Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Stairway to Heaven

Every so often, we finish a project at the Jewel of Hollywood and I say, "Well, this room is done." But inevitably I add, "Except that the baseboard is missing. Oh, and that closet door. Oh, and the windows need to be replaced. But other than that, it's done."

The stairwell is no exception. I was going to call this post "Before and After" but that might be premature. Everything on the stairwell is done — except the windows, which have yet to be replaced. Still, I think it's fair to indulge in a little before and after. Let's do it, before I muck up the scene by installing a security gate for Poppy at the top of the stairs.

Click on any image below to see it larger.



You can't tell too well by this picture, but the walls are much smoother, because we actually took them down. The left wall was sagging and we feared a beam had come down or something. It hadn't, but by replacing the original plaster with drywall, we achieved this silky smoothness.

As you can see, we pulled back the carpet and brought the stairs back to their original wood. The original risers were badly damage, so Mark the Floor Guy replaced them with this new oak that we are not particularly fond of. I got kind of a sorry surprise when he first did them because he took out all the original moulding at the top of each riser and replaced it with a new moulding at the bottom of each riser for a look that was decidedly 1980s. Fortunately, he was kind and didn't put up a fuss when I asked him to go back and find, and strip and replace all the original moulding, which is what you see here.

At the top of the stairwell, we removed both the mirror — and the mirrored wallpaper. We put in a new light fixture from Lighting Liquidators in Glendale. You'll also notice a new light switch at the top of the stairs and also a thermostat. There was no AC upstairs when we bought the place, and I don't know how the former occupants lived without it. It gets really hot upstairs, even with the new insulation we put in.
To the left (or to the right if you're looking below) you can see we have not yet replaced the bedposts which were clearly installed during the 50s. I actually sent a picture of them to Mission Millworks in South Pasadena to see if they could manufacture something with more of a craftsman feel for us but — get this — they're too busy. They have so much work that they don't want to do it. Sheesh! Rejection stings!


Looking down the stairwell, you get a much better view of the original wood stairs. And the original handrail. You have no idea what I went through trying to keep that handrail from being thrown away throughout construction. I pulled it out of the dumpster. I pulled it in from the rain. I pulled it out of pile after pile of debris. It's no small miracle that both handrail and original hardware survived! We had them all dipped, stripped and refinished along with the doors.

Just broke my heart to part with that beautiful chandelier. And that wallpaper. And that glorious carpet. Just looking at them brings back the smell of the place in my mind.

At the top of the stairwell, this built-in turned out nicely. Julio's men couldn't get all the white paint off (90-years worth, mind you), so there are still a few flecks here and there. But it's lovely to have that original hardware.
And that's all the before and aftering I have for you today. If I can get Poppy's room cleaned up a bit, I'll post those before and afters next, because her room is done! Except for the baseboards. And the closet door. And the windows.


Blogger celia said...

nice job! i don't know how you guys are doing this. jim and i just finished painting - just painting - our entry and we're exhausted. but it's done. except for the ceiling. and the front door...

August 1, 2007 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Gabrielle P said...

We do it through the magic of hired labor. ;-)

Let me give you Julio's number. Painting is what he does best and his rates are really reasonable.

August 1, 2007 at 2:47 PM  

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