Tag Archives: paneling

Progress and Increasingly Delicate Sensibilities

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

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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!

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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.)

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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Building the Paneled Panel

Did you think I forgot about this? You might have since I haven’t mentioned it since January. It’s looked like this for about as long as I can remember. Leave your kids at home.

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But the panel on my stairway wall is very much still happening. Here’s the sketch I made way back when.

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The whole point of doing this was to make the wall come out for access to the basement. I can’t remove it all though because there are switches and wires in that wall. The Craftsman-style long skinny panels are perfect though because the panel closest to the door can be fixed while the next 3 come off. On top of that, there was one aesthetic problem I wanted to solve. Not a huge one, but while I’m at it…

You see, the door to the basement used to be in the kitchen and someone filled it in (weirdly), moved the stairs toward the front of the house, cut the door down, and put it on the side of the stairwell. This was a big improvement in the kitchen, but I wasn’t fond of the weird wall where the door used to be or the way the casing around the new door jutted into the stairway woodwork. Plus, there was a triangular chunk of the wood hacked out and filled in with drywall and caulk. I think this happened in the 50’s. (And remember, the house didn’t look that bad when I bought it.)

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I decided to use a wainscot cap to finish the paneling, which is now thicker than the edge of the stairs. And there is no casing at all around the door, just a little strip of sash bead. And the cap comes so close to the door that the bead doesn’t even go all the way around. The Irishman thought I was crazy for wanting to do it this way, but he said he’d build it. He sent me a photo of the opening with sash bead all the way around the door, which was wrong! So I quickly sketched it (not to scale) and texted him a photo. (Though this is a scan. It looks better.)

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And then he built it and it’s perfect. Except that little hacked out triangle. He’s going to stick a piece of plywood in there and then fill the cracks with Bondo. As in auto body filler.

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And remember how I was going trim inside the panels that looked like the sticking on the door? That didn’t quite work out. He hates wasting molding passionately, so he made custom panel sticking out of the scraps of my upstairs casing. It’s that small piece to the left. He says we’ll find a place to use the reeded part to the right, too.

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So that’s where we are now. It was hard. And because I’m paying him by the hour, it was expensive. But I love it, and if I get my finances in order by 30 it’s all good, right? Stay tuned, finishing touches are coming together so there might be a big reveal in the near future!

Paneling the Panel, The Fun Part of My Stairway Upgrade

I thought my first post of 2015 should be something about planning ahead, but the truth is that with 10 (mostly small) pieces of Sheetrock left to hang, I’m not at a clean stopping point and don’t really feel like writing that.

And the other truth is that I just sketched what the paneling is gonna look like and I WANT IT RIGHT NOW!

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