Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I decided to combine the post on the living room and dining rooms simply because the two rooms are combined, and it would be difficult to try to and write about one without including the other.  So... I will try my best to not confuse everyone, but please forgive me if I do.  After all... I stay half  confused all the time anyway.

Our first order for the combined renovations was to tear down the inside walls.  We decided to tear down the wall that separated the kitchen from the living room, the kitchen from the storage room, the storage room from the sun room, and the sun room from the living room (in spite of my best efforts, I probably have confused you already... sorry).   I will add some photos to help out.

The above photos show the wall on the right that divides the living room and the sun room.  The door leads from the living room into the kitchen (NOTE:  The alien pipes were for the stove.  More on that in another post).  The photo below shows the entry from the living room into the sun room.

If you walked into the sun room and turned immediately to your right, there would be a wall there that separated that room from the storage room.  The door to enter the storage room was in the kitchen.

Okay... so we spent weeks tearing the drywall off the walls and ceiling of the sun room, and then removing the beaded board that was underneath.

More glue on boards... sigh!  That was NOT fun!  A lot of heat gun and scraping!

After the sun room, we tackled the storage room.  It needed to be cleaned first, then the walls removed.

As with the other rooms, we carefully removed each board for future use elsewhere in the house.

We then turned our attention to the living room.  Now while all of the rooms on the bottom floor of the house looked to be in good shape, we knew we needed to take all the walls down in order to rewire and insulate the living spaces, as well as open up the area for functionality purposes. And the ceiling tiles definitely had to go!

It was during the removal of the walls in the living room area that Karl and I uncovered the front of the fireplace we first discovered when working in the kitchen area.  It had been walled up with dry-wall in the living room. The chimney flue had been used for the oil heater (the thing with the funny flue pipe).

The fireplace was filled with who knows how many years of ashes and bat? rat? droppings.  Once uncovered, the contents spilled over into the living room.

It was a disgusting job, but we eventually got the mess cleaned up, and were able to see what we had,

which we discovered was nothing but a bunch of really cool, hand-made bricks.  AND... it was then that we discovered the inside of the fireplace was lined with soapstone (used in the building of our new fireplace), all to be used for future projects.

Next we pulled up the old floor covering in the living room. There was 4 different layers of vinyl and old linoleum (some quite cool).

And then the REAL demolition began. As you can see... we took the walls down to nothing but the frame. 

The above picture is the view from the living room into what was once the sun room, and the below picture shows is the view from what was once the storage room, looking into the what was the sun room and the living room. Nice open spaces (NOTE the old fireplace on the left in the below picture).

Once we had these rooms torn apart down to the outside walls and studs, it was time to remove the inner walls and shore up a load bearing wall.  For that project, we used 2  4" x 14" LAM (laminated) beams that were 24' in length.  If you look at the photo below, you can see that when the ceiling boards were removed, the only thing left was the rafters, nailers and the tin roof.

Karl made supports to hold up the LAM beams until they could be secured.  A friend named Jason helped with all this, as there was NO way I could do any of this stuff (heck... at this point with my wrist... another tale for another day... I was lucky to be able to pick up a 2" x 4")!

it was time to replace the windows in the dining area.  We found a double window to replace the existing one (far left in above photo) at a home supply company, that was energy efficient.  Karl and Jason removed the window and set the new one in place.

However,  when it came to the other two windows,

we already had two that we felt for sure would be perfect for the west wall (which is the wall that the library shelves are on).

We had brought these down with us from Karl's shop in Wrentham, MA, and knew they would be perfect to frame out bookcases in the dining/library area.  We were still living in our apartment in downtown Floyd, and so we brought them there to re-glaze, and then brought them back to the farmhouse the next day to sand and replace a broken pane.

We replaced the broken pane with wavy glass that came out of an existing window that was removed (the old one from the kitchen renovation).  Heck, you don't put new glass in with the old, because you would be able to tell the difference when looking outside.

We got the window put in, and then filled in the space that was left when the old, large window was removed. LOVE them!!!  We then took down all of the staging used to hold up the LAM beams.  WOW... LOTS of empty space (and hardened glue spots on ceilings)!!!  The below photo shows what would eventually become the dining/library area.

Now that we had all the walls in the kitchen, dining/library and living room removed, it was time to dismantle the old fireplace.  It sat in the middle of the room, dividing the kitchen from the living room (sorry... the picture is a little hard to make out, but that is the kitchen in the background, with the old fireplace to the right and the dining/library to the left).

We wanted to tear it down, remove the old brick and soapstone, and then rebuild a new fireplace in the existing spot... only larger.  Karl and Jason spent weeks removing the old bricks, and then each night Karl would sit with a hammer and chisel, cleaning each brick.  I would then stack them in piles, depending on if they were hard (which we could re-use for the new fireplace) or soft ones (which we used for a walkway from the house to the camper).

Once that was accomplished, Karl opened up the floor in order that a larger, stronger foundation for the new fireplace could be made. He and our friend, Karl bent re-bar and formed a larger footing. NOTE:  This period when the floor was opened up is the time when the snake (as mentioned in a previous post) decided to find his way into the house.

After the footing supports were in place, we had concrete poured and Karl and his son, Jason finished out the foundation for what would soon be our new fireplace (the white surrounding the concrete is plastic to prevent damage to the floors). 

The pipe in the foundation is the vent pipe for the fireplace.  A relatively new requirement, although I am not sure why.  Seems to me that the fireplace doesn't need any venting, as it all goes up the chimney and out from there.  And... with out house, there will always be enough cracks and such that there will never be a need to vent anything!

Don't know if you can see the detail in the above photo, but it is a picture of an antique fire backing from England.  The design is of Adam and Eve with the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  The serpent is wrapped around the tree.  It is gorgeous!  The fire-back was removed from an old coal fireplace, and we had purchased it a year prior to building our fireplace from a retired military gentleman.  He had picked it up (along with some other items we purchased) when stationed overseas.  I believed he purchased it from an antique store in Brussels.  Originally it was used to reflect the heat from the coal fires in Victorian homes, and to continue to radiate heat long after the actual fire was put out.  We had a different use for it. We used it as an architectural detail in our new fireplace.  It faces the dining area and is a real focal point.

That area of the living room went from the old fuel oil heater that was there when we purchased the house...

to a beautifully built, fully functional fireplace that will be the focal point of the downstairs living area.  Oh... by the way... that funny looking flue that was attached to the stove?  The gentleman whom we purchase the house from came up with that ingenious apparatus.  The cut flanges radiated the heat outward towards the room, rather than all of it going up through the vents to the 2nd story.

You can see from the above photo how well our new fireplace came together.  The brick facade is made from the old bricks removed from the original fireplace, as well as the soapstone we used on the raised hearth.

We found a couple of bricks that were dated 1856 and signed "G W", and we made sure to incorporate these into the fireplace as a reminder to its history.

We also had an additional chimney flue put in, in order to use a wood cooking stove in the kitchen area.  The photo below shows the flue, as well as the clean-out door.

And... as per a previous post, here is a picture of the 1920's Queen Atlantic cooking stove that will soon sit there.

Okay... time to show the progress on putting things together.  First order of the day was (obviously) cleaning the areas, then pulling new electrical and adding insulation.  Then boarding back up.

We finished out the kitchen (previous post), then put the walls up in the dining/living area, using the boards that had been removed from the sun room and the old kitchen walls (will show pics later).  Next we put up the walls on the Living Room.  These were done in the same order as the kitchen: clean, wire, insulate, put up the OSB and then finally the wainscoting.

We used the same paint color that we had used in the kitchen (and throughout all of the open spaces on the first floor), Onyx White in a pearl finish from Benjamin Moore.  It gives a beautiful glow to the space.  And... depending on where you are, it can reflect a soft yellow or peach.  We love it.  We also put up crown molding and painted it with the same ultra-white semi-gloss that we used on the board ceilings.

The above photo shows the area between the Living Room and Kitchen (cabinets not yet made when this photo was taken).  Karl also did some architectural detail work above the Living Room window (later the window will be replaced).

After painting, we put in antique French doors (salvaged from Karl's shop in MA, of course) into the space between the Front Hall and Living Room.

We have a beautiful hunt board that we plan to put in the hall, and decided to build the wall just to fit it in.  Then, we opened the other wall of the Living Room to accommodate the French doors.

The door jambs were made from the recycled wood that we removed from the old store.

Karl fitted them with antique hinges, and after  grinding down any burrs from the screws

(he even let me have a try at those), we nailed it in place and then hung the doors.

A few adjustments and we had beautiful doors (trim added later).

Our Living Room was almost finished.  We are in the process of replacing a window in the living room (waited until we completed the den so that we could match the windows, considering they are both on the front side of the house), and then lastly the floors.  We also waited to refinish them until the entire downstairs was finished.  Before moving in, everything will get a final coat of paint and a good cleaning.

Hope you are enjoying seeing the work, as there is still more remodeling yet to come....