A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Basement Inspirations

Thanksgiving is over and we had a great time with family and friends. The turkey was perfect and the other dishes were also pretty tasty (and with the help of a new tablecloth, completely free of cat hair!).

To get ready for Thanksgiving, Pete and I wanted to have the basement fixed up as much as possible. And for all intents and purposes, the basement is done. We still haven’t repaired the wall from the great cat pee debacle, but I’m really not that concerned about it since it doesn’t interfere with our day-to-day existence and is somewhat disguised behind other things.2007112101.jpg

All in all, we’re really pleased with the outcome. The colors are warm and inviting, which is perfect for a basement entertainment space.

Now, I could say that the color scheme of the basement was influenced by this Art Institute of Chicago bag that’s been sitting in our basement.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec is certainly at the top of my Favorite Artists list, especially since he was essentially both graphic designer and illustrator. Yellows, reds and blacks figure predominantly in much of his artwork.

germany-flag.jpgOr I could say that the PO’s Swedish pride rubbed off on me and the house compelled me to honor
my own forefathers.

But in reality, the color scheme was self-determined based on the existing wainscoting, light fixtures, furniture and accessories. So allow me to take you on a little tour. I’ll point out some of my favorite things along the way which also helped dictate the color scheme.2007112107.jpg

This is what you’ll see first as you walk into the finished part of the basement.

The red chairs are vintage beauty shop chairs that I found at a now-defunct antique store in Evanston. I originally intended to use them as kitchen chairs, but they wouldn’t fit under the table. They’re perfect for this space.2007112105.jpg

Leaning against the wall next to the bar is a Flexible Flyer sled, Airline Racer model No. 60. My sister and I used to go sledding with my dad at Mt. Trashmore (yes, it used to be a dump) in Evanston on this sled. I don’t know when or where my parents got the Flexible Flyer, but we’ve definitely had it my entire life. A search on Google showed that the Airline Racer model was made from 1935 on, and it appears that this particular model was made between 1950-1954, so they must have bought it used, or maybe someone gave it to them. No. 60 meant that it’s 5-feet long, and all three of us could fit on it. It could really fly down the hill!

As we walk over to the pool table you’ll see the bar area from the opposite direction. In the foreground is the music corner I showed you last week. 2007112108.jpgWe’ve already been listening to some vinyl, and it sounds really great.

The PO left the barstools behind. They’re very comfortable and are finished in a creamy vinyl. Probably something from the ’60s or ’70s. The mini fridge we had from our previous house and it’s a little big for the space so we may swap it out for a smaller one that I have in my studio.

Mounted on the corner of the wall next to the pool table is something we’ve held onto for several years, just waiting for the perfect spot to come along. 2007112106.jpgThis is something we received as a White Elephant gift for Christmas one year with Pete’s family.

This thing is so cool, but it’s really heavy and not the easiest thing to mount, so having the wainscoting on which it can rest worked out perfectly. You may wonder what the heck it is? Well, it’s a corn sheller/husker. It would normally be mounted on the edge of a wooden box or barrel. The ear of corn is fed through the funnel at the top and the handle is cranked, grinding the corn kernels off the husk. The markings on it say “Never Fail”, which is the model name, and “Made by the Root-Heath Mfg. Co., Plymouth, O. USA”. According to my research this sheller would have been made between 1904 and 1919. After that time the company became the Fate-Root-Heath Company.

Next on our tour is the view from behind the bar. Note the red warning stripe on the ceiling bump-out.2007112109.jpg

I decided to limit the artwork on the wall to those framed only in black. One of my favorites there is a painting that I did in kindergarten (to the right of the window). The only colors are pink, green and black (pink and black is in the sky as well). The subject matter: rocket ships that look like a house and witches. I wish I knew what I was thinking when I painted this, but the reality probably was that it was painted around Halloween, and throughout my childhood the NASA space program was always big news. I had a little plastic Lunar Module model, which I loved, and I wanted to be an astronaut at one point, but my disdain for math took care of that aspiration.2007112110.jpg

Finally, there’s my cast iron stove. This stove came from my paternal grandparents’ farmhouse in a small southern Illinois farming town where my father was born and raised. The farmhouse had to be torn down in the 1980s, but my grandparents were long gone by then. My great-grandparents first owned the house and I believe it was built sometime in the 1870s or 1880s. I have so many fond memories of that old house.

It had no central heating system, and while there were electric heaters in the main living areas, the upstairs bedrooms were only used when our family came to visit, so those rooms were heated by stoves like this. I’m pretty sure this particular one came from the bedroom my parents used. By the time it came into my possession it was covered in rust. Eventually I found a place that could sandblast it, and I spray-painted it with high-temperature stove paint even though the stove is unusable because of crack in the top.

From an article in the Chicago Sun-Times, the stove was made by

…the Florence Stove Manufacturers of Columbus, Ohio, which was founded by Christopher Emrich (also spelled Emrick or Emmerick), who was born in the Rhine Province of Bavaria in 1828. He came to this country at the age of 12 and settled in Columbus, where he became an apprentice molder in the cast iron industry.

He worked for J.L. and William Gill until 1861, when he founded Florence Stove Manufacturers, which was located at the corner of Fulton and West Second Street in Columbus. Emrich died in 1902, but we could not discover how long his company survived after his death.

The skirt, legs, doors and top of the stove are normally nickel-plated, but at the time I couldn’t afford to have something like that done, so I had to paint the whole thing. I still would like to find someone who could do it, but I’m not sure where to start. Someone suggested contacting a custom motorcycle shop since they often need various parts nickel-plated. If anyone has any other suggestions I would love to hear them!

Another thing I would love to do is to somehow install an electric heating element inside it. So far the basement has been very comfortable, but the space actually isn’t heated. Although we’ve finally finished painting and installing the storm windows down there — which have definitely made a difference — come January I’m sure it could get pretty chilly and a heat source could come in handy.

The Good Time Stove Company in Massachusetts restores antique stoves and also converts them to gas or electric, so I’ll see if this is something Pete can handle with the instructions they provide on their site.

That’s it for our tour. Hope you enjoyed!

1 Comment

  1. Sandy on November 24, 2007 at 1:31 pm

    Absolutely stunning! Great job!!

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