Thursday, December 29, 2011

Master Bedroom Lighting (Part II)

I honestly thought I'd drag this on for another month or two, but last night around 9pm I decided to work on the second MB fixture. It needed some more clever paint mixing to conceal some of the chips. This fixture was in worst shape than it's mate.

I still need a section of 3/4" brass tube to finish-off the canopy (the original piece was missing). I'll be getting one whenever I order a canopy for the fixture in the main floor hallway.




And here's how they both look together:

From the South side of the room (front of the house, and the side with the closet):


And from the North side:


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Master Bedroom Lighting

Alright, this has been a project that I've been putting off for a while (with no decent excuse other than not wanting to work on it), and I'm very pleased that it's done (at least half done since I did only one of two fixtures).

This fixture needed to have several small dents removed, several paint touch-ups, a complete clean and rewire, and I had to find 5 matching shades. I also converted these two fixtures from pull-chain to turn-key since I have no other pull-chain fixtures (and I didn't like the look of the chains).

The reason I didn't work on the second fixture is because I'm missing a piece for it (which I haven't ordered yet).

I think it turned out very nicely. Another side note: The fixture looks REALLY nice and shiny in the photos, but I did not refinish or polish any parts on it. It's exactly as-is (original finish) except that I cleaned it, and touched-up a few paint chips (mainly on the shade holders).



Note that the shades have a somewhat lavender/purple shade to them. This is not a camera or lighting effect, they are in fact this colour. I'm not sure why, and I'm not too fussy about this, but again: I had to find at least 5 matched shades for the two fixtures (I actually have 6 in this set), and they are very hard to find, so I'll just live with them. They were well priced, too, so I can't complain too much. They look wonderful when lit.


Side note: I somehow lost or misplaced the two screws for both canopies on this pair of fixtures. I thought I had them, but I couldn't find them. I ended up modifying an existing spare screw that I had (perfect fit) and painted it a dull brown to match. So now the canopy is in place, but I didn't take new photos since the daylight is now gone.


Boxing Day:

Since this is a short side note (and I don't want a third separate entry for it), I went out on boxing day and bought 18 of these nicely sized 68L Rubbermaid bins at Wal-Mart. I have been wanting to get some good plastic bins like these for the items I'm currently storing in the basement (which sometimes leaks in heavy rainfall), so over the past few days I've been reorganizing/repacking boxes in the basement. Already I've gained a LOT of extra space since I can pile these bins at least 3 high.


Don't Pick At It!!!

Alright, I'm sure MANY fellow old house owners have found themselves in a similar situation. You decide to start picking at something only to end up with a huuuuuge job that ends up taking 10x longer than expected. This is sort of the case with this post, but I've decided NOT to fix the problem for several reasons...

It all started when I just wanted to scrape-down the excess putty left on the wall after I had removed the drywall column (cold air return) in the living room. See this thread for info on that:

When I started to scrape, however, a few pieces of paint-covered wallpaper tore off with it. I decided to keep tearing a small section, and then I ended up with this:


As you can see, I uncovered MANY layers, and with it, revealed some old wallpaper, several different paint colours, and even the ORIGINAL colour!

The rather bright peacock blue that you see in the centre here, is the original CALCIMINE paint over the original drywall (the brown scrape in the centre is the drywall paper).


You can also see one original wallpaper design, along with a rather small top border (no more than 3" wide). The colours on it are rather pale greens, oranges, and beige.

There's also some of that wonderful mint green that seems to be found in ALL older homes.



Now, I probably COULD fairly easily scrape down both exterior walls down to the calcimine blue, but then I'd have the problem of trying to paint over it. Apparently not much will stick to it, so I could end up with some major problems. Another issue is that I've already repainted and caulked (and generally beautified) both windows, and if I were to scrape everything down, I'd probably end up screwing-up all the edges with chips and peeling bits. Not to mention all the work.

I'm also sure you noticed the large (unevenly sized) holes that they made for the blown insulation. For a long time I've wondered how it was done (from the inside or the outside) but now I know. The patches aren't expertly done, but the walls are just so uneven and bumpy that I never noticed the holes were there. I'll have to re-patch those two properly.

So yeah, this is one project I *WON'T* be tackling. I'm just going to putty over it and ignore it. I do want to be DONE with renovations at SOME point. *eye roll*

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas


Wishing all my readers a wonderful holiday season, filled with good gifts, good company, and good memories. Drive safely, and do your best not to over indulge in those holiday treats! I hope that 2012 will be even better than 2011 was, and hopefully we all make it to 2013! Dun dun dun! Haha!

As a small side note, I'm now off on holidays until Jan 9th, so hopefully I won't procrastinate too much, and I'll get some work done around the house. Keep your eyes open for some updates soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fixing a Short Door Jamb

When I recycled the old door jamb from the kitchen/downstairs hallway, I ran into a problem where the ends were too short to reach the floor. I couldn't install the doorway lower because I wanted the casings to line up at the top.

To fix this, I used the same kind of trick that they use when cutting trim to install hardwood (without removing everything).

Here's how bad it was. Nearly an inch short.


Now, if I had planned better, I could have just lengthened the jamb before it was installed, but it didn't look like it was going to be this bad, and I skipped this.

So I just cut a scrap piece of a decent size (1 1/2" tall) and cut the jamb like this:


Once the notch was added, the patch was nailed in (toe nailed from the jamb above), and with some creative putty and patching it won't be noticeable anymore.


The other side was also short, but only by 1/2" or less so I left it as-is, since the other bedroom door is also botched at the bottom and it's not too noticeable. I'll just call it old house "charm".

Christmas at the Foursquare!

Last year I didn't even bother to decorate because the entire house was just a mess. Now it definitely STILL IS a huge disaster zone, but I decided to put up a few decorations.

I actually put up some nice spruce branches flanking the front door just a few hours ago. This was not planned. It was actually trash since someone left them lying in my driveway. They look like a few bottom branches off a Christmas tree. The pine cone wreath I made several years ago.


I just used plain wrapping ribbon and red twist ties. Easy peasy.


I have a wreath up on the kitchen/garage door:


This is the stocking my mother made for me as a kid. All of us have one. My dad's has a little elf, and I think my brother's might also be an elf, and my mom's is also a bear. She made these entirely from fabric/denim scraps. She was always really crafty.


And I added a few poinsettia decorations on the dining room chandelier. I'd have put 4 but I only have two of these.


One of my Christmas traditions is listening to a Christmas CD by "La famille Larin" which is a French Canadian band from the 1950's. They are well known throughout Québec, and the songs are sung in a "chanson à répondre" style (which apparently translates as "call and response"), which means that they sing a portion (line) of the song and then you re-sing the line as a group (which makes it fun). My father would play this record at Christmas every year for as long as I can possibly remember. At some point many years ago I found a copy at a local drug store and bought it. The only other Christmas album that I remember as a kid was the "Passe-Partout" (literally "skeleton key" Christmas special album. This was a French children's TV show with hand puppets from... I want to say the 1970's-80's (just checked the Wiki article and I was right!). I don't have a copy of that one though. I think it was actually on a casette!

For your listening pleasure, here's the first Christmas song from the 'La famille Larin' album, entitled "La lette du Père Noël" (The Letter From Santa Claus):

Even if you don't understand the words, it's quite a catchy and definitely vintage tune (1956). The entire album can be found on YouTube. Another funny side note is that as a kid, I never noticed just how many references there are in the songs about drinking and getting drunk. Lots of mentions of Whiskey, Beer, and Brandy.

Another one of my traditions, partially started with my mother, is to give a Christmas tree ornament to everyone along with their gift. I always tend to look for unique, well-made ornaments that match the receiver's personality or taste (or I at least try).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Porch Window

Here's a photo of the repaired porch window. Glance up at my blog's banner photo and tell me that doesn't make a huge difference! I'm very happy with how it turned out.

A side note: I left that cruddy Dap33 glazing to dry inside (in the bedroom) for nearly 2 months (it was glazed in mid/late October) and the paint still didn't seem to stick well to it because there was some moisture to it. Basically, the paint on the glazing would peel off in a few spots with the tape, and it looked streaky in spots (even though I did 2 good coats).

I didn't permanently attach the window since I'll have to yank it back out to fix the window next to it.


Now yes the window looks great, but that awful door needs to go ASAP, the lattice and surrounding frame also need replacing (they're pretty rotten and I'm fairly sure they're not the original pattern for the house).

I also REALLY want to change those awful stairs (suggestions?) and probably yank-off the siding to fix/repaint/replace the original t-g boards underneath. I can then use the siding to re-patch over the old hydro pole tracks over the porch.


Alright, for the most part, owning an old home is wonderful and rewarding... however, there are times when it's not so wonderful. Like today.

*insert long steam of expletives here*

I was working on the casings in the hallway when I noticed some scurrying noises coming from the attic or roof. I immediately thought it was just the usual pigeons on the roof, but it was fairly loud, and persistent, so I ran downstairs, put boots on, and went out in the snow (yes we've got a thin coat of snow at the moment). I went out into the street to be able to view the roof, and I saw... nothing. I went around to the other side of the house, and the roof top was bare.

I went back into the house, and I could still hear a bit of noise, and then I got worried/scared. There was something in the attic!

This was a royal pain because I can only get up there with the long ladder, which I had put away for the winter. So I decided to just grab the 6 footer and open the hatch to see inside. I did this quickly so that I could catch/see what it was.

I didn't see anything at first, but then I heard noises, and noticed a black squirrel looking out of one of the cut out holes (around the edge of the attic).


So apparently there's a hole somewhere along the edge of the roof large enough for a squirrel to get into the fascia. This also means that the squirrel had full access to the entire attic.

I did NOT want this. Obviously I can't immediately replace all the fascia on the house right now, so I decided to block all the holes with plywood. I did this rather quickly, but it turned out looking really decent.

This doesn't stop the squirrels from getting in the space behind the fascia, but it prevents them from getting in the house. Unfortunately it also doesn't prevent them from chewing-up the wires that pass through the space (these only go to exterior wall outlets, so it wouldn't be the end of the world).

I have no idea how much this will cost to repair. Ideally, they'd need to replace all the fascia boards, then cap with metal and add the missing drip edge all around the house.

I keep thinking that I had some better photos of the attic, but I don't. There's not that much to see, really.

Here's the patches, and I also made a sketch, showing how the house/attic is constructed.

The patch on the left was the largest one (20x12).


All the other ones were just covering holes about 4" square/round:


And here's the light I installed earlier this summer.


Here's the best I managed to sketch-out as far as how the attic is made. Basically the attic beams sit on the exterior walls (not quite shown properly in the pic), and the exterior walls form a continuous wall of t-g from the second floor up to the roof, creating a short wall around the attic interior. The main point is that the triangular portion behind the fascia is open all the way around the house. When they had to run wires into the wall, they made big holes in the t-g wall to get into the exterior walls.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

Porch Window

Look what I got done today! I finally painted the porch window (only on the exterior side).

I feel really crappy that I *AGAIN* missed a perfect opportunity to install it, since today was a whopping 14C/57F outside. It was simply GORGOUS. The perfect weather for a picnic. I was out briefly with friends for brunch this afternoon (which was delicious), and then I went for groceries. It's hard to believe it's December 4th!

Anyhow, last weekend was also nice, and I could have installed the window then, but it hadn't been painted yet either. So now it's ready for install. Apparently next weekend is going to be cold, but above 0, so we'll see. If I can't install it permanently, I can at least install it partially (like the other "loose" sliding panes).

On a side note, I absolutely love the paint I used for this. This paint was recommended by the lady at Home Depot, and it's an exterior latex paint that doesn't require a primer, and can be used over oil (even glossy oil paint) or latex, is mildew proof, and designed for use in Canadian weather (meaning it can tolerate the extreme temperatures between 40 and -40. What's so great about it is the coverage. It says "one coat" and I believe it (though I ALWAYS do 2). It's super thick and heavy (not runny at all), and it looks awesome.

It sure made a big difference on this cruddy 88 year old heavily abused window.

I also suppose it would help if I mention what paint it was that I used: CIL Smart3 Triple Weather Protection Semi Gloss, Doors, Trim & Siding Paint.



I'm going to need SO MUCH GREEN TAPE to finish all the rest of the porch once the weather warms up again. I went through nearly 1/2 a roll just on one half (one side) of this window.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Built-In Vote!

Alright, I forgot to mention this, but I like it in a different post anyways (Read previous post first or this won't make sense).

I can't decide what to do with the interior/back of the built-in (which is why it's not installed yet). I was originally just going to put some thinner Fir plywood back there, but then I thought it would be really cool to put tongue and groove instead. But the t-g would be pine, so the woods won't match. This isn't an issue if I paint the interior, though. I thought of maybe using a light blue in a gloss? Otherwise I had thought to have the interior lightly stained and varnished.


- Stain/varnish interior (Fir back)
- Stain/varnish interior (even though the woods will be mis-matched a bit)
- T-G back with painted interior (colour ideas too?)

Lazy Blogger

Well apparently I'm a huge lazy dork, and I never even showed you guys the photos of the main built-in case (which I thought I had uploaded already). So now you get to see the building of said case, the adding of the face frame, and some drywall work around it.

Alright, first of all, the built-in itself. I made this built-in "box" in the most basic and easy to assemble way possible. ANYONE with even the most basic woodworking skills can do this. Even though I'm an exceptional carpenter, I don't really have any great tools to work with. My table saw(s) are both crappy yard sale finds, and neither can cut anything wider than maybe 10" or so. I needed sides, a top, bottom, and shelf that were 14" wide. To solve this issue, I used some tricks of the trade, which I'll share with you.

Out of all my current readers, I think that Alex will be the only one with any serious interest, but I'm posting it anyways.

I started by marking out my pieces on the 4x8 sheet of plywood with a sharpie. My pieces were all marked slightly larger than needed (at least 1/4 inch or slightly more). To cut them out, I propped-up the sheet over both table saws (as saw horses, basically) and cut them with a circular saw. I did not try to be overly accurate at this point, and I cut them freehand.

Next, to make my accurate cuts (to size) I used a trick that we use every so often at work, which is to use a router with a straight-edge. You can use any kind of straight-cut bit for this, and if you planned out correctly, you should only be taking off about 1/8" cut (depends how much you oversized your pieces). The only measurements you need, in order to make this work accurately, is the distance between the cutting edge of the bit, and the edge of the router's face plate (for the sake of this example, let's say it's 1 3/4") and your final dimensions (14" in this case).

Draw one line off your good edge (in this case, the good edge was the factory edge of the 4x8 sheet), and mark your good measurment (14"). Your second line should be 1 3/4" less than this (depending on your router's base plate), so for this example, a line at 12 1/4". This is where your straight-edge needs to be clamped in place. Do a test cut on a scrap to make sure your sizing matches (sometimes you need to move your straight-edge in or out 1/16" or so to make it work well, so once it's good, save that measurement for all your other pieces.

For this built-in, I needed 3 shelves (one top, one bottom, and one centre shelf), and 2 sides. My sides were something around 78" x 14", and my shelves were cut to end up with a cabinet width of 22 3/4" (so they are 22 3/4" minus the thickness of the two sides = 21 5/16" since the sheets aren't exactly 3/4").

To assemble the box, I also added two braces that were made from scraps (any convenient size will work). All three shelves and braces were drilled for pocket screws (a very nifty, inexpensive, and sturdy cabinet making option). This is a fast, easy, and very simple way to put together this kind of furniture. In my case, all the pocket holes will be hidden (they will be on the outside of the cabinet, which will be covered with walls, or underside the centre shelf, which will have drawers.

The whole thing took maybe 2 hours tops, and that included all the measuring, sanding, drilling, and assembling.



This photo has really poor lighting, and it's blurry, but it shows off the pocket screw layout really well. I only used screws (no glue), and it's very sturdy. Glue is a good option, but it's messy and hard to clean up any smears, runs, or drips.





It's an awkward area, so I took several angles.


The face frame was likewise made in an "easy peasy" fashion. I just cut several strips of pine to 1 1/2" or 2 1/2" (larger pieces on top/bottom), and glued/screwed them together from the sides. Here, glue in the joints is important to avoid shrinkage/splitting in the joints, which would create seams later. The face frame was palm-sanded on the front, but not on the back (no point since it will be nailed on). The edges were also smoothed out.


Face frame installed. Note that I installed the cabinet recessed-back 3/4" from the drywall, so that once the face frame was installed, it would end up flush to the drywall and ready for casings.


I've decided that I want to add a dividing bar between the two drawers. I should have done it before, but it's too late now. The new bar will go in with pocket screws instead of glue/side screws.


So now that everything in the hallway is "ready" I've been looking forward to adding the casings and painting the rest of the trim. But before I can do that, I need to finish patching all the drywall, so I did most of that the past 2 days.


Note: I'm not sure if that pink is the original hallway paint colour. The "paint"(?) is rather flat and dull (no gloss to it).



So what do you guys think so far. Can you get an idea of how it will look, or does it just look like a big mess right now?

Saturday, November 26, 2011


It doesn't really feel as though I got much accomplished today, but I did do the following:

- Clean/sweep garage/shop and main floor.
- Pass the rest of the wires and finish the electrical hookups in the Guest Room and L Room closet(s) as well as the L Room overhead light fixture.
- Caulk a few areas around 3 windows (small gaps/shrinkage).
- Remove unnecessary extra wires hanging off the side of the house.*

* These wires used to be connected to the cable, but at some point they installed another cable and left the old ones in place (they were not connected at either end). You can actually see some of the wires in the main header photo above the "F" of "Foursquare". So I just disconnected them and took all the screws/clips off and the area where they were looks much neater and cleaner now that there's only the ONE single cable line coming down (instead of 4 - one was some kind of ground wire).

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Face Frame

Nothing too exciting, but I'll be making a post shortly about the built-in. Basically just a bit of a description of the "making of" the face frame, with one or two pics to go along with it. But now that the face frame for it is done, I can go ahead and work on the mouldings to finish-up the hallway!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Toilet Paper Holder

Alright, hopefully some of you are as excited as I am about this vintage toilet paper holder. I put it up in the bathroom just 5 minutes ago. Of COURSE I used old round head slot screws, since nothing bothers me more than having nice old hardware with ugly modern (inappropriate) screws on it. And if you've been reading for a while, you KNOW how picky I am when it comes to details.

Side note: The holder is actually made from a sheet of rather thick stamped brass, which is then chrome plated. There are NO maker's marks anywhere on it, which I find very unusual for such a nice piece.


This is how it will be for now, with a temporary rod, until I can figure out how to make/buy/modify parts to make the new missing bits (mainly the decorative brass thumb screw ends) for the new one.


And in case you don't recall, this post has a photo of a nearly identical holder with the original parts:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Alight! Just when I was starting to lose hope that it might never arrive, I now have the antique toilet paper holder! It got dropped off today and was waiting for me at the door.

It's in great shape, and even though the original photo(s) of it looked pretty grubby, it actually looks like it's chrome plated/shiny under all the grime. I plan to give it a polish. I've already taken out a few small bends and kinks in the frame. Now the hard part will be to decide if the roll holder should be Maple, Mahogany, Oak, Ash, Walnut, Cherry, Hickory, etc.

I'll also have to source some brass end knobs. I think the ones I have are too small.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

More Walls!

I built part of the Guest Bedroom side closet wall. I can't build the whole wall until the chimney is removed (not entirely sure when that will be).

This wall was pretty simple to lay-out and install. I'll be doing the wiring for it probably tomorrow, and that's when I'll go into the attic (so I can do two wires at the same time. Unfortunately, I think this will mean that I'll have no light up there, since I think the circuit for the attic light is the same as the guest bedroom (which will need to be OFF). No worries, I can still run a spot light up there with an extension cord.

Here's the progress so far:

New wall viewed from hallway, looking into guest bedroom:

Footprint view from "L Room" side.

And this is probably the best view I can show for now. The blue lines show where the thin dividing walls will be (these will only be 1 1/2" thick to maximize closet space). The guest room closet will only be about 3 feet wide (39"), but the large "L Room" closet will be a more spacious 54" (I think). Originally I wasn't even going to include a closet for the guest bed, but I figured it would be better to have one, especially if I want to sell the house later on.

The photo is pretty self-explanatory, and it's viewed from the hallway where you'll eventually be facing the built-in.



I started to work on installing (re-routing) the electrical on the new wall. This would be 2 outlets and the light switch. So far I've done the two that are in between the doors (one outlet and the main light switch) but to get to the last outlet wire, I need to get up in the attic. For the other two I was able to reach at arm's length on the step ladder, but I'm actually going to have to get the long ladder from the garage to get up in the attic.

I didn't do much else today because I actually had to work today. I never usually work on a Saturday, but we had to install some display cases at my optometrist's office so it had to be preferably done off regular hours.

I wasn't too happy about this since I wasn't actually told about it until the last minute, so I managed to take Monday off instead, so I might be able to do a bunch more stuff on the house if I plan things properly.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Toilet Repair

Today's small and unexciting job was to fix the upstairs (main) toilet. Since I bought it (second hand) I had planned to change the interior workings, but never bothered since it seemed to work ok. But lately I had noticed it had a near constant (but small) leak in the bowl. So I picked up a new kit for it. At first I was just going to get the regular style, but they had a much nicer looking "Fluidmaster" kit with the newer style floating cup around the stem for just about 1$ more than the cheapie one. The general quality of the parts looked better so I spent the extra dollar on it. It's this one:


It was very easy to install, and works perfectly.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Alright, last night I got my ass in gear and finished framing the main closet wall. I was quite happy with myself!

I decided to add the fire wall (same as the other original walls in the house), but I'm not sure if I should bother with the bottom row. In the other original walls, there's a second row of studs that follow along the height of the baseboards (I'm assuming since this makes it much easier to install solid wood mouldings, which sometimes need to be bent slightly to fit nicely). But I don't really need it here. I have additional studs because of where I put the door, and I have plenty of solid.


This is one of the original walls on the main floor for comparison:


Next I'll need to build the "box" for the built-in, frame that in place, and re-run my electrical (into the new wall).