A friend of mine recently had the good fortune of purchasing a beautiful Victorian-era mansion that she plans to convert into a bed and breakfast, and she’s taking me along for the ride. The exterior of the building maintains distinctive Victorian characteristics, but somebody sure did a number on the interior. The original woodwork is covered in layers upon layers of paint. Many ‘improvements’ were made in the ’60s and ’70s, including drop ceilings. (We removed the grubby tiles from a drop ceiling in the ‘parlor’ and found the original hand-painted crown moldings. Why someone would want to hide such beauty with a drop ceiling is beyond me.) The cheap faux wood paneling and tired Berber carpets will all have to go too. It’s a good thing I like doing this kind of thing, because we have a lot of work a head of us.
My friend was able to obtain photographs of what the house looked like when it was originally built (in 1908) and we’ve been scouring antique stores and salvage stores to find rugs, sconces, doorknobs and curtain rods that belong to the same era as the house. We even found parts for the old dumbwaiter, and we’re excited to get it working again! We’ve also found a company that prints stunning Victorian-style wallpaper, which I simply cannot wait to hang — those horrid brown-and-orange floral patterns that have hung on these walls since the Carter administration have simply got to go!
Industrial Water Softener for a Victorian Laundry Room
As cool as it would be to do this restoration in wall-t0-wall Victoriana, there are some things that simply must be modern. The kitchen needs a professional-grade range and walk-in refrigerator, and the laundry room needs industrial-sized washers and dryers. My friend wondered if she should install a commercial water softener so that her guests could always expect pristine, soft linens.
I didn’t know a whole lot about commercial or industrial water softeners. My “thing” is aesthetics. Utilitarian things like industrial water softeners aren’t exactly in my wheelhouse. But, I knew my friend was relying on my expertise, and so I did as much research as I could so that I could offer her an informed opinion. What I found was a company called Robert B. Hill Co., which is based in Minnesota. Robert B. Hill Co. manufactures custom water softeners that are made to fit the exact specifications of their clients’ spaces.
That seemed pretty nifty to me; Robert B. Hill Co. can make a water softener that will fit in the space we have available in the laundry room (which admittedly isn’t much) and can still meet the demands of daily washing. I showed my friend the website, and she agreed that it would be a good idea to reach out to this company and see what they can do for us and for the Astoria Community Inn.
I know…a terrible name. The house was, at one point in its varied history, a community center and for some reason my friend is hell-bent on paying homage to that. I keep telling her that the name will make people think that they’ll be sleeping on cots under Ping Pong tables, but so far she hasn’t budged. However, I discovered that the original owner had a daughter named Violet Rose. I think I can sell my friend on calling the place Violet Rose Manor. Much more appealing, don’t you agree?