Thursday, March 27, 2014

We Interrupt This Kitchen Remodel

Whew, what a weekend! One little ceiling repair that turned into a design project, that turned into a wiring project.

(Eventually I realized it wasn't a weekend, but the middle of the week, but J hasn't been off 2 days in a row since March 4th. It seemed like a weekend, and I kept thinking, we have to get this done before he has to go back to work Monday. Or, what seemed like Monday to me, although it was really Thursday.)

So as you probably know by now, we live in an older house, built back in the 1930's or 40's, as near as we can determine.
When we bought it, it was two apartments, one up and one down. We thought it had been remodeled into the apartments at some point, but the more we try to turn it "back" into a single-family residence, the more I think it was built as two apartments from the start.

At any rate, the staircase between the floors is just one, long, tall, ugly, narrow space. The whole width all the way up is only about three feet wide, and the ceiling doesn't slope, but is 16 feet straight up overhead.

I tried, over the years, to do something to try to fix it. Tried some decorating, but none of it looked right. Too low, too high, too wonky, I don't know.
I tore the sheetrock off the lower half, thinking we could open up the walls and make it not so enclosed, but that didn't work out either.

So, basically, I did what I usually do, decided to ignore it, and move on to other projects that would go better.

In the meantime, before we got the roof replaced there had been a leak over the staircase, that made an ugly place on the ceiling.
Then, another time, I had a guy out to look at the furnace and that idiot stepped through the ceiling. Never even offered to repair it. Didn't repair the furnace, either. I should have sued him.
Anyway, J went up in the attic and covered the hole from that side, and we went on about ignoring it as usual.

Well, the ceilings in this house are some old material, something like plaster, I guess. Really brittle. Once damaged, it's just a matter of time. As we learned after having the heat/air system installed originally when we moved in. Cutting the vents into the ceilings upstairs was the ceilings' death knell. We've had them breaking apart and falling out every since.

So we knew the staircase ceiling's time was coming. And then a chunk fell out and the situation became more critical because then it really was pretty imminent that the entire thing would be coming down at any time.

Before anything we had to figure out a way to be able to get up there to work, safely. Sorry, no, there wasn't going to be any balancing on ladders, or rickety-scabbed-together scaffolding. I have horrors of broken necks and permanent paralysis. I neither want to be permanently paralyzed, nor to have to take care of someone permanently paralyzed on account of stupidity, when it could have been avoided by being smart to start with.
Some extra work and effort, but much better than spending the rest of your life having to wipe someone's ass. (Or not being able to wipe your own.)

Luckily J agrees with that, and we decided to go buy what we needed to build a good, solid flooring system for us to be able to stand/work on.

We got the new sheetrock put on the ceiling without much problem. Kev and me on ladders holding it up, J screwing it in.

While we were at it, I knew I wanted a new light fixture. Always had, but never could decide what I wanted, and anyway, replacing the existing was too much of an ordeal to mess with it as long as it worked.

As we were headed to the home improvement store to buy sheetrock and the stuff to build the floor, I had a general, fuzzy idea of wanting a metal - industrial look hanging light. It wasn't a clear image, probably something I saw on Pinterest previously.

I also said to J, I wasn't exactly sure what I was wanting on the ceiling. Either the plank look like we did on the wall in the kitchen, or...well, I had thought about tin on the ceiling. But I wasn't sure I would like the look of the tin on the ceiling.
My Mom had suggested tin on ceilings before, but she was talking about a larger room like a kitchen and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't love that.

At the h.i.s., we bought the stuff we needed, and I looked for ceiling products, but they had little to none, or that I could find anyway. Only drop-ceiling stuff. I guess people only do plain, flat painted sheetrock ceilings anymore and made the other stuff obsolete.
Oh well, we still had sheets of that old pecan paneling at home we could slice up and use.

Later that evening, after we'd built the floor system and put the new sheetrock up, it was pretty late, we were tired, and J had to work at the Firehouse the next day, so we put hanging the new light fixture off until the day after that.

In the meantime, I was still waffling back and forth about what to put on the ceiling. I already knew it wasn't going to be taped, mudded, and sanded, so it was planking, textured wallpaper, or tin.
After I got the exact light I had in mind and saw it in person, I leaned a lot more towards the tin.
I googled, and looked on Pinterest, using the corrugated tin as indoor ceiling, and some of them looked pretty nice. I didn't prefer the shiny, new tin, which was a good thing, because the tin we had out in the shed is weathered and rusted.

I girded my loins and told J the next day that I believe I had decided to go with the tin on the ceiling.
Surprisingly, he didn't have a single negative thing to say, and went right along with it.

The tin went up as easily as the sheetrock (it's a really small space), and then, then it was time to install the light fixture.

Ughhhhhh, talk about a PITA.

The old wires were so brittle, they just kept breaking off whenever he tried to twist them together. He said he was going to have to run a new wire.
Which turned into running 4 or 5 new wires, and punching holes in some walls to find the wire coming up from the downstairs switch to be able to replace it.

I'll spare you the details of how an already over-long, complicated job was made twice as worse because someone wanted to do it his way, instead of the right way.

Eventually, finally, we got it up, and the 3-way-switches wired right.

There's still a lot of work to do on the whole staircase. I need to decide what to do with the walls. I'm thinking the plank wall look, but I also considered the faux brick paneling, painted white.

My main consideration, well, actually I have a couple of main considerations...the design, and also expense.

As far as expense, I can do the plank wall look for pretty much free, as long the old paneling holds out, or I can find some more from someone else doing some remodeling. The faux brick paneling we'd have to buy.

Otherwise, I'm not exactly sure what design look I'm going for here. It's a farmhouse, so I was thinking along the lines of "chicken coop" (plank wall look). On the other hand....
The stairs exit into a large open room that used to be the upstairs livingroom. We had it walled off and created a bedroom at one time, but later removed the wall and opened it back up into sort of a den/playroom (currently a junk room).
I have a tentative idea for when/if we ever get that far of making the room into a...not a "man cave" exactly, I'd like it more family friendly, so Mom or girls don't feel excluded from the room, but....meh, I don't know.
I had some vague idea of a vintage firehouse room, decorated with all the firefighter collectibles I have.
I was thinking maybe the room could tie-in nicely with the stair area.

But I still need to keep it farmhouse-y. I already learned the hard way what happens when I try to deviate from the style of this place. It rebels.

At any rate, that's sometime on down the road. Hopefully soon we can get back to the kitchen work.
We need to take a day to go look for countertops, and then the next big project is moving the plumbing, which is at least a good two-day job. (For us, probably a good two-week job.)


Prudent Wisdom said...

oh How exciting and frustrating at the same time. My dream is to "revamp" an old house. Good luck with yours!

Melissa said...

Yes, it is that, mostly frustrating though. Seems like every time we try to do anything, we run into a disaster that turns it into more of an ordeal. The excitement of a project well done only lasts until the beginning of the next project.
I love old houses and would still prefer one over a new one, but I think if I had to do it again, I'd look for one already revamped, and just stick with decorating it.

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