In the intro to my last blog, I let it be known IN WRITING (!!) that I would be moved into my house by Labor Day. Not that anyone is going to hold my feet to the fire for it, but it gave me a tangible goal that was well within reach. So how did I do? I actually slept in my house for the first time on August 27, 2011 - the Saturday before Labor Day.YES!
At first, the only usable rooms were the master bedroom and the bathroom, but that was all we (me and my dog, Maizie) needed. The master bedroom is without a doubt, the most comfortable and most functional bedroom I've ever had. It began as a 13' x 14' room with an acoustical tiled ceiling, covering the cracked plaster original, limited outlets, a medium-sized closet (for the time - 1924), and a 'back hallway' that gives access to the bathroom plumbing and used to give access to the roof of the kitchen porch (??).
The roof access door in this back hallway had been changed over to a small window at some point, but fortunately, they left the sill, door jambs and wood trim in place, so I can eventually build a two-story entry porch and convert that window back into a door again. It would be lovely to have access to a second-floor porch off of my bedroom someday.
When I looked at the house, they were using this back hallway as a closet, but they had hung the bars across the short distance rather than taking advantage of the length, so it was fairly useless space.
Currently the back hall is Maizie's room. The photo on the left shows the hall after paint, but before we replaced the baseboards and finished installing and painting the plumbing access panels. The window at the right of the photo is the converted door.
The bare bulbs on the wall marked where we would install porcelain sconces that we reclaimed and re-wired. They had been stuck on bedroom walls in the oddest locations (I'm sure they made sense at the time...), so we took them down and saved them until I could figure out what I wanted to do with them.
I hung my grandmother's living room mirror on the wall between the sconces - it's one of those mirrors from the '40s I believe that 'every' middle class family had hanging in their living room. I put a shelf below the mirror to hold various dust collecting knick-knacks, and had a cover made for the radiator. The last touch in this room was to hang a cabinet above the radiator for a little extra storage.
I painted the walls Stratton Blue (Benjamin Moore), and the ceiling and plumbing access are Monterey White (Benjamin Moore). The runner is from Home Decorator's - I bought most all of my area rugs from them. I needed 10 area rugs, some fairly large - 9' x 11 or larger, but I was on a tight budget. In the end, I went through their online catalog of rugs, and I ordered everything I needed for about $2500.00 total. Some were on sale or clearance, so I lucked out. Also, I ordered the rugs before I picked my paint colors, but I stayed within a certain palette range. That made it easier later to go back and select paint colors that would work.
Behind the baseboard in this hallway is a 20-amp circuit that we haven't terminated. You can also see a blue PEX line stubbed off just inside the baseboard. These are for the future 2-story porch plan. I will need electrical outlets on the porch and a hose connection will be useful as well to wash the porch down, water plants, etc. Since I live in Western New York, we put the PEX inside the wall - eventually it will be copper line, so it will look a bit more attractive - but either way it won't freeze. In this case function trumps form. Normally I like a marriage of the two, but sometimes it just isn't possible given the time and budget.
To the left is a shot of the master bedroom before I bought the house. One of the first things my mom and dad did after I closed on the house was to rip out the acoustical tile ceiling and toss it all out the window to the driveway below! I'm certain the neighbors were frightened at that point.
My dad updated all the electrical wiring in the house, since most of it was still knob and tube. We had a new 200-amp electrical service brought in, installed a new panel in the basement, and we pulled all new wire throughout the house. He was able to access the first floor electrical form the basement, and we pulled wire to the attic through the kitchen and bathroom, which we gutted to the studs. From the attic, he was able to drop runs into each bedroom.
Most of the existing electrical was in the baseboards, and when we pulled the baseboards off, we realized that there was no plaster and lath behind it - only studs. Because of this convenient configuration, it was easiest to keep the electrical outlets in the baseboards, just adding outlets where we needed them. We pulled all the baseboards off and while dad was working on the electrical, I sanded and finished the woodwork. The pine floors were pretty worn, so I had them sanded and finished.
The master bedroom is a good-sized room at 13' x 14', but it is cut up: three doors, two windows, a radiator, and an odd angle that you can see in the "before" photo (above) between the closet door and the entry door. It's an interesting feature, but it makes the floorplan odd. For bedroom furniture, I had nothing that offered practical, functional storage. My bedroom suite is from the '40s: a double bed w/headboard and footboard, a gorgeous vanity with a three-part mirror, and a wardrobe with a secretary in it. The wardrobe wouldn't fit in the room in any logical way, and I still needed to provide myself modern amounts (read copious) of clothing storage, so early on, I came up with the idea of adding a built-in that would house most of my clothes and a TV and stereo.
The photo above shows the built-in. The bottom cabinets provide ample drawer space, the top center cabinet contains the TV and features pocket doors. The cabinet beneath that holds stereo equipment, and the side cabinets with the seeded glass doors hold more clothes.
Since there is enough natural wood in this house to satisfy any wood freak, I chose to use a paint finish on the built-in, and later, when I added another built-in feature to the bedroom, I used the same antiqued paint finish on that. I came up with this second idea over a year ago when I had to cram my glasses (I'm blind as a bat without them!!), my cell phone, which I use as my alarm clock, reading materials, crosswords, and a glass of water all in a 6" x 12" space on the bedside table at my parents house (and my temporary home for the last two years).
The side table was small anyway and then when you put a lamp on it, you cut the usable surface up until it's really not, well - usable.The best part is when you knock your glasses on the floor and they skitter under the table where you can't see them or reach them without getting out of bed and crawling around on the floor. Swearing is a must-do under these circumstances...
My solution?? To design and build a lighting truss that would provide hanging light rather than lamp light. I found a pair of hanging lights on Overstock.com (LOVE that site!), and I found some Eastlake-style shelf brackets on VanDyke's Restorers. Using those as the starting point for my design, I built a lighting truss that mounts to the wall about my headboard and suspends the two lights over two drum-shaped nightstands that I also ordered from Overstock.com.
Since I had the large built-in on the opposite wall, the heft of this 'truss' and the heavy posts on the bed balance the room out nicely, and I used the same antique finish on the truss that I used on the built-in.
The lights probably weigh at least 20 lbs. each, suspended 12" from the wall. I couldn't believe how beefy the fixtures were when I got them, but they are really beautiful. The metal segments of the shaft are billet, and the glass in the shades is probably 1/4" thick. Given the overall weight of the lights as well as the truss itself (that shelf is 8' long x 1-5/8" thick poplar), we used 4 lag bolts to secure it to the wall studs. Then I covered those holes with the finish strip that looks like a decorative detail.
So this little project kept us busy for a couple weekends, but it went together quickly. I had a local lumberyard joint and plane the shelf since that was a non-stock size, and we didn't have the equipment to do that job ourselves. The rest of the wood was stock stuff that I either already had hanging around, or could get easily at the home store - I used poplar, mostly. The whole project cost maybe $400.00 total in materials.
I installed in-line on/off switches in the light cords which hang down the wall directly below the shelf brackets, and I made sure to put the switches at a level that I can reach from the bed. I ordered and installed fabric cord covers to soften the look of the cords. We found plugs that we could terminate the lamp wires into (being a hanging fixture, the wires were meant to be hardwired in a box), so now the lamps simply plug into existing outlets in the baseboard.
I echoed the proportions and feel of the existing door and window trim by beveling the edge of the shelf and the ends of the pieces that the shelf brackets are attached to.
The canvas I have hanging on the wall above the bed is a photo a friend of mine took in Central Park. We waited about 20 minutes in the freezing cold to get this shot, but it was worth it. This guy was hanging out under this beautiful stone bridge, playing his saxophone. It was New Year's and there were lots of people ambling about in the park, so we waited patiently until no one was in the frame and she got the shot. It has always been one of my favorite photos. The Home Decorator's website has a feature where you can upload a photo and they will make a canvas of it and stretch it on a wood frame. I had quite a few photos that I wanted to use in various rooms, and this was one, so I uploaded it and about a week later, they sent me this canvas! Instant art. I love it!
So the master bedroom has quite a few modern features, but at the same time, I tried to make the room eclectic and timeless. To me, the end result is a very warm, comfortable and functional bedroom. The best part is that it is finished, and I don't have to lie in bed at night and make construction/renovation to-do lists anymore!