Ladies and Gentlemen… the Front Staircase!

June 10th, 2008 § 5 comments § permalink

Lets take a short trip down memory lane. Here is a photo of the staircase shortly after we moved in in August 2004.

Terrible wallpaper, nasty green carpet that we named Dirty Kermit, and a beautiful wooden railing hidden beneath 6 layers of paint.

I first touched stripper to railing Thanksgiving 2004 so we’ll call it three and a half years in the making. The carpet was torn up, the wallpaper was stripped, the walls were insulated, the loose steps were repaired, and all the paint was stripped. There was so much paint caked on every surface and in every nook, cranny, and crevasse that my dad and I thought we would never finish.

We have used many gallon cans of two brands of paint stripper (sometimes mixing them together), two different heat guns, three putty knives, countless scotch pads, even more latex gloves, five different styles of dental picks, two types of dental floss, a gallon of acetone, a gallon of turpentine, and two gallons of methyl hydrate.

My dresser has been scavenged for anything that would make a good rag, our fingers have burnt and bled and we’ve spent countless days high on the fumes from burning paint and stripping chemicals.

We’ve balanced precariously on ladders and then fallen gracefully from them. Every possible variation of paint stripping joke has been conceived of and used and I can recall at least 20 audio books that I have listened to in full while working on the staircase.

Dad and I have discussed it a few times and if I had to give a rough estimate of the number of man-hours invested in this project I would say about 1,200. When the hour count gets to that level I think the project has safely crossed over the line from “labour of love” to “old house insanity”.

Enough ranting from me, time for some pictures:

There’s still a couple of coats of Varathane to be put on the treads but I have to wait a month or so for the paint to fully cure.

As a bonus here’s a shot of the closet under the stairs. Notice the detail around the opening that Dad restored:

If anyone ever paints this railing again I will come back and break their fingers. If I’m dead or otherwise indisposed, Ted the Angry Zombie has agreed to do the honours.

Note to Self…

June 1st, 2008 § 2 comments § permalink

Don’t leave the paint tray under the mail slot.

I’m blaming this one on my head injury.

Harry Potter’s New Room

June 1st, 2008 § Comments Off on Harry Potter’s New Room § permalink

While I’ve been working on finishing the staircase (I promise an update soon) I’ve been puttering away at various odd jobs. One of those jobs was laying a new, clean floor in the space underneath the stairs.

This area was never part of the original floor plan of the house and was opened up by my father and I a couple years ago when the renovation moved into the front hall. My intention was to use it as winter storage for summer stuff and summer storage for winter stuff but it was just to dirty and rough to be much good.

My parents donated the leftover bamboo flooring from their recent project and it turned out to be just enough to cover the floor in this little space. The bamboo, which could be considered extravagant overkill for the closet, is a perfectly smooth, clean surface on which to build a closet.

The installation should have been simple but the space constraints and an unusual bout of clumsiness turned it into a Monday evening I would rather forget. In fact, I finished this about a month ago but my head injury has just nicely healed and my pride is now strong enough to relate the story.

See that piece of 2×4 on the bottom of the stair in the centre of the picture? I didn’t. I stood up hard and smashed the top of my head into it. After a little cursing I continued to work on the floor and about 30 seconds later I smashed my finger with a hammer. The finger took my mind off of my head. I finished the job quickly, in a rather bad mood and promptly went to bed.

In the shower the next morning while washing my hair I discovered a 2 inch gash and a head full of dried blood. It’s lucky I’m still here.

After the flooring went down, I lined the left wall with plywood to protect the exposed plaster keys. This way I don’t have to be too careful as I move things in and out of the closet. The pipe you see in the picture is the rod for the stand-up closet in the front hall.

Where am I?

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