As I’ve previously mentioned my home was built in the seventies but if you don’t believe me you will by the end of this instalment involving our latest renos. The first part of most DIY renovations or really any renovation for that matter is typically the demolition which I always thought looked sort of fun when I watched design shows. Well I wasn’t wrong about that; ripping up the old to make room for the new is definitely fun but I wasn’t prepared for the workout it would give me. I can still feel the aftermath in arms and legs now, geeeesh talk about muscles. I’m a fairly girly-girl kind of lady in most ways. I like pink and lace, I don’t like to get dirty and I’m made of pure sugar and spice but after this past week, I’ve been feeling more like the “We Can Do It” lady (maybe just replace the bandana with a tiara or cute flower beret). It was all new territory for me to do this sort of hands-on work. Let me walk you through what we’ve been up to around our little casa.
Right now our home consists of a mix of items we’ve collected over the years, mostly hand-me downs to get us through the ‘empty pocket’ college years. It’s a bit of a mish-mash but we’re working on bringing it all together. This was our living room pre-demo phase. Notice the heavy window valance looming like a storm cloud to the left. It stuck out even farther than this picture would have you believe and I felt it was an eye sore and needed to go. Even at twenty-something I still tend to do as my Mother tells me even if I don’t want to because I trust her judgement more than my own (and I somewhat lack a backbone with her) but when she told me she loved the valances and I should leave them be I just couldn’t give in. I knew they were going to make me shudder every time I entered the room no matter what other things I did to improve it. Sorry Mom, but I just can’t do it. I wanted to get pretty curtain hardware and hang some drapes to frame them out but a valance hides the rod and forces you to hang your drapes at the pre-determined height. No one tells me how to hang my curtains! (Sorry, I think there may be a secret Jersey girl hidden deep inside my Canadian shell)
This is the opposite side of the room and as you can see there is another valance on this end. Not only are they in this room but they (of course *SIGH*) hang over every single window in the house with the exception of the small bathroom and kitchen windows. And yes that is a tacky vertical blind hanging from the valance. It was left behind from the previous owner and hangs there as a temporary solution …and reminder of how far interior design has come. The valances really dated the space and made it feel smaller and older than the fresh young hipsters living inside. Ok, well hipsters is a bit of a stretch, I couldn’t tell you a single song on the billboard charts right now but I have an iPhone and I’ll shop at Anthropologie so that’s close enough. One thing I really loved about this house is the fact that it had two gigantic windows facing each other in the living room. The amount of natural light we get in this room is off the chain during the day (do people still say off the chain?) So I think when you have a great feature like natural light it’s all the more reason to play it up and make it an eye-grabber. Aka: Buh-bye window valances!
Ahhh but I spoke too soon. Apparently these valances didn’t want to go down without a fight so they were going to throw their best 70’s era tricks my way. Round one was a culture classic: genuine wood paneling. Well, actually round one was probably that ugly tile trim I talked about earlier so this is more like round two but anyway I digress. We considered coming at the paneling in so many different ways. The previous owners just painted green over it, I’m guessing they didn’t want to deal with it either. I gave it a thought of my own but decided my final plans just wouldn’t look right if we left it and painted over top. We considered filling it in with some form of plaster or thin board but again, too big a risk of it not matching and looking awful and then we’d be back at square one. So after much discussion and Advil we landed on “tear it out!” It was actually really fun to rip this stuff out, one thing I would recommend though is some gloves because splinters will happen. We had some concerns about the quality of the drywall underneath the panels and whether or not we would have to re-do the entire wall but we majorly lucked out on that front. They didn’t use glue on the main wall, just a trillion small nails that ripped through the panels and remained behind in the dry wall. As you can see, my trusty hammer and I took swift care of that problem (excuse the PJs, we work hard and we work late).
This side of the paneling did unfortunately have glue behind it but we were ok with that extra work because it was far less than what we expected. Count those blessings where you can find them! My fella worked on this wall and ripped down the extra tough bits like the glued panels while I worked away at the long back wall. It’s kind of strange, once we got deep into this project we were so quiet the whole time and just worked away at our solo endeavours. At one point our friends stopped by and commented, “you don’t even have music playing or anything?” We were just too in the zone I suppose; FOCUS!
After we finished getting all the paneling off we discovered a few little surprises from owners of years past. A couple little doodles were on our walls. Surely Deb thought she was doing an interior design justice for this house when she put up this horrid paneling but for a moment I wished I could travel back in time and tell her to save us the future work. Oh well, the happy face cheered me up between grunts, thanks Deb!
The glue removal took an insane amount of time. I plastered the entire house in the amount of time it took my fella to scrape the gunk off the walls. To be fair though, he is an extreme perfectionist. It’s always good to have one of those on your team FYI.
After we got through with the wood paneling removal and clean up we had a huge stack of junk for our next dump trip but we were finally free to get started on valance removal. We weren’t really sure how to come at this project either. We tried to research it but there really wasn’t much out there and we had no clue what to expect to find underneath. So after a lot of back and forth we said ‘what the heck!’ and dove in head first.
We went for the tug and pull and yank with all your might approach. I wanted to avoid sledgehammers because I could foresee a very smashed window with one wrong swing. Not the kind of demo I was going for.
It certainly wasn’t pretty underneath. We had blown insulation so a lot of the fiber glass poured out when we ripped off the top piece of wood you see in the picture above that connects to the ceiling. It was easy enough to collect up and put back in the attic though. We wound up using an electric saw to get out the big pieces of wood and then we repeated this long process on the other side of the room
In the end we were left with a less than attractive back wall and two huge gaps on the walls adjacent. At this point it started to feel a little overwhelming and I wondered if we ‘dove in’ a little too quickly.
I half expected Mike Holmes would catch wind of ‘construction ignorance’ afoot and show up to slap our wrists and tell us we’ve done it wrong.
But Mike stayed home and my worry floated away once my fella started getting the dry wall pieces together to fill the hideous holes. He’s an engineer so I thought for sure this would at least be a breeze for sure; the man knows his measurements. The shot above is his first attempt. First of many.
It didn’t take long to realize the piece didn’t fit and sanding was in order. Apparently walls and ceilings are perfectly equal and straight structures, go figure.
But being the man he is, I knew not to fret and I was right. He got both sides dry walled and ready to be plastered by the end of the day.
We ended up with this new look in our living room which I was happier about than the exposed studs and fiber glass look we were sporting the day before.
There was a few gaps here and there to fill in but with the help of some tape and dry wall spackle we made quick work of it.
We’re now at this stage of the valance removal which I like to call “watching puddy dry.” It takes quite a while to let this stuff dry and my fella being so anal about perfection rushes nothing so now it’s more of a waiting game while I watch him apply coat after meticulous coat. He actually ran out today and couldn’t finish the entire third coat.
This is how it’s looking from a far. I can already feel the huge change in the room. The space feels so much bigger and open now.
This is the opposite wall which was our second time around doing the dry wall so it went much quicker.
Our living room is looking pretty shabby at the moment but that’s the price you pay when you refuse to let some cheeky valances make a fool of you. Who’s laughing now?…
Definitely not my poor red Ikea chair that failed to get covered up and became a victim of sanding dust-itis. Thank goodness for vacuums with furniture attachments. Not to worry, the chair survived and is living happily in a separate room now.
So this is where we’re leaving it for now. Still lots of work to be done in preparation to paint but I can feel us getting ever so closer. By Friday we should be ready to prime everything and then we will be in business this weekend with paint gear in hand. I have some special plans for these walls so stay tuned for more adventures in first time reno havoc.
*Photo credit Pinterest and Reckless Bliss*