13 months later…

Progress in the dining room – I kid you not! Ironically enough, it was not the guilt, mess, or embarrassment that kicked this room reno into motion (okay, maybe a little bit). It was installing our beautiful Nest thermostat on the ugly wall and knowing we could do better.

With motivation in hand, I started at the top by cleaning and painting the box beams. As much as I would love to strip them and stain them – that is a project that I will hire out at a later date. Painting them (and painting them well) was enough of a project in and of itself. With the ceiling taken care of, it was time to finish up the walls.

As you may recall, I removed wallpaper, repaired some cracks, and then fiberglassed and skim coated the whole room. Well, let’s just say that sanding that down to perfection (and the prep and the clean up) is a messy job.

I’m obviously stoked about sealing off the room and the impending mess I’m about to make.

This photo does not do me justice. I was COVERED in dust! Maybe I’ll just wallpaper every room from here on out.

Walls sanded and primed.

All of the original remaining trim has been stripped, sanded, and stained while I added back header caps and stops to all the windows and doors.

Door and window trim ready to be installed.

Staining in progress.

The walls have been primed but the final wall color is still undecided…any ideas? We’re leaning towards either a green or chocolatey beige or cream or I don’t know. Remember, the bottom half (or 60%) of the walls will be covered in stained wood paneling topped by a plate rail.

Half of our color options. Creamy earth tones not shown here. Ugh.

We’re getting close! Complete room photo gallery is here.

Wall Prep, Inspiration, and More Paint Stripping

What did I get myself into?!? With wallpaper and trim removed, I decided it would be best to do this right…unfortunately. Instead of renovating the dining room back to its’ original glory in multiple phases, I’ve decided to do it in one long, drawn out phase. Skim coat the walls, wood paneling/wainscoting, plate rail: here we come.

With that in mind, I fiberglassed the part of the wall that will be visible above the paneling and have begun skimming it. Being that my day job is not skim coating walls, this is not the quickest of steps (nor the cleanest) but I will prevail.

Just fiberglassed the walls and first skim coat. And unsure if I want to be in a picture depicting my skim skills.

In between coats, I have begun to strip the existing trim. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to reuse most of the wood, although a fair number of pieces are not original and may not jive with the next iteration of the room. Plus, I’ll be buying a ton of new fir, but we’ll salvage what we can.

Stripping the old dining room trim.

In an effort to figure out what the original trim detail looked like, I’ve been visiting a few of my neighbors. A kind couple two doors down from me allowed me to scour their living room with notepad and camera in hand and I can guarantee you that my house was built by the exact same builder.  Some pictures of what we used to have…

Side profile of neighbor's paneling.

Neighbor's panel molding detail.

Neighbor's corner transition.

The neighbor's built-in and probably very similar to what we used to have.

After much deliberation, I believe I am beginning to settle on a layout and method to my version of the paneling. It will be a bit of a blend between what used to be in the room and what I have found in doing some research. The bloggers over at ‘Is It A House‘ have done some great woodworking and I’ll be borrowing heavily from their techniques. The combination of pocket screws and routing out the back for the panels is clutch. They also did a great job of finishing it as well…one day…one day.

A New Year, A New Project

It was the day before the Rose Bowl and I had a lot of pent up stress and had to channel it into something productive. So much to the chagrin of my wonderful bride, I decided to tackle the dining room. Admittedly it was a bit unplanned. But I also know that if I actually thought about how much work a room renovation really is I would never do it. So furniture was moved, plastic was placed, and the dining room rehab has begun.

Dining room sheathed in ominous plastic.

Dining room prior to a mess.

After wallpaper removal.

Evidence of wainscotting & plate rail as well as original size of the original built-in.

Evidence that there used to be a high window in the middle of the bump out (just like my neighbors house across the street).

As you can see, the wallpaper removal was, by all accounts, pretty easy. I have been peaking around at small details in this room for some time and, combined with looking at a few of my neighbors houses, had developed a pretty good idea of what the room was like originally. But I must say that upon confirming my suspicions, it definitely put me in a bad mood. To know that somebody purposefully went through the entire room and removed the stained wood paneling and plate rail along with a great window just hurt my soul. They did the same in the adjoining ‘music room’ as well. What were they thinking?!?!? And to remove the original built-in cabinet and replace it with a smaller 1950’s piece of garbage? Ugh.

The key word for this project is STAGES. Initially I will fix up the plaster and get it primed. I haven’t decided yet if I should skim the walls or not. For now, I am going put a fresh coat of paint on the box beams until some other point down the road I will hire somebody to strip them back to their original glory. The window and door trim all needs to be stripped and stained while adding in a few pieces that had been removed back during the first ‘remodel.’  I haven’t decided yet if the wainscoting/plate rail will be added back now or in stage 2 but it is definitely coming back. If anybody has some suggestions on the best method of building paneled wainscot/plate rail system then let me know. Also, a good place to source material here in Portland would help. I have my ideas but I’d appreciate your input.

I’ve uploaded a new photo set to document the progress. Wish me luck and Happy New Years!

The Accidental Epic Project

Our oldest son Christopher will be turning 4 here in a couple of days and I thought it best that he finally get a room with a little character. Just like nearly every other room in our house, his room was covered with painted wallpaper. I am of the opinion that painted wallpaper is just about the most egregious sin one can impart on a house (besides painting original woodwork and installing a drop ceiling in the kitchen). Painted wallpaper is bad house karma.

But I am also a realistic man. And having removed painted-over-wallpaper before in my son Aiden’s room, I knew what I would be up against and (forgive me Lord) decided I would paint over the wallpaper. After all, Christopher wouldn’t know and I would eventually get around to doing it right in a few years.

So with the plan in hand, I set about removing the picture molding as I decided I would at least strip it and stain it…and my plan veered off course. As I removed the molding, I accidentally began to pull layers of paint and layers of wallpaper off with it. And hence began the epic room project under a short deadline that I had not planned on.

The beginning

Wallpaper removal has begun

Two walls down to plaster and calcimine paint

Walls primed with shellac

First coat of paint on the walls

Found these names written on the original wallpaper underneath layers of paint. Would love to know the story that goes with this.

I still have quite a way to go but we are making progress. It is my intention to strip the two doors, picture molding, as well as window trim and then stain them all.  But before we get around to that, we first need to get the base molding painted and walls buttoned up. After all, his birthday is Friday. This might be a belated present…

Complete pics here.

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.