Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Staircase Is (Almost) Done!

Well, it took twice as long as expected, but we came in a bit under budget and the stair case is installed!  My goal with this project was to create a staircase that was functional for today's living (read: can fit furniture up and wasn't a giant trip and fall hazard) but almost as important, to create a staircase that fit the style of the house and looks like it could have always been here.  I feel like we have succeeded on both fronts.  Check out where we started here and here.

Our house is a1925 bungalow, so the mouldings and millwork are Arts and Crafts style.  By using the square top newel posts in a style that is authentic to that period, I think that it makes the stair case look natural to the home.  We used 1 1/4" square balusters and grouped them into clusters of 3 spindles per step, continuing the classic Arts and Crafts/mission styling.   The treads, landing flooring and handrails are red oak to match the existing red oak flooring in the house.  The newels, risers and skirt boards are poplar, and will be painted white.

We hired out the staircase construction, but we demo'd ourselves and I laid the hard wood flooring on the landing.  I am SO glad that we didn't try to tackle this project ourselves.  I learned so much throughout this process and some of the input that our contractor had as far as the layout of the stairs was absolutely invaluable.

Although the project went quite smoothly overall (besides the construction timeline) there were a few hiccups along the way.  One of them was the handrail height.  City code was updated a few years back requiring handrails to be 42" high, instead of 36" high.  In a house of this age, if the was a staircase with handrails constructed, it would have been probably been 32"-34" high.  People were just smaller back then, so you really didn't have to worry about a 6'5" person tumbling over your railing...

The challenge then comes when you are trying to match up current building codes with old construction - a lot of times it just doesn't fit!  Since our project is considered a "remodel", we were not required to pull permits.  However, we stuck to current building codes with respect to head room clearance, the width of the stairs, the rise/run, etc.  We did deviate with respect to the handrail height; we went with 36" high handrails and let me tell you why I am okay with that.  Pretty much no one in my family clears 5'6" tall, so a 42" high rail is nearly chest high - kind of ridiculous.  Also, if you see in the last picture above, a 36" handrail allows the newels to just clear the bottom of the curtain wall.  We would have had to run the balusters in to the curtain wall on the landing, which would give it a jail cell effect.  Obviously, no one is in danger of falling off the landing in it's current construction...

There is nail hole filling, painting, staining and some drywall work to be done as well as a light fixture to hang.  Also, I will be custom milling the basecap moulding to match our existing basecap moulding to use on the landing and as the skirt board trim.  I haven't decided if I will stain and finish the treads and landing myself or hire that project out.  Our next "big" project will be to refinish the floors on the main level, so I am going to get a quote for the treads and landing and that time as well.  The upstairs floors will also be refinished, but we have some walls to move around, which will leave flooring to be patched, so that probably won't happen for another year or so...

We are so, so happy with the how the stairs turned out.  It has totally transformed the heart of our home and upped the functionality by a factor of 10!


Friday, May 15, 2015

Updates and Shots from Around the House

Lots going on around these parts lately.  So busy working on projects that I haven't been able to share too frequently on the blog.  I say that like there are thousands of readers out there awaiting a new post with bated when in reality it's more like crickets!  Anyway, on to the updates, shall we?

The staircase project is chugging along.  Although we are on week 4, with probably at least another week of construction left to go, the work is being done well so I am happy.  My newel posts and railings are taking FOREVER to arrive.  We expected them 2 weeks ago, but that didn't happen.  Then we were promised they would arrive yesterday... also didn't happen.  Hoping that they will show up today so we can get them acclimated over the weekend and install them next week.  All of the treads, risers and skirt boards are in, so the newels, railings and balusters will be the final touch.  So exciting!  Well, there is still staining and painting to go, of course.  Oh, and installing the wood flooring on the landing - the list truly never ends.

Remember the One Room Challenge that I decided to join, like a total idiot?  Yeah, STILL not done with the hallway.  But I am getting much closer and it's looking pretty spiffy if I don't say so myself.  One more coat of paint on trim, hang the light fixture, and then paint the walls.  Oh yeah, and paint the doors - all 5 of them.  Unfortunately, when restoring an old house it's never as simple as "I hate this wall color, let's paint!" because you have a bazillion hours of wood patching, plaster repair, sanding, skim coating, and more sanding before you can even think about painting.  Alas, we are close to the finish!  I have decided to go with Benjamin Moore "Gray Lake" for the wall color.  It's a shade lighter than the living room, but the same tone.  As you can tell, I love my neutral, muted, barely-a-color shades. ;-)

My lilacs are in full bloom and my peonies are just about to!  Had to steal a few branches for my bedside table, along with the lovely milk glass dish my mother gifted me.  Thanks, mom!  Also, I was able to get my flower boxes planted a few weekends ago, thanks to this horribly finicky mid-western weather finally cooperating.

Our patio furniture arrive and has been assembled.  We went with the Catalina Collection from World Market (find it here) and snapped them up during a 20% off + free shipping promo.  I really like them and think that this set was a great value.  Exactly the look I wanted and I couldn't be happier.  Now, we will just have to see how everything weathers over the years.

Hopefully I will have some finished rooms to share in the next week or two!  Stay tuned.  Oh, did I mention that I will be hosting my parents, my in-laws, and my brother and sister in-law for a week starting the 24th?  That's 8 people and 4 dogs I will need to house and feed.  It should make for a good time!


Monday, May 4, 2015

One Room Challenge: Weeks 4 & 5? 
Yeah, I'm a little behind on this whole one room challenge.  Basically an epic fail on my part.  The stair case project has been all consuming and will be going 2 weeks over schedule...  BUT - I have made some progress on the hallway that I just had to share.

The ceiling is done!  Well, except the caulking, filling, sanding and painting part...  Isn't it pretty?

Just a bit more wall repair left, and then we can get to the painting and installing the new light fixture.  Yay!

Be sure to check out how the other linking participants are faring.  It's down to the wire now!