Archive for the ‘Living Room’ Category

Many months ago, I painted the first of two bookcases white.  I got them from a colleague when he moved, and I planned to paint them and put them in the living room.  I promptly sanded both, primed/painted one, and decided I hated the project.  Not the outcome–I liked that–but the actual doing of the project.  It was annoying to do so many coats, and it was uncomfortable work reaching into the corners.  There wasn’t a great place in the house to do it, either (i.e., well lit, spacious, and not requiring me to drag a bookcase up and down stairs).  And so, once I finished the first one, there we sat like this for more months than I will count for you:

In fact, I disliked the project so much that <confession alert> the shelves in the above pic were actually only primed.  Christmas was coming, I ran out of time, so I slapped them up for the holidays with just primer on them, all “oh, I’ll paint them in January when things die down!”  Yep.  Two or three Januarys later… ahem.

Anyway, this spring I finally got myself in gear to finish things up, and I enjoyed measurable success.  To wit:

DSC_0160Ta-da!  I promise, all the shelves are actually painted now.  I even ordered new hinges and pulls for the doors for the lower portions.  But after I finished the bookcases themselves, I got involved in painting the front door purple, and then painting a bunch of trim in the house white, and I still haven’t primed or painted the doors to the bottoms.  You can see them leaning against the wall and against the piano.  I think I deserve maybe 85% credit here?  Maybe 90%  Roughly a B?

I would tell you I’ll definitely have those doors on by Christmas 2014, but I don’t like lying.  So I’ll just say I hope to have the doors on by Christmas 2014.  In the meantime, I’m enjoying the product of my baby steps!



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The crown molding project is finished!  It’s painted, the rooms are back together, and it came out great:

It’s very exciting.

Also exciting:

Daffodils.  Happy first day of spring!  I can’t wait til we see these outside, and not just ACS’ Daffodil Days!

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Ever since we redid the dining room, and ripped out the dark stained oak quarter round “crown molding,” the top of the dining room has looked a little naked.  Not that we missed the quarter round, but chair rail and baseboard molding with no crown looked a little bottom heavy.  So this weekend we installed new 2-5/8″ crown molding not only in the dining room, but also in the adjoining living room.

In any event, I always thought it was sort of funny when real estate listings included “crown molding” in the same list of bullet points as… central air, dishwasher, attached garage, wood burning fireplace, that sort of thing.  It’s just a piece of oak, pine, composite, or whatever, right?

I think I get it now.

The first order of business was getting them home.

We bought 16 foot lengths, so that only two of the walls would need joints (the long living room walls are 18′ and change).  They rode home plastic wrapped together in a bundle and strapped to the Forester roof racks, overhanging the car on both ends.  More than the usual amount of luck was involved in getting them home in one piece.

Instead of doing mitered corners, one end of each piece was coped and filed to lay against the piece that would be behind it.  This is clearly above and beyond what I’d have been able to do, but we had woodworking assistance in for the weekend (thanks dad!) and with that, (almost) all things are possible.

Blue painter’s tape marked the studs to place the nails:

We also used Liquid Nails on the edge along the walls, so that we’d be sure that the house could someday fall down, but the rectangles of crown molding would remain.

Much to their chagrin, Chip & Guinness weren’t invited to the crown molding installation party.

Next up came the caulking:  Sherwin Williams’ Sher-Max for the lifetime guarantee.  Cracking caulk on molding is no fun later.

From a distance, it looks pretty great!  Up close too, although the need for paint over the primer becomes a little more obvious:

Then it was onward to repeat in the living room.  There were a few challenges there that made it more difficult than the dining room.  The walls weren’t quite as true, opposite ends of the room were 2″ off of being symmetrical, and with 18′ walls, we had two joints to do.  The wall over the bay window was a little bowed, too, so everything took a few more hands.By Sunday morning, it all came together, and we had all 8 walls done.  Once they’re painted, the joints should fade away quite nicely.

The biscuit joiner may or may not have been overkill, but that joint is going no place.

Next up, and firmly planted in the back 75% of the weekend, was painting.  Whew, finally!  First with ceiling white over the caulk and upper edge of the molding and ceiling, then our trim color of choice, SW Alabaster in semi-gloss, over the trim (and down the wall a little).  I’ll touch up the Sea Salt color once the trim is done.

There are more layers of painting here than I really planned on, but this way we know that no caulk will peek out between edges of paint.  We’ll (I’ll) continue painting throughout the week.

We also cut some of the trim pieces for the future crown molding in the foyer.  Guinness isn’t entirely sure about this prospect:

But with a chair rail to go with it in the foyer and up the stairs, it’ll look great.

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Continued from here and here

The legs of my end tables took 3 coats of paint to cover the primer completely.  Partway through the project, it occurred to me that it might not have been a well thought out decision to use a high gloss black paint and a satin finish polyurethane.  Alas.  I decided to finish them, bring them upstairs, and see how I liked them once we’d lived with them for a while.

Amerock  Antique Nickel 1-1/4" Leaf Knob

Once the enamel paint hardened, I replaced the knobs on the drawer fronts with new nickel pulls, and we were in business.

Admittedly the tables spent a couple weeks in the basement while we worked on the living room that they’d ultimately go into.  Now they’re upstairs, so it’s time…

Ta Da!  World, meet our “new” end tables:

I think the verdict is that I probably wouldn’t combine the high gloss and satin again, but they’ll be fine as they are.  Overall, I’m happy with how they came out, and very pleased with my first staining project.  This part makes me even happier with it:

Total cost of the project:

  • 2 end tables listed on Craig’s List – $30
  • 2 antique nickel pulls – $8
  • 1 half pint stain – $5
  • 1 half pint polyurethane – $5
  • 1 quart primer (to be shared with other projects) – $15
  • 1 quart black paint (to be shared with other projects) – $15
  • sandpaper – about $8 worth

So we’re looking at a total cost, excluding hours of my time, of about $86 for these tables, or $43 each.

Then and Now

Beat that, overstock.com:

L to R: Talisman 1-drawer End Table, $146.99 each; Yarra One-drawer Side Table, $159.99 each; Mission Solid Oak End Table, $327.99 each.

or Target:

Unfinished End Table with Drawer, $159.99 each (!!)

Game, set, and match to Craig’s List and my refinish job.  Sweet!

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After several weeks of hard work, the living & dining rooms are finished!  (Well, for now, like everything else in the house!)  It turned out that the project was starting to drag, as projects do, so I used my favorite incentive to finish up:  we invited guests to dinner for Sunday afternoon.  It works two ways — one, the dining room had to be put back together again in time, and two, I got to sit back and relax with friends after my hard work.  So, on to the pictures of the finished project!

The color of the walls changes quite a lot with the light – just as much in real life as in the photos.

We are so thrilled with how it’s come out so far.  Now, as I mentioned, we aren’t quite completely finished yet.  I may do another coat of semi-gloss on some of the trim.  The baseboard molding has 2 coats, but the chair rail and window trim only have one.  They might benefit from another.  We pulled down the thin stained oak crown molding, and are planning to do new, wider white-painted crown molding in both rooms eventually.  We probably won’t tackle that until after Christmas.  I also need to re-cover the seats of my dining chairs (and paint the 3 spares that are currently out in the garage), which will hopefully happen before Christmas.  In the longer term, the living room is also pretty clearly underwhelmed with furniture – but better that than packed to the gills.  For now, though, I’m resting on my laurels.

Just for funsies, here’s what the rooms looked like when we offered to buy the house in May 2008:

Whoa.  Talk about dark, and packed to capacity!

As far as the making of the makeover, it was just a lot of methodical work.  First the wallpaper came down in the dining room, and I went to town with the spackle and sandpaper, then primer.  Then I pulled the green carpet up from the tack strips, and cut an inch or two off each edge with a utility knife so I could get to the molding, all the way to the subflooring.

We decided that the navy blue couch that we’d inherited and the valences that came with the house wouldn’t be part of the redone rooms.

Habitat ReStore picked up the couch.  The valences were listed for free on Craig’s List, and within 12 hours we’d gotten about as many calls, including one at 7:15 the next morning!  As soon as they were picked up, I deleted the CL posting out of self defense.  Truly, people will take anything (and gladly!) if it’s free.

The molding was sanded and primed prior to wall painting, so I could be fairly reckless with the primer.  Once everything was primed, I got a quick glimpse of what it would look like all in white:

All white rooms are the sorts of things that look like such a good idea in a magazine, but in practice, the first time I entertained, I would inevitably do the accidental honors of dousing the room with a glass of cabernet.  No, white is not a good idea.

Then the walls were painted, followed by the trim.  The carpet was installed after the baseboard molding was finished, and the rest was underway.  We finished up with curtain rod installation Saturday night.

So that’s the finished deal!  For anyone who’s interested in details like paint shades, that’s all below.

Thanks for visiting!

Paint:  Sherwin Williams Sea Salt, SW6204 (living room; above dining room chair rail); Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay, SW6206 (dining room below chair rail); Sherwin Williams Alabaster, SW7008 (trim).  Duration in matte for walls, Pro Classic in semi-gloss for trim.

Flooring:  Shaw Habana in Ecru

Window Treatments:  Country Curtains’ Moire Stripe in Mist.

Window Treatment Hardware:  Bed Bath & Beyond Oak Leaf.

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We still have some more trim painting to do around the doorways & dining room  windows, but we’re making big strides!  Since the bay window isn’t going to be painted, it’s ready for the new window treatments.  I can’t wait to see how they look!

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I’m waving the white flag.  After two weeks of staring at these colors, I can’t decide.  Please help – vote in the poll below!

The pictures, couch, and fabric swatches on the back of the couch are all staying in the room.  (The fabric will cover dining chair seats.)


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