Monday, September 7, 2009

The Loft Continued

With the drywall patching done, next was a lot of woodwork. I decided to make a pair of newel posts to spruce up the staircase a bit. At first I tried building them in place, but that proved to be futile. So I ended up building the posts and then installing them. This was easier said then done, but they ended up coming out pretty good. I got the biscuit joiner out for this project which made them nice and strong for the installation. One of the biggest issues was the varing widths of the wall. It actually gets half an inch narrower as you reach the lower post!

The caps will mimic the main staircase and eventually I'll make some pyramid caps to add on top. I bought some ball tops from Lowes, but the scale just was too small for the posts I built. Again I used the router to add bead edges which occurs often throughout the house. The green moulding actually was saved from the front porch when I redid the sill and lattice skirt project. Then the knee wall was topped with ledge and moulding.... in the end it came out much better than what I started out with.

The original baseboards on the stairs was another big project. The previous owner drywalled over the plaster leaving the boards practically flush with new drywall. So of course it would be too easy to just pry them off. No, they were slid into notches in the stair treds. So I had to drill the boards at the notches to clear the treds, then pry them off - carefully! I needed them intact so I didn't have to start from scratch making new ones. The originals were actually pretty crude and much of the treads and riser had a good 1/2 inch gap where the boards met them. So when I used the originals as patterns for the new ones, I added about 3/8 inch to all the lines. The new ones came out better than the originals and now the gaps are much smaller. I had to add shim boards first, then installed the new boards and caps. Now it looks right. Also before installing the boards, I ran a new line for the 3-way light on the landing which hasn't worked in several years. It was on an original knob and tube circuit that has long since been disconnected from service. Shimming out the boards left a nice cavity to do this. Otherwise I would have had to notch all the way down the staircase. What fun that would have been - and even worse patching all the holes.

I was happy to get rid of the crappy pair of windows and replace with new repoduction ones that I had made. The pair in the landing I sealed shut. They are too high to open and close easily from the landing, plus I still will have 5 more on the 3rd floor that will open. I made a new sill and replaced with new casing moulding that will match what I'm installing throughout the 3rd floor. The sill is a little extra deep so I can put my small collection of old glass insulators. It will be a nice spot for them since the sun will illuminate them here really well.

The doorway on the 2nd floor originally had a door which was long gone. I debated adding one again and to help hold heat from going up in the winter. The problem was in the summer I would need to keep it open for the AC. Plus the the 3rd floor will be used alot, so the door would likely be left open out into the 2nd floor hall often. So I decided to make it an open entrance and part of the entire staircase coming from the first floor. All that was required here was a new frame since the originals were pretty beat up and also had mortises for the original door hinges.

I changed out the original closet door with a 5 panel door. I just happened to use the one I already made for the kitchen closet but decided to leace it open instead. So it ended up here now.

I cut down an old 5 panel door I curb picked and made a closet door for the new dormer closet. Then I installed a bunch of casing and new baseboards throughout. At this point things are starting to shape up and can get a feel for the new space. Looks like it's gonna be a great hangout area....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Back Inside

Last time I blogged I was wrapping up the siding job and working on the soffit. Well lets just say scaffold was not the best place for me to be working so I decided to throw myself into a new project. First I gutted the master bedroom add-on closet which opened up the doorway between the 2 front bedrooms. Nothing like good old sledge hammer swingin for some therapy! I think the neighbors thought I had finally lost it as debris began raining from the second story window. Well that didn't take long so I had to come up with something bigger..... the 3rd floor.

This was the area I had been using as a tv/computer/living area since I moved in. It had been somewhat redone with all new drywall, but it was still not up to my standards. The 3rd floor consisted of a staircase that led up to a entrance hall with entrances to each bedroom. The back smaller room has a closet which will eventually house the AC unit for the 2nd and 3rd floor. The front room is much larger but no dormer closet. So I kicked around several plans over the years and finally I decided to open up the entire floor as more of a loft, open up the staircase to the upstairs more, add a dormer closet to the front area, and build a chase for the fireplace chimney.

So first step, break out the sledge again!

Next I built the framing for the chimney chase. The angle makes it so that it's about 5 feet wide, but this is just the right amount to break up the front and back areas a bit. On the front half I can put a TV setup and on the back I can set up my desk for an office area. Then I framed out a dormer closet next to the stairs for more storage, especially since I will lose the existing one to the AC unit.

Also notice I cut out the wall enclosing the stairway, which created a kneewall and opened up the two windows in the stairway to the rest of the upstairs.

Next step was dealing with the wiring. There were 3 existing Halo recessed lights in the front bedroom. I removed the closest one to the center of the loft and replaced it with a ceiling fan. On each side of this fan I added two more lights. On the back area I added two more. Each area is controlled by a separate dimmer switch. I then installed the subpanel in the AC closet and refed all the 3rd floor circuits from here. I also added a few more outlets throughout, and a light in the new closet.

The next challenge was all the wiring coming out of the floor where I removed the wall. An old gas lighting line was there too. So up came the floorboards and was able to remove, reroute, or kill all but one old knob and tube circuit. That will go away when the bedrooms downstairs are gutted. Then to fill in the missing boards I removed some boards from the AC closet and used them to do my patching.

Then it was drywall time and some mudding. This was a bit of a challenge since the front room appears to have been gutted to the studs and the drywalled, but the back room was rocked right over the plaster. So now I'm trying to blend two different thickness in walls. Most areas I was able to gut down to studs to a corner and then blend in a new piece. Over the stairs though was pretty damn tricky. I also created an access to get above the ceiling. This will come especially in handy when I install the AC system.

Tomorrow I'll finish updating to where I'm now.