Front Hallway Demolition

The downstairs hallway project was started back in 2015, when I slowly began removing wallpaper.  It was only slow because it was adhered with straight adhesive on unprimed walls.  (Not because I like to work slowly.)  I spent about 25 hours two  weeks ago taking down wallpaper in the unfinished spots.  Plus at least 30 previous hours over the last several weeks and years.

I took down bits and pieces in two layers to get the full hall completely bare.  This is almost the last bit of wallpaper in the house.  (I love the eclectic paper in the kitchen cubby and I’m keeping it.)  Now that the paper is down, I can see raw horse hair plaster in some parts and what appears to be original paint in others.  Not to mention the original stencil border, which I love.

The next step is putting sheetrock on the ceiling.  We did this in a day, but plastering the seams and edges will take Bill a few weeks.  He can’t work on it everyday (you know, life), but it also takes several layers and dry time.

In the meantime, I have bond-primed the walls and Bill has applied the first layer of plaster on those. They will need a second coat of plaster, a second coat of sealing primer, and then at least two coats of paint.  The same with the ceilings.  It’s a long process.  I’ll purchase lights soon, probably to match the upstairs hallway.

And this work is only in the downstairs foyer hallway.  Upstairs hallway is a whole other process and a whole other post.

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!

Winter Work

Okay, it looks brighter in this photo than it really is.
Okay, it looks brighter in this photo than it really is.

We have been getting a few things done this winter, although I feel I truly should be hibernating with a large cup of tea and a book.  It has been ridiculously cold and snowy for most of us in the north east, and I’m complaining because I still have southern bones.  It is sort of strange to me when I walk outside in 40 degrees and think, “WOW, I don’t need a coat!”

Bill and I have gone our ways and worked on individual projects.  I have started taking down wallpaper in the guest bath and refinishing my hallway linen chest.  Bill has continued to work on his “closet” and organized his workshop for preparations on making a new bed for Will.  We have each spent numerous hours keeping our cabin fever at bay and helping our toddler do the same.  If we ever get warmed up again and get going outside, I’ll post more.

In the meantime, here is a shot of my linen chest.  It won’t be lined, but a good place to store some of my collection.

Starting on the Garage

Before the mudroom
Before the mudroom

Sometimes I’m truly surprised at how much time has passed since I’ve written; and yet, as I look back over the blog, it is a wonderful reminder of how much we have really done and how far we’ve come.  I’m loving that.  Course, with only 1 year and 4 months to go on our countdown, we better keep moving.  (That is the countdown my mom and husband put in place on how long it would take us to FINISH this house.)

I’m almost finished painting touchups in the mudroom and we still have to put in a handrail for the stairs.  Otherwise, it is in full use and much appreciated by us.  It is just one of those spaces that is so much cleaner and brighter now.  You can see our before and after.  😉

We are savoring our weekends and greatly enjoying this weather outside, although it is a touch hot for my northern boys.  However, Bill spent a week up here on his own while I traveled south to visit family and he used the time to scrape the garage.  We didn’t have it painted when we originally had the house done as there was no reason to for our mortgage, and we wanted to save some money.  So, now that we’ve done quite a bit on the house, we thought it is time to catch up the garage.

The completed mudroom
The completed mudroom

If we hired outside contractors at this point, we would end up paying a lot as the lead removal laws in NY are stricter now than they were 4 years ago.  So taking this on ourselves is both messy and, well, messy.  The lead doesn’t come off in quick strips like smooth latex paint.  Instead, it really chips and falls heavy.  Bill power washed the garage, scraped and sanded while I was away for a week.  We’ll have to vacuum the ground and try to scoop out the topsoil with some paint in it, but at least we’ll never have to do it again.

Once painted with a primer and top coat, we’ll need to attack the cement or plaster bricks that are the foundation.  Some are completely hollow and others need serious repair.  It will mean coating them all with a mortar-paint and filling many of them.  Then, we have to consider a new floor inside the garage and repairing all the windows.  We still need to empty the garage attic.  That will be a whole post unto itself as who knows what is still up there.  I could stand up there, too, if I so chose, but the floor is unstable.  Eventually, it will make a super fort for Will.

the garage, waiting for a paint job
the garage, waiting for a paint job

Lots of work and expense to be done on the garage and that doesn’t even include resurfacing the drive.  At some point soon, we need to recoat the asphalt drive.  The snow and ice are hard on the roads and drives here, so this is a priority, too.  So much to do!  The summer posts will be full of more outside work and inside detail — stay tuned!

Our weekends

the raspberries I planted last year
the raspberries I planted last year

Each weekend we get a little more done.  Sometimes it is mainly yard work, which over the past 4 summers has turned into more and more prolific flowers and well, the same amount of weeds.  🙂  But our lilacs are unreal this summer.  Sometimes, though, we get a few more bits done inside and out, amongst raising toddler Will and middle-age Heidi.

This past weekend we hung  a new storm door on the side, and I planted hyacinths and phlox.  It isn’t much, but those little changes add up a lot.  Our home is becoming more and more comfy and family-like.

My sister asked me recently what we are going to do next.  Well, honestly, I don’t think well tackle any large projects.  We’re saving money after buying another new vehicle this spring, and I’d like a bit of travel this year, too. So we are conquering smaller things.  We’ll paint more and adjust more.  We might scrape down the garage and resurface the drive.  We’ve discussed putting in a carport and even a shower in the downstairs bath.  But I’m just not sure.

my hosta garden on the south side in the shade
my hosta garden on the south side in the shade

Recently we had the house appraised for a refinance.  Unfortunately, the appraiser said the house was worth about $140K, which feels low to us.  He also said that it only matters how many heated square feet we have and how many baths and bedrooms.  He said it didn’t matter that we had the exterior painted or the floors redone.  It didn’t matter that we’ve put in all we’ve done, it only matters how much square footage we have.  He even said that a kitchen is just a kitchen and that a $100K kitchen is the same as what we have.  ?????  So, I’m pretty discouraged about putting any money into our house.

But at least we’re making it nicer for ourselves at this point.  So, that is why I’m gardening and doing smaller things.  The refinance will likely go through at the end of the month and give a few more dollars per month to put towards things that do matter — like ice cream. 😉

Mudroom is complete

Painting -- of course I chose green.  Lighter than the other rooms, though.
Painting — of course I chose green. Lighter than the other rooms, though.

We’ve finally finished the mudroom, or side entrance.  Well, sort of.  Bill has done everything in this room except just a bit of the painting.  I have done very little except pick out the lights and color.  His work is extraordinary, I think.

I chose to paint it green to keep the house in theme.  All of the hallways will eventually be green as well with the white trim where appropriate and the cherry downstairs.  As you can see, Bill installed an additional top light so that the entrance would be brighter.  I chose these cool wire and glass pendants.

The tile was a no brainer for us.  We both knew what we wanted separately and I think the finished floor is so worth it.  If we ever do another bathroom, we’ll use the same tile.  It reeks of old house, doesn’t it?

We have a bit of paint to touch up and the grout the floor, but otherwise, it is complete and we’re using it.  I will likely repaint the door to the basement something to match the entrance and formalize it a bit.  The purchased baskets match the other baskets I have throughout the house, in almost every room.  I’m a big basket for storage kind of person and have found them both practical and long lasting.

Finished Mudroom
Finished Mudroom

Update on the “Mudroom”

From the top of the stairs
From the top of the stairs

I love that Bill calls this our mudroom, primarily because it will end up looking and being so much more formal than a typical mudroom.  Our house calls for fancy, being a Queen Anne Victorian and Bill is such a perfectionist in his woodworking that it can’t be anything less.  But, it will still be the side entrance, the shoe drop off and the coat hangout.

Since Bill has little time to write and actually tell you what he is doing in the area, I thought it was time for me to upload some photos of his work and he can fill you in the next time he gets to write about it all.

It has been primed now, waiting for final caulking before the paint layers.  I don’t plan on doing stenciling in here, but that is only because I’m so behind on stenciling the rest of the house.  (I haven’t even begun to finish our bedroom that I started 2 years ago.)

It might be a while before Bill writes again, but we plan on tiling this floor and hanging some glass lighting.  Bill has also added a door that is at the top of the stairs to the basement, which you can’t see from these photos.  He found an old door wide enough in the basement to use and hung it this past weekend.  We hope to be finished in another month and then on to the next thing!

Note the new paneling up the stairs. . . yeah, Bill rocks.