Renovation Update: Rail & Baluster Installation

It was really cool watching the staircase come together, since it was my job to sand and finish all of the stair parts. Even though Andy built all the parts and put the staircase together, this is definitely the project in the house where I feel like I helped the most. It made it so satisfying to watch come together.

In part 1 of this post, I explained how Andy installed the newel posts on our staircase.

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Part 2 – Rail, Baluster & Newel Post Cap Installation

Seeing the rails and balusters go up was very cool, not only because I had a part in it, but because it was the first time I really saw how things happened. I was too enthralled in the process, and admittedly busy taking care of other things around the house, that I sort of forgot to take photos of the baluster installation. I’ll explain as best I can with finished pictures. When it came to the rails, which are made of walnut, I was curious to see how the exact level and angle was determined. Turns out, you need a few levels and a few clamps.

DSC_8583-01 DSC_8586-01 DSC_8590-01This method was awesome because it really gave me a chance to visualize where the rail would fall, but also to figure out if it was at a comfortable height. Andy nailed it the first try, so he marked it off with painters tape, and measured and cut the rail.

DSC_8594-01To install the rails to the newel posts Andy attached them a couple ways. Most of them were attached through a groove in the bottom of the rail, but a few needed to be attached through the top. Either way, Andy drilled two angled holes on each end of each rail at the same angle as the rail and screwed them into each newel post.

DSC_8596-01For the rails screwed through the top, Andy made plugs and glued them into place.

DSC_8939DSC_8935Each rail attached through the bottom groove didn’t need to be plugged, since they were patched after the balusters were installed.

To install the rail to the wall where we had no newel post, Andy did a simple block. We debated on doing a half newel but though a block would look better.

DSC_8940For the balusters (painted poplar, also known as aspen) Andy and I decided on a spacing we liked (two balusters per tread). Andy then cut each baluster to the correct angle and nailed it into the bottom groove of the rail. Once all balusters were installed, he then cut and placed a piece between each baluster to fill in the groove. Each piece was secured with a finish nail.

DSC_8933Once the rails and balusters were installed, it was time for the crowning glory, and the final parts, of the staircase—newel post caps. When it came to what wood to use we debated on a nice maple, walnut, or beech. We finally decided on a chunky but simple walnut cap to tie in the rail. I loved the idea of bringing in some darker wood somewhere else. Even better, Andy had a piece of crotch walnut which he could make one of the caps out of.

DSC_8938 The other two caps were made of regular walnut and are also very beautiful. To keep the balance we put the other two on each end, and the crotch walnut in the middle. We also did this because the stairwell light is directly above the middle newel post, which highlights the beautiful cap even more.

DSC_8931 DSC_8934DSC_8961Overall we really love how the stairwell turned out, so here are a few more pictures of the final stairwell.

DSC_8929 DSC_8946 DSC_8952 DSC_8957 DSC_8959This spring we’re going to start building out the upstairs bathroom, and I can’t wait to share that process with you guys. It’s going to be beautiful when it’s done and should hopefully be an inspiration for all of those with a tiny 3/4 bathroom. Once the bathroom is finished, and funds permit, we’ll be able to start the big renovation on the original house which can only mean one thing—kitchen time!

For now we’re staying busy fixing our cars that keep breaking (oy vey, don’t ask – a new car is on the near horizon), working out in the woods with our neighbor, starting seeds for the garden should the snow decide to fully melt at any point this spring, and over all just doing the day to day working & typical house cleaning and errands!

xo,

Heather

Renovation Recap: The Living Room Reveal

There are those moments in life when something happens and you look back on it and realize the work to get there was worth it, and that is exactly how I felt when we finished our living room 99% and moved into it this weekend! It was such a surreal moment. I came home tonight and immediately walked into the living room, sat down and just enjoyed everything about it. I can’t wait to show you the reveal, but I will because there were a few steps before we moved in and a few photos you just need to see first.

This is a pine trim which Andy milled from strapping he received with the delivery of another product. It was clear, it was perfect, and it was free. I married well.

DSC_3909-01The baseboards are also a beautiful routed pine. It’s a fairly traditional style but that’s right in line with our craftsman/shaker/farmhouse preferences.

DSC_3896-01 Once Andy finished putting the Danish oil on the trim, we let the room air out and did the final cleanup consisting of cleaning windows, scraping the windows, vacuuming and in general relishing in the room before we moved furniture in.

DSC_3966-01 DSC_3969-01Then we took all of our furniture junk, and moved it into our really nice new living room. Actually, only the couch can be referred to as junk as all other furniture pieces are handmade and are actually quite nice.

DSC_3975-01The photo above sums up how we’ve been living for months, so let me just say I’m a little more happy that view now looks a lot more empty.

DSC_3998-01Someday I’ll look back on this photo and be like, “ahg, I can’t believe it used to look like that, and I was totally cool with it.” Truth though, I honestly don’t care.  I am just so darn elated with this accomplishment which was no small task, considering this room from the other direction used to be a falling in porch which I once power washed an old toilet on.

pictures1 327Now, that old fallen in porch is long gone and our new living room is a cozy, warm, friendly, loving space.

DSC_3986-01DSC_3992-01It might look a little plainly decorated in photos, but in person it’s so nice. I love the layering of woods, the neutral walls, the open and airy feel to it. There are obviously still some interior design type things we need to do like get a light shade for the center of the room, upgrade the lamp on the table, add some art, maybe some window treatments, and get a new sofa but I don’t even see those things at this moment. They just don’t even matter. No interior design is going to really matter until the house is complete and we can see it in one piece. We have a few sentimental items up now, and I brought in my baskets of yarn, but besides that we’re good as is.

DSC_3991-01You can see my kindle charging next to the sofa, which brings me to another awesome thing Andy did in this room for convenience purposes. He put outlets on either side so we could each plug in our electronics without always tangling them around each others stuff. For Andy this simply meant a laptop. For me, it’s a laptop, my camera battery, my phone, my kindle, the lamp—you get the point. So needless to say I have a double outlet on my side and he has a single on his. On my side two of the plugs are also operable by switch. If you walk into the room from the kitchen area, you have the option to either turn on the dimming overhead lights or flip on the lamp. It’s definitely not a “need” and it never was, but when Andy mentioned the option without a lot more work it was a no-brainer. It’s a nice convenience to have, and it means I have three other outlets I can leave my other chargers plugged into if I want.

DSC_3990-01The other “design element” I did in this room was to re-organize the bookshelf so it was more visually appealing. I know what the books look like I use the most (i.e. cookbooks and gardening references) so I can grab them quickly. I hesitate to call this a “design element” only because it was more of a “dust your shit once in a while and make things look nice”. I did this by organizing every book by color family. I used to do this with my clothes in my closet in high school sometimes and I loved it. Turns out, I now love it on a bookshelf. I think this was a thing like two years ago. I seem to remember seeing people organize things by color on some design show a while back. Consider me up to date and totally hip to trends (*nods head in a sarcastic “yeah, that’s it” manner*).

DSC_3977-01 DSC_3979-01What, you didn’t think we’d be highlighting a hand turned vase, a chainsaw book and a sawmill book on our bookshelf? Come on now. Oh, and to the far left is a book called American Brassiere. It’s a cook book that I don’t work out of a lot but I still thoroughly enjoy none the less. Just throwing that out there.

DSC_3981-01Andy and I were both wowed and loved how the bookshelf looked in the room for the sheer fact that all of the natural light made the wood grain glimmer. It never looked like this in the darker room before so we’re happy to see the fine grain in all of the glory it deserves. Well played natural light, well played.

At the end of the day, we are incredibly happy with this room and how it turned out. It’s so nice to have one room you can come into and not have to look at the items that still needs to be done. At this point, window treatments, etc. don’t feel like things that need to be done. Finishing the flooring in the other rooms are on the need to be done list, so as far as I’m concerned right now this room is done. OH and as it turns out, when you have nice things you want to take care of them. Guess who’s going out to get felt pads to put on the bottom of the coffee table? I guess I’m officially that adult. At least I’m not putting tennis balls on the legs. Did anyone else have to do that to their chairs in elementary school or know what the heck I’m referring to?

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads this post and/or as followed my blog. I know there are a lot of people who read and never comment and that’s totally okay (though I would love if you said “hi!”, I’ll say “hi!” back!). This blog really is a cathartic place to get some of my feelings and thoughts out and I absolutely love sharing our little life with you. I wish you could all just come and sit in here and feel how relaxing it really is. Then again, if ALL of you were in here it wouldn’t be relaxing at all, so let’s just do it one at a time. I’ll put on some tea for you.

xo,

Heather

P.S.) I’ll be back within the next week or so with an update on the other parts of the renovation we’re still working on! There’s also been some talk up at the farm, and some gardening underway so I hope to write about all of that soonish too. Have a wonderful day everyone!

Shak{ering} It Up – Walnut Sidetables Revealed

Hey, do you remember that one time Andy was building us two shaker walnut side tables, which I discussed here and here, and then I said I would update you when he was done, and then I didn’t?

Yeah, me neither.

So with that said, I’m totally on time with this reveal. Completely.

These tables made me realize why people use coasters. I still have yet to put any glass of any kind on them yet, and have dusted them more often than I’ve probably dusted in my entire house. It turns out when you have really nice furniture you like it to continue to look really nice.

I love the unique grain that each table has, despite looking similar in style. It’s hard for me to comprehend how on earth my husband built every single piece of these tables by hand—right down to the knobs on the drawers, which he turned on the lathe.

Here are a few more detail shots of the pieces, including the beautiful dovetails on the drawers. Mr.A says they aren’t perfect, but they look perfect to me.

Once we had these in place Andy told me the story of where this walnut came from. Almost 50 years ago, when my father-in-law was a boy in Ohio, he planted a walnut tree in his front yard. Years later when his father moved, my father-in-law chopped down the walnut tree and brought it back to Maine (yep, the entire log) and had it sawed here. He had it drying in his garage and when he gave it to Andy, he used it for these tables.

I love pieces that have a sentimental value to them, and I love the idea of passing these pieces with their stories down the line someday.

Now all we need is a new couch, because these babies need something just as beautiful to flank.

Much Love,

Heather

Shak{ering} It Up {Part Two}

If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been keeping hush hush on a shaker walnut side table update, it’s because Mr. A said, “they’re almost done, can you please post about something else?”. He wanted me to wait until they were complete. In fact, when I told him I couldn’t wait any longer he said, “they’ll be done this weekend.”

But I’m impatient.

And I really like showing you guys stuff in real time.

And I’m impatient.

Before the final reveal next week I had to show you guys a sneak a peak of some of the details so far.

Without further ado – progress:

Are you just excited as I am to see them complete? You are? Awesome. I thought so.

In case you were wondering -> Handy Husband = Happy Wife.

Much Love,

Heather

 

Shak{er}ing It Up {Part One}

I am what I refer to as “ornate sensitive” when it comes to furniture. I like my lines clean and simple but warm. Furniture most people wouldn’t consider ornate, I do. I certainly have an appreciation for ornate furniture, for the craftsmanship that goes into it.

Yes, Andy teases me about this, especially because it’s entirely arbitrary and confusing. I can see a dresser with curved drawers on the front even if the rest is basic and find it ornate; a week later I can see a vintage side table with turned legs at a flea market and love it.

Your guess is as good as mine why I feel this way. I guess I just like my details and art on the walls and pieces I can easily change out, and not incorporated into my furniture.  The best way I can explain it is that I have a visceral reaction to the thought of ornate furniture in my house. I know that’s weird, but it’s true.

What this essentially comes down to is that I like Shaker and Mission style furniture. So when Andy showed me these side tables from Fine Woodworking and asked if I wanted him to build me two out of walnut we were given I eeked with joy. I loved the simplicity of them, how they let the wood speak for itself and the clean lines. Even though I really love the straight legs, I wasn’t too picky either way. Andy decided to go with the turned ones since the walnut grain would look gorgeous through them—and it meant he could use the lathe.

The lathe almost always wins.

Andy has been working so hard lately on things for the house, and getting his wood shop in order, he really needed to do something or himself. Making fine furniture is something he loves to do for us as a family so when he gets the chance to he absolutely will. I let Andy have some time to himself down in the wood shop but when I couldn’t take it any longer I grabbed the Nikon and headed into the cave.

I never get tired of seeing, and being amazed by, the beauty of wood behind bark. I mean, look at this.

The further I walked into the shop, the more pieces I saw coming together. First I saw Andy on the Jointer shaving the bark off the sides of each board and beautiful walnut shavings methodically coming out of the base.

Then I looked up and saw the back workbench covered in walnut boards. Beautiful, dark, rich, walnut boards. Andy informed me these were going to be the top of each side table.

A glance to my left showed some of the legs ready for turning, and a few more boards glued up together to make the other legs. Andy showed me how they were glued and said if you glue the faces when they set up and are turned round it will be harder to tell they aren’t once piece—as long as you match the grain and color.

It’s hard to believe each of these legs were ripped from pieces that looked like this.

I still haven’t decided whether we’ll be using them in the livingroom or up in our bedroom. I’m just excited to start getting some handmade shaker furniture around here. I think of these items as heirloom items we can eventually pass down and I love the thought of it.

I’m so excited to see how these turn out. Today Andy has been putting the tops together and turning the legs, so I’ll be back later this week with an update on them. You may wonder why I didn’t wait until they were done to post on this. I try to show things in real time so I knew I had to write about these as soon as I could. Just. So. Excited.

Until the next update you can just imagine me doing the running man with a huge dorky grin on my face every time I walk into the basement and see these in process.

I love being married to a carpenter/construction/work ox.

Happy Woodworking,

Heather