Saturday, October 21, 2017

Garage Door - Selection and Painting

Although we took a bit of a detour on the Back Bedroom series, we're actually continuing on with a theme of securing the exterior of the house. In Seattle's rainy climate, the war against water is a first priority. 

When we closed on the house and paid the outstanding utility bills so that the power could be turned on, it was a great surprise that the old garage door opener actually worked. The old single panel wood door was rotting at the bottom and did not seal properly against the floor. As a result, water could easily flow into the house. The new drain that we had installed when the sewer line was replaced was a great help against water intrusion, but the door still needed to be replaced.

Old door not lookin' so good.

Much garage door research ensued. In the end, we chose a door that would mimic the original carriage-style door, but would operate as a modern door. There are several vendors that make doors a bit like this, but we weren't always happy with the proportion of the windowed section to the rest of the door, or with the way the windows were installed, for that matter. It just wasn't a convincing facsimile.

Before painting.
After painting.
Two-toned look.
We wanted the door to match our paint scheme, which meant we had to paint it ourselves. It is an insulated fiberglass door, which Nick painted with our regular exterior latex paint. Our sales rep recommended frosted glass for the windows, but we wanted to be able to see out of the garage and decided on clear glass. Basements can make a person feel claustrophobic, so I am glad we went with the clear glass. 

No project is perfectly easy, and this project required reworking the framing for the door. Unfortunately, the available dimensions of the door were such that the framing would be wider on one side than the other in order for there to be room for the rails on the inside. Nick felt strongly that this would look silly. In order to correct the problem, we would have to pour concrete to extend the foundation and then patch in some brick to match the rest of the house. Hard enough on it's own, we also had to consider how to secure our home while working on this multi-day project. Oy!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Back Bedroom: Part 7 - The Finale

In order to consider the back bedroom complete, it requires a few important finishes. The hardest of these was the restoration of the heat register. The heat registers had all been painted gold, which might have been fine, but they were never protected during previous room paintings, so they were splattered and dingy looking. I stripped the register using a variety of methods to see what would work: heat gun (not so much), steel wool and steel brush (not great), simmering in water (somewhat effective but time consuming and difficult to find a large enough pot. Really, the best method was just good ol' hand sanding using emery cloth.

The "before" photo.
Stripped and ready for painting.
Painted and installed.

Push button switches were installed along with brass switch plates. This is a small detail that makes a big difference. It's fun to have these reproduction switches. We wonder why the push buttons were abandoned for other styles. Was it too much effort to push rather than flick? We also painted the inside of the closet, which we kept smooth rather than texturing and installed an adjustable closet organization system.

We have enjoyed the search for perfect lighting. It's fun to research fixtures from the era and find just the right thing for each room.

Spray painted, then hand painted detail.
For sale. 
Nick restored the original two-bulb light and we used that for awhile, but later we found two matching three-bulb lights, which we now use. I hope to post the restored light on eBay someday soon.
New light (original to era) with Edison bulbs. 
The room is finished!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Back Bedroom: Part 6 - Alive with Color

I joke that I only really see eight colors in this world. Basically, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black and white. However, when it comes to choosing paint for a room, my oh my, it's a different story! The criteria for the bedroom color was something like this: 1) NOT BLUE.

Given the whole "Insanity Box" situation of the prior blue walls and ceiling, it didn't seem reasonable to even visit the blue family. We planned to do a warm grey, but the six samples we painted on the wall were all not right for their own reasons. Grey can look too dark, too blue, too purple, and too silver, among other things. It seems that some colors change more with the lighting than others, and we struggled with grey. When in doubt, think it out!

Please remember that these are my own judgements of color and I trust that if your bedroom is one of these colors, it's perfect and you chose the exact right shade/hue and I love it.
  • Red/pink: No--too angry, too hungry, or too girlie.
  • Orange: No.
  • Yellow: No--the kitchen is yellow.
  • Green: No--we have green slated for another room.
  • Blue: No--because of the Insanity Box.
  • Purple: No--I am biased against purple. It's actually one of my least favorite colors. Non-negotiable. No purple.
  • Black: No--too sad.
  • White: No--I grew up with white walls...time for color!
  • Beige: No--slated for other rooms. Yes, I learned a new color since the start of this post.
*Sigh* I think Nick said the words first. As dangerous as it might have been to suggest it, he posed, "What about blue?" Before I could object he defended, "There are lots of different blues--we just need to find the RIGHT blue. And, we aren't going to paint the ceiling the same color and the trim isn't black. I think it will look good." For a time, one of our favorite stores, Rejuvenation, had partnered with a paint company and had a "Mercantile Collection" of colors. We grabbed every single paint swatch and roughed out a plan for our house based upon those. We pulled out the stack of swatches and chose two that we thought had promise. The paint store did a color match from the swatch and I'll be darned if we didn't find a blue that we really liked.

The new blue! I like it.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Back Bedroom: Part 5 - Repairing Cracks, Texturing, Priming

With the exterior work complete, the next step in the back bedroom project was to strip the trim and repair the plaster cracks. I stripped the trim with my trusty heat gun and then hand sanded. To repair the plaster, I scraped each side of the crack holding my tool at about a 45 degree angle. This gets out loose material and creates a wider ditch for the repair material. Then I primed the cracks, which seals in the sandy plaster. Once dry, the cracks receive mesh tape before a mixture of drywall mud and plaster of Paris is applied. The addition of plaster of Paris makes the mud harder than drywall mud alone and is supposed to help delay/prevent cracking again. Old plaster is prone to cracking, which is an eventuality that I've accepted, but haven't experienced yet (knock on wood).

Stripped and sanded trim.
Repairing cracks.
After crack repair, the room was primed and Nick skim coated the ceiling using a loose mix of drywall mud. We rolled the mud on with a paint roller and he combed it smooth with a "Magic Squeegee". A Magic Squeegee is a 16 inch squeegee. The magic is really just that someone thought to use the squeegee for skim coating instead of window washing. It takes a bit of practice, but worked pretty well for these two amateurs. We were later affirmed when we hired a professional to skim coat the cove ceilings in the living and dining rooms and he showed up with the same tool.

The living and dining rooms were the only areas in the house that had textured walls. Other rooms looked like they had once been wallpapered and later painted. In the back bedroom, the walls AND the ceiling had a slight texture indicative of wallpaper.

Texturing - action shot.
Texturing complete. The Insanity Box is gone!
We did our best to replicate the heavy knock-down texture in the living and dining rooms. We used a single crow's foot brush dipped in drywall mud and knocked it down with a trowel while still wet. The texture isn't quite as heavy as in the living and dining rooms, but I actually like it better.

A sigh of relief. This is a good place.
The blue room was loud. As soon as all of the blue was covered, it became a quiet, peaceful place. It felt like someone found the switch and flicked it off. Sudden silence. 

Stay tuned for the next installment when we choose a color!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Back Bedroom: Part 4 - Door, Window, Brick, Oh My!

The back bedroom project included a new back door and a new window for the bedroom. Over the course of a weekend Nick put several different stains on the door per a formula given to us by the window company to try to closely match the color of our interior mahogany trim. He also got one or two coats of polyurethane on the door, which we knew was not enough, but with a shortage of time it would have to do for the moment.

First coat.
A subsequent coat--black stain.
Outlets were wired into the new wall, which was then insulated and drywalled. Next, the window and door were swiftly installed. I previously primed and painted the brick mold for the door and trim for the new window.

Window, outlets, drywall.
New door. New window.
A mason bricked up the void and did some needed tuck-pointing around existing bricks in the same area.

Good-bye holes under the door!
Welcome back, ol' gal!
Sure, you can tell that the area was patched, but as I write to you from the future, be assured that it will fade to more closely match the other brick. I think a black lace elderberry bush would nicely camouflage the spot  (foreshadowing). 

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Back Bedroom: Part 3 - There's a Draft in Here!

It makes me happy to have a husband who can do just about anything. But, it makes us BOTH happy when we can hire the work and finish a project quickly. We worked with a fellow who was recommended to us by the company that made our windows. Most of the work was done by one guy, but when needed, one or two additional workers would help.

First up, good-bye sliding glass door! The framing around the door was starting to rot and the door itself was broken. No tears were shed in the removal of this door.

The Insanity Box - blue ceiling and wall.
Then like magic,a new wall went in the very same day. If we were doing this project ourselves, I am not sure how many days would have gone by with a missing wall. It was too cold to find out!

Dear new wall, I love you already.

Even before the new window and brick were put in, I already liked it better.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Back Bedroom: Part 2 - Sourcing Bricks / Hidden Treasure

Despite the flaws in our yard, I was still compelled to spend much time and energy weeding. There may have been more weeds than grass, but I thought to myself, "If I can fill a five gallon bucket with weeds every day, one day there will be no weeds." I bought a long handled weeding tool to aid in my battle and concentrated my efforts to a small section of the yard each day. I figure that over time, I poked at least every six inches of that yard. Often, stubborn weeds would grow next to big rocks under the lawn, making it difficult to use my weeding tool. Normally I could poke from a different angle to avoid the rock and still get the weed. However, One day I kept hitting big rocks and no matter what angle I tried, I kept hitting the rock. Not known for my patience, my temper began to boil. "CLUNK! Scritch, scrape, scrape, clunk!" went my tool. Sweat beaded on my brow as I crouched for better leverage. "Scritch, scrape, scrape." I couldn't get around the rock and still be close to the weed. I stomped to the garage and returned with a trowel. This is weed is going to get the best of me! I dug all around the weed until I could tell I had reached the end of the rock. Then I plunged the trowel into the ground and pried up the obstruction. A brick, then another right next to it. What an odd find! Then two more just a couple feed away, and again, and again.

Ah ha! Stepping stones! It's a little path. What fun! I pried them up and stacked them near the house. I knew we'd need bricks to replace the void once the slider was removed, but hadn't figured out yet where we'd find bricks to match the house. Later, I discovered a small brick patio around the camellia tree and happily pried up all those bricks, too. Nick found a similar brick section buried at the parking strip and as we continued to work in the yard, we found bricks lining the edge of the concrete walkway. 

Although we found a great many perfectly matching bricks buried in our yard, we still didn't have enough to cover the void once the slider was removed. We started searching for bricks on Craigslist postings and were delighted one day to find a couple about 5 miles away selling bricks from a 1927 house (ours is a 1929). It was a good match and we were delighted to have found them.