Progress and Increasingly Delicate Sensibilities

My dad came today and we got the lower part of the stairway wall primed!


Old house purists: before you bite my head off for painting my woodwork, the first floor interior is a Colonial Revival style remodel from the 1930’s and had always been painted. But getting it back to this point seemed insurmountable. Especially these scrolly things under the stair nosings. There was so much paint glooped up onto them that I used 3 different types of chemical stripper, then burned it off with a heat gun, and finally gave up and used sandpaper. I then primed it, which exposed more flaws, so I sanded it all again and primed it a second time. It looks pretty good now!


There are still imperfections to fix, including all the little nail holes in the paneling. But the paneling all needs to be sanded as the paint raises the grain of the plywood it’s made out of.

Once this is done, there’s another round of it upstairs. I didn’t do it all at once because (1) there is only so much prep I can stand to do in one go and (2) I wanted to get the downstairs painted before reinstalling the top 2 stair nosings, and then I have to close up the unfinished underside of the upstairs box newel.IMG_0724.JPG

And I’ll be replacing the 8 bottom balusters in the second phase after getting everything painted that they’ll block. (No, not restoring. It’s not worth the trouble for paint grade pine.)


But my sensibilities are getting delicate. I can no longer handle this bit of unpainted trim on the ceiling that was supposed to happen later with the upstairs banister. It’s now getting moved up into this phase.


What is happening to me that this is bothering me? Remember when I was sleeping in the kitchen? That was totally fine.


And then this project is about to collide with the Phase 2 kitchen cabinet fronts thanks to another flaw my delicate sensibilities can’t handle. The casings around the big opening between the living room and kitchen is just tacked up so it can be notched into the cabinet fronts later. But this is affecting the living room now because I’ve decided that the little strip of molding on the left side of the door opening is too skinny.


You see, I opened the wall, but emphatically wanted it to look like the wall was still there, just with a big doorway in it. I think that completely open rowhouses can feel relentlessly long and narrow and liked the proportions of this room as it was at the beginning. And right now this skinny rip of trim doesn’t feel like enough to hold up the corner of the room. It feels more like an outside corner than a wall. It will also balance better with the window on the other side.


So, I’ll be yanking off that that piece of casing that had been ripped down, pulling off everything that had been tacked in place on the kitchen side, facing the cabinets, installing a new wooden board over the old one to make the doorway like an inch narrower, and putting up a new, heftier rip of trim on the living room side. Luckily, this isn’t the expensive special order casing, though I will, sigh, be needing more of that later, too.

So, does this sound like a good idea to you, or do you think I need to be medicated? My thoroughly practical dad flinched, but then took a second look and said, “You know it really will look better if you come out about one and a quarter and cover up the side of the refrigerator.”


12 thoughts on “Progress and Increasingly Delicate Sensibilities

  1. Barbara H.

    Hah! I think maybe as the chaos lessened your tolerance has also lessened. Also because the house is cleaned up so much these things don’t have so much to compete with to catch your eye. You’ve come so far! It’s really amazing.


  2. Chris harris

    Love the picture of the bed in the kitchen — a reminder that the long journey makes the destination all the sweeter.


  3. coteetcampagne

    My tolerance for squalor, dust and chaos evaoprated a couple of years back. Now I drive Trev mad following him around with a dustpan and brush and a damp cloth, so I COMPLETELY understand where you are at.
    Put it right now Chad, or you will just beat yourself up later.

    Oh, and the restoration purists? Course it was b****y painted !
    And even if it wasn’t it’s YOUR house. I find that whatever I do it’s all wrong to someone out there


  4. Jessica@CapeofDreams

    It is definitely going to look better to bring he wall out a touch, but it is one of those things that I would probably never do because of how much work it is. Good for you for undertaking it. The scrolly things look nice too.


  5. Mary Elizabeth

    I think Barbara and Francetaste have the right idea. When the project gets so close to completed, it becomes your home instead of a project. At that point, you have to start tweaking the small things as you settle in. Sort of like any relationship, the relationship between you and your house is developing. Meantime, be proud of the decisions you made.

    This reminds me of DH’s and my continuing discussion about whether or not to paint the woodwork in our 1959 home, which was originally all stained and lacquered. Some of it has remained stained, and some we decided to paint. Especially after we discovered that most of it was just paint-grade pine anyway. We like the look of white woodwork. Also, the cats are doing a number on some of the doorways, so a large investment of time and money replacing the paint-grade pine and staining it is pointless. It’s easier just to touch up the paint.



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