Monday, June 20, 2016

Family Room Update: A Slow, Dusty Road

When I last showed pictures of our family room, it had a split personality. From one angle, the room looked fairly decent. We had a comfy couch, a handmade coffee table, and an antique Stickley Mission-style chair. I dare say our family room almost looked inviting in these pictures.

But from a different angle? It looked like a completely different room. Two of our family room walls looked like they fell victim to the exuberance of the KoolAid guy (oh, yeah!):

In mid-April, my husband and I decided to tackle the family room in earnest. We relocated most of the furniture to elsewhere in the house, and started the long, dusty task of rehabbing this room. I've mentioned previously that we love the wallpaper in this room. We're not sure how old the paper is, but we suspect that it may be handprinted because of slight variations in the color. When we moved into the house, the same wallpaper was on all four walls in the family room. However, the paper on two of the walls was peeling so badly that it was beyond saving. We removed the wallpaper from the walls where it was peeling, but decided to preserve the wallpaper on the other two walls. After removing the damaged wallpaper, we decided to paint those two walls in a color that would complement the paper.


The color we chose is called Craftsman Gold and it's from the 20th-Century Collection by California Paints. It's a very rich, intense goldenrod hue that looks striking next to the white woodwork.  

We are aiming for an Arts and Crafts aesthetic in this room since it seems consistent with the earthy colors in the wallpaper. The Arts and Crafts style will come mostly from the decor, as well as our new molding. Our normal preference is to preserve the existing molding whenever possible. However, the existing molding in this room was not original and it was quite plain, so we did not feel guilty when we made the decision to replace it. In addition, the door casings, window casings, and baseboards were covered in layers of chipping, peeling paint. If this molding had been original, we would have considered stripping it of the paint. But that's a time-consuming, laborious process that we didn't think was worthwhile for plain, non-original molding. We'll also install new crown molding since the existing has the same problem of badly chipping paint. The new door casings, window casings, and baseboards consist of pine 1x4s that are edge-trimmed with a 1.25" strip of pine, creating a dimensional profile. My husband S developed the design after looking at catalogs from the Arts and Crafts period and consulting with an antique dealer who specializes in Arts and Crafts decor. This was a fairly simple profile, but even so, he spent hours in the basement cutting the new molding.

Craftsman-style baseboard

Craftsman-style door casing

One of the largest projects in this room is updating the electrical work. This room only had one outlet when we moved in. The lack of outlets hasn't been much of a problem thus far because we're a bit old school in our electronics usage. But even so, we'd like to have more than one outlet in the room that will be our primary entertainment space. New wiring also needs to be run to the overhead light in this room (and in fact, to all the overhead lights on our first floor -- but that's a story for another time). I'm very grateful that this is a task we'll be doing ourselves. Actually, that's not entirely accurate. I'm not doing any of the electric work, other than  occasionally helping S fish wires through our plaster walls and calling out "How's it going? Can you see/hear/reach the wire yet?" But I am very grateful that S will be doing the electric work with guidance from his father, who has extensive electrical experience. We applied for and received a permit to do this work, and S spent a lot of time researching the code regulations. It's fortunate that we don't need to hire a professional for this project, because I am sure it would be a budget buster. Even so, I'm not looking forward to the inspection process.

New outlet in family room

New wiring for ceiling fixture

Significant plaster repair has been needed on both the walls and the ceiling since we bought this house. We created additional damage to the plaster when installing the new molding and fixing the electric. These walls will never be perfect, but considering the severity of the cracks, we are pleased with how our plaster repair turned out. This is what the wall looks like after using Big Wally's Plaster Magic, and about 12 thin layers of spackle. Not pictured: the piles of dust we vacuumed up with the shop vac. It was unbelievable.

And this is what that wall used to look like:

Other major projects include fully restoring the windows in this room, and stripping/repainting the doors. There are five (yes, 5!!!) doors in this room alone, and two of them are French doors.

Since the middle of April, we have been diligently working away on this room and chipping away at our task list. Initially, I planned to post updates frequently, in an attempt to depict our real-time progress. But it's tricky for me to find the energy to rehab a house in the evenings, and then maintain the momentum to blog about the process as well.

Here is an update of the progress from the past two months:

1. Install two new outlets. Run new wiring to overhead light - DONE
2. Remove all the baseboard, window casings and door casing - DONE
3. Purchase, cut, prime, and install new window and door casings. Patch nail heads and caulk if needed - DONE
4. Repair plaster using Big Wally's Plaster Magic. Patch and sand walls after repair - DONE
5. Prime two walls - DONE
6. Paint two walls - DONE
7. Paint new molding - IN PROGRESS
8. Repair ceiling plaster. Patch and sand ceiling after repair - IN PROGRESS
9. Prime ceiling: Status - NOT DONE
10. Paint ceiling. Status - NOT DONE
11. Restore three windows (strip paint on sash, channel, and sill; apply new glazing; install new weatherstripping, sash cords, and new parting bead; prime and paint sash, channel, and sill) - IN PROGRESS
12. Install and paint new crown molding - NOT DONE
13. Install quarter round molding - NOT DONE
14. Strip, paint, and rehang five doors. Status: NOT DONE
15. Purchase new Mission-style ceiling light fixture, curtains, and media stand: NOT DONE

Once we finish the first 12 of those 15 tasks, we'll be far enough along in this project to move the furniture back into the family room. That will be a very exciting day. At the moment, our entire first floor feels chaotic and cluttered since all the family room furniture has been shoved into the dining room and living room. We still have several tasks ahead of us in this room, but we're pleased with the direction so far.

Thank you for reading, folks! This week my goal is to finish painting the molding. I've learned that it's a challenge to paint the woodwork without accidentally painting the vintage wallpaper at the same time, especially since the wallpaper is too brittle for painter's tape to be an option. Slow and steady is the name of the game...

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