2nd Floor Bedroom #s 1 & 2 Essentially Done

Bedroom #1 is done with the exception of the closet.  After further analysis it appears the best way to finish the underside of the stairs in the closet is to drywall them.  That will be fussy work and will take awhile so have put it off for now.  It turns out the bedroom walls only needed 1 coat of paint which was a welcome surprise.

The armoire (or chifferobe) was acquired during our recent mini-vacation.  I hope to find another like it for the 3rd small bedroom (that does not have a closet).

The 2nd bedroom (a.k.a. the throne room given the raised shower/toilet room) was easier than the 1st bedroom in that the wall paper came off a lot easier (except for one wall).  The plaster was more rough in most places and apparently was painted blue – including the ceiling.


The shower and toilet are located behind the door to the right of the small vanity.

There was only one place where I needed to patch in drywall board.  There were many places where cracks and rough spots needed to be patched with drywall mud.  Given how rough the ceiling and walls were I decided to skim-coat everything with drywall mud to smooth them out.  It took about 2 days to skim-coat and 1 day to sand.  The arms were very tired at the end of the 3rd day.

This closet also needs to be done but should be a lot easier than the one in the 1st bedroom.  All the bedroom floors are hardwood (not sure yet about the floors in the kitchenette). I plan to re-finish them later this spring when I can do several rooms at a time.  So we now have 2 guest rooms ready for use.




2nd Floor – Bedroom #1

So the drywall sander arrived.  It is easy to use and certainly makes the job go faster.  It collects some dust but a lot of it still gets everywhere.  I now wear a scarf to keep it out of my hair.  The room has plastic over the hall door so most of the dust is staying in the room.  It probably took 6 – 8 hours (over 2 days) to sand the ceiling and the walls.  The sander weighs about 8 pounds so the arms still got a good work out.  The ceiling and walls have all been patched.  Most of the crumbly plaster was along the edges of the wood work.  The walls have been skim coated with dry wall mud to smooth out the plaster and the ceiling now has one coat of paint – it will need a second coat.

The closet was a project unto itself.  The prior owners had wallpapered over the underside of the stairs (which go up to the attic).

The left wall is plaster; the right wall is some type of raw lumber.  The electricians are coming back Wednesday as the light and the switch are not installed correctly.  Drywall has been installed on the underside of the stairs and on the right wall.  It has been tacked up on the left wall but can be unscrewed to re-install the switch (which is currently attached to the door frame vs. in the wall).

I had to get creative with all body parts to hold the drywall on the underside of the stairs in place while I screwed it.  Where there’s a will there’s a way.

So now the walls need a very light sanding – should go quickly.  Then they and the wood work will need to be cleaned.  Then all the trim needs to be caulked and painted then the walls can be painted.  I’m expecting they will need 2 coats of paint.


Cellar door and Bedroom #1 on 2nd Floor

Our friend Bobby offered to help fabricate the cellar door and include a door opener that holds open the heavy door.

So now the access to the cellar is finished (except for the painting).

Work has now begun on the 2nd floor.  The first room to get tackled is the larger (15×15) of the 3 bedrooms.  Here are some pictures before work began:

I think there were 4 or 5 layers of wallpaper on the walls and 3 or 4 layers on the ceiling.  Plaster was beneath all the wallpaper.  Here are some pics after the wallpaper was removed:

Most of the plaster is in decent shape – with a couple of notable exceptions.  As you can see, a stove pipe opening was simply covered over with wall paper.  I could feed a draft so stuffed it with insulation.  The plaster around it was very crumbly and had to be removed.    Here is the stovepipe after the plaster was removed and after drywall and one coat of mud was applied:

I think the tube behind the stovepipe opening is clay and is about 6″ deep.  About a year ago I learned a trick from one of our handymen for how to install drywall patches without having to screw them in place.  Two more coats of mud will smooth out the patch.  I’m going to put a skim coat of mud over all the surfaces to smooth them out.  To minimize the dust and strain on the body I ordered a powered drywall sander with vacuum.  We’ll see how well it contains the dust.


Back stoop, shade garden, and basement access

We have not had any rain for a few weeks but are expecting showers from Rainstorm Nate so I wanted to get the back stoop finished.

Here is the before:


There were 2 badly worn colors – a royal blue and a medium blue gray color.  One board was badly warped so it was replaced.  I found a stain product that will cover paint and hold up to weather far better than paint.  So after the standard scrapping, sanding, and cleaning process I tried out the stain.  Sure enough, it covers paint.  I had it tinted the same color as the foundation.  These steps take a real beating when we get heavy rain.  The water comes down from the upper roofs and from the screened porch roof then flies over the rain gutter like a fire hose and lands on the steps.  So this will be a real test for how good this product really is.

Also was able to plant a shade garden in front of the front porch.   Before it was a weedy grassy mess with tree roots running through it.  It never looked good and was right in front of the house.  So after digging through hard soil and fighting with the roots, the plants got planted.


The Liriopes in the back will spread to fill in the area in front of the railing.  Two of the front plants are called Leten Roses and bloom in winter – never had a plant do that before so am looking forward to the treat.

The electricians have been here on and off for the past few months and are finished with all planned work (that I can think of).  All floors are officially re-wired – from the attic to the cellar.   We had lights and electrical outlets installed in the cellar so I can do wood work there instead of outside (or on the front porch).  Until yesterday the only access to the cellar was from the outside which is ok unless you want to go down there in the evening.  So we re-opened the cellar access off the kitchen.  The floor was boarded up when the prior owners installed a heat pump and placed the cold air return in that staircase (essentially making it a closet).  We had the floor cut open along the side which is just big enough to get down the stairs.


The beadboard was covered with paper but will clean up nicely with a coat of paint (or 2).  The floor had linoleum over it so will need to clean that up and finish it the same as the hall floor.  So when I need a change of pace will work on cleaning up the cellar and installing peg board etc. for a workshop.  Currently all the tools are located in the exercise room off the master bedroom – it will be nice to have them arranged appropriately in a workshop.

So next week work will resume on removing wallpaper from the 2nd floor rooms (walls and ceilings).


Exterior Painting

A couple of weeks ago the exterior trim for the remaining 10 windows on the 1st floor was painted.  The trim for the attic windows still needs to be painted but that will wait until the electricians clear out of the attic (currently wiring the 2nd floor).  The weather has been very dry so have been able to get a good start on painting the foundation (which consists of masonary block, stone, and brick).

A couple of before shots:

And after:

Still need to install vinyl lattice under the front porch railing.  Next spring we’ll plant some drought tolerant shrubs on each side of the lonely boxwood.  We’re not quite sure what this back stoop was used for but the steps and railing will require major sanding before they can also be painted.



Back Porch Finished!

Earlier in the week I was able to get the second coat of paint on the outside lower frame before it started to rain.  On the rainy day the small entrance between the porch and the kitchen got cleaned and painted (white).  It was very dirty so just the cleaning made an improvement.  The floor is cement and still needs to be painted the same peppery red color as the porch floor.

Today Dan helped to install the lattice panels on the lower outside porch frame.   Here is a before picture.  Ignore the Dave’s Lawn Care sign – that was posted on our property without our permission.  We do our own lawn.


And here are some after pictures – see if you can find Dan:

There are 2 gates that make it easy to store things under the porch – like the lawn sweeper.  Dan re-sized one gate so it would close completely.

The next project is to finish painting some exterior window trim then paint the foundation


Back Porch

We finished installing the lattice on the interior of the porch (still need to install it on the outside porch ‘skirt’).  In addition to Jazzy proofing the screen, it provides for some nice privacy.



These pictures provide a nice before and after look.  The outside treads of the steps have sand mixed in the paint so they will not be slippery when wet.

The screen door that was on this porch was functional (albeit very dirty with torn screens) and boring (see above).  I had removed a charming one from one of the front porch doors as we don’t use the door and the screen door was in need of refurbishing.


This screen was in relatively decent shape but the back side of the spindles could not be painted without removing the screen.  So off came the screen and then the door underwent the standard scraping, sanding, and painting process.  Putting the new screen on was fairly easy.  Hanging the door was far more complicated.  Never would have guessed that screen doors can be so tempermental.  After several adjustments and some help from a friend the door now hangs straight (with the help of a turnbuckle – new to me) and closes completely (with the help of a door closer).  The space above the door is an odd shape so that had to be framed and screened as well.


We even installed a doggy door so Jazz can let herself in and out.  After a lot of research it became apparent we were not going to buy something that would work with this door.  So while at True Value (a favorite store) picking up some brads I asked one of the employees if he had any ideas.  After discussing a few options he suggested plexiglass.  So thats’ what we did.  It is located on the lower right side and is hung with a piano hinge.  It is difficult to tell the door is there so we taped off the left side and bribed Jazz in and out of the right side with some doggie treats.  She has it figured out.

Today the lower outside frame received the first coat of paint.  It will get a second coat before the lattice panels get cut and installed.




Porch Screens

Today our good friends Bobby and Karen came over to help install the screens.  We had a good time and made excellent progress.

Sometimes we had to over-load the ladder (at least according to the warnings on the ladder) and sometimes we needed to prop up the ladder but we managed to reach all the hard to get to places.  All the screening has been installed and most of the lattice strips have been installed (all the strips running across the upper edge and most of the remaining vertical strips are installed).

The screen is fine and is some type of fabric (perhaps nylon?) vs. metal.  The see-thru factor is great but we had some concerns as to how well it would hold up to Jazz chasing down flies.  After all the work that went into putting up the screen and making it look nice we did not want to risk having her put holes in it so Bobby suggested we install lattice panels on the inside to protect it.


We installed one panel and like how it looks so will install lattice on the remaining sides later in the week.

So we are screened in minus the door (which is a small project unto itself).  And the framing around the outside base of the porch still needs to be painted before the lattice panels get installed there.  Thank you Bobby and Karen for all the help!


Porch Floor

The rest of the porch received its 3rd coat of white paint on the frame this morning.   It’s a good thing the frame is done because I’m tired of painting spindles/framing.  I was anxious to see how the peppery red paint would look on the floor so the first coat was applied today.  It’s not exactly the color I was hoping for but it’s close enough.  Tomorrow the second coat will go on and then on Monday we’ll install the screens.


Back Porch Progress

The filthy screens and blue rug have been removed and the wood framing has been pressure washed.  That alone was an improvement.  Our friend Bobby brought over his sawzall and removed the extra window/decorative frames built into the framing (see 2nd picture – not sure why they were there).  The gable was too tall to reach with just the 10′ ladder so Dan held the extension ladder while I painted it (2 coats).  I had forgotten there was only one coat of yellow paint on the inside porch wall so a second coat of paint was applied while our friend Karen (Bobby’s wife) painted a second coat on the frame.


It takes 3 coats of white paint to cover the blue.  The framing on the right has 3 coats; the other 2 walls have 2 coats and the stair frame only has 1 coat.  The remaining coats should be done by Friday and then it will be time to paint the floor the peppery red.  Karen and Bobby have offered to help install the screen so sometime next week we’ll have a screen installation day.