Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Great Den Debaucle of Canada Day 2010

 On Canada Day, Greg and I were sitting in the den, looking at the monstrosity of a closet, and the ugly carpet, and the flesh-coloured walls, and dreaming of what the room would look like with it all gone. Greg looked to me and said, "Do you want to pull out this closet? Today?" Never one to back down from a renovation challenge, I said, "SURE LET'S DO IT!!!!!". Whether this was a smart thing to say or not would remain to be seen. However something had to be done with this room; the closet was eating half of it. It was ugly and pretty useless (all it had in it was my Etsy vintage clothes... which do take up alot of room but there's an empty closet in the basement!)
This is a very serious endeavour.

I had gone to the ReStore one day and picked up 3 unopened rolls of vintage wallpaper for $3 (I know.. break the bank) It was really cute, a creamy white background with yellow rose bunches scattered throughout. What I had planned for this was to wallpaper the ugly closet which was made from wood panelling, the real stuff not the plastic. Anyways, I was going to do that and paint the walls a really light creamy yellow, and paint the doors of the closet a vibrant yellow. The carpet was a milky coffee colour, so it would still look OK.

I was talking earlier about the Deal Vibes I get from Value Village, and how things come to you right when you need them. Well I don't know if you could say that we NEEDED it, but Greg happened across 3 rolls of vintage wallpaper in an awesome Folksy design, also for $3. This wallpaper changed our whole plan for the room. Why wallpaper the closet when we could rip it out? Why not wallpaper that new wall with the awesome new paper from VV? Indeed; why not. The closet that we were going to keep for a few years was going Bye Bye. What a pity :)

Pretty flesh colour! Bad furniture layout on account of having no space!

I forgot to take a "Before" picture before we started ripping things out so.... please forgive the mess.
We wasted no time. We got the hammer and the prybar and went to work. I think that this closet would have stood up against a hurricane, there was about one billion nails in it. Big nails, little nails, nails with a head and nails without. Whoever built this thing (GERARD) wanted to make sure it was stable. It took all day to remove.
See how big it was? So much space inside! Greg crowbars away.
This is where some unbelievable wiring started rearing it's ugly head. Nails notwithstanding, the wiring job that was behind the closet was, to say the least, terrifying. I mean, it wasn't going to catch FIRE or anything, but it was certainly not up to any code that has even been written on this earth. Gerard was a great recycler. He used random discarded things and made them into new random things. For example, if you look behind Greg you can see a punch hole (so professional) with an electric box inside. Above that is another punch hole. That held this:
My electrician didn't even know what that was. Some kind of crazy junction. Anyways the wires coming out of it were old and if I dare guess, probably taken from some other leftovers, somewhere in the world. This was fixed first thing. I do so love the punch holes though, don't you? Why bother cutting out a hole when you can PUNCH ONE? Yes. Impatience wins again.

There was another punch hole in the ceiling. I should mention that all of these surfaces were hidden behind the panelling that lined the closet. All of these things were surprises for us. Nice nice surprises. Anyways here is the other punch hole:
This wire leads to the light in the ceiling. The light switch was installed on the outside of the closet, which was a weird spot. I always went to flick it on the wall beside the door cause.. I guess that's the natural spot for a switch to be? Anyways I never did get used to the wonky switch placement. I think that it was put there because they didn't want to open up walls to put in a new switch (the old switch would have been by the kitchen door which no longer existed). So WE got the lovely job of opening the walls :) Yeay!!

Where the particle board is on the floor, used to be the stairs coming into the kitchen from the back door.
Because this was not our first reno in the house, we knew that we would find some interesting things. We ALWAYS find interesting things in a room that was redone by the previous family. So many nails were bent from bad hammering, and screws put in on an angle which resulted in it getting stripped, I really wonder if this guy ever took a breath and thought out what he was doing. I know that he used to own a memorial business, as in gravestones, so he had to have some patience in order to cut stuff in granite and marble. Maybe he wore out all his patience during the day and took it out on his house.

Here is another example of recycling old material to fashion a crazy solution to a problem:
Making the ceiling level, one scarp stick at a time!

Hey would you like to see the original paint colour of the kitchen? I'll bet you do!
That blue colour is the first paint colour on that wall. It used to be the wall going into the stairway. I actually kind of like it, and it's close to the colour we chose for the front room (we didn't even try to be historical that time!) You can see here how the stairs were covered up. In my talk about the hallway I'll show some pictures of how they switched everything over. I think it would have been a big fat mess!

Here is where I'd like to talk about my floor. We knew what was under the carpet because we had lifted it up in the closet. We didn't know what kind of shape it would be in, or whether we'd like to keep it and maybe get an area rug for the room or something. The floor was really dirty from years of being under cheap carpet padding, so tit took me one full afternoon to get it scrubbed clean. The tiles smelled when they were wet! I have been given a few ideas of what brand or kind of tiles these are, but I am pretty sure they are asbestos. As long as they aren't disturbed they pose no problem... the amount of asbestos in them is pretty insignificant anyways. They are usually called VCT, Vinyl Composite Tiles. Someone said they looked like Marmoleum which is still made today, however this pattern is long gone. Which is unfortunate, because as well as the spot for the stairs, there are a few other areas that need repairing. So Greg and I made the hard decision to cover them back up. We did leave them underneath either for posterity or to use one day, or maybe just to let some other people 50 years from now take up a carpet and shit themselves because of the awesome original floor!!! I don't know how that floor and the blue paint would have looked together though... I think it may have been quite hideous. Taste in paint colour is easy to fix though :)

Still wet and shiny

I like my tiles. I will see them again in 20 years or so. 
Because we redid the closet wall, we had to get baseboards to match the rest of the room (and the house). I would like to give a shout out to the nice guy at Dimension Cabinet and Millwork in Ottawa. He took a little job and did great work! It was a bit expensive, but the price was the same at the other places I had talked to. He made it out of MDF and it almost exactly matches the old stuff. For the money, it was worth it. You can't have one wall with different baseboards than everywhere else! Then you might as well call me Gerard.

Anyways stay tuned for the finishing of the room. Demolition is always more fun that cleaning up.

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