Friday, January 7, 2011

Front room and hall, part 1

The current project is to paint the front room and finish the hall. I thought I'd walk you through my decision making process. First, here's the status quo.

The front room is horrible. The shiny white walls, wood wainscoting, and fieldstone fireplace conspire to make the room seem long, skinny, and gloomy. This view doesn't look that bad, but if you see it at night or from a different angle, it looks strange.

Front room

Plus - this is a personal thing - it bugs the crap out of me that all the trim in the entire room is door casing trim.

It's really saveable, though. It needs either no crown molding or proper crown molding, chair rail above the wainscoting, baseboard below it, and a new paint job. More than likely, the wainscoting will be off-white semi-gloss, same as all the rest of the trim. The walls will be satin, probably two colors - maybe a chocolatey color for the wall opposite the window, and a lighter version for the other walls.

The hall can also be drastically improved on a small budget. I don't like the hall trim.

This stuff is the cheapest possible trim you can install. (Again, a personal thing. G doesn't seem to notice at all, and no visitors have yet gasped "Egads! Your trim is so tacky!")

I'm perfectly happy with builder-grade standard trim. I bought some primed MDF door casing bundles a while back, and I've got baseboard left over from the den project. I also need to repaint - the hall only has one coat on it, and it looks "thin" to my eyes.

I also hate the dark chocolate cheap doors. They're entirely composed of pressboard with some swirls that are supposed to look like woodgrain. One of the doors is broken - it was kicked at some point.

Let's talk about how I narrowed (and expanded) the scope of this particular project.

I first considered working on the hall. I'd need to pull the door and floor trim, put up new trim, caulk it, and paint it. Then I'd need to touch up the walls where I'd caulked the trim. I'd need to pull the doors, one at a time, and paint or replace them. I'd need a space to work on the craigslist doors.

What else can I logically accomplish while I'm doing this? The first thing that came to mind is the floor. The idiots who laid the laminate in the hall didn't bother to cut the bottoms of the door trim - they just hacksawed around where the floor boards butt up to the door trim. And they didn't pull the baseboard - the laminate just comes near the edges of the walls. If that's not bad enough, a couple of pieces are not quite locked in right, and they've started chipping.

The walls just need more paint. The ceilings are blown popcorn, and I painted them in September. That's all the elements of the hall accounted for.

Next - what's my budget? What do I need to purchase to make this happen?

I don't want to spend a lot of money on the floor. We plan to replace the laminate with real hardwood within a couple of years, five at the most. Fortunately, my barn has a couple boxes of extra laminate that the previous owners left for us. All I had to buy was a rubber mallet to tap the pieces in.

Next - the trim. I bought quite a bit of door trim, but I don't think I have enough. Hmm. That's when I considered adding the front room to the project. If I pulled the out-of-place door trim from freakin' everywhere in the front room, I wouldn't have to buy so much for the hall. I probably need a few more pieces of baseboard, and I need several sticks of quarter round to cover up the jagged floor edges. I have enough caulk and I have more than enough paint. If I reuse the door trim from the front room, I'll need a space to sand and prime it. I'll need an orbital sander, though - that's more sanding than I care to do by hand.

Finally, the doors. Back when we first put in an offer on the house, I'd been watching craigslist/materials and I saw a guy who had $5 doors for sale. Check out doors at any store - $5 doors are a steal! As soon as we bought the house, I measured all the doors and bought replacements for all that I could. I needed more doors than he had in one size, and he didn't have the narrowest door at all, but still - I got good doors for a great price. They've been patiently waiting in the garage. I'm just going to repaint the smallest door, and maybe I'll order a matching one at HD or Lowe's in the future. I think having off white doors will really open up the hall - the dark chocolate doors make it feel cramped and gloomy. To work on the doors, all I need is a sander, some paint, and a space to paint them. The hinge screws on the existing doors are pretty stripped, so I need more hinge screws. I also need a hole saw, because my doors are blanks.

What else would I need to fix the front room at the same time?
I looked pretty carefully at the front room. The beadboard doesn't run all the way to the door openings to the kitchen and hall. For the kitchen, I can reuse the trim and trim around the doorway. The hall opening wouldn't look right trimmed, and the existing beadboard is too short. I could take it down or I could buy one new sheet of beadboard and replace it. I thought the room would look even weirder with only one beadboard wall - and we do like the looks of the stuff - so I'd need to buy a sheet of beadboard. I'll also need baseboard, chair rail, caulk, an orbital sander, trim paint, and wall paint. I have some crown molding left over, and I might add crown to the front room too. I might need another piece for that, though.

What's my tally so far?

Door trim. Baseboard. Quarter round. A rubber mallet. Cheap thresholds. Caulk. Paint. Two types of hole saws. Some screws. A sander. A sheet of beadboard. Chair rail. Crown molding.

There's a reason I keep listing "a sander" over and over again. If I only needed the sander for scuffing up the door trim, maybe I wouldn't buy one right now. I'd do a little cost/benefit analysis to buying a sander - it's how many extra hours of work versus the price of a sander and some pads? But since I need the sander for trim, doors, and beadboard, it's totally worth it.

Let's talk about the thresholds. If I am going to pull the floor and replace the peeling piece of laminate, due to how the floor's laid out, I'll have to pull a threshold. Those things are really cheap and really hard to reuse, so I'll buy a new one. The aluminum ones look stupid and cheap. I like the oak ones... but do I really want to splurge on an oak threshold for a floor I don't like? Nah, probably not - I'll just get a matching aluminum threshold.

I talked with my husband and we decided this is an affordable project that will add a lot to our enjoyment of the house / potential resale value. It's a go!


  1. i love your new blog! do you guys watch a lot of HGTV? we watched it almost every day in seattle, my husband loves it: ) wish there was something like it here. as we watched a re-wiring job, my man was surprised and said that type of wiring is no longer legal in germany.

    when we first moved in, the front door caught on the floor tiles and would not open more than halfway. my man fixed that but our back door is forever closed - there is no budging it. oh well, stuck closed is better than stuck open.

    the guy who sold us this place said he has "two right hands" and did everything himself, proudly. i really wish he wouldn't have, and i cannot count how many times i've exclaimed "TWO RIGHT HANDS?!???"

    we have a scary room upstairs with cables everywhere running from wall to wall, bunches of them all coming through holes in the wall that look like someone used a sledgehammer to create, and left the holes that way. it's appalling. it would be one thing if the room were not finished, but it was.

    we have a bucket catching water that leaks from the DIY-installed satellite dish on the roof.

    another low-priority horrible thing: an exterior side of our house had windows cemented in and nothing more done, just concrete-filled window panes. unconscionable to leave such a project not-finished! and when will we have money to work on something that is only aesthetic? hm.

    i should be grateful about the things that were done, but looking at your blog is reminding me of all the things that need fixing.

  2. I really like this blog. There are lots of things in this house that I'd like to fix/make go away.

  3. Hey, the guy on "House Crashers" took out a stone wall just like that this week. "course, he's got unlimited sponsorship funds...
    What are the dimension of this room? It still looks SOOOO long, with the wainscoting adding to the illusion. I like wainscoting, but I think I'd be tempted to pull it out (assuming there's drywall behind: our house's previous owner, also know for his incompetence, put wainscoting straight on the bathroom's studs, then bumped out to drywall above!)

  4. Hey lytha, your former owner made me giggle! "Two left hands" would be a good blog name... except that I'm left-handed so that'd be a good thing, I think?

    The only house-related show I regularly watch is This Old House. Mainly I spend the whole time screaming at the TV about how if I had that much money I'd do it that way, too!

    ES - it's 12 x 20, so it's not really that skinny. That's why I'm so sure it's an optical illusion. And - this'll be a blog post when I get around to talking about the den again - I can't take the wainscoting down. The drywall texture is different underneath it. It's stucco'd above and orange-peely below.