Bedroom

Bedroom update

The great bedroom saga has been quite the epic (as in long and torturous) project. Here is a recap and here is a tour of the whole third floor as it used to be.

A full post is to come, but here is what it’s looking like

Betroom wall

The first coat of paint is on the walls, but it hasn’t really been cut in yet, so it’s sloppy around the edges . This drives me crazy, as I can’t stand sloppy paint jobs. (Yes, it’s yellow. More on that later). All everything that appears to be painted white isn’t really painted yet – it’s just primer, so that’s why it looks blotchy and gross. Other notable improvements: there is a ceiling! And moldings! The picture rail took a bad beating from the paint stripper, but we decided to keep it as is rather than replace it (there is a pretty close match that can be had for about $6 foot + shipping. Husband used the kryptonite word “but this one is original to the house.” Dammit! he wins)

Berdoom light fixture

Ah, the ceiling of proper height and no popcorn! The fact that it’s not really painted? Totally small potatoes in comparison… The light fixture is up, but it will need to come down so we can get rid of that glob of paint leftover from its previous life on a ceiling somewhere in Detroit.

(that goofy looking light bulb is a faux Edison LED bulb. The light is crazy yellow and I’m not sure how I feel about it. Evidently I don’t feel strongly enough to remove it. Inertia is a powerful thing)

Finished floors

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.

Floor before

Here it is after the broken boards were replaced and the whole thing was sanded.

Floor first sanding

One coat of stain (Minwax Mahogany)

FullSizeRender

We went with a dark-ish stain because of some damage that a lighter stain might not cover. Also kinda loving the trippy grain pattern that the stain brought out. The floors are far from perfect – and we’re OK with that, after all they are over 120 years old.  Gone are the sprinters, the squeaky boards and the huge gaps between some of the boards.

This is what it looks like after the first coat of wax:

FullSizeRender_1

I realize wax is an unusual choice, and may be one that we regret later on, as it’s untested against the formidable adversary that is cat vomit. I grew up in a house where the floors were waxed, and we have lived in plenty of rentals with poorly applied polyurethane. Wax gives the floors a lovely texture and it is not overtly shiny. Compounding the choice for wax is the fact that we put Tung Oil on our floors a couple of years ago. According to people who know more than we do, once you apply Tung Oil, you can’t do Polyurethane, even after much sanding. Why? I have no idea, but that’s what the cook kids say.

Next up, paint!

We are on track to move our stuff back into the room this Saturday, a full day before our guests arrive. Nothing like waiting until the last possible minute…

Floor is starting to look purdy!

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:

IMG_1560

One more round of sanding, then onto staining and finishing it up.

IMG_1561

Of course we can’t agree on color, nor can we agree on finish – he wants poly and I want wax. But I suppose we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Baby steps… baby steps…

An ode to our pine floors

(this is long).

(I promise I will make a point eventually).

(or not).

As part of the epic never-ending bedroom restoration, it’s time to tackle the floors.

The third floor of our house was covered with vinyl tiles. Way before we knew better, we had high hopes of peeling back the stick-on tiles and finding beautiful hardwood, just waiting to be re-finished. The reality was a sticky mess of 4 (sometimes 5) layers of vinyl tile and a couple of layers of paint on a pine floor. Pine! Not hardwood: we have pine. Sticky, icky pine.

After pulling up all the stick-on tile, and stripping the paint, we were left with a floor that was in OK shape, except for where it was not. We did some sanding and slapped on a coat of Tung Oil, figuring these floors would eventually get covered up with proper hardwood – after all, pine is soft and does not a proper hardwood floor make. We figured we’d probably destroy it with our chairs, our cats and their never-ending supply of puke. Yet 3 years and 1 2 5 cats later, the floors are still fine (except for where they are not, but that was a pre-existing condition). What I mean is that the pine held up beautifully – no nicks or dings and cat vomit cleans right up. The bigger problem is that some boards are splintering, which is not only unsightly, but also unpleasant to walk on in bare feet. We have splintering boards, broken boards and enormous gaps in some areas.

Floor Pic copy

Please excuse the filthy floor. This was taken in the bedroom construction zone.

Because wood floors will contract and expand, fixing the gaps can be tricky. Some suggest using sawdust and wood filler. A lot of people say to just leave them as is. The problem is that in some spots, the gaps are so wide that you can actually drop things in it – valuable things like heirloom jewels (not that we have any), and of course, the gaps also collect a spectacular amount of dirt (which we do have copious amounts of).  So the problem needs to be addressed.

A few months ago, when the house behind us was being gutted, I asked the demo crew if I could have some of their “trash.” I salvaged a huge pile of lumber (trim, crowns, fireplace mantels, wainscoting, shutters), and also a big pile of pine subfloor. The pine used for sub-flooring in these houses is not your average Home Depot cheap-o pine. It’s old growth/slow growth stuff. It’s the type of wood you can’t get anymore, since all those trees are gone (probably because the Victorians used ’em all up). In order to repair our floor we needed a stockpile of similarly old floorboards, of the same type of tree. This is what old growth pine looks like (this is a piece of the salvaged floor):

Old Growth Pine

Look at all those pretty tightly packed growth rings. This was a slow-growing old tree. The piece above is about 1″ thick.

Overachievers as they were, the Victorian-era builders ran their floorboards from end to end of the house: they go into the walls in the front and back and under all the walls in between; frequently it’s one board running most of the length (some really old, really tall trees). This also means that the demo crews destroy a lot of the floors when pulling them up (the tongue and groove usually gets broken and the boards just get hacked into smaller pieces). We salvaged a good pile, but in hindsight, I wish I had not been so picky and grabbed more. Regardless, we have enough to get us started on the upstairs projects.

The hubs did some research and came across the English way to fix old floors. Given that the Brits have lots of old buildings, we figured it was probably sound advice. So here is what we did (and by we, I mean he – my only involvement was befriending the demo crew, transporting and hoarding all this lumber).

First he took a stack of the salvaged floor to a wood shop, where things whirl and buzz and bigger things get milled town to smaller things, and tongue and grove thing-a-ma-jigs get made (luckily the boards salvaged were wider than ours, so milling them down and shaping new tongue/groove is no problem):

tonge and groove

The re-making of tongue and groove. These became the replacement boards for the broken ones. 

He also made a pile of very thin strips of the same old-growth pine to be used as gap-fillers:

IMG_1296

If flooring could be a potato chip, it would look like this.

Back home, he shimmied the strips into the gaps:

IMG_1295

Always looks worse before it looks better

He then trimmed off the excess and sanded everything down.

shimming the shims

Gaps gone!

IMG_1294

The broken boards were replaced in sections, so that only the bad parts were removed (given our limited supply of replacement parts).

Once all the shims have been trimmed and the bad sections of floor replaced, the whole thing will get sanded and finished.

(we can’t agree on what type to finish to use – but I suppose we’ll cross that bridge once we get there).

About the point I promised to make: floors are usually not too far gone to be brought back. No living trees were harmed in the fixing of this floor. This didn’t really cost us anything, except for some wood glue and sand paper. So there is that.

(I think that’s 3 points – and a whole lot of rambling)

But the bigger question remains: will this be ready in 42 days before our guests arrive?

T-43

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:

Bedroom progress

You may ask yourself: WTF? Why is this taking so long?

Well, here is the painstaking way in which we are fixing the floors:
floor fix

(yes, I owe you a post about the floors. It’s coming, I promise)

Out of town guests: the sure way of making DYI-ers get it together in a flash.

5 months, 23 days (and counting)

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.

Alien Wall

This is what happens when ZipStrip drips down your walls.

After a full on chemical assault, details like this appeared.

But it’s totally worth it: after a full on chemical assault, details like this appeared.

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.

Damaged plaster, filth from the ceiling demo, and splotches of paint stripper.

Damaged plaster, filth from the ceiling demo, and splotches of paint stripper.

The hot mess in all of its glory.

The hot mess in all of its glory.

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.

This is what more or less 4 gallons of paint stripper look like.

This is what more or less 4 gallons of paint stripper look like.

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 glimmer of plaster somewhere back there

A glimmer of plaster somewhere back there

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…

Stubborn paint and cracks galore

Stubborn paint and cracks galore

Weekend projects by crazy people

A  comment from a neighbor pretty much sums it up: “I always see you here, working. Never partying.  Just working.”

Before

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!

SlowProgress

The angle of the sun makes it difficult to see any progress. Behold my amazing Photoshop skills! Yellow denotes done-ish. Click to enlarge. 

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.

Old Ceiling

 

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.