After enclosing is completed and the interior partitions are in place, the house is ready for lath and plaster. Wood or metal lath or any one of the various plaster boards can be used as foundation. Now comes a fine point. Present-day plasterers produce a much finer finish than was the rule a century ago, but if they understand the effect desired they will restrain themselves and possibly omit the final skim coat.
The next details are the window sash, interior trim, and the final exterior siding. The latter can be either the original clapboards, new ones of the same width, or the long riven shingles. Whatever is used, for protection against winter winds, the boarding ought to be sheathed either with building paper or a quilting. Likewise, the tops of all door and window frames must be properly flashed. This prevents rain leaks which are bound to stain the plaster.
Before the original flooring is re-laid it should be thoroughly scrubbed with a mild lye solution to rid it of old paint, stains, and dirt; as many of the old nails removed as possible, and injured sections discarded. Since there is bound to be an appreciable loss, the attic flooring can be used to take the place of that discarded or an additional amount bought from some wrecker specializing in materials salvaged from old structures. Along with cleaning the old flooring, it is frequently wise to have the edges re-planed so they will be straight and true. It obviates wide cracks that gather dust and lint.
In taking the old house apart, a bit of siding may give a clue to the original color outside. Under the various coats of paint and paper of the interior the owner may get glimpses of the scheme of decoration used when the house was young. We may not realize it but Colonial Americans were partial to color in the home and used a number of very effective off-shades now largely forgotten. If these can be discovered and samples preserved for matching, the results will be authentic and at the same time give the house an individuality and atmosphere that will not be met with elsewhere.
[Illustration: AS THEY BUILT A CHIMNEY IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
Photo by John Runyon]
A house that can be purchased for removal will not often be completely equipped with its original wrought-iron hinges, door latches and locks. But the chances are that enough will remain to indicate what they were and replacements that match and fit can be bought from an antique dealer specializing in old hardware.
Since electricity is entirely a modern convenience, selecting fixtures must depend entirely on the owner’s taste. One of the most satisfactory restored houses we have seen has very few fixtures and many portable lamps chiefly made from old jugs and converted astral oil lamps. In bathrooms, kitchen, cellar and garage, no attempt was made to affect the antique. Being strictly utilitarian rooms, simple fixtures that would provide the maximum of light were employed.