Friday, August 31, 2012

Closet Cheat

Yesterday, in a comment, Debbie asked if I was going to strip the paint in the closet, and I have to admit I was tempted, but ultimately I decided I would rather apply my efforts to more visible areas.

Instead, I'm cheating and painting the woodwork with stain-colored paint. I put on one coat this evening and I'll apply another coat tomorrow. Then I'll probably shellac over the paint so it has the same sheen as the wood in the rest of the room.

There was one area on the inside of the door casing where Jeff had removed most of the paint, so I sanded and shellacked that area first before applying paint just in case I change my mind someday and need to strip the woodwork. =)

I did strip and stain the shelf board. I'll shellac that tomorrow along with the closet.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working on Closets

I continued shellacking today. I finished up the master bedroom windows.
And then I finished shallacking the master bedroom closet.
Yay, we can finally put the hardware back on all these windows!

It also finally occurred to me I ought to do something with the guest bedroom closet before we have the floors refinished. I was thinking I should paint it so it matches the rest of the room.
But then I found this...
Really? How is this possible? I can't possibly paint bare wood...'s just not in my programming. So now I have to try to carefully remove this shelf and strip the paint. Sigh.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

This and That

Jeff and I spent the entire weekend goofing off. Last Saturday, we went off to an SCA educational event where I had recruited the volunteer teachers. Jeff taught fingerloop braiding—a late-medieval technique for braiding cords and flat trims. We enjoyed ourselves and now that the bulk of our house restoration is complete, we'll probably spend a bit more time goofing off with SCA on the weekends during the next few years.

Then, on Sunday, Jeff volunteered at a dog agility event. He spent the day resetting jump heights and building the course between runs. He had a good time, and it helped him realize Shasta is probably good enough to try beginner category runs. So when he found an event fairly close by on September 9—Shasta's birthday—Jeff signed her up. He's going to try running her in the Tunnelers and Jumpers categories. I definitely have to go so I can get some video. =)

Otherwise, I've been terribly unproductive the last couple of days. I was lacking in motivation.

But today, I finally resumed work on the house. I've been trying to finish up the shellacking in the bedrooms. When I rushed through shellacking a couple weeks ago, I got lazy and didn't shellac the interior edges and the sashes of the windows because I needed to take the windows apart to get to all the edges. Today I finally did it in the guest bedroom. Tomorrow, I hope to finish up the master bedroom windows as well.

Once I'm done with the windows, I'll turn my shellacking efforts to the newly stained wood in Jeff's closet.

Friday, August 24, 2012

New House Bling

I obviously have a hard time saying "No" to pretty new house bling. I've actually been on a bit of a binge recently buying new brass hardware. This week, some mission style brass register covers. Ooooh, shiny!
Here is the before. Pretty filthy with some drips of paint, which I'm pretty sure pre-dated our remodel of the house. I tried to clean one of these up, but it didn't really look much better.
I would have preferred to refinish these and continue to use them, but apparently brass plating is stupid expensive. My earlier comparison shopping with the door hardware found buying new solid brass was cheaper than replating, so I just continued the trend.

I've had to spend my time this week doing a bunch of tasks for an SCA event this weekend, so I haven't had time to get back to working on Jeff's closet. Hopefully we'll be back on-project next week.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Staining Again

Now that we're getting close to being able to finish the upstairs bedrooms, I figured we may as well keep our forward momentum going and try to work on the closets. (At least the easy parts, anyway.)

On Sunday, Jeff cut the support boards for the shelf side of his closet. He used the salvaged boards (removed during the remodel) that I stripped in spring.

I've spent the last couple of days sanding and staining the woodwork in Jeff's closet and the wood for the shelves.

Now that I have the stain up, I'm planning to prime and paint when it's all dry. I figure it's easier to paint before there's a bunch more stained wood installed on the walls.

We're going to wait to install the actual plywood shelves and the double-hang side until after the floors are refinished. There's no sense making it that much harder for the floor refinisher to reach all the corners.

I also sanded and stained enough shoe molding to install in the master and guest bedrooms.

And I started sanding the linen cabinet doors, but those are not my highest priority right now. I'm much more anxious to get the bedrooms finished so I can hire out the floor we can finally finish these rooms and move in.

Unfortunately—you can't work on everything first.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

New Linen Cabinet Doors

I'm excited to finally be able to show pictures of this week's project. My brother Jeffrey has experience with woodworking and was able to help my husband Jeff get our new tools properly set up and get to work on our newest project: new inset linen cabinet doors.
Upstairs linen cabinet
Bathtub access door in master bedroom
We built these doors because while paint stripping we found evidence the linen cabinet originally had inset doors. There was an outline of butterfly hinges in the paint as well as evidence inside the cabinet where hardware had once been installed. So, we thought we would go ahead and just replace the doors now rather than strip the later-period painted doors. We don't know what the original doors looked like, so we just duplicated the rail and stile doors in the dining room built-in.

Right now, the doors are just taped together and sitting in the openings for the trial fit. They still need to be glued—and stained and shellacked, of course.

I'm glad to be able to finally finish this woodwork in the upstairs hallway.
Thank you Jeffrey

Thursday, August 16, 2012

We Have a Garage!!

OK, this is not news—but I'm so excited to finally have space to work on dusty and smelly projects.

The two Jeffs are hard at work on a new project and I'm so looking forward to to showing pictures . . . but I'm waiting for assembly of the pieces and test fitting.  I'm not a patient person.  =)

I've been entertaining my brother's kids, so he is free to work in the garage. I'm spending lots of time coloring and playing games. Good times.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guest Bedroom Painted

The guest bedroom isn't really "done," but it was done enough to pull up the masking. There is still quite a bit of touch-up needed where the paint oozed in under the masking tape. Sigh. Though, I suppose by now I've gotten pretty good at removing paint. It should be easier with the shellac under it. =)
It's difficult to get good photos in this room. The room is very dim because there is a huge walnut tree shading the window. And when I bring in artificial light, it makes the paint look too gold, so I tried playing with the exposure on the camera. It worked better than the flash, but I'll just have to wait until fall, when the tree outside loses its leaves and the room gets good natural light again.

The color is Hubbard Squash (SW0044) from Sherwin Williams, from their Arts & Crafts Historic color palette.

 We still have to rehang the doors and will probably do that tomorrow. They need to be stained and shellacked, but that project will wait until after my brother's visit.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Decision Challenged

Because I'm clearly decision challenged...
...I just keep stamping out more color combinations. (I even tried a different stencil once.) Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. It's probably easy for you guys, but I wasn't programmed with a decorator gene. I usually just find a picture I like and copy it.

But, in 1912, most pictures were black and white. The only color pictures I've found were from paint catalogs, and obviously it was in their interest to get people to paint the woodwork. So, I'm just trying to put together something that looks good from period colors.

I think I'll leave these hanging next week while my brother is visiting and I'll choose after he goes. That will give us an opportunity to see them in different light conditions over the week and will perhaps make the decision easier.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Master Bedroom Painted

It's been a long time coming (thirteen months since we started stripping paint), but we can finally start putting this room back together again.
I'm trying on a few different color schemes for a stencil for this room. (Jeff and I don't agree on the color, so if any of you guys want to chime in, we'd appreciate the comment.) I may also do a few more samples with some reds and yellows in them.
If the weather cooperates in the next several weeks, I'll get the frieze painted before we move our furniture back from storage.

We're also planning to have the floors refinished, so I've been trying to get a couple estimates. Apparently the market in Portland is better for floor refinishers, because I've had a hard time getting them to return calls or come out to take a look and give a quote. Oh well.

For folks who have just dropped by, here is where the room started last year.

Today, we're priming the guest bedroom, so maybe we'll have good pictures of that room tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sneak Peek

We're not quite ready to pull the masking, but we're close. I have decided we should put on a second coat of green paint to get better coverage. These plaster walls are not smooth, so it's a bit of a challenge to get the wall thoroughly covered. Once it's had several hours to dry, I'll be back up there to apply a second coat.

Yesterday, I put up a coat of primer. Since I hadn't masked the walls before staining the wood, there was quite a bit of stain slopped onto them. I was hoping the primer would help cover the dark splotches and it did.

When I bought the paint last fall, I had planned to paint the master bedroom hubbard squash and the guest bedroom ruskin room green, but recently I decided to switch them. The green paint will match our bedroom furnishings better than what we're planning to move into the guest room. The ceiling and frieze are painted in white hyacinth.

Now that we're so close, I'm thinking about whether I should go ahead and apply a stencil in the frieze this summer, before we move our furniture back from storage. Though it's hard to pick one since there are so many wonderful choices!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Guest Bedroom Shellacked

It's hard to see the sheen on the wood, but I've finished applying two coats of shellac in the guest bedroom.

I just keep plugging along on this project. Next up: Masking the master bedroom for primer/paint.

My youngest brother, Jeffrey, and his family are coming to crash with us next week, and so I've been on a mission to get these rooms finished to the point where we can pull up the floor masking.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tulip Portiere

I really cannot stand the French doors in our living room and dining room. They don't stay closed and they don't work with our rugs without chopping quite a bit off the bottom of the doors. They also take up a lot of wall space, which is at quite a premium in this room. These doors probably made a lot more sense when the fireplace was used to supplement the heating on the main floor.

So, I've been thinking about making portiere curtains to hang in those doorways so we can take down the French doors and reclaim the limited wall space.

(We would, of course, retain the doors and stow them in the attic for the next owner. Though, we discovered during the remodel the French doors are not original to our house—the house was originally built with pocket doors.)

Anyway, I ran across this portiere design at Textile Studio's web album and I'm in love. I really wish I could afford to buy a set, but perhaps I can make them. I'd actually need to make four of these panels to span both doorways. I guess I found another project to add to my queue.

Update many hours later: When I was trying to research how to actually make a portiere (to answer questions like whether it was lined, or suspended by rings), I went and dug through a number of period texts. I share the best of them below.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


We found a good deal on peaches so we stocked up—54 pounds!

They've taken a few days to get ripe, so we're spending part of today and tomorrow processing the fruit. Jeff is the foodie in this house, so he blogged about it over at his food blog.

I am NOT loving these reusable jar lids. The rubber seals seem to be just slightly larger than the plastic lid so when you screw on the metal twist ring, sometimes it catches on the rubber ring and pulls it off the jar rim and ruins the seal. You can already tell the jar on the left side of the picture didn't seal (fruit isn't at the top). Sigh. I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong. Losing a jar out of every batch is not going to be acceptable.
Anyway, our plan for this round is mostly to can peach slices, several pie fillings, a small amount of jam, and I think this year Jeff is going to try and make peach salsa. He's been buying peach salsa from Trader Joe's and we love it—we go through probably a jar a week—and we'd like to figure out how to make our own.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Paint Stripping Tips

Now that we've gotten 2 rooms stripped of paint, I thought it would be nice to mention a few of the lessons we learned over the process. Our process has certainly evolved over the last year and we've gotten much faster and efficient. Many of these comments have been mentioned in earlier posts, but I figured it would be easier to find if I consolidated them all in one post.

Our big break-through to success was audio books. Paint stripping is not a mentally challenging activity and boredom quickly sets in. If you can find a way to listen to something interesting, like audiobooks or podcasts, the time passes more quickly. By listening to audio books, we were able to spend far longer days working on paint stripping projects.

The comparatively inexpensive variable-temperature heat gun was the most successful heat stripping tool we found. (We bought ours for $60 at Home Depot). In our house, the heat gun, used in combination with profile paint scrapers, got off most of the paint. We tended to use the lowest temperature that worked, about 800°F on the paint in our house, and it really wasn't hot enough to burn the wood as long as you didn't stay in one spot too long.

After we stripped the paint with the heat gun, we would follow-up with an application of Klean-Strip or Jasco premium chemical stripper. To remove the stripper, we found the most effective tool was a stainless kitchen scrubby. It didn't scratch the wood like the wire brushes, in fact, it helped smooth the wood (and perhaps even reduced the amount of sanding required). And even though it would clog up with stripper goo during the process, once it dried, the dried goo would just fall out to be swept up for disposal. We had several of these going at a time, and they lasted for quite a long time.

In order to reach those uncooperative corners, try dental tools. They can often reach those difficult crevices. (We bought ours at a local army surplus.) First, apply the stripping chemical and allow it to work for a couple minutes, then use a dental tool to remove the last bits of paint.

Next, if you're going to fill holes with a stainable wood filler, do it before you sand. We found the filler would sometimes get onto the wood surrounding the hole and would discolor it, necessitating more sanding. Better to fill the holes before you do the final sand.

When sanding edges or tight corners, try contour sanding grips. They were a life saver for sanding the edges of the raised panels on our bedroom doors.

For small spots of paint embedded in the wood, don't sweat it. The stain may cover it. And if not, simply cover it with a matching paint.

All this said, we are not professionals and are still figuring this all out. So experiment and figure out what works for you and we look forward to you sharing your tips.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Guest Bedroom Staining

Since I got off easy on the shellacking this morning, I recruited Jeff's help to start staining the guest bedroom woodwork. This is just the first pass; we'll still have to go over the wood with a second different-colored stain to match the rest of the wood in the house.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased by my motivation lately. Clearly, I'm ready to be done with this phase. It probably also helps that one of my brothers is going to be in town in 10 days and he wants to crash with us! =)

Update later in the evening: We put on the second coat. Now we wait a few days before shellacking.

Master Bedroom Shellacked

I managed to finish shellacking my very first bedroom. Yeah! Now that I've done it once, it is far less intimidating and I know I can manage the rest of the upstairs.

I worked hard this week and put up 2 full coats in the room. Each coat took somewhere between 4 and 5 hours. And since it was forecast to be very hot this weekend, I was hoping to get the room finished by this afternoon.

I had actually planned to do 3 coats of shellac, but when I went up to apply the third coat this morning, it looked great with just the 2. Perhaps I applied it a bit thicker than the professionals. Or my homemade shellac is just different from the Zinsser ready-made stuff.

This room certainly looks shinier with thicker coverage than the downstairs woodwork.

Anyway, once the shellac has the hot weekend to bake on, I can move onto painting next week. It is so exciting to finally get so close to finishing this bedroom; it's taken us over a year on this one.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Started Shellacking

I have been dreading shellacking the master bedroom woodwork since February. I heard it was difficult and shellac was finicky, so pretty much any excuse was good enough to procrastinate working on the project. Well, today, I finally got up enough courage to try shellacking. Result: Success!

While it's not super fun, I didn't find it especially difficult. The shellac does dry pretty quickly and you definitely need to keep moving, but it's something I've decided I can manage on my own.

It probably helps that we made our own shellac from 2 pounds of shellac flakes dissolved into a gallon of distilled alcohol and so it's not as thick and unforgiving as the ready-made stuff; seams between sections are not as noticeable. Of course the downside of using this thinner shellac is I'll have to apply 3 coats!

So now, maybe, we'll finally start making some decent progress finishing these bedrooms.

Before starting, I did peruse a couple useful webpages on shellac:
Choosing And Applying a Traditional Shellac Finish by Jeff Jewitt

Getting a Beautiful Woodworking Finish with Shellac by Chris Baylor