See ya, Second Floor Bay Window Thing!

If you read my post last week, you already know that I’m in the process of slowly destroying my house. Fun times! In some ways, it would have been very nice to have had the money to do all of this when I bought the house three years ago, but of course three years ago I wouldn’t have had the same plan I have now and would probably have screwed everything up and regretted it forever, so it’s all good. I probably would have also been TOTALLY overwhelmed and intimidated by a project like this and spent the whole time freaking out and panicking and feeling miserable, but now it’s all pretty familiar. It’s fun. It’s exciting. There’s something to be said for taking your time, I guess!

baywindowframed

As mentioned, this big old side-of-house-restoration involves 4 major spaces: my kitchen, my dining room, the second floor bedroom above the dining room (where the bump-out/bay window/”tumor” lives), and my bedroom at the front of the house. That’s inside, of course, which is to say nothing of the enormous exterior overhaul that really has to take precedence! It’s almost mid-August and I’ve gotten myself into enough pickles to know that winter’s a-comin’ and I gotta get this shit done!

ANYWAY. Aside from basically totally dismantling the dining room of all my furniture and pretty things so everything doesn’t get totally destroyed, the work is fairly minor in there, and we already kind of saw it on the window post a few weeks ago. Here’s the window installed from what will soon be the exterior, though! There seems to be a lot of confusion about which parts of the house are staying and which parts are going…I’m trying my best to explain, but you might just have to wait and see if you’re still confused! The wall to the LEFT in the photo above is the old exterior wall of the solarium, which will be eliminated. The wall to the RIGHT is the wall of the house which obviously stays. The ladder is sitting in what will be part of my side yard. More space to plant! Kinda make sense?

middlebedroombefore

Meanwhile…it was time to start taking care of this room on the second floor! This is the decent-sized bedroom where the bump-out is, which I think I’ve only showed once right after I bought the house because I’ve done almost nothing to it except tear off about 1/3rd of the ceiling tiles which revealed a bunch of furring strips nailed to an extremely damaged plaster ceiling. Not terribly surprising. I know that bump-out seems like a fabulous design opportunity but it was in such poor condition, not original to the house, and resting entirely on top of the very structurally unsound former-solarium, so it’s gotta go. Bye!

bumpoutdemo

Demo always starts somewhat slowly, with the careful removal of moldings and anything salvageable. The drywall is down here, so you can see where there used to be windows on either side of this thing, now covered over by OSB sheathing. Those one-over-one windows will not be getting reused, but the old wavy glass in them is valuable for me as I have to repair broken panes in the original windows around the house! Cutting glass isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds (score and snap kind of deal) so they’ll definitely get used.

wallpaperboarder

Underneath the casing around the bump-out was what I’m assuming is the original wallpaper for this room, nicely preserved! In person, those yellow parts are metallic gold, and actually still very shiny! Such a cool pattern, right?

floorcutting

After that, we cut the floor flush with the rest of the house! That was just a matter of snapping a chalk line and running a circular saw down the line, with the blade set at 3/4″ which is the thickness of this floor. The flooring from the bump-out, of course, was then carefully removed for reuse later (little patches I have to do where radiator pipes used to be, maybe the downstairs bathroom…no reason to toss it!).

cornicevestige

One very exciting moment in all of this was removing the ceiling of the bump-out, under which you can see…the original cornice! Some parts like the crown molding, the corbels, and the frieze were removed when this was built, but the main structure (which is also my box gutter!) is intact, which is just fab news. Hopefully this means that patching in and reconstructing this section of the original cornice are also significantly easier than I’d anticipated. Yay!!

framedbumpoutwindow2

Then it was time to frame the new window, which…look! I hope this is all starting to make sense. See how nicely it lines up with the adjacent window in my little office?

preceilingdemo

Once that was more or less done, Edwin offered the suggestion that we just go ahead and demo the ceiling in this room. The plaster is really beyond repair (those furring strips are held up by about a million nails, and removing them takes the plaster along with them), and it has to happen anyway, and…fuck it, let’s just get it done. Plaster demo sucks so while I have help and muscle on my side, I’ll pay for a few extra hours to just get it over with.

middlebedroomceilingdemo

Hot holy damn. In preparation for doing this, we carefully removed the attic floor boards and shoveled out as much of the old blown-in cellulose insulation as we could, because having ALL of it raining down on us while the ceiling got demolished sounded like the worst idea ever.

ISN’T IT GORGEOUS?! Yikes.

framedbumpoutwindow

But after adding sheathing on the exterior and cleaning up, the room is starting to take its new shape. It seems counter-intuitive but returning the room to its rightful proportion makes it feel so much less awkward and honestly more spacious. Of course that could also be an effect of my new (temporary) 16-ish foot ceiling height since you can now see all the way up to my roof sheathing in the attic. Everything is crazy.

demo1

On the exterior…here’s how things stood earlier that day, I believe. All of the clapboard on the back section has been removed and 1/4″ sheathing put up. Adding and removing windows and additions and stuff means there would be a LOT of clapboard patching, so I think it really is easier and ultimately better to just remove it all, give it the spa treatment, and put it back up. That way there won’t be any obvious patchwork. You can kind of see the original boards going back up in the lower right corner!

demo2

Not going to lie, demo on this thing was pretty stressful! The structure was iffy at best so there was a lot of head-scratching about the safest way to go about it.

demo3

Oh Edwin. Always giving me bedroom eyes. We removed the sills that came with the windows and replaced them with cedar that we milled from 4×4 posts to match the dimensions of the originals.

demo4

Much like interior demo, everything that can be saved gets saved! Don’t forget I now have to patch in the cornice, so having those corbels and various pieces of trim work intact should make it much easier.

demo5

I climbed onto the roof and ran a circular saw through the rubber lining on the box gutters and the roof sheathing. Then I got my ass down because NO THANK YOU.

demo6

Roof, gone! Holy moly.

Side1

Here’s where we started off again, for comparison’s sake…

demo7

And here’s where we’re at! Oh my! I’m hoping to patch the cornice this weekend and probably remove some more siding, so hopefully weather cooperates and I can get it done. I know at this stage this hardly looks like an improvement, but there’s still a ways to go here, so bear with me! It’s gonna look great. Remember that there will be another window between the first two on the top, which I think it going to be really transformative. I’m so excited to get that one in! And there will be a false window below that (directly to the left of the bay window in this picture), which I’m weirdly EXTREMELY excited about. I’m picking up the (purely ornamental) shutters for it today!! Adding a real window there is not an option because there’s a pesky wall in the way, but that’s fine. I like my walls.

Also, check it out! I sorta last-minute decided to drop a corner board between the larger original section of the house and the smaller kitchen addition on the back. I was worried that this would look totally weird, but it felt like the right way to subtly articulate the two structures and let the original section of the house maintain its correct proportions. I really like how it’s looking, though! The top where it meets the frieze will get trimmed out with some fancy molding, and I think once the solarium addition comes down and everything else gets done, it’s going to look just right.

After looking at a lot of local examples and lots of debate, I think adding wider corner boards to this house is the right move. The original corner boards are only 4″ and these are a whopping 12″ (which looks tiny now that it’s up, but it’s huge!). It’s been posed that the original house might have been built closer to 1830 or so as a late federal-style, which got a Greek Revival/Italianate kind of overhaul in the 1860s, so I’m guessing when they added the cornice and the portico and the columns (and probably the first floor bay window, which I’m keeping), they didn’t want to re-side the house so they left the original corner boards…which I think makes the house look a little top-heavy with that huge elaborate cornice! Kinda cool, right? So even though they aren’t original, I think wider corner boards will go a long way toward really manifesting the intention of that (possible) 1860s renovation.

Fun? Not fun? I’m having fun.

 


74 Comments

  1. My heart is pounding!

  2. Wow, just wow. You never cease to amaze! So much to do, so much progress made. I can’t wait to see the end result because I know it’s going to be incredible – but I’m enjoying the journey so very much. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love it! I can see what you see & it looks great!!!

  4. You’re crazy. I love it. xo

  5. It’s really starting to take shape! Those new windows are really transforming the space, and I love it!
    BTW, You are so lucky you have a garage and basement to keep all your salvaged stuff. We don’t have either of those, and our crappy demo people destroyed the old kitchen cabinets, original fold away ironing board and tons of baseboard, among other treasures we could never hope to replace. So glad you’re preserving as much as possible!

    • I know, SO LUCKY! Until I show you the garage and basement, and then you will probably cringe in horror because it’s INSANE. INSANE. INSANE. I think I might actually achieve my goal of never buying lumber again, ha!

  6. Awesome work… keep your momentum going to get that outside done. I was caught with an open flat roof in Denver when an unusual 3 month daily rain pattern began. Don’t worry, I’ll stress for you since my project’s finished :)
    It’s going to look amazing! Kudos

    • Been there! the lining of my box gutters got torn off in late October and the contractors threw up their arms and left, and the mad dash to get that stuff closed up before snow weather was SO incredibly stressful. But it got done, the house didn’t fall down, and I lived to tell the tale! Glad you did, too! :)

  7. It looks so much better already! {{standing ovation}}

  8. Wow, just wow. I cannot wait for the awful solarium to come off now – you are doing God’s work on this house.

  9. holy.shit.

    somewhere in this demo I got confused and thought you were talking about the larger “sunroom” thing downstairs…then when I looked at the pictures now realize it’s upstairs you’ve been working on…you are a beast.

    That picture of the debris from the ceiling is horrifying….cleaning that up would have been zero fun.
    You have yourself a good weekend and buy Edwin a beer!

  10. I’m on the edge of my seat. Can’t wait for the rest to get torn down! Can’t believe you climbed all the way up there, I can hardly stand on a chair without getting dizzy!

  11. I think the wider corner boards are going to look great! I agree completely that they will be more balanced with the elaborate cornice. Looking forward to seeing the continuing progress!

  12. Swoon….. I know it is a lot of very hard and dirty work but I am super excited for you!
    You are very fortunate to have reliable Edwin there to help. Finding him was one of the best things ever, and all the better that you have been able to continue to use his skills for such a long time.

    • Yes, Edwin and I have been through the wringer together! I’m so lucky to have him by my side—one of the best friends I’ve ever had. I love that man. :)

  13. Holy hot damn this is awesome. I love that in an age when people are always wanting to “add on” to their otherwise perfectly sized homes you are toning yours back. Fantastic. I also love that you just decided to go for it and rip out the ceiling. The timing seemed right. Hope you and the pups are hanging in there.

    • Ha! I just keep making my house smaller, and everyone thinks I’m nuts!! Sometimes I do think about adding another outbuilding in the backyard, but that’s a whole otherrrr story!

  14. Wider corner boards are good. Scope creep to removing the ceiling is good. (Please tell me you are putting insulation back when this is all done.) This is all so good. And Edwin is good…of course. I can’t wait to see the newer, slimmer version of your house! Also, will you be able to move your electrical meter to the back of your house at some point? Here in Denver, all the electrical connections are in the back and it seems like it would be the finishing touch to your side-reno.

    • YES, definitely adding new (better!) insulation! Just hoping I can get it done before winter hits, because otherwise my heat bills will be murderous and I will be so broke!

      I wish moving the electric meter was an option! Unfortunately I think the code is that the service entrance has to be within 6 feet (something like that) of the panel, so moving it entirely isn’t an option. I would LOVE to bury the service which actually wouldn’t be THAT big of a deal, but $$$. For now, it will probably remain pretty much as-is, but I can paint the conduit to match the siding which should help slightly. Damn utilities!

  15. Your progress is so impressive! This is shaping up to be my favorite demo I’ve ever seen.

  16. Wow, it already looks so much better, and I’m sure it will look awesome when done.

    I was completely baffled by the picture of the removed ceiling in the bump out (where I live cornice = crown moulding) and I couldn’t for the life of me see anything that looks like that. Had a lightbulb moment later with the exterior pic :-)

    What is corner board though? Is it that edging piece down the side of the building? If so I also think the wider one looks nicer than the skinny one visible on the left corner of the building.

    • Yep, you have it right! It’s the piece that runs vertically down the corner of a building. It serves the functional purpose of terminating the edge of the siding (otherwise it would be mitered and more susceptible to rot from rain and snow and stuff), and helps with rain run-off. On most houses, a 4″ or so corner board is pretty standard, but houses with big cornices and eaves returns (like mine) generally have wider ones…it’s purely aesthetic but looks like all that ornate stuff is “supported” rather than kind of floating.

  17. That side of the house looks so much better without that bump out! So much better! Even under construction-once the sun room/solarium is gone too, it will look awesome! And more room to garden…

  18. Looking amazing. I can’t wait to see the whole thing with that bottom porch thingerbobby taking off too. You are restoring the correct proportions. It’s going to be fantastic!

  19. Thank you for removing that thing. It was stressing me like you no idea. It looks gorgeous already.

    • ME TOO! Especially as I watched the solarium continue to rot and sag, and take the second floor bump out with it! Glad to get it done now rather than risking a heavy snow load and watching things collapse!

  20. I like the larger corner board and almost can’t see the narrower one at the front, although i wasn’t sure if it was narrow originally or because if the vinyl siding. I like how it divides the original house and the addition and don’t think that’s weird. The back is obviously and addition with the different roof height and no cornice. Now that I look at it it’s kind of weird to see the siding run continuously between both sections. I can’t wait until we get to see the rest of it come down. And oh yeah, I’d almost forgotten about that other giant addition on the other side of the house where i’m pretty convinced the interior window wall was build out of the solarium’s windows. Is it just locked up and abandoned and Miss Havisham’s lair? or perhaps tool and materials storage.

    I’m sure it was so much easier to get rid of the bedroom ceiling plaster debris while you had a gaping hole in the side of the house, instead of later when you’d be toting 5 gallon buckets down the stairs and through the house. That’s my plan for the weekend except it’s a basement ceiling (why is there a ceiling in an unfinished basement!) so luckily we won’t have to go through the house either.

    • Both correct—the original corner board under the vinyl is actually about the same dimension as the vinyl one. I’m almost positive the glass wall you’re referring to pre-dated the solarium glazing being replaced, but I can see why you might think that! That poor room…it’s kinda last-ish on the list, but it’s going to be SO AMAZING when I get to it! Right now it’s just storage.

      Good luck with the demo!

  21. Not gonna lie, looking at the demo photos of the exterior work with ladders and saws on the roof made me scared for you.

  22. This is completely fascinating. The idea of taking a saw and just amputating part of a house seems so empowering.
    Those windows are huge. So much light. Nice.

  23. HOLY FREAKING COW. You are a daredevil, and I’m loving it. The corner board looks great, and they’re going to read fantastically on the rest of the structure as well. Personally those dinky ones that were on the house just left me feeling confused before. I’m so excited/terrified for you, you’re so much braver than I am. We’re still house hunting and just passed on a 1910 home which needed a lot less work than your place, but it just scared me too much. You’re an old house and hero, don’t you forget it.

    • Aw, thank you! And don’t fear the old houses! They’re usually solid as rocks and they tell you what they need. You don’t have to know everything on day 1! :)

  24. I forgot to say: That wall paper is so beautiful. I don’t know if there’s any way to salvage it sort of cutting out that piece of the plaster and framing it. Do you have plans for it?

    • I did carefulllllly scrape it off the plaster before it got demolished! For what I don’t know, but I always try to keep that stuff. :)

  25. Wow I could never do this! It’s amazing and what the house needs! YOU’re amazing and what the house needs. Good job, keep it up, winter’s a’comin!

  26. Loving every minute of this. Those wider corner boards will really sit the front house down in a nice way, even with just one it’s lovely. Gah! Love this so much. I wish I had a house… curse you rental!

  27. fun, pure hot fun in the summertime.
    but what is a corner board?
    https://youtu.be/_NVVe1DkVsQ

  28. This work reminds me of Linus’ first haircut on your kitchen floor. Just getting that old fur coat cut off made Linus look younger and stronger. That’s how your house looks.

  29. This is deeply satisfying to watch the transformation! I support the wider corner boards — the one you put up looks good. I didn’t even notice that there were smaller ones around until you pointed it out. Are you dying to just rip that ground floor bump-out off with your hands? I can’t wait to see it done! Are you putting shutters on all the windows or just the dummy window? This all looks so good. Great job, young man!

    • Yes, I am DYING! Pray for sunny skies this weekend despite all evidence to the contrary and it just might happen!!

      For now, the only shutters will be on the dummy window, but I plan to SOMEDAY put shutters on all of them! It’s just so freaking expensive.

  30. Holy crap! This is a real nail biter! You and Edwin crew are hauling ass!!! Now it is easier to see where you are going but I am freaking out about the inside blasting…yikes!! You’re badassness is off the charts. Just curious, where are storing all of the salvaged wood and stuff? Keep on truckin with yo fearless badassness!!

    • Oh man…garage, basement, room above the kitchen…now in the kitchen. It’s everywhere! Just in the garage someday!

  31. Danial,
    This is looking fantastic, though I know you are a long way from done on this project, but I can see progress!

    Having just bought an old house myself, though nothing this grand or big in July. It’s a modest 836SqFt 3 bedroom cottage originally built in 1908 but with an addition added sometime in the past, I’m guessing likely in the 70’s but don’t know for sure to make the original 1 bedroom house into a 3 bedroom.

    Got it for a fairly inexpensive price for Tacoma that does not need work just to move into as it’s solid, but a bit outdated but livable as is. Things that need doing are some of the plumbing, some of the wiring, possibly some shoring up of the kitchen floor joists at some point, work on the laundry porch (the original back porch enclosed into a laundry room), and paint and updating of the kitchen, though for now I am making do by hitting IKEA for an island to make it workable as it has very old cabinets that flank the back door to the back porch that either date to when the house was new or from a renovation in 1924, or so Redfin indicated in their data on it but either way, they are not long for this world as their condition is less than stellar and are far from the stove and fridge, but the room itself is fairly large, but oddly laid out and is also doubles as the dining area in the form of an eat in kitchen.

    So I understand what you are going through, just not nearly as extensive as you have had to endure to bring this house back and I got it with a new roof, new service panel (as mine was a recalled Federal Pacific panel, though modern in that it was 200amp/240 service and got a sewer scope done during the inspection phase of the buying process and discovered that the poor sewer line to the back alley was failing as the joints were opening up and letting water leak out so sewage sludge was building up in the pipe – all that got dine on the seller’s dime so not bad!

    At any rate Daniel, be safe and keep up the good work and I’m SO glad you found a great contractor in Edwin and with you two and others help when needed, you will bring this house back and looking good!

  32. I definitely like where this is going, and I completely agree about the 12″ corner boards. Not only will they look better with the proportions of the house, but they will also better echo the look of the divisions on the bay window.

  33. Just gorged on the backlog of posts since I last checked in, which wasn’t all that long ago. Holy handlebars you have a lot going on in like 2 weeks??! Wow Daniel, just wow. The scale of what you got into is intense – fingers crossed all goes well and keep posting!

  34. Were you able to save any of the wallpaper? That would be a fun framed piece next to that business card.

  35. Can we get an Edwin bio/interview? I’d love to know how he got involved, feels about the project, etc…

    • Ha! I think he just thinks I’m nuts! IDK…he got involved because he lives next door to me and I hired him a couple years ago to do some drywall work, and we’ve continued working together on several projects since. That’s kinda it!

  36. Your thoughtfulness and consideration of every detail to do justice to the ‘proper intent’ of this house is just absolutely amazing and wonderful and makes me so fucking happy! Its so rare nowadays to see people restore instead of remuddle their older homes. Every bit of your restoration thrills me because you do really ‘get’ the house and you are doing your very best by it! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! :D

  37. WOW just WOW cant wait for the final reveal

    hope you are NOT working on it this weekend… too hot and it would be dangerous to work in this heat!

    another ting i love is learning from your posts. corner board. now i know.
    hope you took a break and stayed cool !

    • Sigh, I know! I worked for a few hours yesterday and threw in the towel. It was BRUTAL outside! Ah well. House is still standing. :)

  38. I’d like to echo what other readers have said…Edwin is awesome and you’re REALLY lucky to have him! When my husband and I bought our 1875 house nine and a half years ago we thought we’d have it renovated in two to three years, even though it needed a ton of work. But we ran into some unscrupulous contractors, and some that just didn’t do a very good job, so we ended up doing everything ourselves. That’s why we’re nowhere near finished. But we’ve picked up lots of DIY skills in the interim, which is kinda empowering. I learn so much from your posts, Daniel. Your house is getting more beautiful by the day. Did you have to take out a building permit to do the work on the side of the house and, if so, how much of a pain is it to deal with?

  39. Daniel! amazing. I am sure this is intense, its a lot to tackle being this destructive in order to reconstruct. but you can see the bones starting to appear. As always thanks for recording the process it’s fascinating to watch.

  40. we need a guest post from Edwin’s point of view :)

  41. So freakin’ exciting!

  42. You are amazing! I’m SO happy to see the beautiful exterior going back to the way it was supposed to be. We just bought a house from 1931, and are doing our best to de-90s it—ripped out the beige carpeting covering the beautiful old hardwood last week, and now I have my sights set on the extremely 1992 Builder Special bathroom.

    Also, I just wanted to say thanks for being so detailed with your posts—when I run into something that needs restoring, I usually search your site and find good tips on how to do it! You taught me the magic that is Feed n’ Wax, and for that I owe you a beer.

  43. This whole time I thought your office was actually in the room off the front bedroom! Oops! Who knows why I thought that?

    All this demo is so exciting. I love the idea of the top bay window but definitely understand having it removed especially after the demo of the sun room below.

  44. That wallpaper! Soooo beautiful!!
    I am trying to imagine what the rest of the space would have looked like – the wallpaper hints at something beautiful and palatial to me! How lovely!

  45. Everyone else I know is watching the Olympics. I’m just re-reading this latest series over and over. Riveting. 9.9!

  46. I found your blog today and not only I am getting great ideas for my upcoming remodeling project (I have already gone out in our wood pile and found the perfect board for under the kitchen window trim…great idea!)
    But your blog is interesting and entertaining…I needed the reminder of not only patience but humor as well…
    I am looking forward to going thru your blogs and making lots of notes…Thank you!
    Awesome home you are working on!

  47. I love that bit of old paper and I love what you are doing there. Keep all that detail coming, I’m a restoration junkie!

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