21st-century Victorian decorating with Christopher Lowell

With much renovation and restoration still left to be completed, the days of decorating the Roff Home are still a long way off. But it never hurts to think ahead.

Here’s a video clip from Christopher Lowell’s Work That Room in which he adds an upbeat, energetic retro feel to a young couple’s Victorian home, combining Victorian flourishes with 60s-style mid-century modern.

 

My Top 13 Rules for Dealing with Blog-Clogging Spam

It’s about midnight on Christmas Eve, and my phone dings with that lively iPhone chime: I have a new email, perhaps a special Christmas message! I run my thumb over the face of the phone, and my smile immediately droops to a frown. The message isn’t from a person, but from an automated spammer.

The most frustrating thing about this blog — other than the WordPress blank screen of death — is the spam. Of the 140 messages that have been posted to the Roff Home blog since October, 111 have been spam. Here’s a smattering of the best of the worst spam comments, as well as my spam smack-down rules: →Read more

Roff Home steam radiators refinished and renewed!

Refinished radiator in the front parlor of the Roff Home

Refinished radiator in the front parlor of the Roff Home


This summer, as floors were being redone and windows repainted, we took out the cast iron steam radiators from the first floor of the Roff Home and hauled them to a guy who does sandblasting in Stockland, Illinois. Afterward, I repainted the radiators, first with a couple of base coats of primer and then two or three coats of a silver metallic spray paint.

First of all, let me say that I had no idea what a radiator weighed. Holy cast iron. I knew they would be heavy, but the biggest ones must have weighed 200-300 pounds. Lifting those things was like dragging a cast iron corpse through the house. →Read more

The master of plaster restores Victorian walls at the Roff Home

Peeling paint, cracking and peeling plaster, and the general malaise of the Roff Home's walls prior to replastering.

Peeling paint, cracking and peeling plaster, and the general malaise of the Roff Home's walls prior to replastering.

Over the summer and fall, we took on the task of plaster restoration at the Roff Home. Water damage over the years had destroyed far too much plaster for us to just take on the task of patching or repairing plaster walls. Whatever we chose to do, it would have to be a complete reconstruction of the plaster coatings on the walls.

→Read more

Victorian flooring in the front parlor is finished!

The Victorian flooring, showing the refinished border and planks, of the front parlor.

The Victorian flooring, showing the refinished border and planks, of the front parlor.

The front parlor flooring at the Roff Home is finished! (See a video of the flooring on YouTube!)

It was quite an ordeal this summer: taking up the plywood that covered the floor, removing varnish and paint covering the planks, and then sanding and sanding and sanding. (Read more and see photos before varnish removal.)

The biggest decisions in this process were:

  • How much to sand both the border and the planks? When was enough, enough?
  • Yikes! The planks and the border are made of woods that don’t match. Should I stain the planks, and if so, what color?

→Read more

670 people visit Roff Home (and its basement) in 2009

Many thanks to the 670 people who visited the Roff Home in 2009! Most of you came through during the open houses in October and November, after the much-anticipated airing of “The Possessed” on the SyFy channel. Others came with private groups for ghost hunting and paranormal investigations. →Read more

An archnemesis returns: The WordPress blank screen of death

I sat down this evening to update this blog, and when I logged into WordPress, I find a message to upgrade the Atahualpa theme for the blog.

“Click here to upgrade automatically,” it states so plainly and unassumingly. It might as well have said, “Click here to waste the next two hours of your life.” →Read more

A tale of two Roff homes

Over the years, questions regarding the exact locations of homes in the Watseka Wonder story have arisen. Confusion stems from the Roffs having built two homes in Watseka. Thanks to extensive research on the issue, the exact locations of these homes and the timeline of ownership for each can now be established. →Read more

Front parlor flooring: Victorian Italianate renovation dilemma of the week

[NOTE! As of 12-16-09, the front parlor flooring is finished! Read the update here!]
As those of you know who read this blog and the main website, the Roff Home is a Victorian Italianate residence that was built in 1868. Its last major renovation took place in 1940.

I’ve taken on the task of peeling back layers of renovation and reversing the scars of more than a century of use and abuse, to put this home back together in a way that is respectful to its history and its original style. However, the home can be a do-it-yourself minefield, and this front parlor Victorian flooring has turned into just that. →Read more

Nighttime hours extended for open house!

Thanks to a strong turnout at last weekend’s open house, we’ve decided to extend the hours for upcoming Saturday nights. Now you can tour the Roff Home even later! On both Sat., Oct. 24 and Sat., Oct. 31, the Roff Home will be open from 1-5 pm and 7-10 pm. →Read more