As alluded to a few post ago, I've left a certain project unmentioned here on the blog. Until today. Let's start with a picture showing what the stairway looked like last November:
What the stairway looks like now:
Isn't that simply delicious!?
As this blog chronicled, last fall we (temporarily) uncovered several interior stone walls here at the Einsel House. As time passed, we became increasingly determined to find an interior stone wall somewhere in the house that we could leave permanently exposed. I mean, the stone construction is one of this home's most unique features, so why not embrace it? The difficulty was in choosing which wall to expose. It was my mom who first suggested the wall at the top of the stairs. And from the moment we decided that the top of the stairs would be it, mom was champing at the bit to bust into the cracked plaster. When she finally began attacking the old plaster (in early February of this year) she practically giddy with excitement.
Frankly, I'm not sure which made her more happy - the stones she was uncovering in front of her, or the fact that she found something other than sanding woodwork to do that day. (This was early February, remember.)
Here's the wall at the end of that first day:
And later, looking up the stairs, sans plaster:
And from mid-February to mid-May, that's basically what our stone wall looked like. It looked great even in that rough state, but there were a few issues that the slightly fuzzy picture above doesn't show. First, at the very top of the stone wall are some pieces of fuzzy yellow insulation.
They are there because where the stone stopped at the top of the wall, it revealed about an inch of unfinished lumber with small gap of varying width between it and the plastered ceiling over the upstairs hall. Bat droppings came out of this gap as the plaster came down. So we stuffed in pieces of left over insulation (both to keep the house's heat from escaping into the attic, and to keep the attic's bats from escaping into the house.) That worked until earlier this month, when my uncle went upstairs and found one of our attic friends hanging from a stone near the top of our exposed wall. With that, finishing the stone wall moved up rapidly on our "to-do" list.
We called in our mason who has done such wonderful work on the exterior of the home and springhouse. (Who I realized just last week is "Jason the Mason". At which point my mom interjected to say, "That's probably why he goes by Jay.") But when we asked him if he could finish and point our interior wall, for the first time ever our mason hesitated. Of course he could do it, but he felt the wall was beautiful in its unfinished state and his heart clearly almost broke at the thought of altering it in any way. I could see his point. But I could also see bats squeezing into my house from the attic, and giant spiders making homes out of the many dark cracks and crevices left in the unpointed wall. Thankfully, our mason's enthusiasm rebounded somewhat once he actually began the project. And we are thrilled with the result. Particularly impressive is the work along the edges of the stone wall, where it meets the doors to the north and south bedrooms. When the plaster came down there were gaps between these door frames and the stone wall. These gaps were filled by our mason with small pieces of stone and pointed just like the rest of the exposed wall. You can see the finished result below:
Standing at the bottom of the stairs now is almost surreal. To my right is the new door with transom and sidelights, straight ahead is the living room with windows trimmed out in floor-to-ceiling walnut, and to my left the refinished stairs topped with the exposed stone wall.
There are times when it's hard for me to believe that this is actually my house. : )