A Love Story
Today’s post is actually one I intended for November, but the project itself dictated that I post about it later, because the end of November was the end of the project, and we promptly entered the Christmas season, which is a busy time for us florists. This one project took a lot of time to do, but was well worth it. I’m going to depart from talking about sewing today, because this project is the craft room remodel I’ve waited three years for! I can’t help but want to share this exciting remodel with you!
I bought my house in 2009. It was a hard luck case: a foreclosure with weed-infested (and otherwise mostly empty) flower beds, holes in the doors, graffiti all over the attic and 20-plus year old carpets. It sat, empty, for at least a year, maybe two or more, after somebody trashed it, somebody else tried to flip it and went bankrupt first, and generally it went through several owners in a short space of time. Until one early spring day when I walked in and saw potential in this 1955 cottage charmer. I saw past the battered mid-century kitchen, the nicotine-stained ceilings and walls, and the drab dinginess from the heavily shaded, dirty windows. I saw oak hardwood floors. I saw a smallish but potentially functional, easily remodeled kitchen. I saw light from big windows and woodland views. I saw (oh, joyful!) flowerbeds that were essentially a blank canvas and a way for me to nurture my budding gardening skills. In short, this place had me at hello. I made an offer. I got it!
Well, this baby was a big project. I have to say that I have taken on some projects that seem pretty big to me, being a first-time home owner. I’ve redone a bathroom with lots of help from my brother. Redid a kitchen but had the good sense to have the custom pros to execute my design. I have painted almost every surface in this house. Sometimes more than once. Believe me, a well-designed, pretty kitchen and bathroom do a lot for a girl. But there was one room that I hadn’t touched in three years. One room that was totally non-functioning and ugly and generally a disaster. One room I hadn’t spared a single thought for how to improve. The craft space.
I wasn’t really expecting to do it this year. I’d been short on funds for a while, but one day, I decided I deserved something really nice, just for me. It was time to clear away the stained blue shag that had been there for 20+ years. Time to paint that fake knotty pine so popular in the seventies and cover the marijuana-themed graffiti on the walls and ceiling. Time to tear out the suddenly non-working single bulb ceiling fan. Time to ditch that oh-so-inconvenient privacy wall somebody stuck two feet into the center of the room. Oh, yeah. That definitely had to go.
Let the demo begin!
The photo doesn’t show it, but there was a two foot section of wall jutting out to the middle of the room; I assume it was a privacy wall because there wasn’t a door on this room and I’m sure somebody used it as a bedroom with the drawers built into the wall and the closet. Personally, instead of a privacy wall that shrinks your floor space, I’d have put in a pocket door. Anyway, I don’t have the need for privacy in the craft room, so the wall came off. Happily, when my brother and sister-in-law came over to help, we discovered there wasn’t even any drywall behind it, just a stud, with some fake pine nailed to it. The job was done in under 20 minutes. My brother patched the ceiling, he cut some board up, nailed it over the exposed drywall to fix the gap, and ta da! No more wall.
My Dad brought me a nice three-bulb ceiling fan unit to replace the really disgusting one that was there. It was tiny, inefficient, and cleaning it didn’t help it look better because about ten years’ worth of crud was stuck to it…gross! Also it had ceased to function as a light source, so out it went. Those of you who hang out in converted attics know it can get mighty warm up there, so a ceiling fan is a must. Once I could see what I was doing, I could get rolling with the rest of my plan.
I spent two nights after work priming the walls and ceiling. Some places needed scraping, where the teens using the room had turned to some type of glue or craft glazing to express their love of weed on my ceiling and walls. Ick. It came off pretty easily, though, and I wish I could say the same of the tape. There was clear tape on the walls, everywhere. I guess there were many posters at some point, because the kids left the equivalent of one entire roll of tape behind stuck to the walls. Being clear tape, it was hard to see, so I’d prime over it and find I’d missed some later. Lots of peeling and scraping and dark thoughts. And then there were the screws and nails. I found at least 15 different sized nails and screws in random places on the walls, in the ceiling (why???) and sometimes in the molding, all over the room. Given where some of them were, I cannot imagine their purpose, unless it was to cut open people’s hands when they tried to find the light switch (yep, that was me) or to annoy people repainting the room (also me).
After I got the ceiling mostly painted and unscrewed, as it were, I ran out of ceiling paint, with two feet to go. After I went to Lowes, I then went on to paint the drawer fronts and install old hardware I bought on Etsy that was much prettier than what was orignal and way more in scale with the drawers.
Then the glorious day arrived when my boyfriend and I tore out the blue shag. My honey is awesome help with home improvement! Every girl should be so lucky to have a handsome man with a gadget that shears carpet out from under closet frames. The previous owner added a closet on top of the carpet for some reason. Maybe it was too hard to remove a tiny strip of blue shag to accommodate the frame for the closet. It sure was challenging to remove that shag from underneath the closet framing, I’ll tell you. Thank goodness he brought his tools.
There was some lag time between the stages of the remodel,so while I had warmish weather and a subfloor I couldn’t possibly ruin, I took some time to work on my furniture. I love yard sales. I found these two great tables at the same sale shortly before moving into my house. They’re both old.
The first is a metal-top table from about the 1940s. Everybody had one of these in their kitchen; this is what people used before islands came into fashion as part of your kitchen planning. When I got it, it was cream on one side and blue on the other. The paint was deteriorating so much that I merely and to touch the table for it to flake off. Good news, since I planned to refinish it.
There was a good deal of scraping and a paint stripper used. It took a lot of time, but eventually I managed to remove most of 60 years’ worth of paint. I discovered that in previous lives, this table was blue, yellow, pink, and then originally, hunter green. I used the palm sander to smooth it out, and now it’s blue.
My second table was more challenging. I don’t know it’s age, but I do know it was already missing large hunks of paint to show the wood. You would think that would mean the paint came off easily. You would be wrong.
That paint was pretty tough. What didn’t flake off after scraping stuck fast. I applied lots of coats of stripper to it and ran the palm sander over it several times and it still didn’t quite come all away. I gave up after a time and primed what was there. I can live with that. Anyone who knows me knows my work surfaces are always covered, with everything, so the tabletop is largely irrelevant because you won’t see it anyway.
I did eventually get back on track once the table dried.
Having taken the room down to subfloor and primer white, it was time for the fun part. Tom and I painted the walls. I went with a super pale blue, because, frankly, I had two gallons of it lying around. That was paint I had purchased for my basement, and didn’t like how it looked down there, it turned to a bleak grey in the basement. So the first gallon became the first floor bathroom and the second gallon became my wall color in this room. I like it.
I did the trim another two nights after work, and then the guys from Rakes Carpet One came and laid out the new, super cool carpet I found at their store. It has a subtle pattern to it and I love how it looks!
If you scroll back up and check out how it looked when I moved in, and how it looks now….it’s astounding.
I can’t believe how nice it is now! It was so dark before, so ugly, and now it’s bright and pretty. I’m pleased to say I’ve enjoyed doing a few small projects in there since then, and I’m thrilled to have this space to create in. I’ve been dreaming of a studio space since I was a teenager, and I finally have one. I’m still figuring out where things go, and I’m in the process of hanging art on the walls, but it feels like home.