A Story: Attic of Awesome

The ad said 5 old radiators for $400. True, we don't need 5 radiators - only two, really - but the deal seemed too good and would allow us the ability to replace and add as needed. We put on our renovating clothes after work last night and headed up to Forest Hill, cash in hand.

Finding the place was easy. It would have been easier had we not mistaken the address at first. Our knock on the door of number 27 was met by a suspicious stare and a firm shake of the head. The owner of the house was not even going to open the door to us. I stuttered out our reason for being there through the glass door. He shrugged and shook his head again. We apologized and walked away. The Husband pulled out his phone to double check the email with the address.

We were one house off.

I will never understand the mindset that stops people from opening the front door. Perhaps I haven't lived in the city long enough, haven't experienced enough neighbourhood crime and violence. Perhaps we're not affluent enough to understand the perception of danger. It seems an unpleasant way to live, suspicious of every person who finds themselves on your front step.

One house over was under construction and everything seemed like it made more sense. A young couple in power suits greeted us with handshakes, then took us through their empty house to see the radiators. Half an hour, we spent, struggling the behemoths down the stairs, out the front door and into our car. My muscles shook. My hands stung against the roughness of the cast iron. My knees and fingers bruised as they got banged up and pinched. More than once, I looked up at the Husband and said, "We will get these in here. We will. We have no other choice." I'm sure I was reassuring myself more than I was reassuring him.

When we got home, we struggled three of them out of the trunk and into our alleyway. Two remain in the backseat of the car. All our energy was gone. It was 8:30 and we hadn't even had supper yet.

The Attic of Awesome will have two radiators in it, on opposite sides of the room. This should be enough to heat the 300 square feet of open space quite sufficiently. All five are painted, but chipped and flaking, so I'm starting to think about our painting options. Of course, we could go simple and straightforward, and paint them white or the colour we pick for the walls, to blend in.

But I'm thinking of another option. I'd like to paint them a bold colour. Something that will stand out and make the radiators part of the room, make them something to notice. A deep blue against a white wall, perhaps. Or turquoise. Maybe I could even do something with a little ombre, and turn the rad into art.

We're also planning on replacing one or two of the radiators on our main floor with larger ones. Last year, we had some issues with the balance of heat between the basement and the upstairs. There are four huge radiators in the basement; while we have four on the main floor as well, all are much smaller. This meant that, in order to heat the main floor - which is where the thermostat is - our basement was getting cooked. We're hoping that, by replacing one or two of our radiators with larger ones, we can remedy the situation a little.

This morning, my body is telling me that 5 radiators is overkill. It most certainly is. But, worst case scenario, three of them go back on the market and they live in our garage until someone else with a similar renovation project comes along. And even if they end up living in our garage forever, we've still saved money over buying two - or three - brand new ones.

Anyone need an antique radiator?


  1. I almost wish our house had radiators. I love love love the look of them! Good for you guys for moving FIVE of those things by yourself!

  2. Me too!

    In all honesty, the seller gave us a bit of a hand too, getting the upstairs ones outside. However, he was wearing a suit that likely cost somewhere around $3000 and didn't seem like the type who regularly lifts heavy things. His help was appreciated, but the hardest part was actually getting them into the car. Uhg.

  3. That's definitely an option too! At the moment, our bedroom one is a glossy black and I still love it.

  4. I always find black really sets off the details of a radiator and looks fab. I'm worried you may get a bit sick of teal or another bright colour (and this is coming from a girl who cant seem to stop herself from painting everything teal at the moment.)

  5. Wow - good deal! I can't wait to see what colour you decide to paint them!
    (PS - I'd suggest moving them away from the side of your house - the metal is worth a bit of $ as scrap - make sure they're not visible from the street)

  6. awesome find! I have never had a radiator so I would have NO idea how to even install one! I like the high contrast idea!

  7. Have you considered baseboard heat? We replaced all of our radiators with it as it was the same plumbing but much more even heating. Our 2nd floor didn't have heating so we (aka plumber father in law) needed to plumb it anyways and he wasn't carrying radiators.

  8. We're a huge fan of the look of radiators, so no, we didn't consider it. And, we've got these now, so no going back!

  9. Thanks! Perhaps I'll do a post on how to install them - though I have a feeling it will mostly be useless information for you! Maybe someday you'll have to know how to install one though!

  10. Did that last night! I know, they can bring a pretty penny.

  11. These ones are pretty plain - not a lot of intricate details. But, it's a good point!

  12. Ellen @designingmainstreetSeptember 11, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    Having had a house with radiators I recommend white/off-white. Boring but you will never ever ever be able to paint them again once they are installed (at least not that back) so I'm pretty sure you and everyone else who has the house after you will have to be OK with anything bold. Sorry to crush all your hot pink radiator dreams! Go bold on the walls! :)

  13. Actually, you can!


    We painted our bathroom rad in place - boring white, mind you - but I even managed a layer of spray paint on the visible bits of the back of it, so we're not terribly worried about being unable to repaint them. True, it's not as easy, but it's definitely possible!


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