I still feel like I’m at the cusp of really making visible improvements to my house, but I’ve been a little bit in limbo. I am still waiting for one more estimate for the bathroom floor – have officially decided to get that done professionally. Maybe the bathtub surround, too, maybe not. Meanwhile I’ve been without 3 windows since November and don’t know when they’re coming, and there’s to be more air sealing after that, so I can’t drywall any exterior walls yet. The back section of the house needs to be sided, but I have someone who wants to help when he gets back from Florida in April. In the meantime, we’ve finished pretty much all the odds and ends of framing on the second floor and the paint stripping is still moving along. Soon I’ll be ready to spray paint my trim, drywall the entire second floor, and put in at least a sink and toilet. And I should have those windows soon, I hope. And when the chimney is fixed I’ll be able to vent it turn the hot water back on without risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. That’ll be exciting. Anyways, here’s what I’ve been up to.
There’s already a shallow Victorian closet in the upstairs hall, the only one I’m keeping from when the house was built, that I’ll be fitting with shelving and using as a linen closet. So the small closet between the bathtub and the hallway, which would have been perfect as a linen closet in the bathroom, will instead be narrow but deep coat closet with a pocket door. And I didn’t plan this, but look! The closet is the exact same width as the antique door I bought! And I didn’t plan that. I found a matched set of 5 doors I liked that looked about the right sizes, and bought them without making sure they fit. If not, I’d make them fit, I figured.
Now to the right in that photo you can see the cavity the door will open into. Instead of paying 100 bucks for a prefab kit that would make it fit into a standard 4 inch wall, I bought a 2×6 and framed out the cavity with 2×3’s turned sideways. The wall is weird and thick at the bottom but thin at the top, so it doesn’t line up with itself inside the master closet. I don’t care; I saved 60 or 70 bucks, and this negliglible amount of money lets me pretend I have control over my budget. I bought a really nice heavy duty track though. I took a photo, but it doesn’t really look like anything.
Now in my front bedroom, I got massive heavy doors from a mansion, but will hang them on bypassing sliding door tracks like the closets from a 50’s tract house. My bedroom isn’t big so I didn’t have much of a choice. The doors are awesome though.
Now I was going to leave the wall with these doors on it in original condition, but all the vibration from cutting the door opening has loosened the plaster on most of it. Then some chunks are missing. And I noticed that the door jamb at the entrance to the room is completely destroyed. The previous owner’s contractors/crackheads/whatever people he hired tried to solve it this way. Another photo for the Hall of Shame.
Yes, they drove long screws through the destroyed part of the jamb and into… nothing. And of course tons of caulk. So I’m just going to put more drywall over the old plaster and make the new wall and door jamb 5/8″ thicker than the old. Problem solved without any more plaster dust! Plus, some of that old failed plaster is now holding in the insulation that was blown into the attic. Because the ceiling in the front bedroom is higher, part of the wall has attic on one side. So this brings up one important aesthetic question. I have a square opening for the superfancy closet doors, and a crooked opening to enter the room, with a crooked door from the salvage yard that just happens to fit it perfectly. Should I try to square this up, or do we like it as it is? Here’s a sophisticated rendering I made in Microsoft Paint to help decide. The paint color is strictly hypothetical. I haven’t made any decisions about that yet. This is just to figure out if the door openings look right or not. One thing I can say is that the ceiling slopes parallel to the door opening. So do I want to keep this part of the house crooked or not? One thing I get from looking at this photo is that it’s the square closet door opening that really doesn’t look right, but I don’t see what I can do about that.
You can really see that the slant of the door and ceiling match on the hallway side.
And then there’s the paint stripping. It’s coming along, and today I even had a friend come and spend hours with me working on it. How awesome is that? Bit by bit all my doors are becoming so gorgeous that I’m going to be sad to paint them. I will say that the basement stairway door (leaning against the wall in the second photo) isn’t coming clean as easily as the others. But it was never varnished, and it astoundingly thick layers of paint on it. It might need 4 applications. Oh well.
Then there’s a side project I’m working on to spruce up a couple old pieces of furniture for my cousin. You may have noticed the same chair back when it was blue farther up in this post. It was almost fun to strip; the paint came off in sheets! It also has a few gashes that need to be filled in, and then the plan is to paint it white with a sprayer along with all the interior doors and new woodwork for my entire house and a bedroom set and a few extra pieces for my parents. If you live near Philadelphia and what anything painted, let me know. I’ll make it any color you want as long as it’s white. All right, back to the chair.
And we’ve finally gotten rid of all the old plaster I see myself ever taking down. There’s still a bit of drywall and a few scraps of trim, but the bad stuff is gone and every room in the house, plus the back yard has no trash in it for the first time in about 6 months! Felt really, really good. On to odds and ends, here’s another hollow core door where it belongs, dismembered in a trash can.
And seriously. Tell me what you think about the crooked door in the front bedroom. Please.