Before tour: the living room
It seems appropriate to introduce you to our living room since we spend nearly all our time huddled up there these days. It’s home to two electric radiators cranked to maximum overdrive that keep the temperature somewhere between barely tolerable and toasty, depending on the weather outside.
This room is in the earliest portion of the house, built circa 1754. The focal point of the space is the fireplace and the formal mantel that extends to the ceiling. Simple wainscoting lines the room’s perimeter and begs to be painted something (anything) other than the current ghastly shade of salmon pink.
The floors are tight-grained heart pine boards of varying widths face-nailed directly to the joists below. They have a lovely worn patina that only two hundred years of foot traffic can create. The wood appears to have been coated with wax, but it’s worn thin and we’ll eventually have to figure out whether to rewax or sand the floor and try a more durable penetrating finish. I was squarely in the former camp, while the missus is in the latter, but each spilled drink brings me closer to sharing her point of view.
The ceiling is tall and composed of painted wood boards. At some point in the past, someone tacked up wood battens to hide the seams between the boards, creating the stripe-y look you see in the photo. I’m not a fan, so I’ll be looking for a better solution in the future.
The volume beneath the stairs houses a full(!) bath, with a minuscule shower shoehorned in below the treads above.
Of course, this hasn’t always been the case. Originally this is where the back door was, which led directly to the backyard. When the rear wing of the house was added, the door remained and was accessed from a porch inset into the mass of the house.
In this sixties-vintage photo below, I’m not certain whether the back door opens to the porch, or whether a half bath had already been added. A short door that provided access to the space below the stairs now lives in the library and leads to a small storage closet.
The proportions of the living room are spot on and it’s a wonderful place to spend an evening. It needs a serious cosmetic overhaul, but its grand simplicity typifies the best of colonial architecture. One day we’ll upgrade beyond our hodge-podge of twenty-something furniture and restore this room to its rightful role as the formal highlight of the ordinary.