Thursday, 28 November 2013

The piano bench

I made good progress on the piano bench last weekend. I managed to get three coats of glossy black paint and a coat of varathane on it. She's looking pretty fine.

The inside of the bench was looking a little grungy, so I gave that a fresh coat of paint too. I had some bright red left over from Cal's dresser, so I put it to good use.

I still need to do some touchups with a small art brush, but it's looking much better.

I can hardly wait to see how it looks on my brand new hall tiles - Xihao starts tomorrow!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Hallway seating

We've booked the tiler, and he's coming on Friday to start the hallway tiles. I'm really looking forward to finally having that job done. 

Now I have to finally decide on the finishes for the hallway. I've been mulling over a few ideas - I know that I want a seat for people to perch on when they're putting on their shoes. Especially for the winter, so that messy boots aren't moving onto the hardwood floors in our living room.

I was initially enamoured by the idea of a gossip bench, and I went so far as to purchase this one over the summer from a shop near our cottage.

We had it sitting in the hallway for about a month, and while the seat was useful, the profile was just too large. I felt it made the hallway look cramped, so it's now sitting at the top of the stairs on the second floor awaiting a makeover.

Then, about a month ago neighbours of ours were moving out and were getting rid of this little piano bench. It's smaller and narrower than the gossip bench, and doesn't appear to take up as much real estate in our small hallway.

It was kind of rickety, but that was easy to fix by tightening a couple of screws and adding in a little wood glue. The great part about this bench is that the seat lifts and provides a bit of storage - perfect for hiding the dog leash or hats and mittens.

The top of the bench was really scratched up, so I spent the evening yesterday stripping it.

 I considered staining it, but it was almost impossible to get into the carved parts on the legs, and it looked like it was going to take weeks. So I decided to paint it black. There are black tiles in the hallway mosaic, so I think it'll tie in well. Today I'm busy painting it - hope to have an update tomorrow!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Custom canvas "art"

This weekend I finished up painting the stairway and second floor hallway. Well, I finished the ceiling and walls in the hallway - I still have the 4000 pickets to prime and paint on the second and third floors before I can call it a day.

After I put away the roller and paint, I decided to tackle this little problem area at the bottom of the stairway.

The other side of this wall is the coat closet in the front hallway. The high ceilings on the main floor meant that there was a lot of dead space in the top of the hall closet. Our wonderful contractors came up with a plan that allowed us to use this space from the back side of the closet. I love this space - we store all of our out-of-season coats/boots/hats here.

It's amazing storage, but unfortunately it left us with a couple of ugly doors high up on the wall. I had them use concealed push latches so that there are no handles on the wall, but I was unhappy with the obvious lines. I considered some kind of paneling/decorative trim, to disguise them, but them decided that hiding them with artwork would be easier.

And so the hunt began. I've been keeping my eyes open for ages. I wanted something that would be easy to take up and down, as while we don't access this cupboard weekly, I find myself in and out of it a lot more frequently than one would predict.

I was browsing at Designer Fabrics down on Queen St., and came across fabric that looked a lot like a watercolour painting. It seemed like it could provide the perfect solution to the problem. Wrapping it around a light frame would allow me easy access to the cupboard, and since I would build the frame myself, I could design it any size I wanted.

So on Saturday I trotted off to Home Hardware and picked up a couple of lengths of 1x2 pine. I measured the doors and the landing and decided on the size of the canvases. I debated one versus two; although one would have been easier, I thought a matched set would be more interesting.

I used the chop saw to cut the pine to length, nailed the pieces together into rectangles, cut the fabric to size, and used the staple gun to attach it to the frames.

I then attached wire to the back and hung the canvases on the wall. The fiddling to get the nails in the right spot and the wires the correct length seemed to take me almost as long as the rest of the project did!

I'm really happy with how it turned out. And if I get tired of this fabric, it's easy to swap it out. Who knows, maybe I'll make a couple more frames so that I can change them with the season - put up some Santas or Easter bunnies.

The paint and the frames make a big difference in the dining room. This wall is right next to the table, so we're staring at it every evening.

The frames are hung a little closer to the ceiling that I might have liked, but if I hang them any lower the upper edge of the doors is exposed when you're walking down the stairs.

I'm toying with the idea of a third canvas. I have just enough fabric left to make one. What do you think?

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Front hall update

We finally gave up on waiting for the tiles for the front hall. The ones that we wanted have been back ordered since last January. Our order kept getting put off, and then when it finally arrived, the tiles were the wrong colour. So yesterday we went looking for something to replace them with.

We came home with this.

The plan is to tile the hallway in large marble tiles, and then have an inlay in the center of the inner vestibule. I posted about and showed pictures of it here.

The other tiles look like this.

The large marble tiles will cover most of the floor, with a rectangular inlay of the mosaic and a small border of the black marble tile seen in the bottom left corner. 

I'm excited to finally get this last major job done. I hope we can get the tile guy here soon! 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Stairway progress

400 pickets down, 4000 to go.

Progress has been slow since I'm single-parenting this week. Alan is giving a talk at Harvard, and schmoozing with the fancy pants. Lucky dog!

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Matthew's big CBC Radio debut.

I had a productive day today and made good progress painting the stairs. It's tedious, but moving along.

Cal had two hockey games, so Matthew and I were alone for a significant part of the day. It was nice and quiet, and while I was painting I listened to some podcasts, watched some TedX lectures, and listened to Matthew's on-air debut on DNTO.

A couple of weeks ago Sook-Yin Lee visited Matthew's classroom to interview some of the kids about their biggest regrets. Apparently most of the kids were tongue-tied when the microphone was put in their face. But not our boy - I think he's ready for a a career in show biz. I always thought it would be Cal, with his temperamental personality and flamboyant ways.

If you want to check out the whole program, it's on the DNTO website. I've located Matthew's little part, so if you don't feel like listening to the hour and a half long show, you can hear my little darling at about 36 minutes. I've managed to clip his part and save it as an MP3, but I'm too tired tonight to figure out how to embed it in the blog for easy listening. Maybe tomorrow.

The picture of the class makes me laugh. Matthew is in the midst of the snarl of boys, Sook-Yin Lee, who is only in the class for one afternoon, is laughing at the front, and Mr. Karout, the long-suffering zookeeper teacher of the grade 5 class just looks so... resigned.

Friday, 8 November 2013

The time has come.

It's way past time for me to tackle this sorry eyesore.

It's the stairs from the main floor to the second floor. And they're a hot mess left over from the reno.

I've been holding off on them as I was thinking of wallpapering or adding wainscot to the wall going up the stairs, but I've been unable to make up my mind exactly what to do. So I've lived with the wall partly primed and the woodwork all chipped up for the last year. And I can't stand it any more.

This weekend's job is to prime the walls, do a whole lotta caulking to fill in all the holes on the underside of the bannister that you can now see from the dining room table

 and paint the woodwork. I'm hoping that we might also walk over to our neighbourhood carpet store and pick out something for the stairs. We're in desperate need of it as the stairs are really slippery for poor Tessa and I'm worried that she's going to fall and hurt herself.

I was originally thinking of a runner, but the stair treads are in pretty poor condition, and there are a lot of gaps around the edges and at the top.

We had to rebuild the floor at the top of the stairs when we we redid the bathroom and laundry room as the beams were so bowed down in the middle. The blue streak on the top riser shows just how much the second floor had sunk due to some previous idiotic owner who removed the supporting wall in the kitchen and didn't make any modifications to help bear the load.

I think that we'll go wall-to-wall on the stairs with something really neutral that blends with the colour of the hardwood at the bottom. Because the stairs now take a 90° turn at the bottom, you can't really see them unless you're actually walking up them.

So while I prefer the look of a runner, I can't justify the expense and effort of totally redoing the stairs so that we can have one. We'll leave the landing and the bottom two steps uncarpeted, and stop at the top step.

It's going to be a painful weekend, but I know that I'll breathe a sigh of relief at the end and wonder why in the heck I waited so long to tackle it!
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