This Old House Remodel Contest

So I decided to enter Aiden’s bedroom in the This Old House: Remodeling Contest.  If you wouldn’t mind, click here to vote and prop us up!  It’s the first contest we’ve ever entered and we should have taken some new pics but whatever.  Thanks for your support!

Click the image to vote

Let there be light

Finally got the new light fixture from Rejuvenation to finish Aiden’s room renovation. As mentioned before, we decided on the Jefferson in oil rubbed bronze. I thought the install would be straight-forward…famous last words.

Our house was built in 1910 when electricity was just becoming popular. Through my research and conversations I have heard that during this time, the houses were outfitted with gas fixtures and just happened to be wired for electricity. Well what did I find when I removed the old light fixture? The old gas pipe in the ceiling.

Original gas piping for light fixture

The addition of gas plumbing and lack of a box made the install a little different than I had anticipated but it looks great nonetheless. Gotta love the old houses and the surprises they have for us.

The final piece to the room renovation.

Aiden’s Room 99% Done

Aside from installing the new Rejuvenation light fixture which I ordered 9 years ago (and still isn’t here) and doing a bit of decorating – the baby room is done and in use!  On to the next project.

Baby Room Completed

Crib and Photoshopped Art

See the entire baby’s room photo gallery from beginning to end here.

Baby Arrival (on time too)

Got a bit delayed in finishing up the baby’s room; the baby was born.

Aiden James Lesh was born at 9:20am last Friday, September 3rd (his due date no less)!  He’s healthy and cute, likes to sleep and eat. And fill his diaper. Kerri did an amazing job! Christopher has been a great older brother and we feel so blessed.

Christopher loving on his new baby brother.

As to the room; I just need to finish a couple bits of touch up paint, finish installing the shoe moulding, hang the new light fixture (which isn’t here yet), and do a bit of decorating.  All while keeping an eye on two kids and helping the wife.  Work with me here. 🙂

Spiraling Project

The baby’s room has turned into a slight ordeal (surprise, surprise).  Originally, it was the sight of painted wallpaper and the bad-house-karma that it provided that motivated us to start in on this room.  And the fact that it was small and should be easy.  “Remove the paint and wallpaper,” they say.  I did that and did so fairly easy.  To recap, I found 3 layers of paint (lead of course) on top of 3 layers of wallpaper, on top of 1 layer of paint on top of plaster.

Lots of paint on top of lots of wallpaper on top of more paint.

The 3 layers of paint nearly peeled off.  The wallpaper, with some elbow grease came off relatively fast.  I thought I was almost home free.

What remained was a green, chaulk like dust on the walls.

The Green

100 year old calcimine paint

I didn’t know what to make of it nor what to do about it.  After discussing this with some painting contractors and the folks down the street at Miller Paint, I learned that this is calcimine paint.  It needs to be removed in order to have our paint bond to the plaster.  How do you remove it?  Either wet it down and scrape it or sand it.  Scraping it is horrible.  It would take me 3 weeks straight to do a horrible job at it.  Sanding it would also take forever.  I’ve tried both. A note: we’ve got masks, dust collection and vacuums in the room and the dust in the air is actually almost zero.

I had read about skimming it but wondered about the bonding.  I’m against putting drywall over it for obvious reasons.  I thought about pulling the lath and plaster down and drywalling it.  I could have insulated/sound proofed the room and checked electrical.  But I didn’t.  I removed as much as I could without going insane and decided to try an awesome oil based primer.  It seems to have sealed and done the trick as long as one of the kids doesn’t decide to eat a wall.


Oil based primer seems to do the trick.

In the spirit of a Spiraling Project, I also discovered what the original trim looked like unpainted – it’s gorgeous.  A fair amount of paint had chipped off so I decided it would be best to strip the picture moulding.  This appeased my desire to get something down to bare wood without removing every single piece of wood.  At least not yet and not on this room.

Stripping Paint

Chemicals remove decades of paint


Stained picture moulding. A little dark but good enough.

At this point, it became obvious that the doors needed to be stripped and finished as well.  I dropped them at Houck’s Stripping and for $110 a door, they made them beautiful!  After a little sanding, they were ready to finish as well.

Stripped Doors

Freshly stripped doors. A little sanding and ready to finish.

This is the second major slowdown of the room.  I wasn’t blown away with the stain color of the picture moulding but I had already stained it.  Now I have these gorgeous doors and I have decided that however I finish these, I will carry the process through the rest of the house.  Clear looks amazing but might be too much clear fir.  I could lighten the stain a bit (I do like the contrast to the cream trim). Or some totally different, yet to be determined color.  The pressure.  Instead of deciding, it was time to mess with the hardware.

I salvaged all the old door hardware and vents and plopped them in a pot with water and soap.  Couple hours later and after some stirring, we had brand new (old) hardware.

Cooking paint

Cooking paint off the vent. The rest was done in a pot.

For the switch and plug covers as well as window pulls, we went with Rejuvenation’s oil rubbed bronze finish.  It looks sharp.  For the curtain rod, we went with the IKEA $14.95 special.  Hot diggity.  And nobody will notice the $110 I saved by not buying from Rejuvenation.  We also have a Jefferson light fixture on order (with two shades because I couldn’t decide).

Coming Together

Beginning to come together. Need doors and picture moulding.

Now we just need to decide what to do with those doors and get the moulding up.  I did decide to go with a danish finish on all the woodwork as I liked the look better than poly and figured that it would be easier to maintain and fix over the years.

Deadline: September 3rd.  Give or take.  Baby #2 will arrive.

I can see the finish line…

Complete pics here.

Update: the green chaulky substance is actually calcimine paint, not lead paint. More difficult to remove but slightly less hazardous.

Wallpaper Removal

I needed a break from studying this afternoon so I decided to see what I was up against in the baby’s room regarding the wallpaper.  It’s a work in progress, but it looks like we’ve got several coats of paint on top of 3 different types of wallpaper on top of two coats of paint on top of the plaster.

So far I’ve been able to scrape most of the paint off pretty easily down to the wallpaper. From there, it’s a lot of warm water and scraping and the wallpaper comes off.  The plaster appears to be in pretty good shape but I won’t count my chickens til’ they hatch.

Wallpaper removal in the baby’s room

See more photos here.