(That's a mixture of stain, oil paint, and latex paint from many years)
(Some touch-ups still needed but pretty much done)
|The Science of Married||
Once we finished our stair guard, we wanted to refinish the stairs. Originally we were just going to pull out the runner and leave the stairs white, but I started to like the look of wood steps with white vertical rises. So in the summer while we were in New York, my dad pulled out the runner for us - it was a LOT of hard work. There were about 40-50 nails in every stair holding it down, and the only way to get them out was to rip them out. No glue...just a LOT of nails. He said it took about 2 hours to pull them all out. Thanks Dad!!!
The stairs when we just moved in
And after my dad pulled out the runner...
(That's a mixture of stain, oil paint, and latex paint from many years)
View from above when we were working on the stair guard
So once the runner was up, the next step was to strip all the old paint and stain to get the wood back to its natural finish. This is a really messy, nasty job, and I would never want to do it again. Paint stripper is very gross - it is bad for your health, so make sure you have a good mask, gloves, safety goggles, and a well-ventilated area (some strippers even suggest a respirator). We got the kind that is biodegradable, so it doesn't damage the environment as much (it is methylene chloride free), but it is still bad. It has a sickly sweet ester smell and made me sick to my stomach after a while. I did the first few steps - 4 steps took me 3 hours with cleanup. Each stair required about 3 coats to get it all off, and even then it wasn't perfect. You paint it on, leave it on for about 10 minutes, and then scrape it off. It is very hard to get the corners and edges, and you need a lot of muscle to do it. My entire body ached for about 3 days afterward. You are left with this sludge of paint and stripper that you need to dispose of as well, and it just makes a mess.
3 hours later...
Day 2 - Covered the stairs so the gross sludge fell onto a towel instead of onto the stairs (and myself) below.
You need a bucket to rinse the stiars after, lots of rags and towels, a scraper, and a paint brush.
After 1 layer of stripper
3 more hours on Day 2 produced this
3 days to finish all the stairs - WOW, it was a lot of gross work!
Once the stripping was done (insert bad joke here), the staining began, but before that we needed to wash and sand every stair (very hard wood - took a lot of work), and we even bleached the stairs to try and get them a lighter colour (because as you can see above, they are still much darker than our floors). Bleaching was honestly straight forward - apply a laundry bleach and water mixture to the stairs, then neutralize with Borax solution (yay for chemistry!). Once that was done (and the stairs still darker), we decided we loved it enough and we were reading to stain. We once again used Minwax to stain the stairs, and let it dry for a day, and applied another coat. Then applied 3 coats of water-based polyurethane for strength (not oil-based as it is banned in some states and takes weeks to cure). The coats could be applied within 3-4 hours of each other, and then needed 24 hours before they could be stepped on. We did every other stair so that we could still get everywhere in the house, which means it took many days. (4 days for staining, 4 days for polyurethane). Dry time is temperature-dependent, so make sure you have adequate heating in the home at all times.
Stained (with blue tape telling me where I can step)
After all the staining was done we needed to paint all the vertical rises and sides. First coat was a primer, followed by two coats of Benjamin Moore`s White Dove in Semi-Gloss. This was pretty straight forward but leave the tape on for longer than we did (finished the last coat in the morning and took the tape off that night, because it was Christmas Eve and we were having my family over!) - at least 24 hours.
Taping the stairs actually took the longest
We were actually peeling off the tape on Christmas Eve as my parents arrived
(Some touch-ups still needed but pretty much done)
Finished product - really brightens up the hallway!
Before & After
A bit of filler and repainting are needed on some of the white - the wood was really beat up
Stair guard and stairs done - feels so good to be finished!!!
This Christmas had the lovely added feature that I had bronchitis, and Christmas Eve was touch and go (seriously thought about cancelling at various parts of the day - the morning when I was trying to whip non-heavy cream into stiff peaks - it will not work - you need more than 18%, and when I had to dry my hair sitting on the floor in my bedroom amidst sweating and crying because I was so weak), but we pulled through! My parents, Adam and Jessica came over on Christmas Eve. Matt really did all the work because I was trying to sleep and recover for most of the days leading up to it, and if not I was cleaning the house. We made some delicious brie, cranberry, pecan crostini for appetizers, along with the chili-sweet nut mix we did last year, for dinner we had roasted duck with a maple bourbon glaze with root mash, and for dessert I made a chocolate mousse trifle (hence the whipping of cream earlier on in the day). It went pretty well - opened presents, ate good food, and enjoyed entertaining my family.
Our little tree - all owled up (there are now 3 owls on the tree thanks to my family)
Playing with my new 50 mm lens - West Elm Hedwig owl
Table ready for dinner
Runner and log votives from West Elm, Star napkin holder from Ikea!
These cranberries have now been rehydrated...I do not look forward to cleaning this out...
I added some sparkly branches and a bow to make this spring-branch arrangement a bit more festive
Planned to do a gallery wall in this room but didn't have pictures yet - so I improvised with wrapping paper
I will post more on this when I change the frames to real pictures!
The table before dinner - votives filled with candles and lots of light
Time to eat and open presents!
Taking mom to see the World Figure Skating Championships in London (Ontario) in March
Dad opening our gift (Cycling Store Gift Card)
Adam looking very scary with tinsel on his head
Lego Empire State Building - Classic present for Adam
Sisters pose just before dinner
Mmmm festive salads and cranberry juice
Mom and Dad
Ohhh those two are photogenic!
Must have been awkward lighting for me to make this B&W
Crowns from the Christmas Crackers!
Matt opened a present that night - "I Am A Pole" by Stephen Colbert (looks like a Children's book...but not so much)
Christmas morning is Matt and I time. We don't have anyone else over - we open our presents, we made a delicious breakfast, and we just relax. This year we made a french toast casserole with a brown sugar strudel glaze and apple and craisins. It was so good. The antibiotics prevented the typical ice wine drinking, but I'll make that up on New Year's Eve!
I guessed most of my presents before I opened them (and there was only 2 I didn't get - this table is a lie!)
One of my gifts - Paloma Picasso hammered ring - looks like a girly version of Matt's iron ring, but needs to be resized. I wanted this because I used to wear his iron ring when he first got it if he was wakeboarding at the cottage or any other time he may have lost it. Just a cute little reminder of those days.
Delicious baked french toast - and so easy (we prepped it the night before)
I gave George the gift of all the acorns I collected in the fall that never ended up dip-dying (I'll try again next year)
Christmas Day was spent with Matt's family, both at his parents' house in Oakville to open gifts, and then to his aunt and uncle's place in Ancaster for dinner. We only had to make a vegetable dish, so it was an easy day, and I was starting to feel better luckily! It was nice seeing the whole family (we see his dad's side far less often), and all the food was incredible! His cousin's wife is starting her own catering company and she made all the appetizers - wow! Look out Peterborough!!!
Christmas afternoon at the in-laws - what a beautiful tree!
I look like I'm in pain...I was probably about to cough...
Pete with his kids - all grown up!
In Ancaster with Buppa - great face Jamie!
Kisses from the granddaughters
Matt probably being a smart-ass
Boxing Day we always go to my aunt and uncle's place in Bowmanville. My dad has a huge family so it is always a fun gathering. On the way home we went to see Les Miserables with Adam and Jess - it was SOOO good (although Russell Crowe really shouldn't sing). Highly recommended Christmas break movie, although very sad (hence the title). Bring Kleenex - you will cry at 3 different spots!
If you think I wouldn't post this Adam, you were wrong.
Singing Christmas carols to get gifts (although it turns out that now that I'm married Santa can't find me anymore)
Pretty much sat here the entire time
Came home to this. Merry and bright.
A few days later some of the same family ladies meet at Marche downtown for lunch.
This project turned out to be a lot bigger than I anticipated, as it was a lot more building and construction than we were used to. Our original stair guard was about 2.5 feet, and building code for houses in Toronto has a minimum requirement of 3.5 feet. We figured that it would be a good idea to get it up to code. I routinely stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night, and if I grabbed that rail wrong, I could definitely have gone right over multiple times. We eventually will have kids, so now was the best time to tear down railings and rebuild them up (to minimize the amount of tiny children falling over the ledge). I looked online to find some resources but there was very little, so I hope this post helps some others in their own stair guard projects!
Tools Needed: Compound Mitre Saw, Circular Saw, Power Drill, Drill Bits (1/4, 3/8, 5/8, 3/4 inch), Crowbar, Planar, Power Sander, Newel Bolts, Rail Fastening Bolts, Construction Adhesive, Wood for Newel Posts & Railings (Oak), and Balusters (Poplar)
Time Required: 2 Days for Staining (2 coats with sanding between), 1/2 Day for Demo, 4 Days for Rebuild
(Total Time: 7 days)
This was the original stair guard in October.
View from the stairs
Our first step was to buy the right wood and stain it - we wanted the wood to match our floors with white posts between. We ended up buying oak for the newel posts and railings, and poplar for the in between posts. Oak is very strong, and we really decided to stain it instead of painting everything white like it was, because oak is so pretty, and expensive, and it seemed a shame to cover it up. So we bought a very natural stain (we used Minwax Polyshades - stain and polyurethane in one) and stained all the wood and even our railings we had done last year to match. Made them all bright and shiny after two coats and polishing.
Very impressive staining lab in the basement
Newel posts - very thick oak!
Then came the demolition, which was actually the shortest part of the whole project. Some of the wood beams were nailed (used toe nails supposedly Matt says), others were glued, but in general it was already very wobbly and shaky and really a good sledge hit probably would have knocked it all down completely...yes...that is a very scary thought, now!
"Yes dear, I have safety glasses" - SUNGLASSES ARE NOT SAFETY GLASSES
(This was soon remedied by the lovely people at Home Depot)
About 1 minute later and the top was sawed off
And then we ripped off the beams
The excellent craftsmanship of the original railings...multiple bent nails and glue...
There were a lot of nails, actually...but none of them in too well
Next came the newel post, which would have been difficult had it been solid
But as you can see it was not. Just a hallow box.
4 posts together, which is very typical of newel posts as I researched, but we wanted something more solid
The post was built into the stairs, so now we had a hole to deal with
And this is how it was for an entire day and night...it was the scariest night ever.
This was going to be a challenge - look at that ledge
Obviously some paint would be needed too!
Matt found an extra piece to replace the broken top step
Our makeshift workshop...so pretty much we can't have kids if we want to renovate...
Now the rebuilding begins. The newel posts were the first to go up. So first a support beam under the floor was drilled into to insert the newel bolt, and then an access hole needed to be drilled up through the bottom on the newel post and through the side to attach the nut and secure it to the floor.
Multiple drill bits were tried until this one worked through the very thick oak
Okay - posts are up. we attached the poplar pieces we were going to use for balusteres with bungee cords around the poles to make it a somewhat less scary night
Makeshift rail protection for a few nights...
No clue what he is doing (drilling something) but I couldn't resist...love that guy...
Then the handrails were attached between the newel posts - pilot holes had to be drilled for the rail bolt to go into the newel post and into the rail itself. Once the rail was up a shoe rail was cut and placed to cover up the damage to the floor left by the old rail (see above on the left), then each of the balusters was cut and measured. They were secured with construction adhesive and a wood plug - this was harder than it looked because the rail had to be lifted up to insert them on the top and bottom, but if it was lifted too high they would fall out when others were being placed - definitely a two-man job for this section. I almost got impaled multiple times - be patient! We primed and painted the balusters beforehand - Benjamin Moore White Dove in Semi-Gloss to match the trim. One final coat was done once everything was in place.
Before he asked for my help...
You SURE you don't want my help?
He took it eventually - and look how well it turned out!
Once everything was in the railing was lowered and all the bolts were secured, and the access holes in the newel posts were filled with wood plugs and stained to match. Matt cut small white pieces to put between the posts, and filled it with wood filler. Then it was all sanded and touched up with paint until the gaps were gone. The hardest post to put in was the one in the corner. We had to get a drill bit that went 90 degrees so we could get it in.
Filling in the gaps between balusters
The post attached to the wall on the right - that was the one that needed a 90 degree drill bit
Tried to stain the little access holes as best we could - that's where the tightening happened
It's all done!!! YAY!
Matt's advice - pre-plan the drill bits you will need to limit all the attachments needed, careful not to get the newel bolt jammed (we had to get a new one) - use a double-locking nut to avoid this, have a plan to secure your railing or stairs so you don't fall in the middle of the night mid-progress.
Here's our living room just before we moved into the house:
And the day we moved in:
And a few months later after we painted it Cloud White:
And last Christmas:
Well one day a few weeks ago I got sick of the white and decided I was going to paint. I went to the colour I had in the hallways (Benjamin Moore's Grey Owl), and went a shade darker, to find Sea Haze. A nice grey with only a slight greenish undertone (which I noticed perhaps only because of our Christmas tree, so that won't be an issue soon enough). Matt came home to this:
Yep - there I am super glamourous with ancient AE sweats with holes in the butt and my greasy hair pulled back.
As usual Matt took more but they were usually of me bending over or another equally unflattering angle...
Done! (iPhone photo makes it look much more beige than it really is)
Ahhh yes, the overhead light casts weird shadows - I am already looking for a replacement...I never quite warmed up to it anyway, and now I feel it is too rustic for the room...
And one week to Christmas here it is!
Oh yeah - did you see our new sofa too? It's the Bliss Sofa from West Elm, and we had a 15% off coupon - sweet!
Yes, I think the glow is only from the tree...
The lsofa egs were originally natural pine, but Matt stained them to match our other furniture
I like the flow from the living to dining room better now too!
**We've since added a little gallery wall in this room too - once I change the wrapping paper in the frames to pictures, I will post about this too!**
A week before Christmas we went out to dinner with Matt's family to Archeo in the Distillery District. It's where Jamie and Hope are getting married this summer, so we wanted to try out some food and wine, see Hope before she left for England, and to wander around the Christmas market. Here are some pictures of our adventure:
Wandering to the restaurant taking pictures while Matt parked the car
Lots of lights
Love the gas lights
Sisters in sepia
Booth after booth of crafts and warm treats
Ohhh my goof of a husband...love that guy...
Pretty quiet streets
Matt says "run down the street and I'll take a picture" - and this is what resulted...
Makes my tiny tree feel even smaller...
I want to ride the pony! (This one seemed less allergy-annoying than a real one)
Hope came with me
*I know this isn't really home-decor related, but I wanted people to know what else I do with my time when NOT renovating*
So along with the school musical, I also co-direct the school's Christian Band. Mike Peever is the head guy - he knows how to hook up all the music and works with the band part, and I mostly direct the singers. We have about 50 members consistently, with upwards of 75 when everyone is there, which is incredible. Last year our numbers were more around 35 on our best days. It is a great group of students who just love to sing and play instruments and who love them some Jesus. They are such a break from the routine of teaching and even from the typical students I have in my classes. They have faith all their own and are not afraid to express it, which makes my faith much restored recently. We play Christian rock along with some praise and worship music (a LOT of Hillsong). We are expanding our repertoire in 2013 and the students are tweeting me some of the favourites over the break for us teachers to take a look at. Here are some pictures of the events we have done with them over the past few months:
We performed at the Grade 8 Confirmation Retreats at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Ajax
Peever teaching the girls to line dance on one of our breaks
The B&W's were from the St. Anthony Daniel 50th Anniversary celebration - we performed both during the day at at night for everyone
We led an overnight retreat with social justice - 50 kids came!
(The faux fur was because we told them they turn down the heat on the weekend...they went a bit overboard)
Some get to know you ice breakers
Karaoke - their fav
Midnight Just Dance party
Popping some corn for some Hunger Games movie treats
Look at these athletes!
(PS - the boys did sleep in a separate room from the girls)
Mass the next morning with Father Dave
Christmas Concert 2012. We also performed at the church Christmas concert the following night, and the parent-council mass earlier that week, and for the Manresa priests the following - it was a busy few weeks of school before the break, and these kids are one dedicated bunch!
So just a little of what I do outside the home and what has been taking up a lot of my would-be blogging time in the past few months, along with the musical JOSEPH (come see it in May!!!).
Yes, I have not blogged in over a month, and even then, the posts were sparse. I honestly have been incredibly busy with a new course I'm teaching at school, with the play, and with the Christian Band. This past week alone I was at school until 10 pm 4 of the 5 weeks. On the weekends we have been doing various projects, and if I'm not doing that, I'm seeing family or more school prep. I feel like I am sleeping, working, or house working 90% of the time. That doesn't leave a lot of room for blogging, but with Christmas break coming up in one week (choirs of angels are singing here), I'm hoping to fire off quite a few posts. Here are some sneak peaks of the projects we have done in the past month or so, along with random events:
1. The Great Railing Demo (which was actually quite a brief process)
2. The Even Greater Railing Reconstruction (which, proportional to its greatness, took much longer)
3. The Stair Stripping (much less sexy than it sounds...)
4. Christian Band Events (aka the best kids in the world singing and playing their hearts out)
5. My Grandpa is 88 and AWESOME (self-explanatory)
6. 50+ Reasons Why I Love My Husband (but since I have yet to make this list, it could be less, or more, depending on the day and time...)
7. Surprise - I Painted The Living Room Again!
8. Pure Bliss Sofa (with and without its legs, and no more falling between couch cushions)
9. What? Christmas is in 10 Days? (Better decorate that tree we've had over a week...)
10. Post-Stripping Stairs (plus staining, painting, and taking them two at a time...)
Not Pictured Above:
- Putting some back into the living room console (pictured above beside the stairs, currently happening as we speak)
- The teacher's strike (depending on if I'm in a rant-y mood or not that day - my board already settled in the summer)
- Distillery Christmas Market (going to tonight, along with dinner at Archeo)
- Go Go Go JOE! (our school play this year)
- Going Purple (in the bedroom decor)
- Top Home Projects of 2012 (90% happened in this above post, I think)
- House Goals for 2013 (the projects never end!)
- Personal Goals & Resolutions for 2013 (oh yeah...I have a gym membership)
- And of course all the Christmas festivity-related posts in the next few weeks!