Crowing Ram

Thursday, September 04, 2003
up from the depths
Do you ever have those flashes of your childhood that just won't get out of your head until you share them? I was a TV junky as a kid, and I loved cartoons. When I was sitting down to write my first blog post from the new digs after... Wow! almost a month, all I could think of was the theme from the Hanna-Barberra Godzilla cartoon of the late Seventies.
Don't remember? Here are the lyrics:
Up from the depths [mellodramatic fanfare]
Thirty stories high [mellodramatic fanfare]
Breathing fire [mellodramatic fanfare]
His head in the sky [mellodramatic fanfare]
Godzilla! [mellodramatic fanfare]
Godzilla! [mellodramatic fanfare]
Godzilla! [mellodramatic fanfare]
and Godzuky [ethereal melody, then banal buffoon cartoon noises]
Godzilla! [mellodramatic fanfare and choral wowser]
Still don't remember? Try this link. (If you're in the office, you might want to close your door for this one.)
Anyway, my point is that I'm back... up from the depths, as it were.
Back from what? Are you kidding? Well, okay. Here's the background.
My partner Rob and I run a yarn shop. Until recently, we ran this business primarily online from our home in Bloomington, Indiana. We had a nice-sized three-bedroom condo with a full basement, so we didn't have to worry too much about space, but the business had really gotten too big for it.
First, our landlady mentioned that she had a commercial property next door to her office and had me walk through it. It was all right, but there was less space there than what we'd allocated for the business in our home. That evening, I told Rob and our friend Helen about the property, and Helen's eyes immediately lit up. "Are you guys looking for shop space?!?"
Well, we really hadn't been, but we'd knocked the idea around some, and we'd realized that a) the shop really was where we wanted to take the business, and b) that we'd really like to have some space that would be both shop and home. We've had some people scoff about us not having separate living and work environments and some suggest that to live and work in the same building is somehow unfair or immoral. I am completely baffled by that logic. My great-grandfather ran a neighborhood grocery in my hometown and lived in the back part of the sprawling old building. I've known several shopkeepers in different parts of the country that have shops of some kind in, above, below, or beside their homes (both conjoined and free-standing), and having come from the technology industry, I can't count the number of people who work remotely from an office in their home for any number of clients around the world. In other words, we were both flabbergasted and amused by that particular argument. But the question remained; where would we want to open a store?
Then Helen called.
To make a long story short, she did the leg work. She talked to people. She drove around Columbus, Indiana looking for vacant commercial properties and called us with a list of different numbers to call. It's when she realized that we were interested in living and working accomodations that she struck upon genius.
Another friend of ours, Cathi, has a brother who owns an older home in Columbus that he wanted to convert from it's duplexed condition back to a single family unit. We toured the house, chatted with Jim, Cathi's brother, and Amy, his wife, and came to an agreement.
The results: ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio has a new home in Columbus, Indiana, and business is already booming.
The upshot: Humpty-Dumpty isn't exactly back together again.
Don't get me wrong. The house is great. It's a gorgeous turn-of-the-century two-story house in a slowly reawakening neighborhood just a couple of blocks off one of the main drags through town. Oh, and that's turn-of-the-TWENTIETH-century. Unfortunately, there's been over a century of abuse heaped on this beauty's old bones. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Please, allow me to introduce to you... 703 Hutchins, the new home of ThreadBear Fiber Arts Studio.
703 Hutchins
This is what our foyer looked like a few days ago.
Foyer Before
This is what our foyer looked like yesterday.
Foyer After
And this is a closeup of the shelves before anyone asks! ;-)
Closeup of Shelving: Classic Elite Waterspun, Lana Grossa Due Chine, Merino big, Bingo, Cascade Indulgence, and Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool
Obviously, there's more work to do just on the foyer, but we're also trying to keep the business up and running as things get done, too. Luckily, our locals are very understanding.
And just so you know something is getting done, here's the front room. This is the desk area made by rigging the computer onto my Arts and Crafts style sofa table. It's where I sit as I write this, and it's already seen a whole lot of orders come through at the new place.
Front Room: Desk
Fortunately, we don't have up shades yet, so with a west-facing house, the afternoon sun is tanning me nicely. Also, we've got a little more yarn packed into this one mostly finished room.
Front Room: Koigu
Of course, there's the infamous tower of Koigu which is now slightly wider to accomodate not only our current stock but the new shipment that's supposed to be on its way... a little bird tells me that we've got Kersti in this batch!
Front Room: Back Wall
Then, there's the new stock of various fashion yarns, Pastaza, and Lamb's Pride.
Front Room: Cascade and Noro
Oh, all of the colors that we picked out for the rooms (with the much appreciated help of Helen, Karen, Amy, and Deb) are Laura Ashley colors. This one is Gypsy Rose. Oh, and please, excuse the schmutz on the lens of the camera. It's been cleaned since these pics were taken. :D
Now, as for the rest of the house. Moma, look away. This might get ugly.
This is the room that Rob has lovingly dubbed Saigon.
Saigon: minus extra walls
If it looks a little bombed-out, now, it may help to understand how it started out. In the image below, I've tried to sketch out roughly how this room was subdivided when Jim, Amy, and his parents, Jim and Barb (also a ThreadBear client) started work to restore the house. The red room was a bathroom, the green room was a tiny bedroom, and the blue room was the hall that led from the double French doors to the rest of the apartment.
Saigon: before the walls came tumbling down... wait!  Mixed geographic references!!
"Wait," you say. "Your diagram stops before it gets to the ceiling!" Oh, ye of little faith. All of this was capped by a dropped ceiling. "Wait again," says you. "That bathroom has a big open doorway in the middle of it." No, friends and neighbors. That's the wall that divided the two apartments. Charming, huh?
So. Now, you see that we really do have saintly landlords. They're doing a lot of work on this house, and of course, in return, we're doing a lot of work on the house in the form of beautification of the property over the long haul. So here's a bit of the improvement (mostly in repair of walls and ceiling plaster) so far.
Saigon: Yesterday
Saigon: Ceiling
Saigon: Ceiling
In the words of a whole lot of realtors out there, you have to have vision.
That said, envision this: there are some details that make a lot of this worth the effort. You've already seen a lot of the gorgeous woodwork, but check out a little of the hardware scattered around the house.
Hardware: Deadbolt Doohickey
Hardware: Aunt Clara's Finest If you'll excuse the technical jargon, the picture above is one of those vertical deadbolt doohickeys that you use to lock one of a set of double doors. To the left, we have one of Aunt Clara's finest (Who's Aunt Clara? Clue 1 & Clue 2). Below is one of the heating (and fortunately in our renovations, cooling) vent grates.
Hardware: Heating/Cooling Grate
Our current sleeping arrangements are a bit snug. This is the room to the left of the Saigon Room, where we're currently sleeping on a mattress and box springs resting on the floor surrounded by mounds of furniture. It ain't pretty, so I won't make you look. But the ceilings are just as high, and it's a very nice-sized room that will also eventually be filled with yarn.
Bedroom: Now
And this is the blocked staircase entrance that will eventually lead up to our real bedroom.
Bedroom: Later
All right. Thanks for waiting. Now, let's move on to the next room.
Dining Room
Excuse the mess, but it's the only other really finished rooms, so it's getting a lot of our leisure traffic. It's where folks sit when they come over, it's been the staging area as we start moving things around, and OH! It's the first room you've seen that's actually part of the back apartment. Everything else was the front apartment before the dividing wall came out.
Oh, and a special note to my mom. Recognize the table? You should. It was yours many moons ago. And if you look in the window, that painted gourd was a gift from Rob Christmas of 2001. An artist in Bloomington was painting gourds to match real bird breeds. That one is a brown thrasher. Isn't that sweet? (What's the significance? Check this out.)
Dining Room
To the left of the dining room, is what will eventually be a sitting room. The dish connection runs to this room, and despite it currently being stacked with boxes, I've managed to manuever a love seat, Connor's ottoman, and the television in there so we do have some place to escape to of an evening if there's not too terribly much left to do. It's also the only carpeted room downstairs.
Sitting Room
Back out in the dining room is a side door and mud room. Check out the detail on the door. This was the entrance to the back apartment.
Side Door Detail
To the left of the side door on the same wall as the door to the sitting room, there's a doorway that leads to the back of the house. This includes the bath, kitchen, and laundry rooms, as well as the little something extra (more on that later).
Doorway to back of house
Now, despite there needing to be a little TLC applied to both the tub and the rest of the room, we do have this amazing antique clawfoot tub.
Antique clawfoot tub
Just past the bathroom in the hall to the kitchen is this butler's pantry. I want to strip it to see what kind of wood is under there, but I definitely want to paint the back wall of the cabinets pale blue. Our restoration consultants, our friend and client Deb and her husband Chuck suggested that the blue would be extremely fitting for the time in which they estimate the house was built (probably in the late 1890s).
Butler's Pantry
And then there's the kitchen. Heart of the home. My favorite room in the house... that doesn't usually have yarn in it. And yes, mother, the bedroom does usually have yarn in it, thank you. At the moment, there's no dishwasher, but we'll be investing in one ASAP. Jim has agreed to install it, and it's one of our donations to improving the property. (Oh, and it's all gas! Woohoo!)
And while it may not be very exciting, here's the mud room/laundry room.
Laundry Room/Mud Room
But wait. That's not the back door you're looking at. That's out of the frame to the left beyond the washer and dryer. The door, you see, leads to our dirty little secret.
Ok. It's a pit at the moment, but those bags are all still full of yarn. If you look back at Rob's posts before we left Bloomington, you'll see that much of the yarn was packed into bags. We still have that much yarn to put out on shelves. And there's still more coming in.
Totally aside from the obvious chaos that currently reigns here, though. This is a studio apartment on the back of the house. The former occupant would enter through the back door into the laundry room that everyone in the house shared. The photo was taken from doorway of the ¾-bath (which I graciously spared you), and to the left above and below the towels are cabinets, then a sink, a second range (electric this time), and a second refrigerator.
Now, while I am delighted to have the extra cooking and storage space for our big shindigs like Third Thursday (which is continuing, by the way, despite being suspended for August), it also means that when finished we have a fully functional mother-in-law suite. Ginny, Moma, you've got your own room with your own semi-private entrance, bathroom, and kitchenette. Moma, if the iron bed is still in the basement, I'd love to pick it up next time we're down. And everyone else... well, Rob and I have toyed around with the idea of occasionally playing host to guest speakers and teachers for special events. If you've ever seen one of Rob's spreads, well, you know you won't go hungry. Obviously, that's a big question mark at the moment since it's currently painted in a color I can only assume was chosen from the Nickolodeon palette at Lowe's and the floors are still plywood, but it's out there... looming.
For now, I've finished another of my marathon blog entries, and I'm headed to bed. Much love to you all. Good night!
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