The Halls — They’re Done!

14 Apr

After 12 long years (actually they sort of flew by) of looking at the dingy hallways and grotty stairs, I now have gorgeous, lovely, clean and beautiful walls, creamy spindles, and squishy green carpet. Hip, hip, hooray!

The carpet was installed on Wednesday and it looks quite beautiful. The installation was a bit of an ordeal, and the work scratched up the paint on all the baseboards (so they had to be repainted) but it’s done now.

There is a bit of a rest home chic to the whole appearance, but it’s working for me. Painting the spindles was a tremendous ordeal. There are still some spots here and there that I missed, but I’ve decided they add character. The members of Flaw-Pointers International (certain friends who hone in on imperfections) can go to hell and just leave me alone, because I think it all looks great.

Here are some photos of the transformation>

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Wallpaper progress on my 12th anniversary in the house

28 Feb

I moved into my wonderful dream home twelve years ago today. My how time flies! I don’t have any photos of the house when I first arrived (due to a 2006 computer crash that cost me all the photos from 2002 – 2006), but let me tell you, it looked a lot different. All the walls were white (except for the hallways, which were papered in a dingy damask). Most of the floors were painted brown with lead paint or had very gross industrial carpet on them. There was no kitchen. Most of the rooms had live gas for a stove and a couple had wall-mounted sinks. (My house had been a rooming house for single men for nearly 70 years and each man did his cooking in his room). There was one bathroom.

I had grand plans to totally renovate the house from roof to basement in ten years. I also had a job that paid about double what I’ve been earning for the past several years, so needless to say, my plan did not go according to plan. But even though the ten-year mark was two years ago, I have kept up a fairly steady pace of renovations, plugging away and doing what I could (or what I foolishly thought I could) do on my own and hiring people to do what I couldn’t.

Ever since I moved in, I’ve longed to do the hallways/staircases over. They were dingy. The paper was peeling. The walls were cracked. The stairs were painted brown with strange (but functional) black rubber stair treads. And now, twelve years on, they are nearly finished!

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Good friends are coming tomorrow to risk their necks hanging the paper (and prepping the wall) in that terrible coffin corner. Then I’ll have a bit of touch up painting to do, and our work will be done. I know what needs to be done for the chair rail installation, but I do not have the patience, skills, tools, or ability to do it. So I’m going to hire a handyman for that and hope it will be done in March.

Am also going to start painting the stair treads and spindles this month, in anticipation of choosing a carpet for the stairs and having it installed in May.

This wallpapering makes me deeply, profoundly, inexpressibly happy. It looks great and I am SOOOOO grateful to my several friends without whom I could not have done it (sounds like an Oscar acceptance speech). So lucky to have great, daring friends!!!

Paper hanging in progress

19 Feb

Here are the in-progress photos:

Paper hanging extravaganza

19 Feb

It has begun. The hallway project to end all hallway projects: hanging two different wallpapers (plus a chair rail of some sort) in the very tall, very inaccessible hallways on the 4th/3rd/2nd floors.

I began by scraping loose pieces of paper from the walls and paint from the trim. Then I removed the fire extinguisher hangers at the top of both stairwells and patched the holes (one patch is still in progress). Primed the walls with Kilz, as I feared that the 40 years of dinge, cigarette smoke, and home improvement dust (and regular old dust) might seep through to the pretty new paper.

Painted the moldings and doors and papered what I could on my own on the 4th floor, then called in some very brave and generous menfolk (the ones who did the stripey hallway a few weeks ago), one of whom clambered up on top of the scaffolding platform (Baker’s scaffold) I bought from Home Depot for this project. The platform cracked when stood upon. It was terrifying. AND we needed to put a 10 foot ladder on top of the scaffolding on the stairs. God bless that Patrick for having the guts to do that — he said he felt very comfortable on the platform, but I think the bystanders were plenty nervous.

I keep messing up with inserting the photos, so I’ll have to do separate posts.

Here are some before photos:

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Hall-elujiah!

26 Jan

Today was one of my favorite days. Evah! Three friends came over and wallpapered the stripey stairwell from the ground floor to the first floor. Some years ago (maybe 2011? August 2009, so four and a half years I’ve been trying to finish this!), I managed to wallpaper the downstairs entryway walls, ceiling, armoire, electric sockets, etc. with a wonderful black and white striped wallpaper (from York — pattern IN2803, in case anyone wondered). I had to stop at the stairwell due to my inability to reach the walls. I had tried to use one of those crazy bend-any-way ladders on the stairs to complete the papering, but it was way too scary. So after years of trying to pay someone to do it and their either (a) not coming or (b) being way out of my price range, I started asking friends if they’d help. I finally found two friends who said yes and who came with their own ladder even. And of course, trusty Liz, my wallpapering guru, also shared her time and talents.

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It took a total of three hours and my daring friend on the ladder also painted where I couldn’t reach with the teal. It looks so, so, so, so, so wonderful. I’ve just been standing there staring at it. What a quick transformation. This project was wonderful in and of itself, but what is also fabulous is that the guys have agreed to come back and work their magic on the other two stairwells. It is quite possible that my stairwells will be papered by the end of February. AMAZING!!!

Looking backward, looking forward: 2013, 2014

21 Dec

It’s that time of year again — the time to make an inventory of what I have done and what I have failed to do (through my own grievous fault) here in the house. Time also to look forward and make plans (next to making lists, one of my favorite pastimes — so much more fun than actually doing work) for 2014.

Normally, as December comes to an end, I feel disappointed at not having accomplished the many home projects I’d hoped to do during the year. But one of the main reasons I started this little blog was to document what I had done, and in so doing, realize that I wasn’t such a do-nothing as I felt.

So, in 2013, the following happened at 29 Mattoon:

  • Put in a full bathroom in the guest suite (top floor). This was a major accomplishment and I don’t in any way minimize how important this was for Total Home Renovation Completion (target date of which had been 2012, but that ship has sailed).

Here are some before and afters:

During: the floor up and open.

During: the floor up and open.

Bathroom framing

Bathroom framing

Bathroom two

Blue floor and skirting boards. Hooray!

Blue floor and skirting boards. Hooray!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The bathroom construction led to the replacing of the very ancient cast iron waste pipe throughout the house and major reconstructive surgery on plumbing in basement. What once was iron is now plastic. Well, except for that one section behind the wall in the new bathroom. Fingers crossed.

 

Some of the old pipes.

Some of the old pipes.

Butler's pantry closet floor -- now with a view to the powder room below!

Butler’s pantry closet floor — now with a view to the powder room below!

Open ceiling. Collapsed ceiling.

Open ceiling. Collapsed ceiling.

Looking up through where the ceiling used to be in the ground floor powder room.

Looking up through where the ceiling used to be in the ground floor powder room.

New plastic pipe.

New plastic pipe.

New pipes.

New pipes.

More new pipes.

More new pipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • As a result of that project, I also got a light at the top of the basement stairs:

photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which, sadly, did not prevent me from falling head first down the whole flight of basement stairs on the day I was clearing a path for the masons to come and repair the exhaust channel for the oil furnace in the basement – this was the before, I can’t find an after, but trust me, it’s now safe and not oozing exhaust fumes into the basement:

Creepy and gross flue before being fixed.

Creepy and gross flue before being fixed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • The stairwells got a couple of new lights; the grotty tin ceiling on the top floor was replaced by drywall, and the crumbling under-the-stairs plaster was shored up. All was painted a glossy light green. Again, trust me. These photos probably make no sense at all, but the ceilings look way better:

photo 4 photo 1 photo 3 photo 2 photo 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So those were my big projects of the year, and they really were big. I had hoped that I would be able to finish the hallways this year. Not only to fix the ceilings, but also to put up new wallpaper and carpet the stairs. Alas, it was not to be. My beloved cat, Jerome, died in 203. It was unexpected and I had the doctors try everything they could to save him, but they couldn’t. His medical bills equalled the cost of papering the walls and putting in carpet on the stairs. Also, little Taggy fell ill with a mysterious malady a few weeks ago and had to be rushed to the ER. He, thank God, is fine now and getting back to normal, but it also cost a pretty penny. And Claudette, the lovely and sweet cat with IBS is currently eating cat food that costs more per week than my human groceries. And last but not least, we are in heating season, i.e. the time of no home improvement projects. So nothing much will be happening here until the Spring at the earliest.

In other news of pets, I thought that Claudette missed having a cat friend, because after Jerome died, she would walk around and cry. So I got a kitten. His name is Walter. He’s a gangly teenager now. Sometimes he’s as sweet as can be to Claudette, and sometimes he’s a horrid beast. Trixie loves him to bits, and I’m pretty fond of him, too. Frankly, if I had to choose one or t’other, I’d rather have manky hallways and happy pets, but it would be nice to have pretty hallways and happy pets.

photo 1

photo 5 photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So for 2014, my realistic plans are:

  • Install tin ceiling in guest room bathroom
  • Turn guest room closet into “kitchenette”
  • Paper stripey stairwell
  • Install light in stripey stairwell

My “I’ve won the lottery” and/or “I get two long-term airbnb guests” plans are:

  • Finish the stairwells/halls with paint, paper, and carpet on stairs
  • Install remaining (11) storm windows on rear of house and have sills repaired

photo 4

Goodbye, 2013. RIP, Jeromey. Hello, 2014 — let’s see what you bring our way.

 

Curtains!

11 Nov

Today was supposed to be a day of major transformations. I had a handyman coming by who was going to install the rest of that striped wallpaper on the downstairs stairwell, install a tin ceiling in the guest bathroom, and wire up the closet -> kitchenette in the guest sitting room. We’d had a date set earlier (in October), but the tin ceiling panels hadn’t arrived by then. We’d be in touch via email and phone. I was sure he’d show. He didn’t. Sigh. So back to the drawing board with finding someone.

In the meantime, I worked on sewing up some drapes for the guest sitting room. I found a very charming P. Kaufmann fabric at Osgood’s (greatest fabric store in New England, if not beyond). It features elephants and viney things and is a heavy cotton velvet. It looks pre-aged. Just the thing. Unfortunately, I under-estimated the amount of blackout fabric I’d need, so I have to go back to get more and sew up one more short central panel.

Summer curtains.

Summer curtains.

Fabric and liner from Osgood's

Fabric and liner from Osgood’s

First panel up. Inspector Walter.

First panel up. Inspector Walter.

Fabric next to wall. Cute!

Fabric next to wall. Cute!

Trying to show the (mostly) finished work.

Trying to show the (mostly) finished work.

At least I managed to get some things done, since I arranged to work from home today to be here for the no-show handyman.