Archive for category DIY

Room to Spare

Spare bedroom, that is.

Several months without a post. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy, just that I haven’t been working on my own home. In fact, in the last two months I’ve helped my brother-in-law with different aspects of their master bathroom remodel, and a partial remodel on my mother’s kitchen (reconfigured the existing base cabinets, installed a dishwasher, built additional base cabinets, and installed new countertop).

But sometime in between building cabinets in my unheated garage in the middle of an Ohio February, I finished painting the spare bedroom and nailed the window trim & baseboards back into place. Wow, did that make a difference!

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P1040906While reinstalling the baseboard, I added outlets to the perimeter of the bedroom through the baseboard. Each bedroom only had 1 original outlet to begin with. And I added the new outlets in the baseboard, just as the existing outlets were placed. I used brown outlet and outlet covers to help them disappear into the dark woodwork.

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I already described the process of sanding & re-painting the wardrobe, and installing the light. Along with all new wiring, I can add this room to the 99% finished list along with the bathroom and laundry. (Like nearly every other room, the floor needs a few nails here and there to secure the boards, and then a whole-house floor refinishing party.)

Lastly, I found a door to fit at an architectural salvage store (the spare bedroom was door-less when I bought the house). It matches the bathroom door, but unfortunately was painted on one side. I spent the better part of 2 days stripping the paint – first white, then orange underneath.

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It was the correct height, but actually just about 1/4″ too narrow. I glued & clamped a thin piece of pine to the hinge edge of the door, then with a hand plane and sandpaper made it flush with the sides of the door.

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The other side was stained & varnished almost a matching color to my woodwork, so I just sanded off the finish and then re-stained both sides of the door to blend the color. It took 2 coats of stain on the freshly stripped side to get dark enough, then 2 coats of satin polyurethane. The piece I added to meet the right width is almost unnoticeable.

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I’ve been collecting glass doorknobs when I find them inexpensively at antique stores or Goodwill, so I just had to buy the mortise latch threaded spindle – which I was pleasantly surprised to find they still sell at the hardware store. For me, there is nothing so rewarding as the feeling of putting the finishing touches on a completed project.

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So now I begin the same process to the other bedroom, starting with stripping the woodwork and restoring the windows again.

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Spare Bedroom Almost Finished

So I described my work on the wardrobe and even the light fixture, but I really should have first talked about how much work I’ve done to get the bedroom ready. In reality, the wardrobe and light were like finishing touches compared to how long I spent re-wiring, adding outlets, repairing the plaster, drywalling & mudding.

First off, this room is behind the bathroom, where there was a door-sized opening connecting this bedroom with the bathroom. Since the bathroom is (nearly) finished, the opening was closed in on that side except for the hole-in-the-wall where my medicine cabinet will eventually be installed. But because the tub/shower was previously along this wall, there was major water damage even on the bedroom side of the wall. The plaster was bubbled and crumbling all along where the tub would have been. Each time I tried to scrape it flat in preparation to mud over it, it just kept crumbling. The ceiling wasn’t in the best shape either, it was sagging in the middle and had major cracks from one wall to the next. I could have spent time scraping out each crack, reattaching the plaster to the wood slats, and then mudding and sanding.

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But in my mind, I kept thinking it wouldn’t last long and I’d be unhappy with the ceiling in just a short while. So I decided to drywall both the ceiling and the damaged plaster wall. No need to tear the plaster off (a ridiculous amount of work, dust, mess, and trash). I found the ceiling joists & wall studs and installed the drywall right over top, making sure my screws were long enough to reach through the plaster and secure the drywall to the framing.

First though, a friend helped me re-wire this bedroom to replace the knob & tube wiring and put the room on it’s own dedicated breaker (less electrical demand on the “whole-house breaker” of whoever previously wired my electric panel). From the crawlspace to the attic, we re-wired the ceiling light, light switch, and upgraded the room from 1 lonely outlet to 1 outlet per wall – meeting today’s standard of  every 6 linear feet. This was not really an attempt to meet today’s residential electrical requirement, but more for convenience in the future since most standard lamps and other electrical items have a 6′ cord. When it came time to add outlets, rather than today’s standard height in the wall, I am installing them horizontally in the baseboard. There are already several rooms in the house where a previous owner added outlets in the baseboard, so to maintain a consistent look I decided that’s where I would add them also. The baseboards in my house are 9″ tall, so this places the outlets about 4″ off the floor. And a brown outlet and brown cover almost disappear on the dark stained woodwork.

Back to prepping the walls & ceiling. Once the drywall was hung I began to tape and mud all the seams and corners. This was my first time mudding drywall on a ceiling. Now this sounds like it would be the same as seams on the wall, but trust me it’s not the same. There is so much more coordination required with managing drywall knives while stepping up and down the step stool, and a lot more accidentally dropping (or throwing) drywall mud – landing on my pants, shoes, and the floor. I’m glad I didn’t tear the carpet out until after all this work, it caught all my mess. Lots of thin coats of mud, lots of drying time, and finally a few hours carefully sanding.

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No, water resistant greenboard drywall was not required for this ro0m – I purchased more than I needed when I renovated the bathroom and couldn’t return it. At the the end of the day it’s still drywall, and once painted no one will know the difference.

One detail I included in this room was an access panel to the shut-off valves for the tub & shower on the other side of the wall. It’s a simple plastic frame with a snap off cover if I ever need to do repairs or for some reason shut off the water lines to the tub.

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While mudding  I also tried my best to fix any cracks, holes, or divots in the plaster walls. These two walls below are not drywall, but rather plaster – and there is maybe more mud on these walls than on the new drywall.

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I also sanded out all of the previous owners bad patch jobs, like where they slapped on spackling compound and didn’t sand it flat to the wall. Sanding is a messy job, and I always forget that until I’m covered in dust after just an hour or so.

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In the end, I was pretty impressed with myself for how the walls turned out. Priming is the real reveal.

P1040685 BP1040689 BThere is one corner that isn’t perfect, but I can live with it. Imperfection is character, or so I keep telling myself.

I already had the woodwork for the windows scraped, sanded, stained & poly’d, and I was eager to nail it back into place once the walls were painted and dry. I still need to fill & stain the nail holes, but I am so happy with how this room is coming together. It will actually be the most complete room in the house in another weeks time when I get the baseboards nailed into place – and take some after photos of the full room!

 

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Great book from my childhood. And the original BBC movie was the best back in the day. But for the title of this post, there actually is no witch. There is the Lion who thinks he owns my house, and keeps an eye on all my renovation projects:

And then the wardrobe:

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I don’t think the wardrobe was originally here. Firstly, the baseboard in the room runs behind the wardrobe. Secondly, inside the wardrobe there was part of an inside door latch screwed into the floor – but it was against the back wall. And lastly, the wardrobe is almost the exact size of the opening that was unfinished in the bathroom when I first bought the house:

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I actually think this wardrobe was inside the bathroom in this space. And that it wasn’t a doorway from this bedroom into the bathroom, but rather the wardrobe had doors on both sides. I did find spare doors in the rafters of my garage, but they don’t fit, so the mystery continues. Anyways, I plan to keep the wardrobe in the bedroom where I found it, but it needed a major overhaul.

So I removed the doors (I didn’t like the hinges anyways), and tore out the inside closet organizer too. The previous owner had glued melamine panels to each of the walls & ceiling inside, but I tore it out also – it wasn’t cut well, leaving unfinished corners throughout. Once removed, it revealed the plaster walls not in such great shape – and the adhesive tore the finish plaster off with it. So I beefed up the cabinet itself by screwing wood supports along each of the corners into the walls, and then nailing the frame of the cabinet to these cleats.

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Rather than repair the plaster inside (not worth the time in my opinion), I took 2 sheets of underlayment and ripped them into 6″ planks and nailed them inside the closet to make it look like a wood lined closet. I used nickels as spacers to keep the planks in line.

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The wardrobe was never varnished before it was painted, so sanding it down to bare wood would have been way too time consuming, and for a rather cheaply built cabinet, not worth the time. So I decided early on that I would just repaint it – but not blue. I did spend a bit of time sanding the cabinet and doors, since the previous coats of paint had drips, runs, and thick brush strokes. I painted the inside walls white, and the floor the dark color of the outside.

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Apparently the original cabinet hinges in my house are impossible to find – every online restoration resource, eBay, and even architectural salvage shops – nothing. So I bought the most similar ones I could find to hang the wardrobe doors.

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I’m even thinking of building some custom interior dividers to allow for 2 hanger bars, and maybe a few low shelves for shoes. But that’s not priority. To finish it off, I need to make a few pieces of cove crown molding for where it meets the ceiling, and also find some nice cabinet handles. But otherwise, I’m really happy with how it turned out.

P1040728 BThe wardrobe is Sherwin Williams Backdrop, and the walls are Morris Room Grey. Photographs don’t do justice to the color combo. To me, the colors are dark and light mushroom. Along with the rich mahogany stained woodwork, I feel like the room is an old-school study or library, very warm and masculine.

I even found a light fixture I liked and installed it this past weekend.

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Next will be staining & varnishing the baseboards, wiring up the outlets, and this room will be finished. The lion seems to approve.

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