Attic Treasures

I took this photo last week as we buried our beautiful black cat, Othello, who died too young from unknown causes. The roses are blooming, the cherries have been picked and a robin with his bright red breast sits at the peak of the house.

I have been so busy I almost forgot to take a photo of the house while the roses are blooming. It’s more impressive when the young cherry trees we planted for the kids are laden with cherries, but we picked them last week.

On one of the tours on June 13th someone commented that we should do something interesting with that diamond-shaped window on the front of the gabled dormer over the porch. I have given that some thought, but haven’t come up with anything yet. What do you think?

Behind that window is an attic space that holds exactly what you would expect in an old house that has stayed in the family: old family stuff. (Well, it doesn’t anymore, the night before the tours, I removed it all to the basement so our guests could look at it.)

The flourescent X marked on the insulation tells us which batts we can remove to make a path to the treasures

When Dave the Father-in-law and I insulated the house in 2008 he was willing to pay for extra insulation, so we added two layers of R22 Roxul Batt insulation on top of the ceiling of the living room (thank you Dave!). There was already a mix of fiberglass, crushed up styrofoam (re-used) and the original rock-wool insulation between the ceiling studs, and we just laid the new batts on top of it. What is missing is a good vapour barrier to keep the moist warm air inside the room, but we didn’t see an easy way to add a plastic layer to the ceiling of the historic living room. This is a compromise that we can fix when we renovate the upper floor.

When you are laying two layers of insulation, you want to off-set the batts so it seals the heat in better. The exception we made was a series of batts that can be removed to form a path.

Secret pathway revealed!
Secret pathway revealed!


In the photos above you can see the diamond window has been fitted in place with pieces of cardboard. I also fitted a convenient piece of styrofoam over the window (for all the good it does–this attic is like an oven in the summer!)

On the other side of the thick insulation, on the uninsulated floor which is the ceiling of the front porch, Leanne’s grandparents and Mom stored things they wanted to keep but didn’t need.

The green shopping bin wasn’t there. I used it to carry stuff.

Among the treasures are some one-sided records made of shellac or some other compound, framed paintings and photos, a chamber pot, a breast pump, and a bunch of Julie’s childhood art and writings.

One of the most valuable things there is a spare stained-glass transom light which matches those in the living and dining rooms. Carl Whitehead was a forward-thinking homeowner who thought of things like having a spare made. It is incredible that none of these beautiful windows have been damaged.

Spare stained glass transom light

I gave some thought to whether I should bring it down to the basement for display during the tours, but I was concerned that it may get damaged after being safe for so many years. Carl made up my mind by carefully bending a nail in the stud behind it to keep it securely in place.

It has been nailed there

I hope to have these treasures dusted off and displayed better for the upcoming series of tours on June 27th at 10am, 11am, 1pm or from 2-4pm. I hope you will join us.

Please register for a tour at the event page:

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James Rowley

James lives in Maple Ridge, BC, Canada with his amazing partner, Leanne Koehn, and their two amazing kids in their beautiful house. He studied Science and English Literature at the University of British Columbia where he met Leanne. He also studied acting for a while at Studio 58 in Vancouver. He works as a teacher of English and curriculum writer for new Canadians.

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