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“A Glorious Pigeon Coop and Rat Motel”

I love old stuff. I’m sure a lot of my appreciation comes from being a photographer — the camera loves decay like Top Chef loves Padma’s boobs. I also grew up in a turn of the century house, and my earliest, fondest memories are of peeling fabric wallcoverings, stained ceilings, and wood burning stoves. It’s the stuff teary eyed nostalgia is made of. So when I saw this renovation of an early 1900s abandoned building, I could almost feel the paint chips dusting my eyelashes. Ah, memories.

Industrial designer David Hurlbut has spent the last 10 years renovating this 20,000 square foot building in Selma, Alabama. Purchased for the ridiculous sum of $100,000, Hurlbut has also spent an additional $150,000 in renovation costs.

Considering the size and previous condition of this beast, I’d say that’s next to nothing. Apparently the home was in shambles when Hurlbut moved in; the pigeon offerings alone filled several dumpsters.

Much of the low renovation costs can be explained by his sense of preservation. Whenever possible, all of the original flooring, woodwork and walls were kept and simply cleaned.

Other finishings were bought second hand on the cheap, like these vintage light fixtures.

The refrigerator was purchased from a New Orleans jazz musician for $100. The story goes that Louis Armstrong also used the fridge a time or two.

A few items — like the hand cast gargoyle above the bed in this room — were made by Hurlbut himself, who is an industrial designer by trade.

In other cases Hurlbut kept and refurbished fixtures — case in point, these original chandeliers.

More examples of frugality personified: the chair on the left was $3 and the working ham radio was a gift.

“It’s a joke amongst my friends… If if’s not big, old, heavy, and obsolete, David doesn’t want it.”

I love it all, except the peeling paint looks like lead poisoning on a stick. Cover that with a clear satin finish, stat!

It’s really a wonder that I’m not dead from some kind of toxic dust, considering that I spent 15 years living in an old house that was constantly under renovation. Still, I would do just about anything to live in a house like this again… anything except move to Alabama. Sorry ‘Bama lovers.

Check out the beautifully photographed NY Times slide show here.

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Guest Post: This Old House

So the furnace was broken and we called our trusty heating and cooling guys who, when last time we called, literally moved a wire and the unit was fixed. This time was equally embarrassing as we had already gone through the pains to install a new igniter (I didn’t install it, my handy stepfather did it — neither the husband nor I are capable of such things), and it turns out one of the little tubes that connects a something to a something else was clogged. One blow of the magical repairman’s breath and it was unclogged — and $125 later, we had heat! I guess since it took less than 5 minutes to fix, the repairman (lets call him Bill) felt obligated to critique our old houses heating system. This is actually a good thing I guess, since we are officially on the market as of a few days ago. However, after hearing what Bill had to say, I felt like giving up and taking a short sale right then and there (I get discouraged easily). Anyone in Kansas City want to buy a sweet little 50s bungalow in the Plaza area? Probably not after I mention the problems that were so blatantly overlooked when my husband purchased this nightmare house 4 years ago. Don’t get me wrong; the thing is cute as a button, but DAMN — you almost have to have a degree in construction or whatever to live here. So as a future warning to peeps living in old houses, you might want to check for a few things in your heating and cooling system:

1. Is your flue lined? I think Bill was talking about the chimney flue, however we were in the basement when he was telling me this and I’m not sure which flue exactly he was referring to. But he said that the previous owners had installed a high efficiency furnace (at this point I’m thinking — Yay! A plus for once!) which isn’t supposed to be used with a flue like ours. (Fabulous)

2. Are your duct pipes double lined? If they are exposed and hanging about the basement as ours are, they should be double lined because well, they get really hot! Not only that, but going back to the flue issue, if the flue is not lined, non double lined pipes collect acidic moisture in them and eventually, they will disintegrate which makes it pretty darn hard to heat the house.

3. The crème de la crème was the asbestos tape coming loose. (Asbestos!?!?!! WTF) I had no idea we had asbestos. Cancer treatment centers of America — here I come. I have no idea who the jank-ass inspector was that my husband used when he bought this house 4 yrs ago, but he sure didn’t mention the A-word. I’m gonna be so pissed if I get mesothelioma before this is all said and done.

On a much lighter note, let me introduce myself, I’m Liz and a guest blogger here. Erin and Karly were so kind to let me be a part of their amazing site and I hope I don’t totally ruin its rep. Since the theme is design, I’m going to introduce you to an amazing new firm/furniture design team called Autoban based in Istanbul, Turkey. The team are young architects Seyhan Özdemir & Sefer Çağlar and their crew of designers is barely old enough to have graduated architecture school (Yeah, I’m Jealous). Autoban mixes old and new – (hence the this old house theme… clever EH?). They do residential and commercial and there are some definite patterns running in their work, the main being stark minimalism set against ornate traditionalism in the moldings, paneling and other ornate prettiness, and they soften it by painting it all white (which I love). I guess in Istanbul most of the residential architecture is pretty darn old, and the way Autoban handles it is Autobantastic! Ok I’ll stop now.

Sorry the pics are so small.  I love this gold ceiling and the stark minimalism of the carrera marble counters (must have cost a fortune.)

Painted brick is always a good idea.

Neon butterflies = happiness

Introducing my newest obsession — the box sofa (on left) with its super clean lines and tufted leather yumminess- I’m sure it don’t come cheap.

Gorgeous hotel kitchenette — Witt Hotel, Istanbul.  I’m sure I won’t be visiting anytime soon, but it’s nice to dream.

For more info on Autoban go here: www.autoban212.com
Hope you enjoyed the post!

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