Slowwwww and Steady Bedroom Progress

progress3skimcoating

It’s 2017! I’m a sucker for a new year. In spite of a long-held suspicion that compiling a list of new year’s resolutions is just another way to feel like a failure down the line, I totally do it anyway. I’ve already been successful about remembering to take my anti-depressants everyday and—unpleasant as it may be—have managed to use my Neti Pot* several times, so MAYBE THIS COULD BE THE YEAR?! Not to put the cart before the horse or anything. But I do think/hope/pray that this is a year where intentions will manifest as actions followed by results, and loose ends on a lot of things get wrapped up. I EXPECT this to be the year when large swaths of my house really start coming together, which could not be coming soon enough. I’m sure you’re about as tired of reading about demo and destruction as I am of writing about it. Can we just make stuff pretty again?

*as a chronic allergy-sufferer who’s constantly stuffed-up, it really does seem to make a big difference. I have this one which I like a little better than the more traditional teapot-style ones.

I’d hoped to have my bedroom put back together by the new year, but…well, it didn’t come to pass. I’m trying! If there’s one thing I’ve learned about renovating my house, it’s that it’s good to have goals but bad to get too tied up in super-specific deadlines. I find that if I look at things in much smaller chunks (painting a wall vs. finishing an entire room, that kind of thing), it helps me feel better about the progress I am making rather than deflated about not being able to hasten the process. The process is always so much simpler in your head than when you really get into it!

drywallpt1

Where we left off, I’d installed a fourth bedroom window, insulated the exterior wall, patched in some flooring, and cased out the new window in an attempt to make it match the three original ones. Just that was a lot of work! Aside from getting Edwin’s help with framing/installing the new window, I’m tackling this room 100% solo which of course means slow going.

I touched on it in the last post, but I thought a lot about how to redo the wall that got gutted with the window installation, and this is what I came up with: install two layers of 1/2″ drywall—one on top of the other—tape and mud the seams, and then skim-coat everything. In the past when I’ve had to replace plaster and lath with new drywall, I’ve furred out the wall framing so that the 1/2″ drywall would match the roughly 1″ depth of the original plaster and lath. This has worked out just fine, but I wanted to see if I could get closer to the tactile experience of the original plaster by doubling up the thickness of the sheetrock. If you’ve lived in a house with plaster walls, you might know what I mean. A plastered room looks a bit different than a typical drywalled one, since plaster carries a certain amount of imperfection inherent in anything that’s hand-applied rather than machine-made like drywall is, but it feels different, too. Sound travels differently and reverberates less in a plastered room (and perhaps especially between rooms), and I think that solid quality is part of what makes living in an old house feel different than newer construction.

ANYWAY. Somebody kindly pointed out in the comments that evidently double-boarding wall and ceiling surfaces is super common and often required in much of Europe, and a bit of research seems to indicate that it’s also fairly common practice in the States, although I think more for commercial applications. I thought I was being so inventive and smart! Way to take the wind outta my sails. But if it’s good enough for Europe, it’s good enough for me. They do all kinds of things better there.

So in the picture above I have the first layer of sheetrock up (I used scraps for the first layer, so that’s why there are so many seams), and the second one with full-size sheets went up a day or two later. I used fiberglass mesh tape to tape the seams of the second layer, mudded the seams with joint compound, let that dry, and then came back to apply a thin layer of joint compound over the entire wall to try to mimic the ever-so-slight undulations and imperfections of a real plaster wall. I typically use powdered joint compound with a 90-minute set time because it allows for a working time that I’m comfy with but dries much faster than the pre-mixed all-purpose joint compound you’d buy in the bucket. Then I knocked down bumps and ridges, skim-coated again, then again, then sanded everything.

This sounds so easy and nice when I’m sitting here typing it, but good lord I hate skim-coating. It’s messy, it’s dusty, it’s a lot of work, and I find that it’s difficult to get the kind of results I want even after several applications and a ton of sanding.

progress1

One thing I’ve found a little helpful is throwing a tiny bit of dark paint into the joint compound mix for final patching after your last full skim-coat and sanding. It’s really hard to spot imperfections when everything is that chalky white color and texture, so this way you can see exactly where you need to go back and do a final sanding before you paint. This room had the new drywall, two walls of plaster in very good condition, and one wall (the one to the left in the photo above) of plaster in pretty poor condition, so each received a different level of attention and amount of taping/patching.

Unfortunately I didn’t give it a ton of serious thought until after I was well into the skim-coating process, but next time I’ve resolved to nix the joint compound altogether and try my hand at using hydrated lime plaster. Hydrated lime is very different in a number of ways from gypsum powder-based joint compound (or even gypsum plaster veneer), but it actually sounds like a pretty approachable DIY, it’s better and more authentic for the house, there’s NO SANDING(!!), and it’s sooooo beautiful. Also—real plaster! How badass! The very friendly folks at Master of Plaster based out of South Carolina have been giving me a real education and I’m so excited to give it a try!

progress2skimcoating

But back in the land of joint compound, by this point my walls were looking insane so I was super duper excited to finally break out some paint! I started with two fresh coats on the ceiling, and MY WORD what a difference!

To manage my anxiety, I’m thinking about this as sort of a Phase 1 renovation of this room, because there are two major things about it that I just didn’t have the heart to address right at this moment: the ceiling, and the missing mantel. See where that electrical outlet is in the photo above? The original chimney is behind that, and it appears that originally there was some sort of mantel on this wall. You can kind of see how the baseboard is patched in. This is directly above where I added a fake mantel in my living room to replace the missing original one. I toyed with doing something similar in here, but decided to wait and do it down the road since it’s not as though there isn’t enough to do without adding that into the equation.

As for the ceiling, it’s old drywall over furring strips that are nailed into the original plaster and lath, and it’s in kinda lousy shape. This was done when drywall was nailed up rather than screwed, and I guess the previous owner decided the solution for popping nail heads was to smear a bunch of caulk or something over each individual nail head. It’s not particularly noticeable unless the light is hitting a certain way, but it’s annoying enough that it’s something I’d eventually like to address. Of course, this could be as simple as giving the ceiling a nice skim-coat or new thin layer of sheetrock, but my version of addressing this problem will most likely involve removing all the drywall and the furring strips and either trying to repair or replacing the plaster, so I can get that stupid 2-ish extra inches of ceiling height back.

This is why this house will never be done. Ever.

ALL of this to say that 2 fresh coats of flat ceiling paint (I think it was semi-gloss before, which is almost always a horrible idea with a drywall ceiling, but maybe the worst idea when it comes to one in bad shape) made an enormous difference and I can survive and maybe even thrive with that ceiling a while longer. I even think I’m going to add a medallion because the cost and effort is so minimal and it’ll make the room immediately more complete, even if I don’t think of the ceiling as permanent. Also I already ordered it.

Once the ceiling was done, it was time to start on the walls!

bmoilcloth

WOAH WOAH WOAH! Do not adjust your monitors or call the police: that paint isn’t white! I’m a loose cannon in 2017. Also I think my style is getting progressively more traditional and I just don’t know how it’s all going to play out so bear with me while I navigate these confusing new waters.

cuttinginpaint

For real though, I’m psyched about this color! I know it might look like kind of a non-color, but I swearrrrr it’s not just grey. It’s called Oil Cloth by Benjamin Moore, and it’s one of those delicious blue-green-grey colors that changes all day and probably looks completely different in every space and light. At least here, it definitely reads more as green than blue, but it never looks sage or mint or something like that. If this room ends up being ugly, it’s because I didn’t know what to do with this color, not because the color is bad. It’s so, so nice.

progresspaint

When I took this photo I was hoping you’d be able to get a sense of how this new double-boarded and skim-coated drywall ended up looking, but I don’t think it’s really accomplishing that. Well anyway. It looks really good. I don’t think you’d ever be able to point out that it’s a new wall of drywall.

Oh right, where’s the window? Somewhere in there I decided there was no time like the present to begin restoring my original windows, so these two sashes were my first victims!

windowstripping

Restoring old windows is a whollleeeee process that I want to get better at before I attempt assembling my own tutorial, but here’s a fun and exciting progress shot! I used one of those fast-acting paint strippers and immediately hated myself for it. It all worked out fine, but those quick strippers are always such a gloopy mess! I find that they take so many applications and time spent cleaning and picking away at old layers that they end up being one of the most time-consuming ways to strip paint rather than the speed and efficiency promised on the can.

painted-sash

This window only needed two panes replaced, and I opted to just do spot-repairs to the existing glazing putty on the others rather than removing ALL of the paint and putty and all of the glass and truly refurbishing everything. The old glazing is mostly in solid and stable condition (even if it isn’t the neatest glazing job), and with a couple new coats of paint I’m hopeful it’ll last for many more years. I used Rust-Oleum’s oil-based High Performance Protective Enamel for the exterior of the sashes, but I think in the future I’m going to try an exterior latex enamel because the oil-based took forever to dry and made the entire process take so much longer.

windowinstalled

Aside from tacking the stop back onto the jamb and installing a new sash lock, check it! One down, only 30-something to go! This is the first window in the whole house that I’ve done a full restoration on, so it’s pretty exciting. I think the ultimate goal is to be able to remove the unsightly and inefficient exterior storms altogether in favor of some fancy custom-fitted Indow Windows, but in the meantime the exterior storms do an OK job of protecting the sashes that are in need of repairs until I can get to them.

sample

Now that the walls are painted, I’m a lot closer to having a completed room! I threw up a little trim paint on this little section of molding just to see how the two colors would look together (the trim is BM Simply White), so if you only look at this little section it looks like the room is done, ha! Preparing all the moldings for paint is a big job—even though I don’t strip the paint, I do try to smooth out any lumpy and bumpy areas, scrape out old poorly-applied caulk, fill holes and cracks, and give everything a thorough cleaning before breaking out the paintbrush at all. Look at that molding, though! So worth it.

So I didn’t make New Years, but maybe I can be sleeping in here again by the end of the month? It’s so exciting to be at the point of thinking about furniture and rugs and art and light fixtures, finally!


117 Comments

  1. LOVE the color. As an owner of a house with plaster walls, I’ll be interested to know how the lime plaster works in the future. I have a chimney area that’s going to need a fairly major patch and it’s direct line of sight from the front door, so it needs to be RIGHT (ykwim).

  2. That colour is great! I could get my husband on board on that choice. Happy to see that the new year has energised you. We always dream of new beginnings, don’t we.

  3. I like a good mantel myself, but for a room that’s used as a bedroom you’re losing that whole wall span where you could otherwise put a dresser or a desk.

    • True! That wall is tricky, though…with a bed in the room, trying to put another piece of furniture on that wall has always felt too cramped, so it’s made me wonder if a mantel would actually help kind of “activate” that wall without trying to squeeze too much into the room, ya know? But now I have the opportunity to keep mulling it over! :)

      • In my experience, dressers are not very deep – say 19-20″ – so where I don’t have room for one, I also don’t have room for a fireplace mantel. I don’t like having to squeeze or brush past bedroom fireplaces, say in old brownstones, to get into bed. If there’s not really room for a fireplace mantel not to be crowded, I’d go for art on the wall instead.

  4. That color looks very soothing and calming without being boring, which is perfect for the place where you want to sleep.

  5. Love, love, love the color! I’m excited to hear about your experience with Master of Plaster. You’ll be the second blog I follow who’s used it and I’m considering it for repairs on my own plaster walls. I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but Old Town Home has an entire series on their experience with it if you’re looking for a more in-depth breakdown of the process: http://www.oldtownhome.com/plaster-repair-series/

    I’m also really eager to hear about your Indow Window experience. We too have horrible metal storm windows that detract from the house. I go back and forth on Indow Windows and doing something way crazier (because I guess that’s what old home folk do) and building my own storms and screens like what my house had originally. I’ve kept an eye on this tutorial for myself, but thought I’d pass it along for you too. Not that I want to introduce another super crazy, labor intensive bunch’a work to your life: http://thisoldfarmhouse.blogspot.com/2007/10/wooden-storm-window-project.html

    • Thanks Miranda! Yes, I’ve followed Alex’s plaster adventures (and skim-coating ones before that, and used many of his tips!) with great interest—it’s how I heard about Master of Plaster originally! His walls look great.

      Just the idea of making my own storms makes me want to take a long nap—I don’t think I have the strength!! They do look great, though. I understand the struggle!

  6. Don’t feel discouraged!

  7. Hi there
    Have you ever tried homeopathy for your allergies? Good doctor could find the best drug cocktail for your problems.

    And about choosing the right kind of gray color… Gray is a non color and surrounding yourself with any shade of a real gray will feel very wrong. But! When you buy a gray, pre-mixed one, you’ll never get a real gray. Every gray is actually very desaturated green, blue or red. Real kind of gray would kill the space, everything would look just dull. So, it is never advisable to make your own color by just adding the black tint to white.

    I am sure that you will be very satisfied with you choice. It doesn’t look wrong at all!

    • I don’t know, I sometimes take a couple different homeopathic meds by Boiron for congestion, but no real regimen. It probably could be helpful! Although I’ve never been to a doctor who wants to do anything but pump me full of steroids and antihistamines.

      • The only thing homeopathy does is a placebo effect. If that’s fine with you, go for it, but don’t expect anything more.

  8. All that dust can’t be good for allergies. Be careful with neti pots–everything has to be sterile or you can do more harm than good. You also can buy single-dose vials of saline solution, which are sterile….but lots of plastic to throw away.
    Your wall looks fantastic (I was thinking: Yeah! He has a wall!). And the color is gorgeous. Those chameleon colors that change with the light are the best.
    Does your window restoration mean single glazing? We went from single to double, and now I regret not having done triple (for sound and insulation). I’m basically a tree-hugging skinflint, and would love a Net-Zero house, especially if it’s a renovation. Goals.
    I can’t wait to see the next step!

    • It’s not good for allergies! I try to be vigilant about dust masks, but even still. I’m allergic to so many airbornes (including my dogs!) that it just feels like a losing battle no matter how I spend my time.

      Yes, my windows are single glazed! Do you mean that you had your original windows panes re-glazed to have double glazing, or a secondary glazing was mounted to either the inside or outside of the whole window? I’ve heard about people making their single-glazed windows into double, but I’m not sure I understand how it’s actually done!

  9. Happy new year Daniel

    Love the color im stealing it for my next house

  10. Great progress, Daniel! I know exactly what you mean about the difference between the apparently simple to-do list and the the time it takes to accomplish each task on that list–properly. But taking the time always pays off in the end, and clearly you are going to have an exquisite bedroom sometime soon. The colors are gorgeous, and that woodwork is so beautiful. Can’t wait to see the finished room!

  11. Oh, it’s so nice of you to post!!! I just love that you’re sharing your renovations, it’s so interesting to watch things come together. I love the new paint color and I can’t wait to see it all come together. House repairs always, always, always takes longer than I think. I’ve been checking back frequently and was so excited to see your updates. Thank you!!!

  12. “I’m sure you’re about as tired of reading about demo and destruction as I am of writing about it.”

    NO.

    In the nicest possible way, please continue renovating and writing about it forever.

  13. Daniel,
    I was so excited on seeing that you had a new post that I turned on my computer to read and reply, despite the fact that today is heading for 40 degrees C and I have no aircon, so I usually avoid using heat emitting appliances. It was well worth it as usual.
    My question is about your window stripping – if you didn’t use gloopy paint stripper, what would have been your method of stripping?
    Also, do we get to see what the outside wall looks like, assuming you finished it off before the winter weather really hit?

    • Aw, you braved the heat for me! I’m honored!

      OK, so my favorite paint stripper I think is Peel Away. You have to wait about 24 hours between application and stripping, which sometimes makes me stupid about things if I just really want to get it done right then. That being said, I think I’d rather just not strip the paint next time! I think I’d rather just scrape off anything loose or flakey, prime, and repaint over the existing layers of paint. The majority of my windows are in good enough shape that stripping down to the bare wood really isn’t necessary (and can do more harm than good), so I’m fine with skipping that step!

    • Pippa, are you in Australia or New Zealand? 40 C is SERIOUSLY hot! I’m in central Europe and it’s been down to -10, eben -20 in some spots recently, now it’s around freezing in Austria.

  14. Hang in there! Be strong! It’s going to be AMAZING and totally worth it AND you have a captivated audience that’s going to support you till you reach the finish line. If you need chocolate chip cookies or vodka, just say the word and I can send some your way ;)

    1. Super stoked to hear about your adventures in plaster.
    2. Adding color to that last coat of joint compound is GENIUS.
    3. I’m glad someone else mentioned oldtownhome.com. Their latest post actually mentions using a standard stripper and wrapping the pieces they’re stripping in regular wax paper to work overnight. I totally plan on doing this with my windows when I start rehabbing them in a few weeks! http://www.oldtownhome.com/2017/1/10/Office-Quick-Fix-Restoring-Antique-Door-Hardware/

  15. Congratulations and happy new year. The third image from the top has something wildly beautiful to it, it almost looked like a painting. Had to look twice. Great work, as always. Rock on!

  16. So happy to see you back, and happy you’ve made so much progress on your sanctuary. That colour gave me a whole new set of ideas for a project I’m working on, and I bet it’s beautiful in your room with all that light! If it makes you feel any better about how long everything takes, I moved in October, and I’m still trying to get to the point where all my surfaces are clear and it’s possible to put everything away (why yes, condo builders, including one tiny closet by the front door as the only storage will surely work out perfectly! grumble, grumble…), so your work seems to be flying from my perspective.

  17. I love the olive paint colour – I’m itching to see what it looks like next to wood (wood + green = one of my fave colour combos).

    • Me too! I think it’ll pair really well with natural woods, leather, warm metals…these are a few of my favorite thingsssss.

  18. Beautiful color!! Daniel, I’m always inspired by the care you take with your projects. I am withering away from indecision for my first renovation project, ugh. I’m painting kitchen cabinets and resurfacing the counter, and I know I can’t go wrong with basic white, but I am starting to consider doing a dark color on the bottom cabinets and perhaps this color would be perfect… or terrible?!??! I’m losing my mind… Again, I have SO much respect for all the work you’ve done while (mostly?) keeping your sanity. What is your secret?

    • Thank you, Eli! I’m a fan of darker base cabinets, for sure! The kitchen in this house has cabinets painted a similar color that look great! Of course part of that is that the cabinets themselves are really nice.

      No secret, not a lot of sanity either! You just gotta keep chipping away…:)

  19. It’s really coming together and looking great. I’m about to tackle the window restoration I’ve been planning for about 9 years and I’m really excited to get started on it. We’ll have to compare notes as we both get more into it. Theres one thing I can’t wait for you to experience. When you’re done you’ll find yourself laying in bed longer than is reasonable just so you can stare at the new window and casing. There’s just something so satisfying about new woodworking details made to look as good as old. I do the same thing and end up staring at the replicated transom and door I built for our bathroom entrance.

    • Thanks, Alex! I know, I love my original moldings but I have such a soft spot for the bits I’ve made myself! I finally primed the new casing yesterday and not to toot my own horn, but…the match is so good. I kept going back upstairs to peek at it. :)

  20. Happy new year Daniel!! Wishing you everything you want to make you happy this year. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the rest of the room!

  21. Go for Chinese New Year (Jan 28) and you can still make New Years for sleeping in your bedroom!

  22. Hi Daniel; one quick comment -besides Happy New Year!!!- we have that color on the main wall in our house. We’ve had it for the last 19 years or so. It’s a wall that connects the ground floor and the first floor and runs from front to back. So it’s about 5.5 meters high and 12 meters long. Ours is made of colored Morocan plaster made from clay (and other stuff). We still love it. It has a certain presence without being intrusive. Because of the sand in the material it glitters in the sun in certain areas. Very excited to see what you do with it. Maybe you’ll bring in into fashion!

  23. love your process/progress…
    colors remind me of katyelliot & 47 Washington Street

  24. The very same reason that you will never be done renovating is why I love reading your blog (someone who shares my obsessive tendencies and shows me how to fix the same issues I have in a way that pleases those obsessive tendencies). Also, I am interested in what you mean when you say that your tendencies are heading to traditional. Does that mean ornate furniture? Or more about how you are rehabbing the house?
    Also, I’d love to know what you think is a better method of stripping paint. I inherited my grandma’s sewing table and it needs to be stripped and stained, but I haven’t decided on the stripping method yet. (See first sentence of the comment…)

    • Thanks, Tisha! I’m glad you can relate to the crazy! :)

      I don’t know, I don’t think of my style as traditional, but I’ve found that I’ve started to gravitate more toward spaces that are a little…moodier and more textured/layered, maybe? Less mid-century mod, more antiques, less white paint, more subdued/classic colors and tones? We’ll all find out together! :)

      I like Peel Away for stripping paint, but definitely do a test area because I’ve had experiences with it darkening the wood (not really a problem if you’re just repainting, but potentially bad if you want a wood finish!).

      • I’m excited to watch and see this new decorating bent. I’ve been looking at the house-porn on nordicdesign.ca and it definitely leans that way, although still pretty minimalist and modern.
        Thanks for the paint stripper suggestion – I’ll give it a try!

      • Just realized that I spend more of my time staring at the moldings at nordicdesign.ca than I do at the furniture. The buildings are incredibly ornate with beautiful craftsmanship.

      • I know how you feel! I’ve noticed a lot of mainstream American retailers (cb2, west elm…) doing their catalog shoots in beautiful old houses, and I end up admiring the houses more than the goods!

  25. It’s funny, I was just thinking today: I wonder how that Kingston House is doing. Too bad there hasn’t been a blog in a while. And voila! Thank you for this. It looks great. Love the color you chose. Best wishes for 2017.

  26. You are killing me — show us the whole room for the love of all that is holy!!!!!!!!
    Also, neti pots rule. It took me years to try one (I thought I would drown myself), but I swear by them now.

  27. Yes, furniture, rugs, art and light fixtures–let’s go there!!

  28. Currently rocking my neti pot and on diy year seven of a never finished house. HA! Love the updates. Slow and steady wins the race. :)

  29. Oh, it’s always a good day when Daniel posts! Thank you.

  30. Happy 2017! You have done an amazing job (I am not even going to discuss the amazing COLOR choice for the walls). Re: paint stripping, I just stripped a desk using Citristrip, and it worked great. The trick is to cover it with Saran Wrap, and walk away until the morning. Ignore the 15-30 minutes, and leave it for the night – the wrap keeps it from drying out. What’s even better is that It’s non-toxic and safe for you and your puppies.

    Oh, and P.S., how can I not go there — THE COLOR IS AWESOME! You’re all growed up! I’m still searching for a color for the bedroom, and this one is so yummy. Best wishes on the resolutions and meds (remember they don’t work unless you take them every day). Send more updates when you can, they make my week. Xx

    • Good to know! I’ll definitely try it. I like Citristrip but haven’t found it particularly effective for multiple old coats of paint. I’ll try with the Saran!

      And thank you! :) :)

  31. Loving the colour Daniel. It’s beautiful.
    Hey next year’s New Year’s hasn’t been yet, so just switch the years. ;)

    Homeopathy doesn’t do anything for health care, use a dust mask respirator and get fresh air as much as possible. Antihistamines are the bomb!

  32. I have Oil Cloth in my living room and I love it! It’s one of my favorite paint colors!

  33. Love the walls, and very nice to get one of your pieces to start the day with! Glad to see that you are making such progress! There is really a lot of work with sheetrock. Lime-plaster is more difficult before you get to know the texture and develop the necessary ruthlessness, but it is prettier, better for the environment and gives the house a better indoor climate. I think it can be worth it for you to try, the same amount of time but it is more fun to plaster than to sand =)

    I do not know if you know this and choose not to since you will be taking the ceiling down, but when you have an old house I find it better to paint the ceiling down an inch on the wall so that you can tape a straight line. Having the wall and ceiling color meet in the corner means the line will be a bit fudgy. The last pic show how it looks afterwards. In one of the earlier pics the tape is still up. http://jugendhuset.blogspot.se/2016/12/lister-ja.html

  34. About trim colors. I have been living in my apartment for about five years and I painted the trims and doors white with oil/enamel paint when I renovated to move in. Brand and exact color won’t matter as I am in Brazil. Now they look cream. I researched, both the Brazilian internet and the English speaking internet, and the conclusion is the same: white paints for wood and metal turn yellow over time. I noticed your trims are white. I’ll come clean and say that I am a smoker. While that might make things worse, addictions are harder to cure than a coat of paint.

    The solutions I found are: painting with acrylics – wall paint – and sealing with two part varnish for cars applied with a spray nozzle. What a hassle, not to mention that repainting might prove impossible after this. Resign myself to touching it up every three years or so – another sizeable hassle since nobody wants to paint baseboards all the time. Or give up the white – go gray or another color.

    Do you have any experience with this?

    • Hey Leticia! Yes, oil-based products do tend to yellow or “amber” over time—think oil-based polyurethane or varnish on wood floors (looks great when they’re first done, but get more orange as time goes on). I painted a radiator with white oil-based paint once that definitely yellowed after a year or two.

      In the States (and much of the world!), oil-based paints are becoming increasingly uncommon and/or outlawed for environmental reasons, and water-based (which includes latex and acrylic) paints are used for much more than just walls! Water-based paints are different in several ways, but they shouldn’t yellow, are easy to work with, and nicer ones are very durable and cleanable. Like oil paints, you can get them in different sheens—I use satin for trim but semi-gloss (slightly shinier) is a little more typical. I know nothing about home improvement in Brazil, but I’d be surprised if you can’t buy comparable products there!! The varnish honestly sounds like overkill to me—I usually prep, prime, do two coats of my finish paint, and that’s it! Sometimes I skip priming. Trim inevitably gets chipped and scratched and needs touch-ups because it’s always getting hit with stuff by accident, but I’m not sure a varnish would really do much for that kind of wear and tear.

      • Thanks, Daniel. The products here are slightly different. We don’t get primers for instance. And the water based paints for wood I tried before tended to chip at the slightest provocation. So I would say our paint/chemical industry is behind yours by a decade, at least.

        I read your blog because you talk about construction methods that are so foreign to me. Lathe and plaster are unheard of in Brazil, we are the land of brick and mortar, historically and concrete, more recently. You go into such delightful detail about it all, it’s a pleasure and I learn so much.

      • Interesting! I recently finished work for a client originally from Brazil, and she was VERY particular about paint in ways that I had a difficult time understanding, but maybe that was due at least in part to this difference! American paint manufacturers have been doing some pretty amazing things in the past few years in terms of improving durability and coverage while also making huge strides in terms of environmental friendliness, so we’re pretty spoiled here. They’re phasing out oil-based products across the board, so it’s been a huge relief that they’re coming out with so many latex alternatives that really are very comparable.

        I’m glad you find this stuff so interesting—that makes me so happy to hear!

      • I’m in Europe and primers aren’t awfully common here either, except rust-inhibiting primers for metal. Actually I think most paint manufacturers recommend priming wood but DIY stores usually don’t sell primers!
        My results with acrylic paints (which have been on the market for some 30 years I think) have been less than stellar so far. Straight out of the can they usually leave horrible brush marks/orange peel texture (the latter if you use a roller) and thinning them doesn’t always improve that. Also they tend to get a bit sticky every time humidity rises. Granted, I’ve only used cheaper ones but the humidity issue was confirmed by a proper paint store where professional painters shop. That leaves alkyd paint, which is quite smelly but fairly easy to use. The smell is so bad (and hangs around for so long) that I’ve decided to switch to linseed oil-based paint last summer though. The only smell is the oil (which is edible), a huge bonus. Using it is totally different from any modern paint though, you apply the thinnest coats imaginable, truly rubbing the paint into the wood or the previous coat. That way you need between three and five coats but get a perfect finish without the slightest hint of brush marks and without obscuring any carved details. Coats also take anywhere between 24 and 48 hours to dry so it’s nothing for the impatient.

        Caveat: I haven’t used it outside yet. It’s supposed to have mould/mildew issues in wet climates. It didn’t back before WWII when linseed oil was all they had and I suspect that’s because it contained a lead-based drying agent back then, now banned.

      • So interesting how different all this is depending on where you are! At least here, there are some additives that can help achieve a smoother finish with water-based paints—Floetrol is the big one, and it works pretty well. But it’s not the same as oil, for sure. Alkyd is pretty new as far as I know to our market—I used it recently and didn’t find the smell SO bad (I kinda like things that smell super toxic though, haha), but it was just in a primer that got painted over with latex paint.

    • Leticia, no matter what paint you use, the cigarette smoke will yellow your walls and trim. While oil will yellow on its own, latex paint will still get that layer of cigarette residue. Best to resign yourself to repainting frequently (and use latex, since it makes the job easier and tidier), paint your trim a rich cream colour deliberately, or smoke outside.

      • Suggesting to someone that is already banned from smoking everywhere to smoke outside her own home isn’t very helpful. Brazil does have very strict anti-smoker laws.

        I am aware that every little thing in my home gets a layer of tar, but the white ceiling isn’t half as yellow as the white door. If you see Daniel’s response above, there are other issues at play here besides my addiction.

        I am leaning towards the grey family, since the walls are plenty colorful – yellow, blue, green, purple. One in each room. :) That’s why I tried to lighten it up with white in the first place.

  35. Happy New Year!
    Great progress! From one allergy sufferer to another: get these-
    https://www.amazon.com/WoodyKnows-Model-Allergens-Pollution-Replacement/dp/B00SHELUP0/ref=sr_1_2_a_it?ie=UTF8&qid=1484127263&sr=8-2&keywords=woodyknows+nose+filter
    (no drugs or chemicals, just a “mechanical solution” )

    Best
    Jenn(ifer)

    • Oh wow, I’ve never seen anything like that! It’s like ear plugs! For your nose! HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I HAD THIS THOUGHT AND HERE THEY ARE?!?

      Yes please. Ordering immediately. Thank you!

  36. Seeing that wall paint colour beside your beautiful moulding makes my heart sing! Love it!

    I once heard a chinese proverb that went along the lines of, ‘When you’re done with your house, you’re done with life”. Keep up the great work, even as small incremental steps!

  37. Ah, no reveal, you’re such a tease!

    As always, you are being so incredibly and amazingly thorough! I must say, I’m not sure about the grey, though. With the white trim it looks to me very much like fairly generic American hotel room, you know what I mean? But in all probability that’s just a false impression. Can’t wait you to post for the result!

    Personally, I use the Emser Nasendusche to rinse my sinuses and am fairly satisfied with it.

    Don’t give up on modernity, it can be such fresh, exhilarating fun! Read some Sight Unseen as an antidote to all that traditionalsim!

    • I’m not sure about the grey either! But I think it’ll be good. If not, repainting is no big deal now that the walls are repaired and all that!

      Striking the old and new balance is my favorite challenge when it comes to decorating, so don’t worry! I can’t stray too far. :)

  38. LOVE that color! It looks amazing….

  39. Ooh that final photo is sooo satisfying!!! You do beautiful work!

  40. I am so excited that you’re working on restoring the windows; I can’t wait to see a how-to from you!

  41. That color choice is A+ very much approve. I’m hip-deep in a restoration/renovation project myself, but in a house much younger than yours (only 1950). Trying to convince my boss to keep the original windows…sigh. I think the beams are going to be painted a color very similar to oilcloth, come to think of it. I’m excited to see your new window painted out, too, so we can all bask in the glory.

  42. Get some of that PeelAway7 next time you strip paint. It’s soooo easy and fast, plus no VOCs. You can buy it at Sherwin Williams. It comes with paper but we use plastic wrap. Looks good! I like the paint color. :)

    • I know, I know! I’ve used it before many times (never with plastic wrap, though! I gotta try that!), but for some reason sometimes I have a hard time resisting the siren call of something that promises more speed and ease even though I know better!

  43. resurrecting the ancient windows gives me the same thrill your resurrecting the ancient clapboards does. bless you and your weary paws! the house is singing, i can hear it.

  44. I am also a fan of the squeeze-bottle sinus rinse as opposed to the neti pot (or as someone else said, “this feels like I’m being waterboarded by Angela Lansbury.”) I am going to have to see a specialist for my recurrent sinus issues. I hope yours are not too much of a bother this year.

    AND I think I said so on your Instagram page, but that color is gorgeous! The job you’re doing on the window restoration looks amazing. Everything is coming together! I know it seems like a slog now, but think of everything you’ve already accomplished!

    • Haha! Sinus problems suck! I’ve had issues for years, and finally went to an ENT a couple years ago who did some allergy testing, and it turns out I’m allergic to basically all the things you can’t really avoid—most severely to dust mites, but also grass, trees, dogs, cats, mold…you name it, pretty much. Aside from trying to be conscientious about keeping my air conditions clean (which is of course a HUGE challenge when renovating), a daily nasal spray and the neti pot seem to be the most effective answers for me. For some reason antihistamines have never been particularly effective. Sigh!

      Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  45. I love that grey color!

    What ever happened to Bluestone??

    • Oh man, it’s coming back around this year…it got majorly delayed due to some issues with the utility company, and then MAJORLY MAJORLY delayed as other projects took precedence, and it’s all been very sad and frustrating. But it’s still there, I still own it, and I’ll be throwing myself back into it very soon!

  46. Throwing a tiny bit of dark paint into the joint compound mix for final patching after your last full skim-coat and sanding is a BRILLIANT idea! I am going to be borrowing that one. I actually love your paint choice. May be borrowing that one, too!

  47. Hey Daniel,
    Not sure if you were joking about remembering to take your antidepressants every day . . .

    If so, all is well! If not, then you should stop taking that crap, and start taking Vitamin B12 instead. I recommend Jarrows 5000mg per day. It sounds a lot, but only a small amount is successfully absorbed. It takes time, too. No overnight happiness, but a continuing sense of well-being and increase in energy levels over 3-4 weeks. The sublingual tablets are relatively inexpensive, have no side-effects, and are not habit-forming.

    • Hey Thel—not to sound like a jerk because I know you’re sincerely trying to be helpful, but…it took me many years to accept that taking “that crap” was something that I needed to do for my own safety and ability to lead a functional lifestyle, and it’s a decision I’m proud of and stand by. Anti-depressants do not offer overnight happiness either, and are not some silver bullet that make symptoms vanish without a trace, but they ARE effective for a great many people at managing and relieving the most debilitating aspects of living with clinical depression. Those medications and the conditions they treat are widely (even often unintentionally) stigmatized by the world we live in, and just moving past the internalized stigma is something that prevents a lot of people from getting the care and treatment they need. Lifestyle decisions (including taking supplements) can obviously have a positive effect, but I think suggesting them as the solution to something like clinical depression helps perpetuate the notion that accepting anti-depressants amounts to a failure to make a lifestyle change, which really just isn’t the case.

      • Daniel, once again thank you for your eloquence.
        I have a family member dealing with this, the meds truly help. Happy to read they are helping you.
        I hope you find an awesome king bed for your room. We just bought one and are loving it!
        Lots of space for our son and dog to hop in for snuggles, reading and giggles.
        I be checking out that Master of Plaster as I start to remove the paneling from some of our rooms..ugh.
        Happy New Year.
        xxoo

      • Daniel, thanks for responding to my comment.

        No-one should ever feel stigmatised for having depression, and I am glad to hear that medication helps you.

  48. Weirdo question : what are the little orangey stuff you use to hold your window on the floor ? Seems so smart….
    If I may share my experience of long years of practice of plaster, skim coating etc… in various French old stone houses : try to work with successive thin layers, thinest as possible , it dries faster and this avoids to sand between each layer.
    I really love the new hue of your walls. Perfect for Burrito blanketing in 2017!
    Happy new year…

    • Not weird at all! They’re these little painters’ tripods that I picked up at Lowe’s. They just keep the sash off the floor so the wet edges down’t get stuck to the drop cloth when I’m painting! :)

      Happy New Year to you as well!

  49. You are doing such an amazing job Daniel! Thanks for being real about everything going on in your life. You have so many things on the go and you are handling them all with grace and aplomb (even if it might not feel like it to you!). So much admiration for you over here. Well done :) :)

  50. Daniel,
    If you suffer from allergies and depression, there’s one solution that can help both. If Wellbutrin would work for your depression, it may also fix your allergies. Not sure if it’s because it dries you out a bit or because it affects histimines, but it’s an amazingly wonderful side affect.

  51. Daniel, your postings are always worth the wait. ALWAYS. You could make a great story of watching paint dry. Yes, you’re THAT good. Thank you.

  52. Curious-what are you doing for heat with the radiator pulled out? Didn’t you drain your whole system? Also a comment on neti pots-they give me some relief but I always end up with ear pain/discomfort after extended use.

    P.s.–Not to make you want to slit your wrists, but I’ve been in my house for 15+ years and I’m still chipping away at projects. I was just thinking the other day “what do people with new homes do in their spare time….”

    • Freezing! I slept at my boyfriend’s house and had enough spaceheaters to keep the pipes from freezing. I wouldn’t have done it just for this but I’d already drained down the system for a couple other things and so it made sense to be able to skim-coat and paint behind this one properly, probably for the first time since it was installed!

  53. Sorry if my comment on double-boarded walls missed its aim of making you feel better about it! :-)

    I’ve been reading renovation and restoration blogs from all sorts of countries for a while, also for keeping up practicing foreign languages and I recently learned something from Sweden. In order to get super-sturdy walls in their frame houses they double-board walls too but instead of two layers of drywall they first put on plywood or OSB topped with drywall!

    Interestingly Swedish construction is radically different from the rest of Europe and seems to be strongly influenced by American practices, including the generous use of 2-by framing virtually unheard in other parts of Europe. The typical German timber-framed houses were built using nominal 6×6 posts and beams well into the 1950s and these days the only standardised framing timbers are (nominal) 2×2 and 2×3. Then it’s 4×4 and up. In Sweden they use all nominal 2-bys.

  54. Keep going, Daniel – this room will be amazing when you’ve finished with it!! It’s been great watching your progress so far!!

  55. I just found your blog and I love it! Keep up the posts – seeing your updates is inspiring, maybe one day I’ll get to the paint stage too…maybe… Also – I have to agree, they do so many things better in Europe! Cheers :)

  56. Looking amazing. I kind love the way the walls looked with the grey splotches on, like one giant canvas. Also I just ordered window inserts for my 1830 house from windowinserts.com, inventive name right. They are nothing fancy and are not the hard plastic but more of a thick film over a fram that slots In front of the window. I love them and they weren’t too expensive. All my windows are original and I would never replace them, it’s all wavy glass which is priceless. As always love seeing your work, and your always welcome for a cuppa tea if you ever want to come over to the elephant the trunk flea, I’m about 50 mins from Poughkeepsie
    Keep it up :-)

    • Thanks Barry! I hadn’t heard of that source for interior storms—interesting! Also, I haven’t been to Elephant Trunk in years, but it was so much fun!! I’d love to come back!

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