I find that my relationship with our house is a bit of a love/hate one. It was built in 1921 and exudes character. I love the high ceilings, oak beams, mouldings and built-ins, but in most rooms, the lay-out is a bit of a nightmare. Being such an old home, there is nothing “open” about the design. In our 2300 square feet, we have 2 bedrooms, a large landing and bathroom upstairs and the main floor has a total of 9 rooms (kitchen, mud room, bathroom, scrapbooking room, spare bedroom, master bedroom, dining room, living room and library). Obviously, each room has at least one door/entrance, but many have multiple. For example, our kitchen and living room both have three entry points. In addition to the doors/entrances, each room has a radiator and most have multiple windows. I know this may sound pretty normal, but trust me….it’s not. Almost every room, is tricky to make functional because there are literally no free walls to work with. On my entire main floor, there is exactly one wall that is a full wall without any obstructions! This makes furniture placement extremely difficult. Such is the case with our spare room. The room is 12′ X 8 1/2″ feet. It has a total of 3 doors (entrance, closet and former scrapbooking room entrance) as well as a window with a radiator below it.
Despite the fact that both of our kids have walk-in closets in their upstairs bedrooms, our master bedroom is limited to two very small closets. As a result, my clothes were dispersed as follows…..one closet in the master bedroom, one dresser in the master bedroom, one closet in the spare room, a portion of the armoire in the spare bedroom and a large tub of off-season clothes in the basement, as well as outdoor clothing in the basement, front closet and at the back door. Yikes! On top of the chaos of my clothes literally being all over the house, the spare bedroom was anything but a spare bedroom. For starters, there is no bed! Because the room never really had a designated purpose it slowly became a dumping ground for anything and everything that didn’t really have a proper home. It was also the place I would often do small projects like furniture painting. It housed the vacuum, linen, board games, some books, my sewing machine and sewing paraphernalia, some of the kids old school work/projects, picture frames that were yet to be hung and let’s not forget the old piano that I had hopes of some day upcycling. It was a disaster and I absolutely hated it! Life had been so busy and I just hadn’t had the blocks of time needed to attack this space, but on the first Saturday of spring break, my husband and I devised a plan…finally!
This was one of two rooms that we never bothered to paint when we moved in. Do you have any idea what it’s like to start everyday getting dressed in a room that is drab, ugly and cluttered. I’m not sure what the paint colour was, but it was a yucky brown that never appealed to me … even for a minute!
So, armed with a plan and some tools, I began step one which was taking care of the old piano that had become a thorn in my side. I had to look at that beast in the corner of the room every day. Although I find upcycling super therapeutic, in this case my therapy came from destroying that piano and reducing it to a pile of rubble. I’m actually surprised I didn’t take any pictures of the process. I’m not sure if anyone has ever really tried to take a 100 year old piano apart, but let’s just say they sure don’t make glue like they used to. At first, I tried to salvage some of the wood, but I quickly realized that number one, it was all laminate and not solid good quality wood and number two – no amount of strength and elbow grease was going to take that thing apart. In the end, I called in the reinforcements and Tim attacked it with our saws-all. After about 3 hours of prying, sawing and unscrewing, we had it in small enough pieces that we could remove the rubble. Just having it out of the room felt totally amazing!
With the piano gone, I was off to the paint store to pick-out colours and get this project started. I patched, primed and painted the room a beautiful shade of light blue called Tidewater. I found the colour in the Sherwin Williams paint store, but decided to stick with my trusty Benjamin Moore Regal paint. They took the colour swatch and made the colour up for me. I absolutely LOVE how the paint colour transformed the space!
With the walls painted, the list other projects seemed to grow daily. Our plans included changing the light fixture, creating storage for all (most) of my clothes and relocating my scrapbooking/project room to the spare room, so that we could eventually move our laundry from the basement to my former scrapbooking room. In addition to the above, there were some basic things that had to be addressed to make both the spare room and the new laundry room more functional. The first being changing the door swing. If you look at the first picture, you’ll notice that the door swings open in such a way that the light switch is hidden behind the door – this has been a “bee in my bonnet” since the day we moved in. Why? That’s all I have to say ~ Why? Why would you install the light switch behind the door? It makes absolutely no sense. Fortunately, my husband is super handy and can pretty much do anything. He changed the swing for me, so the door now opens the other way. I also wanted to get rid of the laundry room door. Again, the room is super small and the door swing is a huge pain in the butt. When it was my scrapbooking room, I always had to go in and close the door behind me as it was constantly in the way. This was especially annoying because the room is super hot in the summer with a wall full of windows and chilly in the winter because most of our house is insulated with air. Yes, seriously. Despite the fact that our house has stucco, we discovered during a former renovation that our exterior walls are actually two layers of brick with a small air gap between that is supposed to serve as an insulating barrier. (In choosing insulation, I would suggest picking something other than air. I think the R value is quite low on air!) My solution, a barn door! So, Tim agreed to build and install a bar door so that we no longer have to deal with the cumbersome door in such a small space. Of course, this meant the light switch for the laundry room had to be moved from outside the room (where the barn door will slide) to inside the laundry room. Thank goodness Tim does electrical too!
So with plans in place, my week off turned into a week of 8 to 14 hour days of working like a dog. Strangely, for me ploughing through my “to do list” equals a fantastic holiday, so all is good. I got so much accomplished and am totally loving my space despite the fact that it hasn’t been completed.
Watch for upcoming posts in which I’ll be sharing the various projects that went into transforming this space from drab to fab!