A new living room…

Susanna starting the renovation

Susanna had the week of Thanksgiving off from school.  The boys were at their mother’s house for the holiday and long weekend.  It seemed like a great time to start another house project.  It was supposed to be a quick repaint of the living room.

The room started as a wonderful sponge-painted purple with green trim.  The ceiling had a piece of drywall over a corner where the plaster is in bad shape.  The ceiling fan and light had no switches.  Yes, the light had the original knob and tube wiring hooked up to it.

I figured if we were going to repair the ceiling, I may as well run new wires (and add switches) to the ceiling light.  Susanna decided she didn’t like the patched wall under the bay windows.  So, early that week we took a hammer to the walls under the windows.  After I punched a couple of holes in the wall, I left the rest for Susanna to finish (while I ran wires).  Soon, the project became more than just a quick weekend project.

On Thursday morning I got some of the new wires run.  I had to cut a couple of extra holes in the ceiling, and one in the wall.  Thursday afternoon we took a break and went to my uncle’s house for dinner.  Then Susanna dragged me to see the new “Twilight” movie.  That was painful – it was more fun to put the drywall on the ceiling.  We decided to not do any black Friday shopping, but we did drive by the Best Buy to see the line around the corner 5 hours before the store opened up.

Holes in the ceiling to run new wires

The electrical work was challenging.  It took all of Friday to finish the wiring.  I put in two three-way switches.  The only challenge was to make sure that the fan had power all the time (and only the light was switched.  I ran regular 14/2 wire to the first switch – but had to run two 14/2 wires between the switches (two for the switched power, one for the always on, and one for the neutral).  From the second switch to the light I ran a run of 14/3.

I also took the time to put in a fan box in the living room, and ran new wire to the dining room light – but no switches to the dining room for now.

Susanna spent Friday adding insulation under the bay window.  a couple of cans of foam sprayed on the bottom, and then R-13 batts of insulation to fill the rest of the cavity.

On Saturday I headed out to Home Depot, rented a drywall lift, and picked up 8 sheets of drywall to do the ceiling.  We spent all day putting up the ceiling and covering the section of the wall we had removed.  It is nice putting drywall up over plaster – you don’t have to worry about where the joists are – just make sure the screws hit the lath. I also made the mistake of cutting out a square opening for the fan box.  The round cover from the fan didn’t cover the corners of the box.  Time to get out more joint compound (and later change my mind to put in a ceiling medallion to hide holes).

It was pretty clear by Saturday night that we weren’t going to finish painting that weekend… so the mess in the house would be around for at least another week.  We talked about painting the floor.  I suggested that I could sand the floor and refinish it this weekend.  Finally by last Friday we decided to not do anything with the floor, and cover it with a large area rug until we could have someone refinish it this summer (as well as the dining room floor).  Sometimes it is important to just finish the project and regain your life – an old house can be one long project with no start and no end.

Sunday was spent putting up the joint compound, sanding and more joint compound.  The following week was spent putting up joint compound, sanding, priming and painting. We finally finished the painting last Sunday (a week later than we had originally planned).

The room is mostly done.  The furniture is in the room.  We still have to hang up paintings, and I have to put up the crown moulding and install a ceiling medallion around the ceiling fan.  But the room looks great.  All the outlets have been upgraded to a new 20amp circuit (Ben helped me fish wires to all the outlets on the first floor – now there are two 20 amp circuits for the first floor – not including the kitchen and bathroom circuits).

Plaster washers and a box for one of the switches
Getting ready to hang the drywall on the ceiling
First sheet of drywall up on the ceiling
A nearly finished living room

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