Thursday, December 23, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mmm...Leftovers

After Thanksgiving, I always have leftovers on my mind. I enjoy hosting at our house, not only because my wife is an incredible cook, but also because I get the leftovers to myself. The favorites this year have been: turkey dinner II, Who Hash, potato soup, and - of course- the longed for post-Thanksgiving gobbler.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving (Well, at least in the spirit of leftovers), I sought to tackle a project using excess materials from our bedroom makeover.


And, as you can see from my basement, there are a lot of them.

I wanted to create a serving tray that we could on top of the ottoman in our livingroom. I recently saw one while at dinner at a friend's house and thought it was a good idea. Full disclosure: I'm a spiller. If you can fill it, I can spill it. So, anything that puts a barrier between my pint glass and the new furniture set gets the green light from me.Prices online for wood serving trays run $30-$100.


First, I found the three best pieces of scrap beadboard for the bottom of the tray. All our scraps were 2 feet in length.

I measured the ottoman and determined that the best size serving tray wuold be 20x26. This would give me the widest space possible without hanging over the furniture.


I then cut the beadboard to fit.


For the side of the tray I used leftover battens from the bedroom wall woodwork.


After cutting the sides, I nailed to the beadboard using finish nails.


Three sides done.


For handles, I wanted to keep it simple. I decided to use rope I found in the basement. I have no clue what it is leftover from, something isn't flailing in the wind somewhere. I then found a drill bit that was about the same width of the rope.


I cut two 3 inch pieces of wood and clamped them together. The plan was to drill right down the seem to make sure the distance would be even on both sides.


And it worked.

I then centered the wooden handle support on the side of the tray. I made sure to put two finish nails through the rope on the handles. The final step clip the excess rope from the bottom of the handle. After this, it's all paint.


Two coats of high-gloss white paint later and we're done. Pretty good for leftovers.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We're Done!!

After lots of thought and hard work, we're finally done with the bedroom! This is my first project blog and I put up the various pictures over the course of a few weeks. In reality, being a true week-end warrior, this project took about four months from start to finish.

Our bed is back! No more sleeping on the floor of the guest bedroom. We installed wall lamps to save on bedside table space and hung art we bought in Stowe, VT.


The corner of our bedroom. Our blinds were on order, so we had to go without for two weeks. Tickets to the Puleo show were going for $10.


The same corner when we bought the house. Off-white!

Our shade finally made it!! We went with white roman blinds made by Bali.

My dresser and the other bedroom corner.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wednesday Widget

The Christmas season is hear. That means shopping for gifts, and lots of it.

Over the past few years, I've become more and more of an on-line holiday shopper. This is especially true for those whose gifts I already decided on. And the online buying process can actually be quite fun. Amazon's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales featured a "lightning buy" section. Essentially, this was a collection of items that went on sale at various intervals in limited quantities.

But really, the purpose it served was to introduce you to all sorts of products you never knew you never needed. Enter Wednesday's Widget.

The Swiss Army SwissChamp XAVT is something I really can't decide if I want to make fun of or play with for hours. I love gadgets, especially ones that can double as both camping an home improvement items. But isn't Swiss Army the pocket knife king? The line "is that a SwissChamp XAVT in your pocket or are you just happy to see me" doesn't really roll off the tongue.

Regardless, the SwissChamp makes Wednesday widget for possessing the perfect combination of absurdity and awesomeness.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie...

...he'll re-do the hallway too.


18" horizontal stripes painted with leftover bedroom paint and a new coat of gray. I did the gray in eggshell, so the walls wouldn't be complete shinny.

We can also recycle one of our old bedroom table lamps to light up our dark hallway.

Painting Gets Underway

The painting (and fumes) continue. I want to make our bedroom seem as big as possible, which means a lot of white. I'm being very cautious about not transitioning the cave feel of our previous style to a more asylum feel with a too-white interior.

Everything below the rail (2/3 up the wall) will be white. Everything above will be blue. I'm going with Ozone by Behr. Both paints are from their ultra premium collection. The bead board ceiling is being painted with standard white ceiling paint.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Prime(r) Time

With the ceiling and the board and batten up, it was time to start the painting process. There were a couple challenges here. First, were the drywall patches that needed to be sealed. Second, was the dark green paint giving the bedroom its previous cave-dwelling mystique. Third, was the new woodwork. While beautiful, I used pine, which is loaded with sap-filled knots that will bleed through paint. The solution: lots of primer.


A first coat of primer covering all the newly-installed woodwork and some of the drywall patches. (A side note: I need to get better at taking pictures of each step of the process. The drywall patching was little involved).


More primer over the paint and woodwork. I used Killz low-fume primer. I really don't want to know what their high fume primer smells like because this stuff stinks. I had coffee beans, candles, open windows, and baking soda. It was still difficult to get the smell out.


Behind where our bed will be. This was the area with the most extensive wall damage. Primer is depressing. After working all day, all I got was a kind of creepy white room.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Upward and Onward

Just like the walls, all of our ceilings are also original 1920's plaster. I knew the cracks in the ceiling would require repair even before I decided to re-do the entire bedroom. Frankly, the thought of trying to perfectly plaster the ceiling above my head is the reason why I delayed for months on this project.

In searching for a plaster alternative, I decided on beadboard. This was something used in old house ceilings, but typically in bathrooms and kitchens. TOH first gave me the idea to use it in the bedroom Here. I also really liked the sample photos at Nantucket Beadboard and Here.

Home Depot carries pine strips that are 12' long by about 8" wide. A cheaper alternative is the beadboard plywood; however, these only come in an 8 foot maximum length. Since the room is 10' x 12', there would have been seems everywhere.

I did two heavy coats of oil-based primer to ensure that all the knots in the wood were sealed. In some spots I did a skim coat of plaster, sanded, and the coated with Killz primer.


This was definitely a two person job, and one where the scaffold was a key tool. A nail gun made the job much easier.


In some spots the pieces wouldn't come together very easily. A rubber mallet moved things along.

It took about two weeks (tinkering after work) to get the boards cut, primed, and sanded. The original quality of the wood was not as good as I had hoped. Just putting up the beadboard took and entire day with two people.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wednesday Widget


Yep, it's the Auto Wrench.

When I broke this bad boy out on a recent camping trip, everyone was amazed. Apparently, this was something that everyone had seen on TV, but never really thought it existed in real life.

I love this tool. It's a time saver and makes adjusting the wrench in tight places a whole lot easier.

After two year, I have only changed the single battery once. In addition, I've dropped it approximately 60 times and it keeps working.

Moving Along...

I'm having a bit of trouble being a good photographer during this process. Here I've screwed in the plaster washers, covered with drywall tape, and done two coats of plaster with sanding after each. After that, came more batten.


The batten is 2/3 of the way up the wall. The battens are about 14" spaced around the room. I wanted the spacing to be centered under the windows, so the widths are adjusted for each wall. My dad did the math to lay them out. It helps having an engineer handy!

This is the wall where the head of our bed goes. On the opposite side is the bathroom, scene of the aforementioned sledge hammer swinging.

Buttons and Battens

Putting up the battens over the first section of repaired wall.

Wainscoat Wonderings

One thing I love about old houses in the woodwork. Someday I'd love a wood-panelled reading room complete with a fireplace and leather armchair.

Our house is from the craftsman era, but doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of interior woodwork. At 900 sft, it doesn't really offer much in terms of library space either.

For our bedroom project I’d like to do something that adds dimension and sure up our old walls a bit. The solution? Wainscoating.

Wainscoating is woodwork that covers a substantial portion of the actual wall itself. This Old House did a great primer on wainscoating. You can find it HERE.

I’m going to go with board and batten style in order to add some drama to the room. This usually requires a substantial amount of labor and carpentry. So, naturally, I’m looking for a way to cheat and achieve the same look and function. I found this site, which provides a great technique to do just that. In addition, I really like to color and look of the room. I think we may have just found our remodel inspiration!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wednesday Widget

Yes, I admit it, I like to borrow tools, especially from my dad. And yes, again readily admitted, I'm reluctant to give anything back until threatened with bodily harm. Well, this Wednesday's Widget falls into this category. And it truly has become something I can't live without.

Since this is a blog post is one of admissions, I'll admit to being a bit afraid of ladders. Generally, I find myself avoiding projects that involve spending an extended amount of time up in the air. Granted, I will do the obligatory gutter cleaning and Christmas light-hanging as needed. But in this cases, and if you're going to go anyway, why not go in electrified blaze of holiday cheer?

I (acquired) a Pro-Series 4ft Scaffold to first do some ceiling repair in the living room. In this case, repair meant tearing out all of the 1x1 foam ceiling tiles that hung in all their stained and cigarette smelling glory, and replacing them with a standard ceiling. From there, I used it to paint every other room in the house, hang crown moulding, and paint the bottom half my house's exterior to avoid - you guessed it - spend any more time on the ladder than absolutely needed.

There's a couple of things I really like about this tool. First, you can cover a fairly large work area without having to reposition the scaffold. In this case, walking the plank is actually working in your favor. Second, both steps can be set at the same height to provide a large workspace. In addition, although it's not shown in this stock picture, my model has a pop out tray for paint and tools that becomes quite handy. Finally, it does provide a good place to take a rest when all the other furniture has been cleared out of a room.

This is really something that can be used in almost any total-room project. It folds up and stores in a fairly small space, although it does take some effort to stop it from shifting when stored at first. In addition, it's a little bulky to carry and one of my wheels always falls off when I pick it up. But, in comparison to its usability, these burdens are small.

The only thing that's really missing is a cup holder.

At $80 it is well worth every penny that somebody else paid for it.

I don't think dad is getting this one back any time soon.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

And We're Off!!

I started putting up plaster washers today....

... and it kind of reminds me of my 7th grade class photo. Is this project going to work, or did I just give our bedroom a case of home remodeling acne?

A few notes on the washers: They were generally easy to install. I followed the cracks up the walls all around the room, and found myself going at a pretty good pace. I did, however, miss the lathe behind the wall a number of times. I did notice that if the washer dimpled, it meant it was firmly in the wall. No dimple - no lathe, and time to re-adjust.

Project Musing

I never really plan a project from start to finish. Well, I should say that I never stick to the same plan from start to finish. I often do one step, then find myself staring into a room looking for new possibilities. Does anyone else do this or is it just me?

There were two things I noticed when I started to get to work on this project:
  1. Our bedroom wall had cracks everywhere. I'm fairly certain that I'm dealing with the original 1920's plaster in the entire room. I think the room must have been wallpapered for much of the home's life. In the places that are really cracked (read: pieces falling off the wall), there are only two coats of paint. The first coat is -you guessed it- the same off-white wonder that coats the rest of the house. I have the remainder of this jug in the basement. The topcoat is the green we painted our room when we first moved in.
  2. I really don't like the green paint anymore. Combined with the brown curtains, it gives off a bit of a cave feeling.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

And So, A New Project Begins

The idea of starting a new project in the bedroom was very exciting. Unfortunately, no one at Home Depot or Lowes actually knew what a plaster washer was, desipte the assurance of the experts in the previos two posts.

In one exchange, an employee told me that they didn't carry plaster washers. I informed him that This Old House told me that I could purchase plaster washers at ANY local hardware store. At that point, he told me that he thought they were in garden section and made off in the opposite direction.

After a 5 store trips, I was frustrated. Was I searching for the sasquach of home repair widgets? Is there a fictional projects tab on thisoldhouse.com that I didn't notice? No. Plaster washers, like the sasquach are out there. You simple have to either: persistently search high and low; wait patiently in one spot with a grainy 1980's video camera; or drive your wood-paneled station wagon reckless through the woods of washington state. Lacking both a video camera and a wood-paneled station wagon, I chose the first option.

The fact is that plaster washers are in EVERY Home Depot and Lowes (thanks, garden center boy), but no one knows they're there. Simply read the front of every single box in the nails/screws and aisle and you just might get lucky. Most likely, their either in the corner of the shelf just above your left foot or in a dusty box just above eye level. But, if you keep returning week after week.....

EUREKA!!



Saying "No" to Crack Isn't as Easy as Nancy Reagan Would Leave You To Believe

Apparently, repairing substantially damaged historic plaster is kind of a big deal.




The problem is, that stuff is expensive! In addition, it does really seem to cut down on the work. I still have to drill in the wall and then follow-up with the standard plastering process.

Instead I chose to go old school TOH: LINK

Break on Through to the Other Side... Accidentally

Sometimes I get sudden bursts of motivation. No one knows when they'll come or what they'll lead to, but come they do. One such burst led me to break out all of my favorite bathroom cleaning chemicals, and head into the tub to give the tiles a good scrubbing.

Well that scrubbing led me to discover that part of our wall was a little, well, squishy. That led me to pop out a tile, which led me to tearing out a 1' x 1' section of wall. That led to the shower stall being gutted. And since I was gutting, so went the floor, mirrors, light fixtures, and the vanity. This led to showering at my parents' house for five weeks...and- eventually- a new bathroom.

But this is not a post about our bathroom (more to come one that some other time): this is a post about consequences. And the consequence of getting way too excited about swinging a sledge hammer are as follows:
  1. Chunks of tile fly off the wall like shrapnel in a Bruce Willis movie and hit you in the face (no matter what you saw in Die Hard, shrapnel hurts, and
  2. The sledgehammer passes through the wall you actually want to break down, and hits the back of the 90-year-old lathe and horsehair plastered wall of your bedroom
And so, one project begets another.