still have time to change my mind about this. The plumber has wisely brought the pipes to the right location, but he hasn’t cut holes through the floor until I make up my mind.
But I really need to make up my mind.
So if you were visiting, and you got to choose which tub above you’d love to try out, which would it be?
(Oh, the top two tubs both have the same depth of water–it’s deceiving, looking at the photos, but there’s 15 1/2″ from the bottom of the tub to the overflow. The bottom tub has another inch, or inch-and-a-half. In case that matters.)