Thursday, March 17, 2016

Home sweet home

I did something today I've been wanting to do for years: I visited The Spadina House museum here in Toronto.  It's a stately home that belonged to the same family for five generations and, when finally let go in 1982, was part sold, part donated to the city to preserve as a museum, along with all those years' worth of household records and furniture and artifacts.  Basically, a treasure trove for history buffs (check out the images of the interiors and exterior here.)  The house has been presented as it looked in the 1920s and 1930s and is utterly charming.  But you know what?  The only handmade-looking textile I saw was this bedspread in one of the servants' rooms:

It's crochet, and it's gorgeous don't you think?  That floral wallpaper is original, by the way - not a reproduction.  It's quite interesting to see the difference between this and the other wallpapers on the third floor, and the reproduction papers on the second floor.  100+ years takes their toll, but you can see the family bought quality when they decorated.

Before I got to Spadina House I was at Casa Loma next door, which is a huge attraction - and when I say 'huge', I mean 'huge.'  It's another family home but this time, the indulgence of a very rich man who wanted his own Edwardian castle.  He was never able to finish it, in spite of living in it for ten years, and eventually went broke and had to sell it off. 

A cautionary tale for somebody who's renovating, for sure.  How much is too much when it comes to creating the house of your dreams?  And at what point does choosing quality mean putting one's financial security at risk?  Good wallpaper is obviously a wise choice, but good stables accessible through a tunnel dug under the road the city wouldn't move for you when you asked is probably not.

We're not using wallpaper as far as I know - I may yet change my mind - but Ray is taking care to ensure that every pipe and wire we need can tuck inside the walls.  He's being very firm with our HVAC team on this point too - he doesn't want us to have any boxes accommodating pipe elbows or manifolds or anything else in our living space.  Check out the plumbing for the basement bath and parts of the first and second floor bathrooms:

I love how perfect this is!  It's like a stylized tree. It never ceases to amaze and impress me, how important it is to Ray to think through every step and do the best possible job for the long term, as though five generations will live in this house too.

Meanwhile, I find I can superimpose the finished product over what's in the space now.  For example, my laundry room, with the dryer on the extreme right and the washer just to the left of it, over the drain that goes out to the city's pipes:

And the two bookshelves Ray has framed into our old basement doorways:

I am so glad we love our condo and it's not an issue that the house is still so far from done.  Also: so glad I have time to work out more finishing details so they can be as right as the plumbing locations.  I do have to commit to the bathtub this weekend though, so Ray can put in the valves and things on Monday.  Yikes.

I think knitting first though, don't you?  No point in having a home if you don't have needlework, even if it's just in the maid's bedroom!  Off I go - hope you are tucking some nice crafting time into today, and I'll see you tomorrow.

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