An old house story, Part 3

When the West Bedroom was originally completed and time to move DeShawn upstairs into his planned space, he was afraid to go. He didn’t like the idea of being alone on the second floor, and the way the closet doors opened into the attic stoked his fears. So we decorated the bedroom as a study and gave him time to grow up a little. During the interim, we built out the closet so it wasn’t so foreboding.

The scared little boy of 2006 has grown into the fearless “tweener” of 2010 and wants to take his anointed place in the “best” room of the house.

In the Zen physics of old house living, any move upstairs must also involve a corresponding move downstairs. Ergo, the current series of mini-projects.

With DeShawn’s leave of the Master Bedroom, Carole and I can move our bedroom into the final space. With our bedroom moved from the Front Study, all the computers/bookshelves/etcetera (some of which currently reside in the West Bedroom) can move into their final space.

As part of the downstairs part of the move, we decided to get Carole’s workspace out of the East Bedroom and into it’s final space. The East Bedroom is, at this point in our narrative, the most “undone” and primitive of all the rooms of the house. Right now, it’s mostly a storage area having had little but de-construction work done on it. Carole has a small, open floor area to do her projects and the whole room is really too dusty for any cloth or sewing.

Appending Carole’s work area move to the “Move DeShawn’s Bedroom” project adds the restoration of the kitchen back wall to the task list.

More or less, here is what needs to be done in each of the affected rooms:

West Bedroom (no big deal)

  1. Finish putting sash locks on the windows
  2. Make the cable TV jack live
  3. Install some window blinds

Front Study (couple of days under the house)

  1. Re-wire approx. 1/3 of the old knob & tube electrical circuits of the 1st floor
  2. Terminate wall jacks on the network lines ran with Howard’s help


Electrical circuit 2, to be more specific

Kitchen/Addition (opening the box on kitchen restoration)

  1. Restore the back kitchen wall
  2. Some electrical re-wiring for new fridge and dryer placement
  3. Rough out plumbing for the washer
  4. Rough out dryer vent
  5. Modify gas line to existing heat stove to target for cook stove


Image redux from Part 2

Master Bedroom (too much to do with this project)

  1. Way too much!
  2. Some cleaning

And, yes, in case you were wondering, we are doing all of this work ourselves.

Plaster Obsessive

In about 5 short hours this weekend, we have applied the final layer of plaster to about half the total wall area in the Kitchen Annex. While the rapidity of application is amazing, the most astounding (and most pleasant) result of the work was the high quality of the finish. Carole described the feel of the dried finish to “porcelain”. It is very hard and polished smooth. In the unpainted finish, there are “veins” and burnish marks not unlike marble. Little wonder that the MOP is mixed with color and applied unpainted in some applications.

We waited all week for some new leaf trowels and a blister brush to come via internet mail order, but, so far, they are a no-show. While we wait, here is a picture of the tools currently in plaster use at 118 Henry Street:

Plaster tools

  1. 14″ trowel for applying base coat�to large uninterrupted wall areas
  2. 11″ trowel for most general purpose application and smoothing
  3. 6″ detail trowel for small areas such as above a window
  4. 6″ drywall knife for carrying plaster, scraping the trowel, and detail work
  5. 3/4″ plastic drywall knife cut down in width to function like a leaf trowel for narrow wall areas such as between a door frame and a wall
  6. 2″ margin trowel for narrow areas

By far the majority of my time was spent with the 11″ trowel in my right hand and the 6″ drywall knife in my left hand. Not shown is the ever present 5 gallon bucket of water, wet towel and water spray bottle. The bucket of water and towel are used to keep the tools clean. The water spray bottle is used to wet the plaster as it sets up to facilitate smoothing and burnishing.

Switching gears and rooms…

An old repair to a plaster crack in our bedroom (originally a study) broke loose this morning. I peeled away the loose paper and was rewarded with a complete paint color history of the room.

Paint history of the front study

In order from youngest to oldest:

  • A. Current off white
  • B. Pale pinkish rose
  • C. Dark salmon rose
  • D. Dark grey sage green
  • E. Original unfinished plaster

Switching gears and rooms again…

A picture of my stepson, Carole’s son, Howard in the dining room. The “green room” as DeShawn has taught us to call it.

Howard in the Green Room