Sunday, November 20, 2011

Creating a Nursery

Home Improvement projects have a way of snowballing in a 1920's house..."painting a nursery" evolves into a multi-week, epic job! Everything gets so much worse before it gets better and in the middle, it seems like the chaos and mess will never end.

It feels like I have been living in an episode of the "This Old House" show. That due date countdown in the corner was starting to get nerve-wracking! Just a little pressure to get things done!

I'm so glad we waited until I was pregnant (not!) to undertake this. Doesn't every pregnant woman dream of assisting with some general contracting? I stayed clear of any dust or fumes, but helped with fetching and lugging, within reason. I also had to work on the planning, shopping for tools and supplies and troubleshooting. My favorite parts were carrying sheets of drywall upstairs at 26 weeks and helping hang ceiling drywall at 27 weeks! Good thing I've had an easy pregnancy and felt fit and able to do stuff.

First, it was a job in itself to empty out the room (not to mention the adjacent closet!) intended for the nursery. We had to take down a queen sized canopy bed and an antique, slightly larger than twin, bed and move 3 bureaus, an armoire, a desk, several other pieces of furniture, rugs and lots of decorative items. There were heaps of stuff to deal with all over the house. We were tired out before we'd even begun!

Only then, could the real work actually be started...

-Wallpaper Striping: There was one layer of dingy cream/yellow striped 1920's wallpaper to remove and expose the rough, gray, horsehair plaster walls underneath.

Here is a corner showing the old plaster and some chemical stripper working on the trim, though Jeff later decided to use the heat gun or just muscle on the rest. I just "love" the way all the hardware is painted over...

-Paint Striping: Paint on top of varnish with no proper primer had to be removed from all the trim and doors. Lots of the woodwork was removed for this. Also, we bought new quarter round to replace the old, rather than trying to scrape and reuse it. We opted to put new framing around the door inside the closet, so we could use the vintage trim on some window trim that needs repair in another room (at some point!). We also replaced the closet baseboard.

The room was vented and Jeff wore a respirator. Are you my mummy? A reference to a favorite Dr. Who episode ;)

-Drywalling: We had hoped to drywall over the plaster and lath ceiling, but for a number of reasons had to resort to demolition of the plaster and lathes, then put up dry wall on most of the existing furring strips. Did you think the first pictures showed the "gets worse before it gets better" part?'s that picture!

Yes, the entire floor looked like this! It took four hours to make this mess and about an hour to clean up.

Fortunately, things slowly got better...

And it was time to hang the drywall...

--Attic Access: Since the rafters were totally exposed, why not frame a better/larger access hole to the attic for drop down stairs. We'll need the extra storage even more with a baby...

-Closet Prep: There are some horrendous, but thankfully *not* lead, paints used in this house. In the closet, was some of the worst sort. It chips off on its own in big pieces, but then other parts adhere like they will never come off. But, try painting over it and suddenly it is crackling and coming off all over! Jeff finally used a long handled razor scraper from an auto parts store on this paint and removed it like pieces of eggshell. Very stubborn eggshell. Hooks and ugly old shelves needed to be removed as well. Eventually, we decided it needed a skim coat of plaster before painting.

-Varnish Striping: The trim needed to be washed with a solution to remove all the varnish to enable new paint to stick.
-Final treatments of the surfaces: Everything needed filling/spackling, sanding and washing and tackclothing.
-Priming: One kind of primer for the trim and plaster (oil) and another for the drywall (latex)!
-Painting: Finally, at long last!!!

--Still TO DO: We are not quite done yet...We have to trim down and hang a louvered bifold door for the closet. I'm replacing the original door because I think this one will be space saving and allow the closet to have some ventilation. The entry door is outside and needs final touches on the striping, then priming and painting. We need to cut and paint a piece of trim to go over the built in cubbies. We need a cover for some wires that are spilling out from under the changing table (phone and ethernet). The attic access still needs to be completed, but we might wait to do that when I'm able to help install the drop down ladder. The door will be framed and everything painted to match the rest of the ceiling.

Choosing paint colors was almost as hard as choosing a baby name! There are so many that I would like to try, making it hard to narrow down the choices. Also, the east facing room goes through so many light changes during a single day that constantly change the look of the paint. We wanted blue, but not too babyish a color blue. We also hoped for a somewhat Scandinavian feel to it. Hopefully, combined with changing the cloth furnishings, the color can be suitable for a long time. I was hoping to go with a card with names like 'sleepy blue', 'languid blue' and particularly 'meditative blue' for a calming influence, but the names on the shade card we finally picked from seem suggestive of northern sea voyages! We opted for a blue-gray shade called 'windy blue' for the walls in satin finish and a very, very pale blue shade called 'icicle' for the ceiling (matte) and closet (satin).
ceiling and closet


For the trim, we tied the room in with the downstairs of the house using our usual 'luminous white' in semi-gloss finish.

We built open cubbies under a slope of the ceiling quite a few years ago and they were painted 'crewel tan' with 'luminous white' trim, so we had to make sure our new color choices went well with it.

All paint colors are by Sherwin Williams.

We are using some of my grandmother's vintage, maple finished dressers and a nightstand. Eventually a matching twin sized bed will go with them. The set was made in Bennington, VT, by H. T. Cushman Manufacturing Co. They are marked as "Cushman Colonial Creations" which were launched in the spring of 1933. They are an earlier version of 'shabby chic' as the edges were distressed to look like worn antiques!

For the first few years we will have a crib and changing table. Since there is no way to match the old furniture shade with modern nursery furniture, we are going for contrast with bright white.

Jeff working to assemble the crib.

All together!

I took both flash and non flash pictures to try to give a sense of the room. The flash ones portray the colors more accurately.

The off white shades were some we already had in those windows from Country Curtains, but we changed the curtains to some navy sailcloth ones we found at Target. I just need to find or improvise some tie backs for them.

I am considering getting a glider and ottoman, but if we get that it will go in the living room. We got a cute little upholstered chair from Ikea with a washable cover for the nursery. Now, I just need to sort out an ottoman for it.

The new louvered closet door will hopefully be hung soon! I will need lots of quick access to the closet though, so it will probably be open a lot with the door folded into the corner.

I like the two, blue rolly bins I got at Ikea. You can just see one on the closet floor. I may have to get a couple more!

The nightstand will be used next to the armchair for now. I think it will be handy and the shelf can hold books to read to the baby!

The color of the cubbies is not accurate in this picture.

The changing table was pretty easy to assemble.

The color of the cubbies looks right here.

The built in cubbies are good for clothes I need quick access to as well as toys and books. Ignore the books on the floor. We were using them to press down the rolled up edge of the rug. The mirror now leaning on the end of the bureau will eventually be centered on the bureau.

We got a cute Ikea ceiling light with clouds on it. It's actually white, the camera just had trouble capturing it.

We were going to use an off white rug we had in the attic, but then we found this navy one at Ikea and bought it on a whim. It may be harder to keep clean, but I think it looks a lot cuter! I would like to get a colorful playmat for the floor by the cubbies such as this one.

I would like to get a rocking's one of those things that's more for me than the baby!! Having a baby let's one indulge in buying toys you sometimes still wish you could have.

Of course, there are all the necessary helpers to fit in. We've gotten the Diaper Pail, a wastebasket, a Wipe Container/Warmer, organizational far.

It has been fun to start arranging clothes, swaddling cloths, burp cloths, etc, as well as the little toiletries.

We need to figure out what to put on the walls for some decoration. I've been thinking about navy blue letters that spell out his name and maybe some ABC or number cards or posters.

There is still some to be done, but I'm so happy with how far it's come!!!

We are really enjoying the space and I hope our boy will love it!


2paw said...

Oh you have done such a wonderful job. Thank you for the tour, this was no sneak peek!! The nursery looks both inviting and serene, yet still be very functional. My house is all lathe and plaster and it is such a terrible turmoil to change anything. Jeff did a fabulous job. Oh why do people paint over things?? My hall has twirly whirly ornate wooden features, all painted whit, as well ad door handles and switches.
Your baby is coming to a wonderful family and a wonderful new room!! Of course he will love it!!

Kristen said...

Whew, what a job! It's like living through our recent kitchen remodel! But most of our hard work was done by the contractor.

The baby's room looks so nice. I see the closet is already filling with outfits! I love your grandmother's gorgeous maple pieces.

I see Dr. Who if I'm in the room when the kids are watching it. The Are you my mummy? episode really creeped us all out!

Holly Ludlam said...

Thanks for posting these pics. The room looks so cozy. I've inherited my mom's childhood Cushman furniture and wanted to see how it would look in a nursery. We are about to start putting our baby's room together. Thanks again!