The Story of a Nursery

This week I’m in California designing lighting for Side Show at CMTSJ (Children’s Muscial Theater, San Jose) the largest children’s theater in the country.  So instead of a deep thought, I thought I would brag about the work I did on the nursery before and after Robin was born.  So here is the Story of the Nursery.

Like every project in an old house, I started working on the nursery with an eye solely to rebuilding the old double hung windows.  Robin was due on the 23rd of June, so I set out to start repairing the windows starting in April.  But the weather in Denver was very strange that year and it didn’t snowing until late May.  Sometime in later part of May I decided it was now or never.

I wish I had taken photos of the starting place, but I didn’t.  The sashes were rotten and the glass was barely hanging on.  The previous owners had filled the resulting gaps with, I kid you not, hot glue.

This is a different window in the house that I’ve not gotten to yet, but it shows the level of decay.  Imagine about twice that damage and you get a good idea of my starting place.
On day one I took out the sashes for the windows with my Uncle Peter’s help and stepped out on to the roof to remove the storm window frame.  Taking the frame off, we encountered two rather large hornet’s nests. That immediately terminated the window work for the day.  I sprayed them down with Raid, and waited the 24 hours to scrap them off the house.
One of the sashes after hours of paint removal.

I took the molding off the interior portion of the window and took it to dip and strip.  There were eight layers of paint to remove.

The view of the windows from the exterior.  You can see all the deferred maintenance in the exterior shakes, and also the awesome lavender of the house trim.
I set about scrapping paint, rebuilding, and glazing all the sashes.  I ran new sash cords and generally cleaned up the windows.  Things were progressing pretty well.
Then I decided that I really hated the wall texture, which to my eye looks like someone let a 5 year old finger paint the plaster.  After again consulting with my uncle about the best course of action, I decided I would just try and scrape down the worst bumps and repaint the walls.  
This proved to be a pipe dream.  I started scrapping down the texture and the top most layer of plaster/dry wall compound started coming off the wall in huge sheets.
The issue I soon discovered was that the top most layer of plaster/drywall compound was applied directly over 4 layers of wall paper.  Some of it quite beautiful.
But it meant that I had to peel that layer and all the layers of wall paper off the entirety of the room.  I’m glad I did it because I discovered an entire row of base board molding that had been covered up.  Along two walls someone had run Masonite halfway up the walls before applying a layer of plaster/drywall.
As I stripped off the layers of plaster I discovered that a lot of the underlying plaster was pretty rotten, which meant that large portions of the walls had to be demoed down to the lathe.
I also discovered some pretty impressive structural cracks.
And a old doorway into the room next door.
I took out the plaster I had to remove and set about filling the gaps with drywall.  I didn’t have access to any car larger than my Jetta, so I bought a bunch of 2′ x ‘2 pieces of drywall and set about puzzle piecing the walls together.
This last photo was taken on June 2nd.  Remember that date.  I bought some quick set mortar and filled all the large structural cracks.
On June 3rd I started taping the seams and mudding the seams.
I took a shower and was just about to check my email when Alice Louise called me from the hospital.  She’s been sent there by her OB after they detected protein in her urine, which could be a sign of preeclampsia. After a couple of hours they sent her home.  Around midnight she poked me in the back and said that we needed to head back to the hospital.  Labor.  The protein from before was her water breaking.  Next thing I knew:
Robin was three weeks early.  One day past when he would be considered preterm.  He was pretty small, but very healthy.
A few weeks passed before I got back to working on the nursery.  My sister and brother-in-law came over to help.  I applied pounds and pounds of drywall compound to the wall and created a sort of old world smooth texture to the walls.  In July my friend Jay flew out and helped me strip the paint off the remaining molding and repaint.
I did my best to reveal the detail in the corner blocks.
We chose a nice baby blue for the walls and a deep blue for the molding.
I didn’t touch the closet.
Unfortunately we kinda scorched the carpet while stripping the molding.  Besides all the work on the walls had pretty much rendered the carpet disgusting.  So I decided to remove it.  Alice Louise and I went and picked out some nice bamboo engineered flooring and I set about removing the carpet.  I discovered one layer of carpet, one layer of padding, a layer of linoleum tile, a layer of sub flooring, another later of linoleum tile, more sub floor, and finally the original fir or spruce floor.
After a long day of demo I removed about 1.5 inches of material from the floor.  I then set about installing the hardwood bamboo.
Notice the line of white around the bottom of the molding.  That is how much I lowered the floor.  I still have yet to scrap down the texture on that line and repaint the molding.  I have matching quarter round for the base of the molding, but I’ve not gotten around to installing it yet.  Now that Robin has moved into the room it has become more challenging to work in room.
One of the best parts of this project was discovering the beauty of the hardware buried under 8 layers of paint.
All is all it was a very satisfying project.  Its mostly complete.  Rock On!

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