The Wakefield Library Apartment

The original library area of the Wakefield House, now a one bedroom one bath unit on the ground floor west side.

The Wakefield house was built in 1898 and converted into nine apartments in the mid 1920’s.  Though all have a mission theme, each apartment has a distinctive feel as it takes one section of this very custom original home.

 

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The Wakefield Library, unit 2 has an entry from the main hall, but also the door you see to the left of the central pillars.

In the summer there is space for a nice little outdoor sitting and dining area.

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The apartment has a galley kitchen with large pantry–to the end in this photo, and out of sight, but also has the original and useful wall-built ironing board.  That is why, for the younger folks, you will find the iron stored with the toaster. . .

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The dining area, next to the kitchen, also houses a twin futon and a mission style writing desk.

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The living area below has seating for five and a door into the hallway–helpful for going out to coffee if you have a guest in the front room.  Below is what you would see entering from that door.

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Above is what you would see from the bedroom.

And speaking of the bedroom, it has the most gorgeous tile fireplace.

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Sadly it cannot be used in original purpose–fire code–but don’t forget to notice the lamp of knowledge and open book tiles, surrounded by pine cone metal works.

The queen bed has our fantastic “go to” mattress from a local company.  We will divulge our supplier if you like.  They ship to all states and the last one bought by one of our guests left for Indiana last week.  The local company really does an excellent job.

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The bath is rather normal, tiled with a modern toilet and bath/shower that you can’t see in this picture.

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There is also a well-lighted walk in closet with a full length mirror and a nice set of built ins–plenty of storage space.  A real bonus sometimes not seen in these older buildings.

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All in all unit 2 is a bright and inviting space with an open western aspect, peek views of the river valley from the bedroom north window.  A lovely place to stay or live.

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Hobbit

The little garages outside the Hobbit entry to the right.  On the left you can see the historic Campbell House–our next door neighbor.DSC_0001wakefield

The front of the Wakefield House above–Hobbit entry is around the back under the portcullis.

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Hobbit closet and Heywood Wakefield vanity.  Note floor!

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Living room from bedroom door

The living room is a good bit more spare than shown–red futon is no longer present.

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New paint–and now new appliances

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Hobbit kitchen from entry

The Little River House on Clarke

The Clarke Street House was built in 1952 and added onto, doubling its size several years later.  It has two bedrooms and one bath and according to the city it is just under 1,100 square feet–though it lives a bit bigger than that because the L shape that makes it look smaller from the road encompasses a generous back deck space and useful and private back yard.

First I’ll tell you about the area, then at the lower part some pictures of the interior.

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It is located on a pastoral, secondary waterfront lot, with peek views of the river, directly down the hill from the Odell House complex and has a very steep public set of stairs behind it leading up to Browne’s Addition, just under the MAC Museum and all the activities therein.

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Another wonderful walk is down through the meadow to People’s Park and across the foot bridge to Kendell Yards near the confluence of Latah Creek and the Spokane River.

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There is a good wading spot before the rapids of the river.

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Or you can walk up toward downtown with a beautiful view of the Monroe Street bridge.

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The house sits on a bus route directly to downtown and the SFCC community college. It is served on the weekdays, which is handy and also means the street is plowed regularly–as can be an issue in Spokane!

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The setting of the house is unique. It has a double lot right across from the river, and a city owned and as far as we know unbuildable set of lots will preserve the view–rare in Peaceful Valley.

The drive is crushed asphalt, on a right of way owned by the city which at present serves one other small house.

It has a care free back yard–well fenced and very private with shade plants and vinca–a ground cover that does not need mowing.

It has a sunny and productive front yard, partially planted in wild flowers and very easy to care for.

 

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The large sculptural tree on the southeast corner of the house is an ancient cherry from old root stock.  Beautiful in the spring and good feeding for the birds in fall–they leave not a one.

The entry to the house has a small sitting porch with a tongue in cheek “security” gate complete with “kitty observation deck”.  Yes you can lock the gate, but the main purpose is to create a small enclosed outside space. Very fun.

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One of the things we love about the area is the abundant wildlife. The riparian habitat makes for great bird watching.  Almost a dozen Mule Deer call this end of the valley home.  They are regular visitors and we often see fawns in the yard.

The kitchen is the first room you enter.

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It is well equipped with a new glass top stove, a full sized Bosch dishwasher and ample storage.  Also a separate pantry in the hall.  It has a fold down breakfast bar–the trike shown in the front room fits easily out the double french doors to the back deck.

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The front room is double sized with two large and bright picture windows.

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The back bedroom also has large and new windows.

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The middle bedroom is smaller, but with ample closet space and plenty of light.

The bath/laundry is well equipped with all new plumping in the sink and shower area.

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So there you have it. A very solid, easy to manage living space with great access to downtown, the hospitals, the Centennial Trail.

Nuts and bolts below.

The house is heated by two gas burning free standing fireplaces.

The water heater is natural gas.

The dryer is electric, as is the kitchen range.

200 Amp service

Utilities run between $45 and $150 in a typical year providing ample heat, laundry use, dishwasher and air conditioning.  Currently we share a neighborhood wifi and trash service, so it is very affordable.

The water heater came with the house.

All the faucets and other appliances are new.

The plumbing to the all sinks and the bathtub is new.

It has two new frost free hydrants/faucets for outside water.

The drain to the city sewer is about fifteen years old.  All the parts we can see are modern and it has never been an issue.

We have never had a winter pipe freeze issue in the house.

Things that could be worked on, or to take note of:

The floors slant–it never bothered us, but we like old houses!  By virtue of being built in two phases, one half of the house is on a slab, the other on foundation.  There is no actual crawl space.  No movement, just different heights.

The back deck planking needs to be replaced or repaired in several places.  Not knowing what another person would want with this space we have left it.  Views of the river are possible and might be fun.

There is a parking space/garage/shed that used to be covered.  We have cleaned it up and left the footprint walls so it could easily be rebuilt on that footprint.

It is rentable, currently rented until the end of September at $2,000 a month. For sale in the early fall of 2017.  The price is a very affordable $179,000 which would give a payment of less than $800, and keep basic living costs at less than $1,000 a month.

The neighbors are friendly, but picky about noise, commotion and tidiness.  That would be us.  We live next door, up the hill on the little dirt road.

 

 

Wakefield Apartment 3 The Painter’s Perch

We have used apartment 3 of the Wakefield on and off for the last ten years as a furnished unit.  Not very many people have stayed there, because it has a tendency to have its renters move in and just not move out.

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It has its own entry, tucked into the back of the house.IMG_1369

The back right corner–you can sort of see the steps.

Here is the front face of the house:

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If you looked right towards the bluff and river here are some of the views:

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This one taken from the picture window in the living/dining room. The light through the trees is the Spokane River, down the bluff and an easy–though steep–walk through the museum grounds next door.

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The one above is standing on the stairs looking north.

The kitchen is very workable–newly paintedIMG_1380 IMG_1362

By George.

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Whose attention to detail is something you don’t hear very often coupled with “rental unit.”

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The living room is spacious:IMG_1379 IMG_1378 IMG_1423

And leads to the bedroom.

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The bedroom has a little sitting area, access the the bath, and a tiny sun room, which is actually nice for opening in the summer nights to increase the airflow.  The view of course is beyond beautiful.

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It’s a nice space.

It’s called the Painter’s Perch because a famous local landscape artist once had his studio there.  He now paints just down the hill.

Long term guests. Check out cleaning.

This information about how a unit is to be left is not applicable to short-term, nightly or weekly stays. Short-term guests have already paid to have their units cleaned for them–it is included in the rate.

Renting a furnished unit long-term, that is month to month at a steeply reduced rate, involves a partially refundable cleaning fee.

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If you want some of the cleaning fee back at the end of your stay, that can be accomplished.  But, we are also perfectly happy to clean your unit for you after you depart.

If you’d like us to do the cleaning, and most people do, please let us know the week before so we can schedule both help and time in between tenants.

What does it cost and how long does it take? A checkout clean will easily take up the total of your deposited cleaning funds.  If you do it yourself please make sure you allocate roughly six or more hours to effectively clean your unit.  Really.  That is how long it takes.  We don’t expect to just wipe down your unit before the next guest arrives.  It has to be dismantled and really thoroughly cleaned.

I tell a story below, but for those who’d just like to know what is expected (and not expected), here is a list.

To get all but about $30 of your cleaning money back you should make sure the following have been done.

Pots and pans, dishes cabinets: Dishes should be squeaky clean, cabinets wiped out.  If you suspect a pan has worn out please leave it on the counter.  We will donate or discard it.

Leftover food: please either discard (or leave in a bag for us to sort for the chickens) any opened containers.  The exceptions to this are salt, pepper, sugar, flour and the teas and supplies your unit came equipped with.  Do NOT leave partially used items “for the next tenant.”  We know it makes no sense, but they will not use them.  Trust us.

Bath soap: Please do not throw away our containers for the organic soaps.  We refill them.

Linens and towels: please do not bother to make the beds.  We will be washing everything. Used towels should go in the bathtub.  (This service is where the partially refundable comes in.)

Appliances: The microwave, coffee pot, toaster, refrigerator and stove should be clean. The drip pans should be cleaned and covered with new tin foil–or replaced. (Roughly $15)

Carpets:   If your stay has exceeded six months or you have had pets in residence we will have the carpets cleaned.  We use a black light to make sure any problem areas are dealt with.

The hardwood floors and most woodwork have a polyurethane finish. Do not use any oil base soaps (for example Murphy’s) as it makes them impossible to re-coat as needed  Please vacuum, sweep and wipe down hard surfaces lightly with water, or glass cleaner (vinegar). Damp rag, not wet.

Bathroom: If you don’t think you could happily eat off of every surface in the bathroom, it is not clean enough. If the next guest sees one hair in the bathroom the assumption will be that it has not been cleaned.  This is not easy to do and not something you would ever have to do in your own home.

You are not responsible for the following: replacing the shower curtain, cleaning the chandeliers, the blinds, the baseboard, moving major furniture to clean behind it or under it.  And as stated, we always do the linens for the next guest.

The law on damage deposits is the landlord has two weeks to assess and actually clean/repair the unit to reach a total documented damage deposit refund, but there is no such rule on the optional refund of cleaning fees.  That is truly at our discretion.  If you are concerned or have questions after reading the list above, please ask. And certainly, if you find something amiss on your check in let us know.  That is not complaining, it is information we need.

Now the story:

The purpose of a checkout cleaning is to make the just lived in unit “as new as possible” for the next guest.  A totally clean slate.

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And that, my friends and clients, is not something that is just like tidying up for a casual visitor.  Things must be more orderly than “normal”.  This is complicated by furniture that is antique, and the extreme variance in people’s perception of “normal”.

And the attachment to the idea that slight effort will result in  “good enough” for the next tenant has its problems.

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Nice floor!

People “read” the situation carefully when they arrive.  And if they find a hair in the tub, a spot on the refrigerator, crumbs in the pans, fingerprints on the windows–all normal unnoticed things that happen in the course of living in a place–they notice.  And not in a nice or comfortable way.

An economist would call leaving a unit needing work (that would be resented if it was paid for) an “externality.” That is a cost that affects a party who did not choose to incur that cost.  The tenant in the future does not want to pay for the maintenance required by the actions of their predecessor.  And they should not have to.  Most people are orderly, but sometimes even if orderly, they are busy and pressed for time.  We know this.

That is why we do not charge equally for everyone–because it is not fair.  The living habits on one set of guests may take three hours to erase, for others, six times that.  A $500 difference in resources expended.  In our opinion that should not be spread between all guests.  Simply, we have a policy of cleaning funds being set aside because we like to keep our rates as low as possible and do not like to charge the tenant in X for the cleaning of Y.  Time required is ridiculously variable and the cleaning funds, though present are relatively minor.

We also know that tidiness has nothing to do with the character of a particular guest.

How people approach the cleaning funds on deposit, public comment after the fact and behavior while on site, really are character issues.  Grime is not.  I don’t care what your mother said!

Oh, and it also does not matter what people self-report.

So, though we really don’t care if a guest cleans or not, the unit must be close to perfect for the next guest, so we like to know in advance so we can schedule appropriate time both for the cleaning, and not booking the unit too closely.

Indulge me in telling you a story that may make this more clear, and ask yourself in the window of between an 11 AM check out and a 3PM check in if the cleaning I describe below could have happened?  Hint: it involved three workers, two trips to the hardware store, a makeshift repair, and about a day and a half.  The tenant was great–just busy and not a slavish housekeeper.  No problem.

If you like, here’s the story, with pictures, and keep in mind when you look at them that the more updated, more expensive units are MUCH easier to take care of.  Smooth, shiny, hard, surfaces are a lot easier to deal with.

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This unit (D of the Odell) recently had about a $40,000 upgrade having to do with surfaces.  Tile floors, new fridge, induction cook top, dishwasher, self cleaning oven.  These things make life easier.  We understand this. The furniture is still antique.

We once had an individual stay with us  in a different apartment who was memorable in wit, education, and charm.  This person was communicative, but not invasive, smart, funny, clear and reasonable in every request.  A really delightful individual.  The rent was negotiated to the lowest possible point in the oldest and smallest apartment of the Wakefield House, but paid 100% on time and in full. This individual was truly a great guest–and we think so to this day.  We would invite this guest back in a second, and give a glowing recommendation to any other landlord.

Even though we retained the cleaning fee.

It is our job to make sure the units are clean for the next guest, and sure, we sometimes get paid to take care of that.

On the appointed hour of departure, the guest cheerfully related,  “It should be good to go.  I left some things for the next tenant.”

This kind of statement tends to make me nervous–because it can mean anything.  As you will soon see.

I took a quick look around the unit.

At first our littlest apartment, the tiny Hobbit Hole unit, appeared pretty orderly.  The counters were clean.  The rug and floor had been vacuumed.  The things, as my own cleaning helper says, that make it “look” clean–like the faucets wiped off–had been done.

We have learned however, over time, that things can’t just look clean on the surface, they have to actually be clean.  And in a place where people can and do cook and live deeply, that can be a project.

First there were some dishes to do.

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Not an abusive pile, but when I started to wash them I found every cup and glass had a slight film of grease.  All the pots and pans were sticky or had crumbs.  Trying to remedy this, I discovered that the replacement dish soap the guest had bought mid-stay would not cut any grease,  The dishes had been washed, yes, but they were not clean.  Troublesome!

So I loaded all the cups and plates and cookware into a wheel barrow and took them to my apartment to run through the dishwasher, returning with some better soap to stock the unit.

I inspected a bit deeper.  Found a grocery bag worth of stale and mostly used food in the fridge.  Into the trash, it went and in doing so I noted that the trash can was both broken and dirty.  Note to replace. $20.

The handle of the freezer had been broken.

I expected this because a few hours before the guest had told me about it, stating it appeared to have been glued in the past.  I looked at it and took down the serial number to order a part, attempted to re-glue it and made a note to apologize to the next tenant–scheduled to move in almost immediately.  No time to order a part before arrival.  This kind of thing makes us look disorganized.  I wish the tenant had told me about it so I could have had it fixed in time.

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(The tape is to secure the glue which may or may not be effective.

Then I looked at the stove.  It is a self cleaning model that the tenant had noted cleaning.

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That was of course true.

Would you like to be the next guest?

I noted this was going to take several hours and another purchase.  New rings for the stove because  grease had been baked through the tin foil covering. Not bad. Easy to fix $15 and a trip to the hardware store.  Given that one can spend hours attempting to clean these things, it is often better to just replace them.

I moved on to the bathroom.  There was a weird stain in the tub.  (Later I began to think dye had been used–either hair or clothing.)

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The stain is there for good. (I know, I worked on it for over an hour.)  The other dirt washed out.

I have ordered one of these: a commercial adhesive anti-slip mat.

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http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006OB5TK0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

$20.  It won’t fix the tub, but they do work well as long as you are careful applying them.  A good thing to have and know about for older tubs. Sadly, I can’t get it in before the next tenant arrives.

Then I checked the toilet.

And I have to admit, this will take a bit of explaining.

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Never mind the “ewwww” factor, on closer examination I found the guest had, for some reason, made a failed attempt to flush half a pot roast down the toilet.

This, though a classic example of “cutting out the middle man”, was not a good idea.  I went back to get my disposable gloves.

Below is how it should look when a guest checks in.

As noted above, if you don’t want to do all or any of this we don’t mind.  Just be clear with yourself.  If you have not cleaned the oven and refrigerator don’t worry about vacuuming.  We’ll have to do it again anyway after we get done with the actual cleaning.

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Microwave clean, soap on counter, appliances clean, counters and sink clean, clean dish towels set out.  Pot holders washed and dried.

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Pots and pans orderly and clean.

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Trash can empty, cleaned and with new liner.  Note the floor is not really clean in this picture.  That comes last, after all the other cleaning is done.

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Oven clean, new drip pans if needed.

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Refrigerator empty and clean.  The only things that can be left in the fridge are baking soda and non perishable condiments–no mayo.  People will generally not use open containers.  If it is not something you would find on a breakfast table eating out, it can’t be left.  (We do collect things for charity and the chickens, but it is not a favor to us to not decide yourself what should be done with leftovers–of all types.)

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Here are things we try to do between every stay which we don’t expect departing long term guests to do.

Clean the windows and blinds.

Install new shower curtains

Iron the doilies

Clean the light fixtures

We do the these things because in an old house with inevitable wear they shout: “We care about how you found the place!”

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Please tell us well in advance if there is a problem that we will need to deal with between guests–not as your hand is on the door knob–well in advance.  That is not complaining, that is just keeping us up to date, and we really, really appreciate the information.

Everyone deserves a clean, fresh start to their stay.  That said, the apartments are probably not perfect when every guest checks in. For instance, we do not clean the older ovens between every short stay because it takes chemicals to do so.  It smells bad and sometimes there is no time to let things air out.  The ovens do get cleaned at the end of long stays–we schedule time for this.  Likewise, we do not move all the furniture and clean behind it on every stay.  Nor do we expect clients to do this.  In fact we hate it when the furniture is moved!

The partially refundable cleaning fee is a gentle limit on how much time, effort and money a departing long term guest leaves the collective house economy with.  It is not a value judgement or a character issue.  No one gets a perfect score. Everyone gets some help for free.

Rick and I have talked about it many times, and we persist that we will not raise rates on everyone in order to accommodate potentially expensive checkout cleaning for long term guests.

Here are some pictures of a very clean check out that happened this morning.

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The unit was better than when this client moved in–I’m going to have to ask what she used on the bathroom floor–talk about perfect!

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Wow.  What a great job. Nice surfaces, sure, but way better looking now than when she checked in.

I walked downstairs with the laundry and refunded the whole deposit

But really, I visited her on occasion and her unit actually looked very orderly almost every day.  She did not cook much.  (Grease on walls is time consuming to remove.)  It probably took only an hour or two to make it “as was.”

If that’s not you, you cook a lot, are busy with other stuff and not tidy every single day, then my advice is, don’t sweat it. There’s no shame in having someone tune up things for you.  And we won’t think better or worse of your character over a few crumbs under the table or the fridge not squeaky clean–we’ll just clean it up and charge you appropriately.

We do take it rather more personally if you have not emptied the trash or recycled the whole time you have been in residence. . .

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Fondly, we hope,

Dale and Rick

The Studio Gallery, Unit A and the house heat system

Last summer a guest staying a night in The Gallery asked me from the porch:  What have you done to your home!  Imagining of course I had demolished the entire house to rent out apartments
I had to laugh, as it would never cross my mind to occupy a house of this size solo, and my mother was not yet alive when the Odell House became apartments.
There have been many renovations and updates over the years, yet the boiler and radiant heat system are original to the house, and have gone largely unchanged.
Why?
Because they work so very well.
The house thermostat is another issue entirely.
The thermostat, controlling the massive boiler in the basement, used to be in The Gallery–the front apartment on the ground floor, facing First Avenue.
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We recently rewired and replaced the thermostat, moving it to a more protected area of the basement–a place not influenced by the opening of doors, or the use of the small space heaters we provide for the various unit.
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(Those of you who have stayed in The Gallery in the winter may be glad to hear this!)
With all those windows The Gallery runs cooler than some of the other apartments, and its nice to be able to tweak the heat a bit at will.
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The house has had, from the time the boiler was converted from coal to gas, one central thermostat regulating the supply of hot water to all the apartment radiators.
There are little trails of confusingly-abandoned thermostats around the house.  None functioning currently, but the one that does function–in the basement.  Originally the thermostat was in apartment B, but the previous owners deemed that unit A was a better choice.   (Probably largely because they lived there on a part time basis.)  But unit A was a problem because unit A both runs cold and is used for short term guests–many of whom did not understand why we locked the thermostat: for the good of ALL the guests!
This “whole house service” means that heat levels have to be decided by consensus of the residents.  General agreement rules. Cooler at night is appreciated, and temperature increases timed to make use of the inevitable spikes that one gets with this sort of system.
But people, particularly new guests who are not familiar with the heating pattern of the house, often want things a bit different when they arrive–even just for a little while.
So rather than explain, “Just wait a bit,” which modern folk unanimously interpret as “bad service,” we have a series of  dedicated plugs, served by their own circuits, for small auxiliary heaters, as well as the air conditioning units in the summer.  These were never meant to be the primary heat sources of the building.  And, the heaters, when used, have to stay exactly where placed.  Our engineers insist!  Please don’t move the heaters to any other plugs, or fiddle with the voltage. 
(We are not engineers, we try to do as told. . . .)
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(I think what “those in the know” are giving caution about the variably-aged electrical circuits in most older buildings.  It is important to use only new, dedicated circuits for high voltage items that did not exist when these buildings were constructed.  But it is also sensible to keep the load down in general.  Quick is not necessary with heat–steady is.)
Speaking of construction and the physical plant of these huge old homes, Browne’s Addition was a very progressive neighborhood right from the start.  The mansions had carriage houses, not barns.  (Barns meant flies and manure.  Horses were considered a source of pollution–before the car took over that role) .  So livery, “rental horses” were called for from town and arrived with a driver to be hitched to the owner’s carriages.)  For heat, all the homes had coal boilers at first, but both gas and electric were run in the original construction, used for lighting and small tasks.
And there were of course telephones from the very start.  How else to call for your horses to be delivered?
It was all very modern.
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That scene lasted a scant thirty years.
With the twenties, came a nation-wide depression, a dip in the price of silver, and a slowing of construction.  Silver, lead, lumber, Spokane staples of wealth, all plummeted, and Spokane’s great luxury building boom was over.  But, there was government money for conversion of large private homes to much-needed apartments.  Most of the large local houses were purchased and transformed.
So the buildings were originally and correctly wired in the last part of the 1890s, and then gradually updated as things changed within them.  But even into the seventies, people had little idea of the numbers of electrical items that would eventually be in common use.  So sensible electric consumption is still indicated.  Even a modern house will trip breakers if, while making toast, you plug in your hair dryer to the same circuit your microwave is warming your coffee!  It is all about load and that is why we have circuit breakers.
The boiler-fed gas heat system  is a much more elegant and efficient system than the slight electric “tune up” heaters we provide.
Why have them at all?
As one guest cleverly said: “To accommodate various thyroid levels.” 
Some (most) of the old radiators are gorgeous.
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You can see how the water would flow in on one side and out on the other.
The hot water boiler system is a very clean, healthy and efficient way to heat.  It consists of a huge system of paired pipes filled with hot water (outflow and return to the boiler). It is a circulating loop.  There are no dusty air ducts or shared air flow between the apartments.
I grew up with boilers in New England and obviously like them.
(Many fusty New Englanders, traditionally felt creepy about central air heat, calling it the “instant hot and instant cold” method.
Never mind, “Particles of ‘who knows what’ blowing all about”, my grandmother used to fuss.)
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(This is the barn of my great grandfathers summer home which sadly had no boiler (nor insulation!) as it was always shut down in the winter.)
Not so in Browne’s Addition.  These houses were built for the cold.   Radiant heat–now all the rage in concrete floors–was here from the start.
But, though a wonderful system, radiant heat is not fast or easily customizable on a moment to moment basis.  The boiler is either actively running hot water, or it is not.  Like the more modern floors,  radiators are designed to store heat and give it off gradually.  There will be moments when they are quite hot to the touch.  Moments when they are cooler.  This is the nature of the system.  It does not mean that it is “off,”  just not running at that moment.
The radiators have valves that can crudely shut them on and off by not allowing the hot water to run through them. Shutting individual ones down–something the boiler hates–has nothing  to do with if hot water is flowing through the system–the thermostat controls that.
Over the course of time there have been many more complaints that the house is too hot than too cold.  And if it is routinely so for you, then we can shut off one of the several apartment radiators–and leave it off.  (That way we can anticipate the water pressure needed in the system.)
The worst heating season is not the dead of winter.  Ten degrees outside?  No problem.
The house boiler (AKA The Beast In The Basement) is more than up to that.  The trouble arises in the shoulder seasons when it does not get quite cold enough in the morning to trip the boiler on, and folks are a bit chilly come 8 AM.   And then, like the saying, “We would all be worse off if God said “yes” to all our prayers,”  it gets just cold enough to make hot water start circulating.  The radiators get nice and warm–and then the sun comes out and it goes to 80 degrees outside.  (This is Spokane, after all!)  And then all that hot water has to cool . . .  Trust me, it is better to err on the side of a little too cool in those situations than to inspire the Beast in The Basement to go to work on a day expecting high temperatures.
Anyway, we discourage turning the radiators off and on for two reasons: first, the valves are inclined to leak and need tightening if used much–please tell us right away if you see this.  Second, randomly turning them on and off isolates the apartment from the main heat source. In some cases it is actually better to open a window for a moment–and tell us you had to because it was too warm–than to try to influence the system by shutting yourself out of it.   Because it is very likely you will on the next day be too cold!
I’m going to repeat myself here, this is Spokane, land of boom and bust in more than just the economy.  Last month (November 2014) had a period of daytime high of -5 degrees.  Yesterday, (December 2014) I think the high was 62 degrees.  This makes a four month range of, let’s see, since August, (105 degrees) November ( -5 degrees0. . . . er. . .  110 degrees F.
That said, if you visit Spokane, “layering” is a clothing strategy we live by, and if you live here long term we can pretty easily customize your heat to suit you–though possibly not like the union rep who worked here many years ago during an election season.  The young activist complained pathetically of cold in unit F–the top floor.  When I came to check his radiators I found him lounging in front of his computer in a swim suit, watching the snow fall.
Correct dressing for the basic climate aside, there are a couple of units that do get too hot and turning off one of the radiators on a more or less permanent basis can help with this. (The bedroom in F and the hall of D are examples of this).  Units A and E tend to run cool, and that’s not too surprising as they both face north and have huge banks of bay windows.  Units C and B are practically perfect in every way–show offs!
So if you are too hot or too cold please tell us–there is a lot we can do to help with either situation that has nothing to do with the central boiler–though with proper feedback that is also possible.
(Obviously it does no good to turn up the house heat if for whatever reason the radiators in a particular unit  have been turned off!)
Just let us know how its going–or beforehand if you know you tend to be cold or hot–and we will help you stay at the right temperature for you.
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The Odell House Ballroom Unit F

“The Ballroom” takes up the entire third floor of the Odell House.  It is the largest of the Odell House apartments, and looks out in all directions from under the eaves.    The north face, (show below)  is open, has a small sitting area and a gas grill.

The roughly 1200 square feet of the third floor has a balcony, a sun room, bathroom with separate shower room, dining room, bedroom, kitchen and huge vaulted living room.

The Ballroom is typically not rented for shorter stays because, frankly, people don’t like to climb the stairs with all their belongings for a very short stay.  And it makes such a nice secure spot for a permanent resident that we encourage that.

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It is a crow’s nest, and if the fit is good people tend to stick there.  Most say it is the nicest unit in the house.  I’ll say more about the positives and negatives at the base of this post.

The sun room: The south face has a lovely small sun room that can now serve as an extra bedroom.  It currently has a twin futon/couch which is more comfortable, but less “green”than the photos shown below to catch the view.

(Look  three pictures down for current set up.)

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The two pictures above show how the well-insulated, cork-floored sun room was  designed.

The original version was open to the elements and had an aged screen window from the sixties and indoor/outdoor carpeting.  (Hard to vacuum!)

Four of the screened windows now open.  The one below is with the blind system partially shut.  You can make it very open or very secluded.

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The view is like a tree house with great south light–somewhat unexpectedly, now a real four season room.

The Living Room: The Ballroom’s large main living room is on the on the other end of the apartment. It also mimics the shape of the arched roof line, but in a much more expansive way.  It is rumored that dances were held there “back in the day.”

The Ballroom space was conceived well before our times, after a fire c. 1932. The original roof line was changed and the domed space created in the attic.

The ceiling is 14 feet at the middle. with an interesting shake shingle ceiling.

This room alone is a generous 300 square feet and has a neat original varnished wood wainscot.

 

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You can’t take a picture with a regular camera of the whole room.  The other wall has a table and flat screen TV.

(This is a large room, trust me.)

The current paint color is appropriately Ralph Loren “Ballroom Gold”.

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This more recent picture above shows the entry door and a corner of the rather modern full futon that currently makes the second sofa in this room.

The bedroom on the the west side has slanted ceilings and sits under the eaves.

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It looks back through the dining area to the kitchen on the opposite face of the house.

The dining room is in the center of the unit.

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It features a matched pair of Art Deco brown tip slip shade chandeliers.

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The original bath and toilet are in a small room under the eves.  The claw foot tub is a five foot luxury item.

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But the guys complained about no proper stand up shower.

So in 2005 we pilfered the closet across the hall and made a large shower area with tiled seat.

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The kitchen has had some updates as well. Many in fact.

The tile counter was put in when I bought the building in 1998–one of the first remodel projects.

One of the problems with remodel in a slanted ceiling space is everything has to be custom made.  So be it! 2014, more updates.

The refrigeration is under counter drawers–very modern!

 

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We installed the matching tile floor in 2005, seven years later, from that vast stash I bought the first year I had the place–having no idea how much tile was “enough” for a building with carpet in all the kitchens. (Eeewww!)

The first replacement floor was vinyl.  It wore out.

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Above another neat custom fit of an “apartment sized” Bosch dishwasher also in 2014

(Going on twenty years into the project, I can say for a fact, avoid laminates and vinyl–use real wood and tile.  Properly installed they will outlive you.)

The good points of The Ballroom:

On the third floor and good for your fitness.

Quiet.  The upper floor apartments are always less impacted by neighbor noise.

Warm.  Nicely heated in winter, we most often keep the radiators turned down or off.

Very well updated with new electrical panel, lots of plugs and modern appliances.

A very charming and comfortable space.  Both cave-like and tree house-like.

Because of the well-developed black out curtains this is also a very good unit for a day sleeper.  It can be kept both quiet and dark.

The bad points:

On the third floor and if you forget your keys you must go back and get them.

Warm.  In the summer it is well supplied with air conditioners and sun blocking curtains, but certain areas of the roof make some of the eaves hot–not all, but enough to make you pay attention to closing the blinds when you head out for the day.  It is very possible to keep things comfortably cool in any weather, but you must pay attention.

On the third floor–you really must not mind climbing the stairs!