RENOVATING #2: Putting 'Living' back into the living room...Finale

Blog entry by rdlaurance posted 02-28-2012 09:53 PM 13966 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Putting 'Living' back into the living room.... Part 2 of RENOVATING series no next part

Caught with a little time between projects while casting off the last of a winter cold, I felt I should add an update to my last blog ofPutting 'living' back into the living room.

I had finished up with the elation of finally having a solid floor to walk on throughout the house, sealing up the hundreds of meter PEC tubing that was laid down for the radiant floor heat.

After a week of numerous other minor projects, I returned my focus once again to the living room. With so many things to do, as the rest of the house, this room would have me working on the inside and outside in order to complete. With a level floor to work on, allowing for the accurate measure of window height, it was time to rip out all the old and half rotten window frames/casings.

This meant that I would have to rip off the entire exterior facade, itself in a half rotten condition, in order to mud in the new window boxes.

With the deteriorating state of the windows, likewise the exterior facade cladding, removal proved to be near effortless. If the boards had not been covered with large scales of paint and so many rusting nails, I would have been very tempted to just compost the wood, it was almost in such a state.

I enlarged the window cavities through the adobe walls so that I could install a framing box that would be directly attached to the clay surface. A strip of wood added to the center of the boards (contacting the clay) would allow a firm bond (similar to a dado/rabbet) to the walls, once mudded in. My reasoning for doing it this way versus how the originals were directly mudded into the clay was to offer an easier remedy, if and when in the future another generation of folk would desire to change the windows or window styles. With this boxed in frame, the actual window casings are fastened directly with casing screws, much as one would do in a stick-frame house between studs. There should be no need to tear down the adobe wall in the future to change out windows. By doing this, I feel I’ve given the house a much greater extension on life, maybe for the next 100 years.

After constructing the upper story framing and with asphalt paper tacked on, all the windows were installed. New windows duplicating the old original style had been ordered six months previous from a local woodworker. As money was a critical factor and time wasn’t, the windows had been fabricated and left unfinished. I would do the finish sanding, sealing, installation of the glass panes, puttying and painting. Another reason I opted to do the installation of the glass panes was that this house still had the original (early 1900’s) handblown glass panes which (with the love from being an ex-glass blower) I wanted to maintain with the house. One of those little elements that offers a house an unique sense of history and character.

The facade nailing boards (replacements) were now mudded into the adobe wall in preparation for the vertical board and batten cladding. The facade was then clad with these boards I had cut and painted the previous autumn in the barn. An interior job I had done during the season’s inclement weather, as wood facade work & painting is normally done during the summer here in Sweden, with somewhat dryer and stable weather. By having most of the materials pre-finished, the work time was greatly accelerated and the house seemed freshly painted as soon as the facade was on, even though it had been raining on and off. Notice too, that all the vertical battens were hand routed with a cove edging profile. Lot of extra work… but hey… nobody said adding character to a house would be quick. I designed the window surrounds to strengthen the geometry of the windows in contrast to the vertical cladding while at the same time maintaining an harmonious feeling with the architecture of the entire house. All window and door openings sport this same design, closer detail seen with my first posting on this website …. http://homerefurbers.com/members/rdlaurance/blog/495

Now the exterior is up and the windows are in… time to return to the indoors.

I strung new floor joists between the rafters which will raise the attic floor level by 50 cm (approx. 20”) allowing for the fill of rock wool insulation to be added above the living room ceiling. With this I continue by spending two days diligently scraping off about seven layers of old paper (& 50 pounds of dirt) from the ceiling timbers, prior to oiling for a more natural look.

Then after an additional two days of work, I have the tongue and groove ceiling planks laid down for the new ceiling. From here it is a quick job of rough framing the walls, laying in the electric cable and boxes, insulating and installing the drywall and spackling.

Finally, the room was beginning to really feel like a habitable space. With that feeling came an overwhelming desire to add some color on the walls. This led to a day of texturing the walls and a few days later I painted a base and second coat of paint and sponged on a third layer (different color) to add a little extra depth and vibrancy to the surface. Now it feels like a real room… I thought! Well except for that ‘mousey’ looking concrete gray floor.

Alas, so it was time to work on the floor. Like the kitchen I had finished five months earlier (a future blog), this surface too would be covered with 2.2cm x 20cm x 20cm (1” x 8” x 8”) hand made antique terra-cotta tiles. After taking delivery of two palleted boxes I spent one very long day cleaning dirt and concrete from these tiles in preparation for application. This was a job I would have gladly relinquished to my assistant, had I one. Very boring, very tedious and wet with a somewhat chilling wind blowing from the west. A true sacrifice though for the opportunity of working on this house, which is truly… a labor of love .

Early the next morning, I’m up, excited and ready to ‘do a floor’. A hot cup o’ joe and I’m ready to go! It is a painless day all the way through. Layout was easy and showed there would be very little cutting. The hardest part was lugging the heavy piles of wet terra cotta tiles into the room, but even that actually wasn’t that bad.

By late afternoon I had the floor finished. WOW! It looks and feels wonderful. I don’t believe there’s a better more natural surface that feels so good on the bare feet as terra cotta. The next morning, I’m up early again. Once more, excited about grouting this floor so that it is indeed finished. Grouting goes well, though slower than on glazed tiles. The end of the day reveals a room that exudes a wonderful sense of warmth, charm and hominess, rich with its earthy color. We love it!

Another week passes with numerous other small projects around the house and out in the studio and then I’m back in the living room again, to build a staircase to the attic, which in a few years may also contain a small living space in the way of a spare bedroom and of course extra storage. After figuring out the rise of this staircase, I’ve made a quick jig to mark the stringers and cut the profiles.

With this I continue cutting the other components including treads and molding. Additionally I carefully chisel out small square areas under the ends of each tread to fit a small inlaid terra cotta tile. These tiles representing four different flowers that are abundant and native to this area, I had sculpted last year for this purpose. This terra-cotta accent will harmonize with the floor as well.

The flowers are snow drops, bachelor buttons, balloon flowers and violets, alternating in this sequence of four as they climb the stair.

One of my “druthers” (as in “I’d ruther not do”) is interior window casings, which is why I’ve saved it until now to do. In retrospect, I’m sure it is the only reason I saved it until the end, because I just don’t care to do them…. no enjoyment at all! So I pass this on to my assistant…. Oh yeah, I don’t have an assistant! So here I am, buck up, have to do them.

All goes well, it just takes time and not having a decent wood shop for working, tool setup is very slow, since most of my tools are handtools and jigs for these. With the passing of a few more days the interior windows are finished as well and all looks good. Ooops! I’ve still got one last item… ‘la créme de la créme’…. in the way of skirting between the floor and the wall.

Months earlier I had designed and sculpted a relief model (clay) that I produced five plaster molds from. Once the molds were dry I had begun forming the relief tiles that will be the skirting around this room.

This was my first experience in making tiles and working with terra-cotta. Needless to say… I’m hooked! I will continue to design and produce other relief tiles for the kitchen and bathroom areas in the near future and will be offering some of these for sale as well. So here are pictures of my first production tiles and my ceramic kiln ready for firing.

After the firing, I had one last job of installing them around the room. Beautiful! I’m pleased, the wife is pleased and numerous friends have expressed their visual delights as well. Hmmmmm! Just wonder if I can sell them though! Ha Ha Ha… the future will tell.

So now the room is finished… well all except a trap door at the head of the stairs to the attic. That will be a project for the latter part of this summer with the visit of a friend from Florida. Aha… finally an assistant…. Ha Ha… he doesn’t know just yet!

Just recently we saw advertised on ’BLOCKET.SE’_, one of our Swedish websites, an antique (1920’s) sofa, two matching chairs and a solid oak table, all for about $50.00 and only about a five mile drive.

As we had earlier given away an antique set we had had (for decades), the style looked right, the color looked right, the price was certainly right and we now had a room that needed furnishing. So here they are. Wall decorations still seem a bit sparse but that may be more of a reflection on where our tastes have been moving these last six or seven years. However, as an artist, I know all of that emptiness will come to pass… once all this housework is complete!

-- Above all, it is a matter of loving art, not understanding it. (Fernand Leger)

2 comments so far

View gud's profile


2 posts in 1810 days

posted 04-14-2018 11:28 AM

Love to read it,Waiting For More new Update and I Already Read your Recent Post its Great Thanks.
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View zaiyamariya's profile


25 posts in 980 days

posted 12-01-2020 08:54 AM

You have given some awesome remodeling ideas for our old home. I was planning to do some new works in my old home and I think this would be perfect. I will surely take care of these things when I renovate my home. cbd oil health benefits

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