Living Room – Part 4 – The Pocket Door

Ahh, the pocket door.  I first wrote about it here and wondered if I should strip it and have the wood show instead of paint.  Silly, silly me. I have been stripping for over a month.

Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Here is what we had, a 4 foot wide opening, with a STUCK pocket door.  The wheels on the right side had come off the rail.

We knew we had to get into the wall, to get the door, literally “back on track.”  So before we painted, we tried to find the wheels and rail.

Under the flowered wallpaper was a sheet of panelling and under that an old wallpaper with trees on it.

Under that wallpaper was lathe and plaster.  Eric decided to try opening up a spot where he thought the wheels would be.

Finally breaking through at the right spot.

The right side wheels were off the track completely!

Here is a close up that shows it better:

As you can see, the rail is behind the set of wheels (there are two sets, one is at the left end of the door, and this one is at the right end of the door).

Eric pried upwards while I pushed on the door at the bottom, to get the wheels up and back on the rail.

Once that was done, we were okay to put back the wall.  We bought two new pieces of panelling which were very much like the old one except that they didn’t have the slightly rough texture of the older wall board.  We hoped no one would notice that in the corner, the wall was a bit smoother.

After attaching the new boards, we primed and painted as we did the rest of the room.

The trim, room and ceiling were finished except for an upper piece of moulding that we are having trouble matching, but I’ll get to doing that sometime soon.

So now just to refinish the door. Or so I thought.

I pushed the door back partway into it’s pocket opening and guess what?

Yes, it was stuck.

And no, I did not want to open up the wall that we had just fixed and painted.

Oh dear!

So, we opened the other side, which is the dining room.  This was not going to be easy because, as you can probably see in the close up of the wheels and track, the track was attached to a beam on the living room side.  To get to the wheels would mean trying to reach around and under or over the large wood beam that held the track.

So, Eric opened the dining room side.

As it turned out, the front wheel was broken apart, so we needed to take it out of there and find a new wheel to replace it.  We told a neighbour about our dilemma and he came over and got the wheel and the bracket it was on, off of the door.  We had no idea how to find a similar wheel to fit, so we left that for awhile while I proceeded to strip the door.
There appeared to be two coats of an off-white or cream colour paint on the door.  This was very difficult to strip, my scraper seemed to just run over the top of the paint without removing much.
I got to a dark wood which appeared to be the original wood, but it was not easy to get to.
Unfortunately this was a faux wood.  This photo below, which shows what was under the handle, shows the faux wood.  It actually was a coat of a gold colour paint with some type of glaze on top mimicking woodgrain.
So I had to keep going.  And that gold paint and glaze was very difficult to get off.  At this point I had been stripping the damn lovely door for three weeks.
As I proceeded (reluctantly, wishing at times I had just painted it white), I found some actual wood underneath.  The panels are a different wood than the stiles and rails and most likely the reason for putting the faux wood coating on the door, many, many (100?) years ago.
There also appeared to be a light blue paint at some point, but only on the dining room side.
Here is the living room side.  The panels were very difficult to strip, it seemed like I had to keep doing another coat.  Also the panels were not very smooth, with marks most likely from the saws that originally cut the pieces, and the paint was in those marks. (It’s crooked because the wheels on the right side are not on the door nor on the rail)
I just kept going and going, having difficulty with all the layers and all the paint that sat in the edges next to the panels and trim around the panels.  As I complained, my husband said it was good enough and to remember it was an old door!
This is how the living room side looks, I still need to put more stripper on it.

In fact I gave up on the dining room side and I lightly sanded it.  The wood was much more blotchy than I would have liked but I was defeated.  I began to clear coat the dining room side with a rub-on polyurethane in clear satin and while doing so I could still see spots where there was paint.  

I have more coats to put on the door, but that is how it looks for now from the dining room side.  Alas, the living room side is still not finished.

The good news is that we found a pulley with a wheel that Eric could use to replace the broken wheel.  He got it back on and it works fine!

You can see here there is another whole panel section on the door, hidden between the walls.  I finished 6 panels, three on top of three, but this part you see peeking through the wall was never painted and most likely original to the house.

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Living Room – Part 3 – The Walls

I’m continuing to blog about our living room changes. Some of what I am writing may appear to be out of order.  We worked on parts of the bay window , the walls and the pocket door all at the same time, but I am choosing to blog about them separately.  So in the photos, if you see some walls painted and some not, that’s the reason why.
We did have wallpaper in the living room, as I’ve shown previously and needed to decide on a paint colour.  We moved to PEI without any living room furniture, so after sitting on kitchen chairs for a few weeks to watch tv, we thought we had better get a couch. This is what we chose, trying to keep a bit of the old style to the house in some ways.

We also bought this chair, which is not vintage, but not modern either.  The blue in the design matches the blue in the couch.

Now to pick a wall colour, we needed something to go with both and I chose grey.  It is very popular in blogland, but I felt with the grey in the chair, it would look nice in this room.

The wallpaper was soaked with water from a spray bottle and scraped off with a wide plastic scraper.  It came off quite easily in most places.  Under the wallpaper was panel board.  We were not sure just how the paint would look on there, but really didn’t want to remove all the panelling and have to drywall.  (Under the panelling is lathe and plaster.)

After the walls were stripped, there remained some wallpaper glue which I lightly sanded off to make the walls as smooth as possible.  We then put a primer on all the walls.

It was suggested to us to use flat paint to hide any imperfections on the walls.  I normally would not use flat paint, but since we did have this old panelling and slight imperfections from nails and walls that were not perfectly even, we did go with a good quality flat Benjamin Moore paint.

I also painted the ceiling with a standard ceiling paint.  I felt we could leave the ceiling as it was, basically ceiling tiles with plaster over them, because it looked like it belonged with the house.  (Or maybe I was too lazy to tear down the whole ceiling?)

Hopefully you can see the left side which is painted, compared to the right which is not.

We are pleased with the paint colour and it really did disguise any imperfections.

Now we need another chair and we need curtains just to hang on both sides of the side window and the bay window.  We don’t need to close them because we have the horizontal blinds all around, which I just love.  Because of the design on the chair, I am a bit stuck as what to use for curtains.  I think it will have to be something with a small design, or maybe striped.  If you can offer any advise, please let me know!

Next post… the pocket door!

Living Room – Part 2 – Bay Window

First up in the living room was to neaten up the bay window and the wall it is on.  There was flowered wallpaper on the walls in the living room that we had to strip.

We sprayed the wallpaper with water and scraped it off with a large scraper. Under the wallpaper was a navy blue paint and under that some panel board.

Actually the blue looks like a distressed finish.

The plan was to paint the walls grey and the window trim and baseboard heaters white. My hope was that the paint would cover any unevenness in the panel board.  We did use a good primer on everything first and then a FLAT paint.  I’ll show more of that in the next post, but this was what we had to cover on the bay window wall.

The trim looks fresh and I have new horizontal 2″ wide white blinds that do not cover the wood trim. I wanted to keep the trim showing as much as possible.

The baseboard heaters looks so much better now that they are painted white!

I’m sure you agree, it looks fresh and new… well, as new as an old farmhouse can look.

Next post will be about the rest of the walls and then the pocket door.

Living Room Renovation – Part 1 – Overview

Since moving last fall to Prince Edward Island we have renovated the guest bedroom and the main bathroom in our almost 100 year old home. I do hope to post more about the history of our house in the coming months. We were told, through the real estate listing when we saw this house, that it was most likely 60 years old.  Our research has shown that it is much older than that.

Okay on to the next room, the living room.  The living room is to the right when you walk in the front door.  It has a beautiful bay window and a doorway without a door from the front hallway, as well as a pocket door between the living room and the dining room.

The living room was coated with wallpaper that was really quite pretty and suited the old home, but it was not put up very well, there were odd patches and some of the paper seemed to have been poorly printed.  Also, it was not the colour scheme we were going for.

I wrote about the pocket door before explaining that it had come off it’s track.  I will write a more detailed post about it soon.

The front bay window is framed by beautiful old moldings. This photo was taken last winter and shows the lace curtains that were left here from the previous owner.

Unfortunately, over the years it appears that there have been a lot of different window coverings here and holes and brackets remain in many places on the wood. There also are gaps between wood pieces, which I will fill in, and some wood trim that was not painted when new windows were installed a couple years ago.

I’ll blog about the different things we did in the living room to make it fresh.

… to be continued…

Bathroom Renovation – Part 6 – Reconstructing a Drawer Around Plumbing Tutorial

This is the tutorial on how to change a drawer to fit around plumbing when changing a commode or dresser to a vanity.  The Bathroom Renovation series starts here.
When choosing a piece of furniture that will become a vanity you need to check for two important things.  What is the height of your piece and what is the depth of it? The height you need will depend on your sink choice.  I am not a fan of vessel sinks.  Those are the type that sit on top of the counter and usually require a 3″ diameter hole cut into the top for plumbing.  I don’t like the distance between the top of the sink and the counter top, I prefer the sink to be closer to the top. If you go with a vessel sink, your dresser would need to be a bit shorter in height to allow for the height of the sink.
 Of course a regular type sink sits completely inset into the counter top, so that requires a much larger hole for the sink and a standard height for the dresser, similar to a store bought vanity.
The sink we found is half into the counter and half (about 3″) sits up above the counter top.  It was perfect for what we had in mind for our bathroom. Our commode has little wheels on it that add to the character, but could have been removed if we needed the sink to sit lower.
You also need the depth of your piece to fit the sink.  The diameter of our new sink was 18″ at the top and so it had to fit front to back on the commode and still allow an overhang for the top as well as a bit of room at the back.  It just fit exactly to the top without much room to spare.  
Your sink will come with a template of what size to cut the hole.  I used painters masking tape (after stripping and clear-coating the top) and marked the center, as well as the hole size, which was 13″, with pencil.
This was cut out with a jigsaw after making a large pilot hole with my drill.
Our plumbing came up through the floor.  It was ideal for this type of vanity, and may not be best for one that has all drawers because it would mean that each drawer would need to be altered. 
 Because we have one drawer and two doors, I just reconstructed the one drawer.  We fit the commode over the fittings that came up through the floor and I made a new plywood bottom for the vanity with cut outs where the cold and hot water and the drain pipe came up. This way the back of the vanity was not cut nor changed in any way.
Although my husband does not like plumbing, he is good at it and hooked up our new faucet and sink.
So this leaves us with a spot for the drawer to fit into.  You can see that the drawer will not run into any plumbing on each side after I push the one flexible water pipe in behind the drain.
This is the drawer from the top, it has dovetails where the front meets the sides and has grooves where the back fits into the sides.
From the bottom you can see that the drawer bottom fits into grooves around the front and sides of the drawer. (This is the proper way to construct a drawer, the drawer bottom is not screwed nor nailed onto the bottom of the sides, it fits into the sides with the grooves there and does not need any glue nor fasteners to hold it in place.)

 In order to have a drawer that will fit around the plumbing I needed to find exactly where the plumbing was.  I measured from the front of the cabinet to where the drain pipe came up through where the drawer would sit. I also measured the width of the drain pipe and added a little for extra movement.

Then the first step was to cut a slot into the drawer bottom.

My drawer was already coming un-glued so that helped me to be able to take off the front piece and slide the drawer into where it would sit in the vanity.
Here I show the drawer sitting back in place with the slot cut out.

The next step was to see where the slant of the sink came toward the front of the drawer. While it sat there I took a thin piece of card board and drew on the shape of the sink bottom. 
I then had to cut three pieces to reconstruct the sink.  (Actually since I don’t have a workshop, nor most of my tools, I had a kind neighbour cut these pieces for me)  The sides for the slot will be the same height as the outer sides of the drawer.  They have a dado (groove) cut into the bottom so that the drawer bottom will fit into them.  They also have a groove at the back so that the drawer back fits into them. And they have a rabbet at the front that the front piece is glued into (This might be more obvious in the photo after this one) 
The small front piece (which is cut from the leftover piece I cut out of the back of the drawer when making the slot cut) has a half circle cut out of it to fit under the sink.  If this were square across the top the drawer would not sit completely into the vanity.

Here are the pieces dry-fitted together, and the following photo is a close-up which, hopefully, will make my descriptions more clear.

Close-up:
I stained the new pieces to match the old and glued the front piece to sides as well as the sides to the two original back pieces and glued the front back on:
It fits! And this allows us to still use the drawer as there is a lot of room on both sides of the slot for the plumbing.

I hope this helps some of you who are converting a commode or dresser into a vanity.  Please don’t hesitate to ask questions if you have any!

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Bathroom Renovation – Part 5 – The Commode Turned into a Vanity

This is a continuation of our bathroom renovation that started with me needing an outlet to plug in my hair dryer.  You can read Part 1 here.

Of course we needed a vanity and I wanted to make my own from scratch.  Unfortunately I still don’t have a workshop so I decided to buy an old commode and strip it.  We found one just the right size at a local antiques store.  At first we were going to get a dresser but then I realized there would be three or more drawers that would have to be altered to allow room for the sink’s plumbing.  It’s much better to use a piece with one drawer which has two doors below.  (I will do my next post on how I changed the commode to fit around the plumbing).
This is the commode we chose.  It is done in a tiger oak faux finish probably from about the 1920s or 30s.
My first thought was to strip the finish off and then put a nice clear coat on the wood. 
Here’s the drawer front:

Here’s one side:

And the top:




A close up of the top:

As you can see, the commode was not in very good condition.

While we were completing work in the bathroom, I began to strip the top of the commode first. And because I had no other place to work, this was done in our bedroom!

It became apparent that this was a very time-consuming task and I was not sure that I wanted the whole piece to be stained wood, so I decided just to strip the top.

This is what I ended up with after multiple layers of removal and at least seven coats of wipe-on polyurethane:

As I said earlier I will detail the sink and the drawer reconfiguring in my next post.

I painted the rest of the cabinet with chalk paint without stripping nor any primer.

As you can see, it is really quite a difference from the original piece.

We found a mirror that just fit into the space under the light fixture.  The upper right corner actually touches the slanted wall, so we could not fit anything larger there. We are quite pleased with how it all turned out.  I also have the shutter cupboard that I made (which has matching paint) in the bathroom to hold toiletries.

Please stay tuned for the next post where I will show how I altered the drawer to fit the sink’s plumbing. You can read that here.

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Bathroom Renovation – Part 4 – Beadboard, Painted Trim and a Surprise Find

Before I get to the mouldings and beadboard, I’ll show you what we chose for colours and decor.  Since we are keeping the rose wallpaper, we needed something to go with that and chose a light pink for the upper walls.  The lower walls are beadboard and painted white as is all the door trim, mouldings, baseboards and baseboard heater.  The shower curtain is in a grey tone with a white design.
Here’s the cottage pink on the upper walls before the door trim was painted. I’m wishing a previous owner hadn’t shortened the left trim piece where it meets the tub’s tiles.  We left it like that but really should have removed the flat wood piece and either found or made some trim to match.

The beige/sand colour door trim was not something I liked at all.  I prefer a nice clean white for trims.

The window had the same sandy colour painted around it, as did the ceiling moulding around the ceiling tiles.  On the slant of the window wall, which is just over the toilet, there was a plastic rose vine that I removed along with the wallpaper border. (Photo taken this past winter)

I love and respect the old mouldings and can’t believe anyone would put so many holes in them, here’s just a small sample of what we found.
So the trim was all painted white, I matched the white with the vinyl windows in the house.  That way the trim is continuous from the window mouldings.  Thankfully almost all the windows in this old house were new, from 2013. I also put up the lace curtain that was here and added some new wide horizontal blinds.  Before I show that, it’s…
On to the beadboard, here’s a photo of the side wall before I put the board on.
I love beadboard and have made my own, but for this application I’m using the pre-made beadboard sheets that you can buy at the lumber stores.
Here is the side wall with beadboard and wood trim cap (chair rail?) installed and painted white.
The end wall beside the toilet was made of some type of wall board.  We left it, and painted the top pink, with it’s poor seam intact (don’t ask!) The toilet paper holder is the type that insets into the wall, thus the big hole.

I just painted the toilet paper holder white and stuck in back in the hole I cut out from the beadboard.
The framed rose prints are off my printer, from The Graphics Fairy

Here’s the finished end wall, with the window and a much prettier view:

Of course I also had to add beadboard behind the sink. I caulked the corner, where the two sheets meet, after taking this photo.

The light fixture and switch and outlet were installed.  You can see how the light we chose had to fit under the slanted roof and also allow for a mirror.  As well, it had to be centered over the sink, so not too far to the left.

I still need to add a moulding along the slanted wall, between the wallpaper and the pink wall. (This was taken before I added both the horizontal trim across the top of the beadboard and the baseboard)

We used wide baseboards to correspond with the look of the home.  (We have original large baseboards on the main floor of the house.)  This is the side wall between the sink and toilet, with the beadboard, baseboards and flooring all completed.

Before putting the beadboard on this wall I was vacuuming out where the new floor met the old wall and saw that something metal was stuck down there.  I had to get a screwdriver and a magnet to pry the object out of the tight corner.  Here’s both sides of what I found:

It’s about 3″ long and you can just barely make out the writing that says “Frontenac Export Ale” on one side.  I found it online… it’s a beer bottle opener from the 30s, which is when about this house would have been built.  I wonder if it’s been there all that time?

See part 5 here

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