There are some parts of restoration work that bring a person into the world of hurt. There is no way to avoid it, and no way to deny it. Forget the time deadlines crossed because of inclement weather and arrogant plumbers. Don't even mention costs (where is that sand box? My head needs to be buried).
What I am talking about is something I refer to as a Damn Shame. When you cannot, for a myriad of reasons, save a beautiful detail. Be it time. Costs. Impracticality. A combination of all three.
Case in point: these stone steps.
They are a couple of hundred years old. Under all that dust, they are beautiful. The edges are worn from wear, they are softly rounded and carry the patina of all the farmers that ever carried provisions up to the hay loft.
And they cannot be saved.
Last spring, we had the stairs supported from underneath with iron girders so that we could save the stones. The problem, however, became obvious when we started doing the calculations for the floor heating upstairs. The floor upstairs would be about 7 inches higher than originally planned. And that seven inches threw every step off -- you can't arrive at the top without having a huge, insurmountable step to throw yourself over.
It's geometry. It's trigonometry. Whatever. I got mad at the architect at first, but then realized that she could not have known that we would decide on floor heating upstairs. It was a little bit of everyone's fault, this one. She didn't ask, I didn't think of it, and the steps were, as a result, cast in iron, a bit prematurely.
We can't jackhammer the steps out, because they are buried deep into the walls, left and right.
All we can do is leave the steps there as a foundation and build each single step up a bit to compensate for the higher floor.... and then cover the steps with another material.
I know, and now you know, what treasures lay buried under the tiles that will line the steps... tiles, by the way, that we saved from another part of the house. Beautiful, old, colorful tiles.
I cried an entire weekend away over this one. It's one thing when the practicalities don't go well. It's another to lose a piece of history, and to know that I played a role in the mistake. Nothing I can do now about it, and I am past it. I am not going to beat myself up too much, because what's the point, really?
It's just a Damn Shame, that's all.