As I write this, K. is stomping around upstairs, applying joint compound to the drywall seams in what’s soon going to be the master bedroom, bathroom and guest bedroom. The bathroom used to be a bedroom… or a weird little room off the front living room. It’s a Buffalo house thing, the bedrooms are all tiny and there are a bunch of living rooms connected by pocket doors.
We’re turning the front living room thing into a bedroom and the small side bedroom into a bathroom, anyway. They’re at the front of the house, which theoretically means we’re exposed to more street noise, but 1. our street is pretty quiet at night and 2. after insulating, the sound doesn’t penetrate the walls like it used to. Speaking of sound insulation, in order to have the least amount of noise pass from bathroom to bedroom we insulated the walls with rock wool. It’s more expensive than fiberglass batts, but it’s great for blocking sound and our neighbor hooked us up with a bunch of surplus cutoffs for a nice price. Since we’ll be using it for sound rather than heat, the patching in of random bits will work fine.
Like almost all of the rest of the house, the plaster up here was too beat-up to be worth the effort of saving, so we pulled it all off, ran new wiring and plumbing, insulated, and are putting up drywall over the whole shebang. Luckily K. is proficient in drywall hanging and finishing. I may be a biased observer, but really he can do everything. Very convenient, that. I am keeping away from the drywall finishing because while I can do a rudimentary job, I don’t want to spend the next few decades staring at my subpar work when I wake up.
I am decent at painting, and that’s what comes next, so I will return to usefulness soon. And I helped hang all the fiddly bits of drywall around the trim, at the bottom of the walls, and so on. File under: still somewhat useful, don’t kick me off the island yet.
We’ll be putting a VCT floor similar to the kitchen floor in the bathroom, and probably just painting the already painted floor in the bedroom.
Here’s how the bedroom used to look when we first got our hands on this house:
Peep that decorative wallpaper border! And note the water damage. This was caused by the final holes cut in the roof by the fire department as we were engaged in purchasing it from the city. Otherwise we could have kept the existing roof on the front section of the house for another few years.
We took that chimney down because it ended inside the attic, rendering it absolutely useless and adding stressful weight to the framing. Yes, we saved the mantel. The front windows were broken replacements of the originals, and you can’t repair replacements (I mean, I’m sure you could, but it’s not worth it) so we replaced them with better replacements.
We’re lucky enough to have awesome pocket doors upstairs as well as downstairs. I was assigned to the project of making these work again, which is way easier with the walls open. After taking off 1/4 inch of the bottom of the doors (the house had settled and they dragged,) cleaning and oiling the wheels, waxing the tracks, and boiling the old paint off the hardware they move relatively easily. They will be the access to my giant Closet of Doom, which will be full of personal wardrobe clutter that no one will have to look at.
Beyond the Closet is another bedroom, which will be nice when we need to house visitors. Actually, my little sister and her husband are probably going to live in there for a while as we fix up their house nearby. The wall is still open because we have to get in there to install baseboard radiators. Since there’s a nice wooden beadboard ceiling on the room directly below that we don’t want to remove, this room will not be heated by a radiant floor. It is directly over the wood stove though, and does retain a lot of heat now that we’ve insulated. All of the front part of Upstairs stays (relatively) warm now.
That makes up the front section of upstairs, which along with the hallway (used to be another tiny narrow bedroom that connected to what used to be two tiny narrower pantries) is the section we’re focusing on finishing. After that, the oldest section of the house will be in a condition where we can leave it alone, live in it, and concentrate on other projects. There will always be projects like baseboard, window and door trim, etc. though… because old house work is never done!
K. sealed off the hallway with plastic where it meets the back section of house. It has a tarp zipper on it for occasional access through while keeping heat in and blocking the wind. Unfortunately the drafty back of the house catches the wind off the lake/river. We have an intense relationship with wind in this neighborhood.
However nice our living room is right now, we will be very happy when it’s no longer also a bedroom. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put some gloves on and bring two skids of rock wool upstairs.