Dining Room

Winter, 2009-10


This colonnade convinced me to buy the house; actually, I guess it changed my viewpoint from "Why should I buy this house?" to "Give me a good reason not to!"

This was the only room in the house with a recently refinished floor. Lovely, isn't it? Good 2" rock maple. The living room and entry were covered with wall-to-wall blue pile, which was removed just hours after the house closed, revealing the same maple flooring. The kitchen floor is covered with mastic (from an ages-old linoleum that was ripped out) and then carpeted with an institutional grey rug. Really looking forward to that one.

What you can't see is the badly cracked and displaced plaster ceiling, covered with --you guessed it-- popcorn textured paint [insert primal scream here]. After clearing out the room, the popcorn came down and the ceiling was repaired and repainted.
Texture Ceiling Cleaning up
You also can't see the floor-to-ceiling heating duct in the far right corner installed on the outside of the wall (but you can see it here on the right; it's that grey thing to the left in the picture -->). Obviously, the heating system was retrofitted, and not well. There is a similar arrangement in the living room. I haven't quite decided how to deal with this yet, but I'm certain that foul language will be involved. Heating Duct

Once the holes in the walls were repaired, the ceiling smoothed out, and the woodwork stripped, it finally became time to start putting things back together.
Wall Repair North Wall
The casings and baseboards got the same cherry stain as the living room, and about 75 pounds of new wood was brought in and acclimated for two weeks before getting a similar stain treatment. Crown moulding, chair rail, and base cap, and it all had to be coped: without a prayer of finding a square, plumb, or level corner in this house, there really was no other option, and you just can't argue with the results. Have I ever mentioned how much fun coping is, by the way?
There's probably a good reason for that.
Basecap coping Chair Rail - Profile
Baseboard with cap 90-year-old baseboard, 90-minute-old base cap. I cannot imagine why no one ever put base cap in this room before. It's the dining room, for crying out loud: it has butterfly door- and window-casings, bull's-eye rosettes, a fifteen-light french door on one end and a colonnade on the other, but they just put in a plain old 1-by-8 piece of yellow pine for the baseboard?


The chair rail is finally installed. This proved to be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated. First, the floor dips as it runs from the north wall to the center of the house. This is not surprising, given the age of the house and the fact that all the joists are over-spanned for their girth. The end result is that mounting the chair rail was not a simple process of measuring 39" up from the floor and pounding nails. Chair rail
We had to find a good relative height and then use levels (and I do mean the plural: laser, 4', 2', and torpedo) to run the chair rail around the room at a consistent height. The other little fly in the ointment was the number of portals: there are two doors, two windows, and one 65"-wide colonnade interrupting the path. Ever try to maintain level across so many voids? It's really, really fun.
Next, on to the crown. I was not at all looking forward to the compound coping this would require, but I thought I could get a jump on it by doing the bit over the colonnade: I was going to cope the pieces that would come to meet it, so that meant I could just cut the ends of this one at 90° and nail it home, right? Three hours later, I was glad to still have my sanity! What I didn't realize was that there was a dip in the ceiling in the middle of the run. The crown wasn't going to bend, so, in order to compensate, I had to make two compound cuts and assemble three pieces of moulding to complete a single, 10-foot section. If I had intended to paint this crown, I could get it close enough and use wood filler to cover any fitting issues but, no, this is stained crown: it has to be cut as close to perfect as possible. Crikey. At this rate, I'll be lucky to finish by summer!
The really bad news, however, was that I also figured out I was one wall short of crown moulding. That means I have to buy another 13' length, acclimate it, sand, stain, yadda, yadda. Well, there's no way I'm going to let that little miscalculation slow me down, so it's on to the wallpaper!
North Wall - Paper
Now that the room is wallpapered, I have to get back to that pesky heating duct I mentioned earlier; I can't move forward with the crown moulding without addressing this nagging problem. Building the box itself isn't really that hard (though scribing it to the wall was about as fun as a root canal). The trick is how to secure it to the wall without visible fasteners. I never truly solved this problem in the living room... the structure itself kinda holds it in place, but it wasn't the solution I was looking for. Finally, I was reminded, "Don't you have that pocket hole thingy?" Genius. Pure genius. Using the Kreg tool I had bought for fastening furniture face frames, I was able to screw the open edges of the box (or half-box, since it's really only two sides) directly into the wall. Fill the holes on the box, and it's perfect! Duct Box 2
Well, an unfortunate bike accident has put a complete stop to the final bits of this room: I just can't install the last pieces of crown molding with a broken collarbone. Not wanting to live the next six weeks in disarray (and being absolutely no good at sitting still and just looking at it) I decided to put the room together as much as possible. This, of course, led to shopping: curtains, sheers, rods, rug, table linens... the credit card took another hit (as if the doctor bills weren't enough to the make the creditors happy!) but the fabrics really make the room, no?