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August 30th, 2012

A year in the making…

This wasn’t always the family room. When we got our house, this room had served as the reception area for the dental practice. Even more interesting, in the process of restoring some of the window mouldings we noticed the word “parlor” penciled on the backs. It would appear that this space was originally the formal room.

It wasn’t a family room until we tore down this divider wall and put in a couch and tv. Pretty simple transition. A lot simpler than the year (and then some) it took to restore this space. This is probably the largest room in our home. At 18×20 with 9 1/2′ ceilings there was a lot of wall and ceiling to repair, not to mention the (3) 6 over 6 double hung windows and (2) 9 over 9′s that needed total restoration.
It all started outside of the windows. The first step was removing the storm window frames and inspecting for rot around the sills. We wound up doing this in the nursery last, and it was impossible to strip any bad paint and caulk without damaging the finished windows. This time we decided to work outside to in.

This proved to be worthwhile as there was a tremendous amount of sill rot on the back window, but rather than replacing I tried to rebuild it with epoxies and resins. Abatron wood conditioner went in first to strengthen the fibers, and then their WoodEpox to actually fill in the voids.

Once the storm windows were re-installed, the sashes were removed and their restoration began. As we’d done in the past the windows were steamed to soften the glazing and remove the glass. Next they were stripped to bare wood and sanded clean. Any repairs to muntins and loose joints were made, then the wood was coated with an oil mixture to restore some moisture to the wood. This helps the glazing set properly as well as protects the wood for another 50 years hopefully. Finally, the glass is reinstalled and glazed along with any new panes that were needed.

The next step was attacking the room itself. There were a lot of mouldings with paint to strip, what seemed like miles of plaster cracks, and floors to repair. We’ve never had the house tested for lead paint, but how could it not be there is our philosophy. We just always work with lead safety in mind, and I think we’re getting pretty good at it. The floors were covered in two layers of plastic, the door was covered with a double layer of plastic to create an airlock of sorts, and everyone who worked in there wore disposable tyvek suits and shoe covers. Respirators were optional for adults, but I really appreciated everyone respecting our safeguards.

It seemed like the mouldings went on forever. I had a Denise, a Les, a Paul, and two Gary’s (not to mention myself) stripping and sanding for days on end. Some mouldings were removed and stripped on sawhorses and others were left in place. I’m still not sure which is easier.

This room had some pretty significant plaster damage to deal with. Part of it came from the move itself, especially where the fireplace attached to the house, more of it came from the fluorescent and track lighting junction boxes we took down; and still more of it came just from good ol’ fashioned leaks. I have no idea how many hours went into the repairs, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. Working with Big Wally’s Plaster Magic, I re-glued the plaster to the lath and using their recipe for a lime based plaster I was able to fill in the large voids left from old light fixture and years of water damage. Rory and Laurie from Wally’s were a tremendous help, offering advice and rushing orders on multiple occasions. The process is so simple: drill several holes along either side of the crack or repair, vacuum the debris out, inject a conditioner, inject the adhesive a few minutes later, then temporarily screw the plaster to the lath. 24-48 hours later you pull the screws and washers and fill in the cracks with drywall putty.

The hardwoods in this room had a lot of bug and water damage in one corner, as well as numerous spots where drills and stray sawblades left holes and cuts. We relied on LSI construction from Frederick, MD to patch in new wood and fill holes. The refinishing will wait until we can do the whole first floor.

Finally, time to paint. 2 coats of primer, 2-3 finish coats on the walls and ceilings, and 3 coats on all of the trim. Again it felt like it would never end. Remember the small windows are about 3′x5′ and the large ones 3′x8′. That’s almost 100′ of just window trim to paint, then the base moulding, chair rail and gallery moulding add almost 250′ more!

Still one more thing to finish, and that’s a hardwood veneer on the fireplace. The paint will be far too difficult to remove from the brick so we plan to build a new surround on the brick. Hopefully that will be completed by mid-fall and we’ll be ready to enjoy the fireplace for the winter. Looking forward to many relaxing times in this gorgeous room.


One Response to “A year in the making…”

  1. shannonlee Says:

    Hello! I really love how you’ve rescued this beautiful house. I am helping my friend research her family tree, and her great grandfather, Bayard Easter, originally owned this house. If you have any information on the history of the house, I know she would very much appreciate adding it to our geneology project. Seeing the Easter house restored has made her very happy, as she or her grandmother (Bayard’s daughter) have not seen the home in a very long time. Thank you for your time!


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