Dressing Up A Plain Door

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we participated in the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge – during which Chris and I remodeled my dressing room.  (More on that at the end of this post.)

Part of the remodel involved rebuilding a small door and giving it some much-needed character.  That was a fun project, but things were moving along so quickly during the One Room Challenge that I never had a chance to talk about it in detail.

So I’m sharing it with you today.

The Door Rebuild

This post contains affiliate links.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

The dressing room has a sloped ceiling that follows the roof line of the house.  As a result, the east wall of the room is very short.  There is a door on that wall that measures just over five feet tall and leads to an unfinished attic space.

It is a hollow-core door that is not original to our circa 1927 house.  The two-inch moldings surrounding the door, and the brushed-brass doorknob, were likely installed around the same time as the door – maybe in the 1950s or 60s.

No doubt it was difficult to find such a small door, and whoever installed it made no attempt to match it with the original single-panel doors in the house (example below).

One of the home’s original single-panel doors.

But, with our remodel underway, we were finally going to change that.

 

Making Space For Period-Appropriate Molding

The door’s only redeeming feature was the beveled mirror.  We carefully removed it and stashed it somewhere safe.  Then Chris pried off the cheap two-inch molding that framed the door.

The molding he would install in its place would be four inches wide. So, Chris used his Ryobi multi tool to cut back the baseboard on either side of the door by two inches to accommodate that wider molding.

The door with its surrounding molding removed and baseboard moldings cut back a couple of inches on either side.

 

Installing Reclaimed 1920s Molding

We actually had the right molding on hand – and it was original to the house!  It had been removed from another room we’d remodeled, and Chris had been saving it for just this type of occasion.

Now the molding around the door would match the other moldings in the house.  It was in slightly rough shape, but we could fix that later by sanding and spackling.

A Molding/Doorknob Conundrum

So as I mentioned earlier, the other doors in the house are the single-panel doors that are very common in 1920s houses.  We decided the easiest way to make this door look like the others would be to install molding around the perimeter of the door itself to give it the appearance of a single-panel door.

Adding molding to the door would mean that the location of the doorknob would have to change.  So, Chris created a wooden plug for the existing doorknob hole.  This plug would be concealed later by spackling and paint.

Now the molding could be installed around the perimeter of the door.

Sand, Spackle, Prime, and Paint

With all the molding installed, it was finally time for me to sand, spackle, prime, and paint the door and moldings.  I used Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.

Once this was done, it was time to add some pretty little details.

 

A Vintage Doorknob

All the original doors in the house have either glass or antique brass knobs.  We had some 1920s vintage door hardware on hand, but most of it was too large and out of scale for this petite door.

Luckily, we’ve collected a pretty good stash of old house parts over the years and, rummaging through it, we found these elegant little beauties.

 

Their small and narrow profiles would fit the door.  But there was no lock mechanism to go with them.  And even if there had been, it may not have worked with the door.

But Chris made do.  He installed the faceplate and the knob. For a door latch, he installed a ball catch – much like you would find on old cabinet doors.

A vintage doorknob and faceplate with a ball catch as a door latch.

So, when I open the door, I don’t actually turn the knob.  I just pull.  And to latch it closed again, I just push.  It’s very simple but it works – and it looks pretty.

Nicer Hinges

We also replaced the flimsy hinges on the door with vintage hinges we had on hand which, besides being very well made, are identical to the hinges on the home’s original doors.

 

Re-Installing The Mirror

Then it was just a matter of re-installing the beveled mirror.

The Result

The door is exactly what I wanted in this room:  1920s elegance, feminine but classic, and in a soft vintagey white.

Our efforts to keep things in scale for this small door paid off.  Looking at this photo, you wouldn’t immediately notice that the door is only about five feet tall.

But there is one small drawback:  The molding we installed on the door itself does not sit flush with the molding that frames the door opening.  So, the door appears to protrude a tiny bit, as you can see from the photo below.

But the overall look is such an improvement that I feel it’s a small price to pay.

To recap, here is the before,

Before

 

And the after.

After

This was a fun little project that made a big impact.

 

 

The door now looks like it’s been with the house all along.

More On Our Dressing Room Remodel

For this remodel, we challenged ourselves to work on a very tight budget – and to keep the carbon footprint small by using repurposed items that we either had on hand or found at salvage shops.  Since we were trying for a very specific look, we really had to get creative.  The challenges we set for ourselves made the project fun!

If you want to see more of this remodel, check out my posts below.

Resources

An ever-changing and vast inventory of vintage door hardware and vintage hinges can be found on Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 

 

 

 

 

ORC Week 6: Dressing Room Remodel – The Final Reveal

We’re here at last:  The big “ta-da” moment in our One Room Challenge® adventure! For five weeks, my husband Chris and I have been remodeling my small and quirky dressing room, and I’ve been posting weekly updates.  And it’s all come down to this:  The final reveal!

In case you missed them, here are links to my previous posts:

Project Recap

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more information on my affiliate links, please see my affiliate disclosure page.

The Space

My little dressing room, located on the second floor, measures roughly 70 square feet.  And those square feet are very oddly shaped.

In addition to the odd shape, this room also has a sloping ceiling that follows the roofline along the east side.  It has two doors:  An entry door and a door leading to an unfinished attic space.

 

Design Goals

Our house was built in 1927 so, although we don’t want the house to look like a shrine to the 1920s, we always want new work – cabinetry, hardware, doors, and moldings – to blend seamlessly with the existing design features of the house.

I feel that the house’s original design features are easy on the eyes.  They’re simple and clean – yet charming.  And they’ve stood the test of time.  So I would rather use those design features than a trend that will look dated in a few years anyway.

Clutter Busting

You’ll see that the little dressing room was a claustrophobic and cluttered mess.  I wanted the redesign to include ample storage yet feel spacious.

Color

The room is small and has a sloped ceiling, so I decided to use one paint color on every surface, including that sloped ceiling, all the moldings, and all the cabinetry that we added.

The goal was for the room to be brighter, more elegant, more cohesive – and for that sloped ceiling to feel less oppressive.  I opted for good old “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.

Budget

Since what we were remodeling was basically a closet, we challenged ourselves to keep the budget tight.  So, a challenge within a challenge!  We had lots of fun with this.  We sourced cabinetry pieces through Craigslist, salvage shops, and our own basement storage.  We always look to repurpose items instead of buying new when we can anyway – not only to save money but also because it’s an earth-friendly alternative.

The total expenditure (outlined in detail last week) was under $900 U.S.

Let’s start the tour!

Dressing Room Tour

Won’t you come in.

The North Wall

North wall after

Before the remodel, the north wall looked like this.

North wall before

I’d brought in a portable garment rack because there was not enough rod space in the room to hang my clothes.  A patched-together assortment of old dressers, shoe boxes, and racks made for a cluttered look that scratched away at my psyche every time I entered the room.  And there was a lot of vertical wall space going to waste here.

Now I have the enclosed wardrobe space.

Plus, for longer items, the new garment rod we installed over a shoe bench.

The new garment rod, which adds a much-needed rustic touch to the room, is made of authentic industrial pipe.

We did away with the worn carpet in the room, but failed in our attempt to daylight the original fir floor, which is buried under mid century linoleum.

 

 

Instead, we covered the whole mess with a plywood underlayment, and then I painted, stenciled, and protected the plywood with a finish.

I love all the space that I have in the large wardrobe, which we purchased from a private seller on Craigslist and then refurbished.  It’s a perfect width for the alcove space.  Above the wardrobe, baskets will hold things I rarely use – like ski gear and travel accessories.

In the northeast corner, we added a vintage leaded glass cabinet, which we rehabbed and then put on these turned legs so that it would be tall enough to clear the baseboard and fit snugly in the corner.

Years ago, we bought two of these cabinets at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  This cabinet’s mirror-image twin currently lives in our kitchen.

My vintage dolls and other little items were collecting dust in this room, and one of my goals for the remodel was to find a place where they could be displayed but protected from dust.  I also wanted a better system for organizing my jewelry.

The vintage cabinet meets both needs.  We added hooks to make necklaces easy to sort and find.

And all my little vintage items that used to drive me crazy have a home now.

I love how the north wall turned out.  It’s fun, it has character, yet it’s calm and uncluttered – a far cry from the chaos I had going on before.

Northeast wall before

Looking at these before photos again, it’s surprising to me how much larger this wall space looks now.

North wall after

 

 

We did keep the light fixture that was already in the room.  It was a recent upgrade – a vintage milk glass light.

The East Wall

The ceiling slopes all along the east wall.  There is a short door that leads to an attic space.  It’s a cheap, hollow-core door that is not original to the house.  It had a 1970s-era knob, flimsy hinges, and was framed in with tragically cheap molding.  Its only redeeming quality was the beveled dressing mirror.  Otherwise, it was very sad.

East wall before

Since the door is a custom size, Chris decided to rehab it instead of having a new one made.

 

 

He added 1920s moldings that he’d saved from another project, and he added vintage hardware that we already had on hand – including a petite vintage glass door knob that would fit well on this petite door.

He made this cheap hollow-core door look original to our house – all without spending a cent.

On the east wall, we turn to face the south wall.

The South Wall

The south wall is a strange part of the room that is not even four feet wide.  It’s a long, narrow alcove that felt even narrower because of where I had placed the tall dresser.

Southeast wall before

It was no fun trying to get anything out of these drawers.  And, as you can see, this is where the carpeting stopped and an area rug took over.  Pretty classy!

Here is the area now.

Southeast wall after

 

 

Since the overhead light is near the north wall, this part of the room was dark at night, so our one splurge for the room was to buy a 1920s-era sconce light, which had been professionally restored, from a salvage shop.

Restored 1920s sconce light

Up until yesterday, we were still working on this part of the room.  I decided at the last minute that a chair was needed here, but it would have to be very petite.

I had this little bentwood chair kicking around in our basement.  But of course it needed work, and I was still putting the final touches on my “ebonized” finish for it yesterday morning.  And the faux fur seat cover arrived just in time.

At the same salvage shop where we found the sconce light, we found two narrow kitchen cabinets that, rehabbed and put together with an old dresser from our basement, would work nicely for the space around the window.

 

 

Where these kitchen cabinets once held canned goods, they now will hold sweaters – or maybe handbags.

And the old dresser, with its inset drawers, looks identical to the original built-in cabinetry in our home.  For a detailed account of how we installed these built-ins, please see this post.

 

We added glass cabinet knobs to all the pieces to match the cabinet hardware throughout the house.

And I lined all the shelves and drawers in this south wall installation with a retro-floral shelf paper that I just love.

It was easy to reposition – unlike some other shelf papers that I would end up wadding and throwing away in frustration.

 

 

So you might be wondering if I forgot to add wall art.  But actually I love this uncluttered look so much that I have no desire to hang anything on these soothing white walls.  I might change my mind at some point, but right now I can almost feel my blood pressure drop when I walk into this room.

For a detailed account of how I organized this dressing room, please see this post.

Just Lucky

Seems some home improvement projects are difficult from the get-go.  But with other projects, things just fall into place.  With this project, I was lucky.

Lucky because the floor stencil measured out so perfectly for the room dimensions.

Lucky because we found, or already had on hand, cabinetry pieces that fit so well into the strange little spaces that we were working with.

But most of all lucky because Chris so good-naturedly embarked on this challenge with me.

 

Without his mad DIY skills and his honest, informed opinions, this project would never have gotten off the ground.

More To Come

After the holiday season, I’ll be sharing more about the revamp of the little bentwood chair, details about the door rehab, and how we made two kitchen cabinets and an old dresser look like built-ins.

Visit The Other Challenge Participants

This six-week challenge has been intense for both of us.  But it’s also been very rewarding.  Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement along the way.  It made a world of difference!

I can’t wait to check out the other final reveals happening through the One Room Challenge.  Participant reveals can be found here.

Sources

Icarus Tile Floor Stencil
Wardrobe:  Private seller via Craigslist
Vintage Sconce Light:  Second Use
Salvaged Kitchen Cabinets:   Second Use
Shoe Rack:  Target
Glass Cabinet Knobs:  House of Antique Hardware
Yifely Retro Floral Self-Adhesive Shelf Paper
Pipe Decor Dual Flange Style Garment Rack
Legs for Leaded Glass Cabinet:  BingLTD “Pauline” Sofa Legs
Junovo Premium Faux Fur Sheepskin Seat Cushion Chair Cover

The baskets above the wardrobe were a Marshall’s find, but similar covered baskets can be found here.

For more on this project, see my posts below.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 


ORC Week 5: Dressing Room Remodel – Putting the Pieces Together

Welcome to Week 5 of the One Room Challenge®.  It’s been a busy week, and we’ve made some progress on the remodel of my little dressing room.  And we needed to – next week is the big reveal!

I can sum up my week in five words:  Clean, sand, prime, paint, repeat. Not that I’m complaining.  But I am dreaming of the day, hopefully soon, when I can actually use this cute little dressing room.

But I have the easy part.  It’s up to Chris to make all the pieces that I’ve been painting fit into the room and more or less look built in – maybe even like they could be original to our circa 1927 house.

Except for one piece, the shoe rack I shared last week, all of the cabinetry in this room will be second-hand items that we have rehabbed and repurposed.

In case you missed them, here are my Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 posts.

 

Projects Everywhere

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

I had paint projects scattered throughout the house.

A cabinet door in the living room.

Cabinet legs in the dining room.

The cabinet itself, and the body of a vintage dresser, in the upstairs landing.

And the dresser drawers in the driveway.

These pieces were cleaned with this pre-paint cleaner followed by a soap and water wash.

A Visit To The Salvage Shop

We visited a local architectural salvage shop hoping to find a vintage sconce light for the room – which we did.  But we also found these little kitchen cabinets.  Believe it or not, they are just what the room needs – and we found them in the nick of time.

What we liked about them, besides their great condition and affordable price, was the single-panel doors.  We knew that, once we painted them and replaced the door hardware, they would resemble the original single-panel cabinetry that appears throughout our house.

A Rustic Touch

Since the room will be mostly white, I thought it needed a little rustic counterbalance.

So we bought this wall-mounted garment rack kit.  Made of authentic industrial pipe, it’s exactly the look I wanted.  We could have made our own out of plumbing parts, but it was actually less expensive to buy this kit.

 

Every piece had a protective coating of grease to keep it from rusting.  So they all needed to be cleaned and then sealed with a spray-on finish.  Since I was running out of work space, I did that project on the back patio.

The Vintage Cabinet

Several years ago, we bought two adorable vintage cabinets for $5 apiece at a garage sale.  If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember that we used one of them in our kitchen.

Vintage cabinet used in the kitchen

We needed to put that cabinet on legs to clear the heat register in the wall behind it.

We are using the second cabinet in the dressing room.  And that one also needed to go on legs – this time to clear the baseboard so it would fit snugly against the wall.  Since we like them and they are a good value, we used the same legs that we’d installed on the first cabinet.

The only difference is that I painted these legs with the “Simply White” cabinet paint instead of using a finish on them.

Chris inset the legs just enough so that they would clear the baseboard.  The cabinet was going in a corner, so it had to clear the baseboard on two walls.

Just like with the first cabinet, Chris anchored this one to the wall.  After all, we live in earthquake country.

I had several little paint sample containers left from when I was deciding on the floor color.  So I used one of them – Iron Frost by Valspar – to paint the interior of the cabinet and give it a little interest.

Because this cabinet has a leaded glass door, it can display “pretty” things.  So Chris installed brass hooks along the top of the interior where I can hang necklaces and scarves.

The South Wall Comes Together

I haven’t shared much about the south wall of the room.  That’s because, until now, there wasn’t much going on.  It’s a very narrow portion of the room (not even four feet wide) and easy to over-fill.  So our goal is to make it a useful yet uncluttered space.

This is where the vintage dresser and those salvage shop kitchen cabinets come into play.  Put together, they work around a sloped ceiling and a window.

It doesn’t look like much yet, but I’m hoping it will soon!

 

Cabinet Hardware

All the cabinetry in the room will have the same hardware – glass knobs that match what is already on the cabinetry throughout the house.

Vintage glass knobs are fairly common, and I assumed they’d be easy to find locally.  But none of the salvage shops we visited had enough of them.  So we had to buy reproductions.

A few days ago, 19 of these little cuties arrived from the House of Antique Hardware.

There we found the best price on the glass knobs we needed – and by searching I found an online coupon I could use. The knobs look great, but the screws they came with are all too long, so we will need to size every one of them down.

That’s on the list, but the list is getting a little shorter.

And speaking of lists . . .

The Numbers

Even with a super-small budget, things add up.  Here is what the actual project cost is looking like, in round numbers.  (The vintage dresser is not included because we’ve had that piece forever.)

Wall, Trim, Cabinet, and Floor Paint and Floor Stencil $150
Craigslist Wardrobe $100
Vintage Sconce Light $95
Salvage Shop Kitchen Cabinets $55
Target Shoe Rack $30
Glass Cabinet Knobs $55
Retro Floral Shelf Paper $45
Wardrobe Casters $15
Legs for Leaded Glass Cabinet $40
Industrial Pipe Clothing Rack $30
Garage Sale Leaded Glass Cabinet $5
Plywood Underlayment $50
Estimated Misc. Supplies and Decor Items $200
PROJECT TOTAL $870

 

My hat is off to the other participants of this challenge.  Just remodeling my little dressing room in the time allotted, and photographing and writing about it every week, has indeed been a challenge.  If you have time, check out what some of the other participants are up to.

Come back next week for the big reveal!

For more on this project, see my posts below.

 

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 


ORC Week 4: Dressing Room Remodel – Customizing A Craigslist Wardrobe

I can’t believe it’s already Week 4 of the One Room Challenge® .  Six weeks seemed like plenty of time to remodel my little dressing room, but now I’m not so sure!

In case you missed any of them, here are my Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 posts.

When we left off last week, I had finished stenciling the floor.  It was a lot of work, and now it was time to protect that work.

Protecting the Stenciled Floor

Disclosure:  Affiliate links appear below.

Still following the excellent advice that I’d found here, I covered the stenciled floor with four coats of this Rust-Oleum Verathane finish in satin.

Since this was a small room, I used this Shur-Line paint and stain applicator and got a nice, even finish.  (Of course, not wanting to take any chances, I didn’t use an extension handle. I was on my knees at floor level!)

HANDy paint tray

And to reward myself for having come this far, I finally broke out my new HANDy paint tray.  But more on that later.

I applied four coats of the finish, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.  After the last coat, I let the room just sit empty for a few days to make darn sure the finish was dry.

So, lots of drying time.  But while this was going on, Chris and I were tackling a monster.

The Wardrobe (aka, “The Monster”)

Chris and I found this wardrobe listed by a private seller on Craigslist.  I wish I’d taken a photo of it before we set it on sawhorses in our living room.  But at the time, it was all I could do to help him muscle it in from the truck.

So, here it is on sawhorses.

Carrying it down to the basement workshop was out of the question.  This was a huge and solid piece of wood furniture.  It was in great condition and it smelled fresh.  And the best part (besides the price – only $100) was that, according to our measurements, it would fit perfectly into an alcove in the dressing room.

That is, with a few modifications.

 

Making it Fit

The top piece was wider than the body of the cabinet.  So, the first thing Chris did was pull off that top piece and trim the sides to make it fit the alcove space.

Yes, it would fit – barely.

But there was another problem:  The baseboard.  In order for the wardrobe to fit, the baseboard in that alcove space had to go.

Alcove after removing the baseboard

Chris used his Ryobi multi tool for this.  I was a bit worried about the floor, but he didn’t damage it.

Meanwhile, I cleaned, lightly sanded, primed, and painted the wardrobe.

The Paint

Again I used my new HANDy paint tray.  It has a feature that I just love:  A magnet holds the paint brush so it doesn’t slip into the paint.

The paintbrush looks like it’s suspended in midair, but a magnet holds it in place

Even with a much-used paint brush like mine, with many coats of paint over the metal, the magnet held it.

HANDy paint tray in use

I used a roller and my Shur-Line edger to apply the primer.

For applying the paint, I used my Shur-Line paint and stain applicator – the same tool I’d used to apply the floor finish. (Of course I still needed to use a small paintbrush for the detail work).

This method gave me what I wanted:  An even application that looked more like a “factory finish” than I could have gotten by using the conventional roller-and-back-brushing method.

And it seemed like less work.

So I applied two coats of the Benjamin Moore “Simply White” cabinet paint – the same paint that I’d used on the moldings and doors in the dressing room.

The Wardrobe Goes Upstairs!

Then Chris and my brother Dan hauled the huge monster up our narrow staircase and muscled it into place in the alcove.

Wardrobe (sans doors and drawers) in place in the alcove. This kind of fit was exactly what I was looking for.  One my goals for the room, which I listed in my Week 1 introduction, was to add furniture that looked built in but was actually removable.

This piece fits the space so well, and finding it on Craigstlist was very fortunate – like finding a needle in a haystack.

 

 

If you’re into details, you probably noticed the small attic hatch in the ceiling above the wardrobe.  Nothing is stored in that attic but, if there were ever a roof leak, we might need to access that attic space.

So Chris put the wardrobe on these low-profile trundle casters.  Now it can be moved when we need to get into the attic.  And, unless you know to look for them, the casters aren’t really that noticeable.

We put little wedges in front of the casters for now, but we’re going to anchor the wardrobe to the wall with an easy-to-remove screw.

And then Chris will replace the baseboard that runs along the wall in front of the wardrobe.  But that too will have screws instead of nails so it can be removed if we ever need to roll the wardrobe out.

A “Customized” Shoe Rack

I bought this shoe rack (which is actually called a horizontal cube) from Target because its style and dimensions were perfect for the space I had in mind.

 

 

I wanted it to fit flush against the wall, but again the baseboard was an issue.  So Chris carefully cut a small chunk out of the back of the shoe rack to make it fit neatly around the baseboard.

Shoe rack cut to fit around the baseboard

The shoe rack came unassembled, so Chris could make the necessary cuts before he assembled it.

I love that the white of the shoe rack is so close to the Simply White that I’ve been painting everything.  The only thing I don’t like about this piece is that the screw heads are exposed.  But I’m not sure they will be very noticeable once the other pieces we have planned for this wall are in place.

 

No, those wooden knobs on the wardrobe are not staying

By the way, this shoe rack is the only new piece of furniture going into this room.  All the other pieces will be ones that we already had or that we purchased second-hand.

After all, this is a budget project.

Coming Next Week

We are getting down to the wire, and there is still so much ground to cover. We need to install a second light fixture, a garment rack, a bit of molding, and possibly a wall shelf. Chris has more furniture customizing to do.

And I have more painting – much more.  After the wardrobe went upstairs, I immediately put another piece on the sawhorses in our living room.

 

Lots of white will be going into the dressing room, but I’ll leave you with a little preview of some of the other colors that we’ll be incorporating.

Valspar “Iron Frost” paint and a retro-floral self-adhesive drawer liner

There are so many amazing room transformations happening over on the One Room Challenge.  If you get a chance, check out what some of the featured designers and the other guest participants are working on.

For more on this project, see my posts below.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel

 

Exploring

 


ORC Week 3: Dressing Room Remodel – Stenciling The Floor

Well it’s Week 3 of the fall 2019 One Room Challenge® , and I survived it with my sanity intact.  Barely.

I was stenciling the floor.  All week.

In case you missed them, check out my Week 1 and Week 2 posts.  They explain the strange little dressing room that my husband and I are remodeling.

Why A Stencil?

Disclosure:  Affiliate links appear below.

Chris had installed a plywood floor in the room to cover some hideous mid century linoleum.  (Check out Week 2 to see the ugly linoleum!)

We came to the conclusion that, to avoid having too much of a height variance between the hallway and dressing room floors, and to keep this project cost-effective, simply painting the plywood was the best option.

The mostly-white room would need something to “pop,” so we kept coming back to the idea of a stenciled floor.  After all, stenciled floors and stenciled tiles are kind of a thing right now.

But sometimes it doesn’t take long for “a thing” to become “that old thing,” which is why I try to keep my decor classic and avoid those kinds of “things.”

Then it dawned on me that this is just paint – one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to infuse a trend.  Once the stencil is not “a thing” anymore, I can simply paint over it.  But I really don’t want it to come to that, so we chose this classic eight-inch stencil.

You can see that four stylized fleur-de-lis images make up the eight-inch square.  It really doesn’t get more classic than the fleur-de-lis, which has been around for centuries.

And it would also work with nicely with the original design elements of our circa 1927 house.

The Fun Begins!

I suspected (and rightly so) that this project would be time consuming and frustrating.  So I did a little research and found a wealth of information over at lovelyetc. com.  Here, Carrie talks about her DIY stenciled plywood living room floor.  She even has updates on how it is holding up.

Not wanting to re-invent the wheel, I followed her advice pretty much to the letter.  And when I didn’t follow her advice, I lived to regret it (more on that later).

Before we go any further, I should mention that plywood is considered a subfloor, and this might become an issue when selling a home because some lenders don’t like exposed subfloors.  Not sure if that would count in my case because there is a “real” floor under the plywood, but it’s worth mentioning.

The Paint and Colors

I used Valspar Porch, Floor and Patio Latex Paint.  After much deliberation (insert eye roll by my husband here), my colors were “Crucible” for the base coat and “Fresh Bread” for the stencil.

With the room being so tiny, a quart of each was enough.

Applying the Base Coat

I’d already applied two coats of Zinnser Bulls Eye Primer.  So over this, I applied two coats of the Crucible using a roller cover designed for smooth surfaces and my trusty, and much used, Shur-Line edger for the edges.  (And of course, I vacuumed the floor, the roller cover, and edger pad within an inch of their lives first, for a lint-free application.)

This was definitely the easy part.

Measuring For the Stencil – What, No Way!!

Measure twice, stencil once.  I measured the room to figure out the best plan of attack for the pattern I was about to paint.  If there would be a part-pattern along any edge, which edge should it be?  And then where should I start?

After measuring, I was sure I was wrong.  No way could I be this lucky:  The pattern repeat would fit perfectly with the dimensions of this weirdly-shaped little room.  There would be no part-patterns along any of the floor edges!

To better wrap my head around this (and to practice a bit more with the stencil), I painted the pattern repeat on a test board that I’d used earlier to experiment with paint colors.

I wasn’t wrong.

 

Painting the Stencil

The size of my stencil turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.  While it fit perfectly with the room dimensions, at eight inches it was a very small stencil for use on a floor.  I bought it because I liked it, knowing full well that Carrie recommends using a larger stencil.

I’d created a lot of work for myself.

The process took many hours over several days.  I learned that the stencil worked best if wasn’t too clean but also not too gummed up with paint.  Medium gummy was just right.  And it was important not to oversaturate the roller with paint.  Less paint on the roller meant less cursing by me.

stenciled plywood floor

I kept a wet rag handy to wipe away any mistakes.  And there were mistakes.

The stencil had a guide to make it easier to keep the pattern lined up.

But I was so focused on keeping the lines straight that I forgot one important fact:  Straight lines and old houses don’t mix.

I found out the hard way that one of the walls runs ever so slightly at an angle. So, while the stencil pattern lined up, it looked a bit crooked running next to that wall.

I had to paint over that portion and start again – carefully repainting it so that the pattern looked lined up yet still ran straight along the wall.

stenciled plywood floor
Once the quarter-round is installed around the baseboard, this will look just right!

By this time, I was dreaming about the end of this project, when I would light a glorious bonfire and watch that stencil burn!  (Of course it was only a dream since burning plastic is very uncool.)

And I shouldn’t be mad at the stencil anyway.  Made in the U.S.A., it was good quality.  It held up well considering how many times I cleaned it during the process.

The Result

Now the hard part is over.  The floor looks a bit busy but, once the furniture is in, it will all come together.

stenciled plywood floor

It’s not perfect, but it is a hand-painted floor so I think the imperfections give it character.  That is what I’m telling myself, anyway.

Because, perfect or not, I’m done stenciling!

stenciled plywood floor

Coming Next Week

The next step is to protect my work with several coats of finish, and then we can focus on the furniture.

For more on this project, see my posts below.

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

 

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Finding A Home’s Hidden Past

Our house was built on a country lane over 90 years ago.  Slowly the city grew in around it, and the neighborhood it sits in now is nothing at all like the one it started in. 

Chris and I have always been interested in the history of our house and the evolution of our neighborhood. What were the original owners like?  Why did they choose this location for their house?  And how had our house changed over time? 

We’ve been able to locate many pieces of the puzzle, so today I’m sharing the methods we used in finding our home’s hidden past.

County Tax Records

Property tax assessors like to keep close tabs on the real estate that they tax.

Starting back in 1937, our county periodically took photographs of every home in the county.  Those old photos are now housed in archives that our state maintains.  For a small fee, we ordered a copy of the 1937 photograph of our house. 

(Many of our friends and neighbors with old houses have done the same.  We just refer to them as the “old tax photos,” and we proudly frame them.)

So what did we learn from the photo?  We’d always known that most of the windows on the south side of our house have been replaced, and we could only guess what the original windows looked like.  But there they were in the tax photo – mullioned leaded glass windows.  So now we have a reference in case we ever want to duplicate them. 

We could also see that, at the time of the photo, our house was in a much more rural setting.

The photograph came with a copy of an old property record card.  It contained some goodies – like the a sketch of the house’s “footprint,” the year it was built, the home’s condition at the time, and of course some assessment information.

 

City and State Archives

Our city has an extensive online collection of historic photographs and records, mostly pertaining to civic projects.  And while a search of the records didn’t turn up anything on our house specifically, browsing the collection taught us about our neighborhood.

Now trendy and crowded, this street was part of an unvarnished working-class neighborhood back in 1975. Image courtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives, Image number 179254.

Title Reports

When financing a house, banks usually require title insurance.  And that title insurance policy usually comes with a title report. 

Title reports are pretty tedious, and my eyes usually glaze over after the first page.  But they can contain all kinds of clues about a home’s past. 

Several years ago, hoping to gain even more detailed information about our house, we ordered a chain-of-title report from a title company.  Chain-of-title reports are usually done by request, where title reports are done as backup for title insurance policies.  So, chain-of-title reports can sometimes contain more detail than a title report. 

Our chain-of-title report went back to 1922 when the bare lot was sold as a two-acre parcel of land. 

Starting there, it showed every division of the property and every change in ownership – including the names of all former owners.  

The report showed that the most recent subdivision of the lot happened in the 1950s.  The timing makes sense since the house next door is of mid-century architecture and sits on land that was once a part of our home’s original lot.

With the information from our report, we headed to the library to look at . . . 

Old City Directories

Old city directories often list a person’s occupation.  In 1927, when our house was built, the property was owned by a married couple.  By looking them up in an old city directory, we learned that the husband was a plaster contractor.  So this could be why our house has a stucco exterior in a city where the majority of older homes are wood clad.

 

Prima Shower Valve Mixer

Old Newspapers

I was thrilled to find out that our city library had scanned our old local newspapers and made them searchable.  From an old obituary, we learned that the couple who built the house came from England.  This might explain why our house was built in the English cottage style.

And it gives context to something we’d found in the house:  When we remodeled our kitchen several years ago, we discovered a closet that we didn’t even know we had.  It had been walled in and forgotten during an unfortunate mid-century kitchen remodel undertaken by the same owner who had subdivided the lot.  Inside the closet was an old wooden coat hanger from England. 

That coat hanger is now part of the collection of vintage coat hangers in our laundry room

Historical Maps

Around the mid-1800s, the Sanborn Map Company started creating “fire insurance” maps of cities and towns.  These maps are sometimes available at local libraries.  And the Library of Congress  has a large digital collection. 

The Kroll Map Company also keeps an archive of their historical maps.  We got a plat map of our neighborhood from about the 1930s showing the original two-acre lot that our house once sat on – along with the other large lots that made up our neighborhood at the time.

 

Snooping Around Our House

With old houses, something as innocuous as a patch in the plaster can tell a story.  

And remodel projects can often reveal clues to a house’s past.  We found more than just that old coat hanger during the demolition process of our kitchen remodel.

But through its little quirks, our house is always talking to us: There is a tiny door in the wall halfway up the basement stairs that opens into a closet that is also accessible from the kitchen.  Upon further investigation, we found the pipe for the original kitchen stove tucked into the back of this closet.  So, the little door halfway up the basement stairs could have been to make it easier to bring coal up from the basement (where the old coal shoot emptied) to use in the kitchen stove. 

There is also an old cistern in the ground under our carport.  No doubt it was used for irrigation in the former rural setting.

Talking to Neighbors and Former Occupants

Long-time residents are usually very happy when newcomers take an interest in neighborhood history.  

From talking with retired neighbors (including our friend Mr. B) we learned that, in addition to having dairy pastures, our neighborhood was once the site of an experimental orchard.  There is a reason that the old fruit trees that grace many of our back yards are aligned so perfectly with one another!

But one lucky day, we really hit the jackpot:  The nephew of that plaster contractor from the 1920s showed up in our driveway!  

He’d actually lived in our house for a short time during his childhood.  He remembered the day his uncle planted the now-huge weeping cherry tree in the front garden.

He also remembered their friendly dog, the couple’s vegetable patch where the house next door now stands, and how his uncle kept a bottle there – hidden from his teetotaling wife. 

He remembered big family dinners on Sunday, and he laughed at us because what we were using as our “dining room” was actually just an alcove where his uncle smoked his pipe.  No wonder it is so small! 

We convinced him to return with old photos.  One of the photos, from the 1940s, was of the original kitchen – with a large farmhouse table in the middle.  There sat the extended family – enjoying one of those Sunday dinners.  The photo confirmed what I had long suspected:  The original kitchen had been an eat-in kitchen. 

The nephew also helped us solve the mystery of the strange little cupboard in the wall behind our laundry room:  It was used to store root vegetables from the garden.  

Sad Stories

If a house has been around long enough, it’s sure to have seen some sadness.  And while the visiting nephew had only happy memories to share, a neighbor told us a very different story – about a family tragedy that had taken place in our house in the 1970s. 

But that is the risk we take when we delve into the past.  Not everything we uncover will be pleasant.  But it’s all part of life.

Did I Miss Anything?

In researching our old house, I’m sure we overlooked some resources – census records for example.  So, I’d love to hear about any research tips you have – or any interesting discoveries about your own old house.  

 

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.

 

 

Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
Entertaining
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel
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