A full post is to come, but here is what it’s looking like: Continue reading
To be honest, I didn’t think this day would ever come. This August it will be 2 years since we last occupied our bedroom. The whole bedroom saga started with this, this, then this, this, a little progress here and finally the floors.
The bedroom project has been the perfect example of how things to go for us: wild enthusiasm, followed by huge list of things that need to be addressed before we get to do what we really want to do, followed by a period of moroseness, and finally completion – well, mostly completed.
This is what the floors looked like before we started. Continue reading
While we clearly have issues with priorities, we’re not total slackers. There has been progress on the bedroom project.
This is what the floors look like after the repair and first sanding: Continue reading
It’s official: we have out-of-town guests arriving in 43 days. That means we have to vacate the rear parlor/guest room and move back into our bedroom.
This is what it looks like right now: Continue reading
It’s been 147 days since we last occupied our bedroom. It all started back in August, when we treated ourselves to some professional help and had all the woodwork in our bedroom stripped. Our paint-caked walls were a casualty of the ferocious paint removal activity, and the room looked like an alien murder site. What started as 2-week project, has morphed into a monster of a redo – actually, I think it’s more aptly an undo, since we’re trying to undo what has been done to the space over the years and restore it to what it once was.
Since the room was already an empty hot mess, we decided to tackle the ceiling next, and a bigger mess was made. (Never underestimate the filth that hides in a 120 year old house. Nothing can prepare you for that). Because the plaster was beyond saving, everything came down to the bare joists. The ceiling was leveled and dry wall went up. (I intensely dislike dry wall, but that’s fodder for another post). Once the ceilings were closed up and the first layer of joint compound was applied, we hit a bit of a morose patch and not much happened. Didly squat. Zilch. Nada. We camped out in the rear parlor and our lovely victorian home now resembles a very messy dorm room.
Things finally got back on track this weekend, when we tackled the walls and started removing all the evidence that an extra terrestrial being was slayed here. The advice we were given was to skim coat the walls, which basically means applying a thin layer of joint compound over the entire wall. I didn’t much like that idea, because just knowing all of this grossness would forever live beneath our pretty walls really bothered me.
Since my experience with removing paint from the brownstone façade was pretty straight forward, we figured it would be a total cake walk to strip the walls back to the plaster. Our old friend PeelAlway1 was called back into service. Ignoring all advice to work in manageable chunks, and still under the delusion that this would be easy, we decided to tackle one whole side of the room.
In a sign of uncharacteristic restraint, I decided that perhaps we should save that little sliver of wall above the fireplace for another time. About 18 hours later, it was time for this:
A previous resident of our home must have been a pink enthusiast: the house is pink on the outside, and at one point, it was pink on the inside too. Removing the paint from the interior walls proved to be much more difficult than I originally thought. Given the smooth surface of the wall, the paint will not let go without a fight. And fight we did. After about a half day worth of scraping, brushing and picking, most of the paint is gone. We’ll need another spot treatment for the stubborn patches and the wall trim. 3 guesses as to what we’ll be doing next weekend…
A comment from a neighbor pretty much sums it up: “I always see you here, working. Never partying. Just working.”
I’m pretty sure the neighbors think I’m absolutely certifiable. Stripping a stone façade is really not a typical DIY project. People usually hire professionals to do that, and methodology aside, I do understand why. Passers-by provide random words of encouragement, usually punctuated with “that’s a lot of work,” or “this would go a lot faster if you hired someone.” No shit!
This past Sunday over the course of 8 hours, I managed to strip about 18 sq feet of stone. At first glance, seems like a worthy amount, until you realize that it’s really a drop in the bucket. Not accounting for windows and doors, the area of the façade is 558 square feet – give or take.
Some of the paint came off super easy, yet there are patches of stubborn pink that will need a second application of PeelAway. Damn you pink paint!
But wait! There is more!
Because we have two major projects going at the same time (hence the crazy people part) while I scrapped and scrubbed, the hubs worked on leveling the bedroom ceiling beams. The question of the day was “level it to what?” Under normal circumstances, you’d level to gravity: something is either level or it’s not – simple as that. But nothing is ever as simple as it should be, at least not at our house. As is the case with many old buildings, ours settled over time and the floors are no longer level. The Pink Lady has a noticeable dip towards the center, common to brownstones. It used to drive me crazy and I wanted it gone, but I’m so used to it now I don’t really notice it anymore. Call it charm. Call it being realistic.
The previous fake ceiling was leveled to gravity, making the moldings look super crooked.
If we leveled the new ceiling to gravity, then leveled the floors, we would have to open the walls and adjust the all the door openings (2 regular doors and the massive double pocket door), or else the doors wouldn’t close). That just seemed too big of a job in the grand scheme of things.
So reality rears its ugly little head again, and since the dip is normal and is not affecting the structural integrity of the house, we decided to level the ceiling to the floor. By having everything crooked together, it will appear straight. Basically we’ll be mimicking the original ceiling (minus the sag in the middle). Cooky plan, I know – but it seems like the best option.
After the required number of trips to the hardware store, the uttering of a lot of profanity, and a few beers, we are perhaps a teeny tiny bit closer to being done.
The paint is off the woodwork in our bedroom. Yey!
Over the course of three days, our amazing paint stripping expert and her helper stripped the fireplace and fireplace cover, the pocket doors and moldings, the window frame and window seat, the base boards, the picture rails, as well as the moldings of the two other doors.
They used 12 gallons of zip strip, 7 gallons of denatured alcohol and a ton of elbow grease. More photos and details on a later post, but suffice to say the woodwork looks wonderful and, to my surprise, looks brand new – which is a bit weird.
On a less exciting note, we were left with a lot of goober on the walls. The room looks like an alien crime scene:
When it comes to the master plan of our house, I pretty much know what I want – right down to the bathroom tile and the refrigerator in our yet to be built kitchen. These are part of bigger projects that are somewhat off in the future. But there are small projects all around our home that could make a huge difference in our day-to-day living – as in make it more like living, less like camping. That is where I seem to have decision paralysis.
For example, I could paint the bedroom. It’s currently an awful shade of beige/flesh. It’s depressing. It’s drab. It’s the last thing we see before we go to bed and the first thing we see when we wake up. And yet, I can’t decide what color to paint it over. I’ve had paint chips taped to the wall for a year. And I still can’t decide.
Exhibit A: curled up paint chips from a long time ago.
Our bedroom is currently a hovel. It’s utilitarian, but not pretty. A master bedroom as an oasis? Ha! Not ours.
Exhibit B: Our gross walls.
The walls are cracked and need to be skim coated (I could do that). There is ugly popcorn on the ceiling and moldings (I could remove it – actually started and got about 1/3 done and stopped for some inexplicable reason). It’s really time to just take a deep breath, pick a color and get it done already!
On a side note, why would anyone paint their walls this awful flesh-tone color?
The top floor of our house has a new-ish ceiling. Best we can tell, there was damage to the original plaster that was “fixed” with dry wall. Eventually we’d like to take down the ceiling and restore it back to its original condition. In the mean time, we can live with it as is. What we cannot live with is the popcorn. There is popcorn on the ceilings. On the walls. On the woodwork. It’s a hot mess.
This is what some of the woodwork in our bedroom looks like:
There is similar sloppiness on the walls and on the doors. Our bedroom looks like a cannon of popcorn ceiling exploded – an no one bothered to clean it up. Until now.
Turns out it’s not hard to remove stray popcorn bits. A wet towel helps saturate the dribbles, which turns them into a paste you can just wipe off. It was a lot less messy than I expected.
The biggest challenge has been the heat wave we’ve been having in New York these past weeks, so this is still a work in progress. To ensure we don’t slack off too much, Sir Kitty provides careful work site supervision: