Sunday, March 13, 2011

Uphill Battle

This is where it all started.  Anybody who has ever started one small renovation project knows how quickly it can snowball to encompass the ENTIRE house!  The dreaded domino effect.

One fateful day while Bill was gone, I decided to remove the worn, paint stained, u-g-l-y carpet from the stairs.  He discovered what I had done when he tripped over the pile of discarded carpet, carpet pad, nailing strips, etc. outside the back door when he came home.  It was not a pretty sight.

Ohhh, Luuuuuuuucy...............( Desi )

This is the fourth and last stairway we are refinishing!

To make a long story short, think of the song lyrics "The ankle bone connected to the leg bone, the leg bone connected to the thigh bone" and so on.  First the stairs, then the baseboard molding, then the walls, then the ceiling, then the banister, then the floor.  That's how IT took over the whole house!

Pictured above is one of the banister posts.  The damage you see on the left was caused by a shotgun blast as told to us by the previous owner whose son was cleaning his gun when it happened.  OK, that is scary, but even more strange is the fact that it happened in the 1970's and was never repaired.  Pictured on the right is the restored post.  Thanks, Dad.  He also repaired the broken door to the laundry chute pictured below.

One of my go to sources for renovation projects is "Cottages and Bungalows" magazine which featured an article on sprucing up old woodwork without stripping the original finish.  I gave it a try, because I didn't want that new wood look and am very happy with the results ( see railing above ).  The process is simple and quick. 
  1. Clean wood with mineral spirits, then sand lightly.
  2. Touch up and chips and scratches with artist oil paints. Let dry for several days.
  3. Apply several coats of Zinsser Shellac which dries very quickly. ( Oops, first you have to make sure the original finish is shellac.  If it dissolves with denatured alcohol, it is. )
I don't have any pictures of the cracked plaster that extended from the foyer, up the stairwell, and all the way up to the ceiling.  Repairing that mess was a HUGE job.  Here is a view up to the ceiling.  Now imagine taping and mudding waaaay up there.  It was overwhelming and took over a year to finish the whole shebang. 

Next, we were ready to have the floors on the two stairway landings and the upstairs hallway refinished, but decided we may as well have the two spare bedrooms done at the same time.  Which brings us to the present rehab project.  We can't do the floors until the walls are repaired in those rooms!  Remember the domino effect.  Here are a few pictures of the progress in the pink room.

Phase one.



Phase two:  Cracks taped and first skim coat of mud applied.

I must say, when I need some motivation to continue onward and upward, I just go to some of my favorite blogs and Google Images for inspiring ideas.  Below is a piece that I love and might use this idea for the mirrored vanity that will make its way back to the room.....eventually.

The decoupaged sheet music would cover the chipped wood veneer on the drawers quite nicely.

Note:  One more roadblock.  Before we can repair the ceiling, we ( Bill ) have to add more insulation to the attic, as I don't want anybody walking up there above the newly repaired ceiling.  Hope we don't find any surprises in the attic!!!


  1. looks like a tON of work! but the refinished wood looks amazing!

  2. Good job! You better change your profession.

  3. Oh my, Mom. ;) I don't think I could do it. Nope. I'd ignore cracks, and just paint over it. Looks like some progress on the room, though!

  4. There was no way to ignore those MONSTER cracks in the walls. Of course, my OCD doesn't help. One more coat of mud today, and maybe explore the attic in the daylight. You never know what nocturnal creatures inhabit the space!

  5. Amazing work done!Kind of jealous, we haven't got our blog up and running quite. But, we're a vancouver hardwood stair refinishing company.

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