Living Room

Winter, 2008-9


I have two words for you: Soy-Gel After the toxic waste dump experience of stripping the stairwell's woodwork, we decided to try something different. Expensive? Yup. But also all-natural, non-toxic, odor-free, and made in the USA. No more desperate races out the door for fresh air, no more light-headedness or worry about the fur-persons. Yet it works as well as, if not better than, the toxic sludge we'd used before. A literal breath of fresh air that allowed us to work longer on the project at hand.

Colonnade NE Corner
And so it begins: the wallpaper is removed and the colonnade has had one coat of stripper. The dark woodwork on the far wall (below) displays the extent to which lacquer and poly darkened over 90 years on simple yellow pine.
East Wall
There has been a fair amount of repair on this wall, where there was once another woodstove and a pipe going through the wall to the chimney. Repairs will be necessary here, but the walls are in much better shape than I expected. Wallpaper, of course, can hide a world of sins, but paint, not so much. Cracks, dents, holes... it would all show through, so the walls had to be as smooth and clear as possible. Experience elsewhere in the house led me to believe this could be a nightmare, but the cracks were few and none displaced.

Column Finish Breaks The pooling of the original finish can be seen here on one of the columns. I'm guessing someone sprayed a layer of poly over the original lacquer finish, causing this separation and pooling.
The preliminary wall repairs have been done, followed by a coat of primer, tinted so I can see missed spots and touch-ups. Yes, yes... the tres chic window covering is a temporary device! SW Corner
Here we have the first coat of paint and the first coat of stain on the colonnade. It seems to be going well, but I don't know what can be done to disguise the vinyl windows... not that they're terribly effective double-pane windows, but it seems we're stuck with them for now.
LivingRoom4 LivingRoom5
While everything else seems to be going well, there remains the little issue of the heat vent. Central heat was not, apparently, part of the original house plan, and the retrofit lacked any sort of effectiveness or grace. The heating system is not only poorly installed (running to the second floor on the outside of the walls), but done backwards: the heat enters via the core of the house and the cold air returns are by the windows. Clearly, rocket scientists were at work here. So until I come up with the scratch to install a new forced hot water system, what do I do about this lovely focal point in the corner of the room?
Heating Vent Finished Shelves
The answer was a brilliant design hatched by a friend: floating shelves. No sidewall to get in the way, no additional mass in an already-cumberous corner; just petite and elegant functionality. Deeper shelves are planned for the second step, but we'll take a breather for now.

Floor Before Floor Finished
And then, of course, there was the floor. Originally covered with dark blue wall-to-wall carpeting, the task of ripping out that hideously stained, smelly carpet was literally torn into within hours of the house closing. This revealed what had once been a beautiful rock maple floor. What we found was abused, neglected, stained, and needy. The drywall compound that fell to the floor when the foyer ceiling was first replaced was never cleaned... it was just carpeted over. In the middle of the floor was a suspicious unfinished area; it looked as if the floor had been finished by lifting up the edges of an area rug, brushing from there to the wall, and dropping the rug back down. I've since been informed it was a linoleum rug, like the one in the bedroom, but the effect remains. One rental sander and three coats of poly later, things were looking much better.
Finally, the rest of the room starts falling into place, and it's starting to feel like home again.
Media Cabinet 5
Living Room Rug