Thursday, June 18, 2020

Adding Some Romance to a Bland, Boring Ranch

Judging from this house, 1952 doesn't seem to have been a big year for architectural interest.  Maybe because this was the tail end of the Baby Boomer building phase, which focused on getting lots of homes built quickly for young growing families?   Like many houses of the period, this place doesn't have any unique architectural elements.   For example, the doors and moldings in the house are pretty basic - lauan and 1x4 trim.  Boring, boring, boring.....

Somehow we have to give this place some character!  I'd like to do a mix of old and new in this house, a few antique pieces as well as some more modern touches.  Luckily, I have some nice architectural things that have been stored away that should look pretty great.

Friends of ours did a major renovation of their 1880 shingle style home in the neighborhood several years ago.  I had long admired their newell post and balusters and when I discovered they weren't going to keep them, I begged them to let me reuse them.  Thankfully they were incredibly generous.  Since then,  I've been waiting for the perfect spot and finally found it!

The newellpost is pretty amazing - hand carved!  Oh and look at the balusters!!  There were only 9, so it's taken awhile to find a project with a short enough staircase to use them.  (and to make it more complicated, they are shorter than modern building code, so we will need to get creative when we install them).  But they are just gorgeous.  You know the saying, they don't make them like they used to!

They have a LOT of paint on them, layer on top of layer in multiple colors.  So I wanted to remove it to see the real beauty of the wood.  I loved the idea of hand stripping them, figuring it was the perfect pandemic pastime.  Just me working by myself in the garage.  And week one was great - it was calm and soothing and I really enjoyed it.  But these have so many layers of paint, it took multiple iterations of paint stripper.  You have to apply it, wrap everything in plastic and then wait several hours (or overnight) for the stripper to do its job.

By week two, it wasn't quite as stress relieving.  In fact, it was just the opposite.  Each baluster needs 3 separate applications of stripper, just to get through all those layers of paint.  And then the detailed work starts.  I needed dental tools to get into all the crevices - which is creating dental hygienist hand cramps on a regular basis.  Ugh!

And last week I hit the wall!!  I'd gone through two pair of the heavy duty stripping gloves (the stripper eventually eats through them), my fingerprints were obliterated after all the sanding and  I was waking up with a backache every morning from hours leaning over the workbench.  And I'd run out of my usual podcast assortment to listen to!!!

Thankfully, that's when the project turned the corner and this happened.  Can you believe how gorgeous this is?  I LOVE this so much!!!

Next I have to start refinishing them.  Current plan is a water based polyurethane.  Since this is oak, I don't want them to get too red - which typically happens with oil based sealers and poly.  See the difference in the photo below?  The water based product should give it a nice glow, while maintaining some of the antique patina that I worked so hard to expose.

I'm also going to repurpose an old exterior door that I have from a previous project.  It should be perfect for the new pantry!  And just my luck, it's also painted, but I was able to use a heat gun to quickly remove the majority of the paint from these flat surfaces.
Heat gun - took one hour to remove the paint!!!  Now it needs stripper to remove the rest.

And once it's back to its original finish, it needs a really special doorknob.  So I made a field trip down to Old House Parts in Kennebunk to see what I could find.  I love wandering around that place - so many amazing things to see!  

After scouting
around for awhile, I finally decided on an intricate bronze knob and backplate.  It should make a really nice statement for our pantry door!

What else?  I'd like to install some wood beams on the cathedral ceiling in the living room and dining room.  And of course we'll have some interesting light fixtures and the usual custom woodwork.  This place has so much potential, I can't wait to give it some romance!

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  1. That vine detail - wow! I'm giving it some major heart eyes.

  2. That vine detail is incredible! I'm giving it some major heart-eyes!


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