Beginning the Foyer

Been working on this project now for 3 years, maybe more?  I can’t remember at this point.  Sometimes I’ll start a project when Bill is happily woodworking on something and then it stays in limbo for several years while I do other stuff.  Since pulling down wallpaper in quarter size pieces takes a while, this project has been on the back burner.  Besides, the hallway looks slightly like old world antiquity this way and I don’t mind it, as long as it stays clutter free.

I’ll pick the work up once we’re back in the fall and Will is in school.  And also once the laundry room, dining room and front porch have their say.  It’s all about prioritizing in an old house like this, right?

But, here is what it looks like now.  Floors (soft pine) were redone back in 2012 and the piano was a good price from an auction.  The hardwood woodwork is ALL cherry and has been unpainted.  I clean and polish it from time to time.  It has wear, but still resonates beautifully.

The hallway has strange walls, with a slight texture surface.  As I’ve peeled back the wallpaper, I’ve discovered what appears to be original stenciling in a chocolate brown color.  The original paint appears to be a caramel color with multicolored sponging, but I cannot discern what was really happening there.  I’m going to try to recreate the stencil pattern, though.  Don’t want to lose that gem!

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Is the painting finished yet?

Putting up masking to repaint the ceiling

Technically, no.  Well, maybe.  Okay, I’m honestly not sure anymore.  We’ve repainted the walls and now the ceiling, so everything has about 4 coats of paint and at least one coat of primer.  It is our living room after all, so we’ve wanted it to look absolutely perfect and it has taken a while to get there.  We switched brands of paint as well as colors for the room in mid stride and ended up not liking the results.  So, after some debating a lot of test mixing, we finally found the right wall color and then Bill wanted to repaint the ceiling to a matte finish so that it looked smoother.  I can’t blame him, and yet it was just too much for me to think about.  I’m ready to be done already.  I think we’re honestly both tired of living in the dining room.  Not to mention, once this room is actually finished, it will be the first time in 2.5 years that we’ll live in the house in all the rooms.   Since we moved in back in July of 2009 we have yet to occupy all the rooms of the house and enjoy them all at once.  Once we move back into the living room, all ten rooms in the house will be used to their full capacity, and we’ll take a much needed break from plaster work.  Oh, there is plenty more to be done, but Bill is going to do some wood working and I”m going to paint for a while, maybe a long while.

The final choice of green

So, this is the living room at this point.  I haven’t yet decided if I really want to stencil this whole room.  I know, I know.  I have started creating a stencil for it and I’ve talked big about it, and now I’m changing my mind again.  The walls look really nice plain and I’ve picked out a ceiling stencil.  Thinking I might just hang art and pictures and let it go at that.  I’ve decided how to stencil the front hall and with a patterned rug, it might be enough. (I do realize that I owe you a stencil tutorial.)

We aren’t going to buy rugs for a while, though, considering that Will is enjoying the walker right now and the hardwood floor works well for him.  So, we rolled up the other rugs downstairs so he can maneuver room to room on his own.

The Christmas tree is planted squarely in our front window this year, a different spot than the previous two years.  It will be hard to decide the permanent place for the tree, but it seems to belong in this room for the long haul.  Now to place the furniture and think through how the baby will get around and what he’ll want to pull down or crumple.  Once everything is in place, I’ll post some completed photos and take you on a house tour as of where we are right now.  I just want to get all the plastic down and tools put away first.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Living Room Green

Dark Red, view into the front hall and front door

So, I mentioned in the last post that I was having trouble painting the correct color green on my walls.  Today, I’m mixing up the green to match the swatch I’ve chosen and I’ll sit with it in all kinds of light to decide.  I’ll paint a test swatch about 2 feet square to see what I think.  I’ve already chosen the stencil to go over the entire room, and I’m starting to make that today.  Instead of purchasing that stencil, I’m going to cut it myself from a pattern that I found in Victorian wall paper designs.  I’ve cut plenty of stencils before, but I’ve never made one that will need to last me a while.  This will need to be quite sturdy and accurate.  I’ll take pics of the process for you.

Current green

In the meantime, here are the before and after pics to show where we’ve been and where we are now.  The red in the room before made it a cozy winter color, but it really didn’t match the woodwork or my decor.  The green makes the room quite light, so I’ll need to find a way to “warm” it without darkening it too much.

The light has been cleaned and is ready to hang.  We think that it is pewter, as the metal is soft.  Bill is going to rewire it for safety.  It matches the dining room light except for the center pendant.  You can see a close up of that light from the previous post on the dining room.

The next steps for this room will include replacing the mantle, which has been refinished and building an extension to it to fit around the pellet stove.  Eventually we will refinish the floors and possibly the side door.  Maybe, way down the line we will put in cherry crown moulding.  Honestly, I’m surprised the house doesn’t have crown moulding in the formal rooms downstairs.  Hopefully, we can move in before Christmas.

Stenciled and Sanded, part 8

The first day's work of stenciling

Well, I’ve spent the last week working on the stenciling and I’m quite pleased.  The pattern is delicate and very Victorian, and the monochromatic palette is just perfect.  As the stencil is so delicate, I’ve had to work in small batches, only doing 5-8 patterns at a time.  I’ve only worked one wall completely, and I’m debating on doing more as I like the pattern so much and the rest of the fabrics will be solids (textures, but solids).

Bill is in favor of me doing the whole room, but it is exhausting work.  So for now, we’re starting with just the one wall.  We’ll see what January brings.

Huge belt sander

For his part, Bill has started the floor.  We rented a huge floor sander and he spent 8 hours sanding the previously painted floor with 4 different levels of sand paper.  One has to go in steps with sanding.  You start with the heaviest grade and go down slowly.  The grit on the initial sandpaper was like asphalt it was so heavy.  Neither of us could believe that it was what would be needed, but sure enough, once Bill used it, we couldn’t have gotten by without it.  I think that this room is truly the most difficult room in the house, due to all the plastering and sanding and wall removing we’ve had to do.  Other rooms should be smoother.  But, each comes with its challenges and cool discoveries.

Bill sanding away

Once the main part of the floor was sanded, Bill rented and edger to get close to the walls.  Unfortunately, this is a hands and knees sort of machine, but it tucks right in next to the woodwork.

The pine floors smell amazing during and after the process.  I can’t imagine how this house must have smelled when it was brand new.  This house would have smelled of fresh pine and waxed cherry woods (at least, that is what I imagine.)  Course, it could have smelled like coal and bad wallpaper paste.

Now that the edges are smooth, Bill rented a second push sander, a pad sander.  It was a newer machine and lighter “on its feet”, smoothing out any ridges that were left.  We will likely be able to do most of the house with just this sander, but we’ll see as we get into each room.  This is just our first test on the floors.  Bill worked tirelessly on Sunday finishing the corners with a hand sander and then cleaning the dust out of the room.  He was anxious to put our first coat of stain and oil on the floor.  The weather was warmer yesterday, so we could vent the room properly.  I didn’t go upstairs most of the day to avoid the fumes, but I peeked in on the room this morning.  It is stunning.  Bill is gifted and the original pine floors lend to a beautiful finish.  We’ll put on several more coats of oil to finish over the next week/two weeks.  Can’t wait to show you the final pics.

Floor sanded before edging completed