4th Anniversary Tour – Living Room

This was the first room I worked on. Of course it didn’t look too bad at the start.

 

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Stairs

 

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Living room, front

I got talked into the exposed brick on the stairway side and thought that this was going to nearly double what I had to do before moving in. Of course I doubled the scope several more times after that.

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Then when I enlarged the low and narrow opening between the living room and the kitchen I discovered that the whole house was on one knob and tube circuit – except for a few outlets that were dangerously installed with their wires loose on the outside of the house.

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At some point I grabbed the ceiling for stability and it squished – nail pops everywhere! The plan was to ignore this but then I took down all 3 ceilings. Yes, there were 3!

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And it looked super scary at the end of this.

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The big long wall had to be framed in about an inch because the new chimney didn’t fit flush like the old one did. But now I won’t die if I turn the heat on so it was worth it.

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In the back, I opened the wall to the kitchen but I still wanted it to feel like separate rooms. The doorway and window are now the same height. I was a little bit annoying nagging the Irishman to make sure this happened.

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And I had a few issues with the stairway wall. The basement stairs are super narrow.IMG_3656

 

And the door, which was moved rather crudely from the kitchen to the living room after this stairway was built, jutted awkwardly into the stairway woodwork.

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Some people take the wall out entirely but I like my basement closed. The Irishman had a great idea though. Build wood paneling (in a 1930’s style of course) with a hidden seam so the wall comes out. His idea, my sketch:stairway paneling

And his workmanship

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And I solved the other problem by using a skinny sash bead in lieu of door casing. The cap for the paneling runs straight across and the bead butts up to that, so I got to squeeze in my unbroken diagonal line.

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And here it is built. He then filled that hacked out spot with Bondo.

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And my favorite feature of the room, the inlaid banding on the floors. This is why my floors are blond.

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I picked up a retro modern chandelier and was nervous it would look jarring and out of place in this room, but I’m very happy with it now. The Danish modern dining room set ($218 with tax at the ReStore) helps it blend in, too.

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Just about everything else in the room is very traditional. The gods of Craigslist delivered it to me, but I take contrarian pleasure in bucking trends. Ironically, Apartment Therapy says that green will be the “it” color for sofas in 2017. And let’s not forget that I needed 4 friends to help carry it 6 feet above 4 other people’s back yards and dismantle the patio door to get it into the house. Also, I need a privacy fence ASAP mostly because of the yard pictured.

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And against the brick wall, a little dresser that my great-grandmother hated when she had it right here in South Philly in the 1920’s, the convex mirror that was my grandmother’s pride and joy, and a (plaster of course) Brancusi bust just like one my friend’s parents have that I was terrified of when I was little. This is why having stuff that matches is overrated. I finally, finally don’t need the electric radiators anymore.

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One thing that’s worse than before – drywall jambs and totally rigged 1/8″ thick Masonite trim around the front windows. The windows themselves are garbage so I promise this isn’t permanent, and in a year or 2 I’ll have a facsimile of what used to be there.

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And here’s the after – actual nice photos for a change!

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23 thoughts on “4th Anniversary Tour – Living Room

  1. Ross

    Chad, you know I love you, and love what you have done, and love that you have invited all of us along for the ride. I well know how much time it takes to blog.

    And I also have to smile. If I purchased your house I would plaster over the brick ASAP!

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  2. francetaste

    Seeing the before, and then the room in full destruction, well, that must have been a tough period! But so worth it. And isn’t it a good thing you opened up the kitchen, so that you found out about the wiring? Your basement solution is brilliant, btw.

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  3. coteetcampagne

    All your solutions are brilliant and I love the eclectic look you have. AS the queen of anti-matchy -matchy I completely concur with what you have done there. And you know the horrors we have unearthed at the French house………..
    The Irishman’s work is excellent and YOU have great vision.

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  4. Jo

    So much hard work, Chad, but in only 4 years. What a transformation! I like the brick wall and would definitely keep it. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

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  5. Mary Elizabeth

    Thanks for the recap. I had forgotten about the photo with all the ceiling rubble taken down. Some friends and DH and I did that to a kitchen ceiling in an 1850s house in Newport. Did you also get rat shit in your hair?
    Seriously, what a great journey you have had. A note on the mirror. The 1970s bicentennial wall decoration reproductions weren’t exactly plastic but a composite material. One brand name name for this material was Syroco. They made many other wall decorations too. I hated them in the 1970s, but now I think they’re kind of retro quirky. Here’s an example of that brand:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-Syroco-American-Eagle-Convex-Mirror-Porthole-Goldtone-13-Tall-/112280354999?hash=item1a246e40b7:g:65IAAOSwUKxYh8xJ

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    1. Chad's Crooked House Post author

      Ha I thought I made I reminded everyone of that photo from time to time. And yes, you’re probably right that the resin is a composite of plastic and wood fibers and stuff. It is hollow though. The one I have is the same material, just a slightly fancier design.

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