Living Room Update

It’s been quite some time since we finished most of the work in our living room. And while there are always a handful of uncompleted items left on the checklist, the majority of work is done. So with that in mind, I thought I would provide a handful of before and after shots. For your viewing pleasure, here is the complete album.

Living Room – Day 1


Windows which were replaced and trim stripped.

Looking towards the dining room

Wallpaper removed. Pre wall repair and trim removal/stripping and staining. Essentially: pre-pain.

And the work begins. Notice the outline of the original fireplace mantel…that will be recreated and the tile replaced…eventually.

And some after shots. They are a bit dark, but you get the idea. The only view not included is the view looking into the dining room. I’ll post that once the dining room is presentable.

Stained Glass Window

How often do we begin and finish a project in a single day? Almost never around these parts but today was an anomaly: I was able to strip and stain an old stained glass window and get it hung. It fit just right.

Stained glass window.

Living Room Windows!

14 months after putting in new windows in the living room, I finally got the last of them stained this weekend! A before and after:



Notice that I slightly tweaked the window configuration to break up the lines a bit. All in all I’d say that’s a pretty good transformation. Full living room photo gallery is here.

Slowly But Surely, And Don’t Call Me Shirley

Progress around Portland FourSquare has slowed to a snail’s pace as of lately but I thought I would update with a few pics to let you know that not all hope is lost.

The living room isn’t quite done but we did make a monumental step in the right direction.  With the weather above 60 degrees on Saturday (finally), I got to stain one of the new windows we had installed.  With sashes removed, I was able to tape off all the hardware and glass.

Sash removed and ready for staining

First living room window that has been stained

It’s been awhile, but this room looked nothing like this before we started.  As a quick reminder, this is what we were dealing with:

Deconstruction begins

Applying first coat of mud after having repaired plaster

Walls painted and pre-trim installation

I’ve got 4 more windows to stain in this room which are all dependent on getting good weather for.  Once those are done, this room will be almost finished.  Can’t wait for the final unveil!  Here are the pics of the progress.


Admittedly I was a bit burnt out around New Years. Combined with the final push to open up Pilot Wealth, a man can only take so much sanding, pre-conditioning, staining and finishing. It looks great – don’t get me wrong, but I was (am) going through one of those classic home rehaber phases where you start to imagine evenings without house projects. Or weekends filled with…I don’t know…things that have nothing to do with your house.

But waxing poetic and pity parties won’t cause the dust cap above the base molding to magically finish and install itself. So what shall one do? That’s right: get distracted.

We got the new windows installed in the living room and dining room and they look outstanding! Did you know that you are actually supposed to be able to open double-hung windows? Who knew. I still have a little trim work to do on them but they look great. They do however highlight how crappy the old windows in the house look. But one step at a time.

The new Marvin's just installed

1st Floor Windows = Neat. 2nd Floor Windows = Not Neat.

With the windows out of the way and woodwork calling my name, I opted for some electrical work. After a quick visit to the Rejuvenation sale this past weekend I came away with a new fixture for our entryway. Check out the before and after! Hmmm….the paint looks a bit drab and the trim is awfully white…

The former first impression

A little bit of living room and a little bit of entryway

Since I was doing such a good job of ‘woodwork denial’ I continued on my lighting journey and finally replaced the fixture in the upstairs hallway.

There were 4 of these fixtures in our house originally


Minor change but seriously, that old fixture was bad. And you can see that even the hallway will be a huge project in itself one day.

With that completed, I must say that this house has quite the stories up it’s sleeves. I have now replaced 3 light fixtures in this house and found old gas pipes each time. Does anybody have any pictures of what these old lamps looked like that would have been here originally? It’s amazing that there are any houses still left from this vintage with all that gas throughout the house.

More gas piping.

I’ll probably get back to the living room this weekend: those final steps are the hardest. But I may just blow off the whole weekend and go for a bike ride and kick it with the family. Photos are here: Living Room, Entryway, Upstairs Hallway.

Sushi Restaurant Drinking Contest

You’ll probably get a crack out of this. I am actually sitting here having a beer resting after ‘one of those evenings’ on the house. I’m finishing up the main part of my baseboards (just stained and oiled the last pieces of the 1×8″ this afternoon). As I’m getting ready to apply the danish oil – I realize that I’m pretty much out. BUT – I do have a can of the exact same danish oil (same manufacturer, color, everything) that has got to be 20 years old. Being as I’m lazy and don’t want to go to the store, I decide to open it up. And it looks and works good…and smells like nasty fish oil. Whatever. Finish the trim. So I do, head out for dinner with the family and some friends tonight. And when we get home, it smells like 3 sushi restaurants got into a drinking contest and 2 of them lost and lost bad. The whole house smells horrible. So after moving all the drying trim to the porch in the freezing weather and throwing out all remnants of the fish oil fiasco, I am now attempting to cover up the odor with a beer. All in the name of good looking woodwork. 🙂

Oh, and GO DUCKS!

Happy (belated) Holidays

Happy belated Holiday’s from the Leshes!

We spent the last week or so with Kerri’s whole family in Montana and had a great time. The two day drive out from Portland was surprisingly easy and actually provided some quality time with just the four of us without to many distractions.

Kerri, Christopher and Jason playing in the snow

Kerri sledding

Christopher and Dad taking the dogs for a "run"

Christmas morning off the back deck

The combination of over-eating, sledding, epic pinnochle matches and some memorable Xbox Kinect moments proved to be just what the doctor ordered. There were 13 stockings hanging by the tree Christmas morning and we were fortunate to be surrounded by so many loved ones. Christopher and Aiden experienced no shortage of presents – that is for sure. Mom and Dad didn’t fair too bad either. Santa surprised Kerri with a new espresso machine and grinder while Dad received a nice air compressor and several finish nail guns – not sure if that’s a gift or a hint that the living room needs to be finished.

Aunt Kortnee and Uncle J stealing some smiles from Aiden

Concentrating so hard amidst the craziness

New espresso machine and grinder courtesy of my good friend Mark at Clive Coffee

We got home yesterday and it’s back to trying to wrap up the living room. I’m just finishing up the baseboard trim which involves adjusting all of the electrical outlets and then it’s just waiting on the new windows which should be installed this coming weekend.

Fitting the baseboards

We’ll be assembling a year-in-review in the coming days. Until then, see some more pictures of our Montana vacation or the living room project.

Deadlines? Pffftt

Finish the living room by Thanksgiving?  Of what year?

Living Room Window Trim Partially Installed

We are making progress though and it’s beginning to come together. We didn’t realize how tired and dirty the room looked prior to our efforts.

To the punch list:

  • Ceiling painted.
  • Trim detail in the ceiling that was too ambitious to strip has been painted.
  • Walls stripped, cleaned, repaired, taped, skimmed, sanded, primed and painted.
  • Original window and door trim has been stripped, repaired, sanded, and stained, and for the most part installed.

Corner window with partially installed trim.

The missing cap moulding and stop moulding are purchased care of McCoy Millwork and are currently in the basement being cut, assembled and stained. I couldn’t wait on staining and finishing these pieces so I temporarily installed the top case moulding to get a much needed pay off. You know, some reward for all the work? I can already tell that there will be a bit of artistry in blending new wood with old wood via the staining process. Any tips? So far I’m just thinking a couple extra coats of stain. The baseboards are still in need of being sanded and stained but they should go relatively fast compared to the 400 pieces for the windows and doors openings.

As with every project, we deviated slightly from our intended route. An ongoing conversation in our household has been stain color. With Aiden’s room, we went with a mahagony stain that looks great but bordered on slightly too dark. This time around we went with Minwax Red Mahogony Gel Stain and I think we found what we were looking for. With the danish oil for the finish it should gently age and darken over the years and be perfect.

Close up of window trim prior to oil finish

Windows are loosely scheduled to be here around December 16th – hopefully everything else will be wrapped up by then.  In the meantime, here are the pictures.

I hope the holidays have been treating you well!

Living Room Odds & Ends

We’re making progress. The walls are done and primed. The trim has been stripped. The windows have been ordered. It’s still a disaster but that’s progress, right? RIGHT?

Mudding the living room

After fixing the cracks and loose plaster, we ended up taping all the walls with a fiberglass mesh. The plaster was in pretty good shape but hopefully the fiberglass will prevent any future cracking (and yes, I know it’s total overkill but I had to do it at least once). Once cut and applied we set about mudding the walls. This was my first time mudding and it definitely took awhile to get used to but after applying 1/3 of the compound to the floor, I finally got the idea. We knocked off the ridges, gave it a second coat, and were able to sand that down to the smoothest wall I’ve ever seen in a 100 year old house.

I then set about stripping the window stools in place as if I had tried to remove them I’m pretty sure I would have cracked them into pieces.  With 100 years of hideous paint removed, Christopher and I then sanded them down.  They should look great!

Dad and Christopher sanding in the living room

We finally submitted our window order. We ended up choosing the Marvin Ultimate Insert. We were torn between the Marvin and the Milgard Wood Clad window. They were both great windows but the Douglas Fir Marvin was that much more period appropriate – we were even able to get them with ogee lugs on the top sash.  We opted for a two tone window on the outside with a different colored sash from the trim. The inside will of course be stained fir. After much debate, we decided to tweak the large middle window in the living room.  Instead of the typical, equally tall sashes, we went for the short top sash and tall bottom sash (oriel style?).  I think it will break up the huge expanse of windows nicely and add a little more flair (always need more pieces of flair).  The only drawback to awesome windows: the wait. Hopefully they’ll be installed by Christmas. Luckily we’ll be able to take advantage of the tax credit which equates to 30% credit on materials that qualify, up to $1500. Needless to say we will be utilizing the full credit.

The only known distraction left (that is planned) will be the addition of some some in-ceiling speakers. Thanks Bungalowcious for that inspiration.

I’ll begin sanding and staining the trim this week as well as purchasing some trim which was removed during some horrible late night party back in the 1950’s.  If I’m real ambitious, I’ll finish painting the ceiling…but I hate painting.  Especially ceilings.

Christopher wearing ear protection while Dad sands with the vacuum

Trim Removal and Wall Repair

We have removed all the trim in the living room which, as usual, turned into a little bit bigger of a project than anticipated.  There were times when I seriously thought the baseboard and window trim was a structural part of the house.  The original builders used what felt like a billion railroad spikes to affix the trim which made removal a little bit tedious.  And the 100 year-old, dry, straight grain fir is prone to splitting so I had to go slowly.  I then decided that since the trim was removed, I should just have it all dipped at Houck’s.  They’ll do a better job and the fact that the process includes bleaching will save me a ton of time and be a lot better.

About 1/3 of the living room trim removed

But with the trim off I of course slightly altered the scope of the project.  Originally I was going to strip the sashes and re-hang them.  But I got to thinking…always a dangerous thing to do.  And decided to replace the windows.  The question is where to stop (just the living room? first floor? entire house?).  Any suggestions on which manufacturer?  At the moment I have narrowed it down to either Marvin fir windows with aluminum cladding on the outside or Milgard Fiberglass windows with a fir laminate on the inside.  All are double hung, fold in for cleaning types.  I’ll be staining the inside so the wood is a must.  Thoughts?

With the trim off though, we have tackled the walls.  I was fortunate that early in the houses history somebody wallpapered the room and I was able to remove all the paint and wallpaper in one fell swoop that took all of 20 minutes.  It honestly peeled off so easily in huge sheets.  I guess that slightly made up for the previous wallpaper removal fiasco.

Wallpaper pulling off in huge sheets

Our friend Chris stopped by and we set about removing loose plaster and fixing cracks.  Tomorrow we’ll be taping the entire wall and doing several skim coats to make them strong and new.

Plaster repaired and ready for skim coat

As always, photo gallery here.