Glenlochan -The Beginning

Glenlochan -The Beginning
Glenlochan - The Beginning

Glenlochan Today

Glenlochan Today
Glenlochan Today

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Coloring our World II (From the Outside In)

We are excited to post the results of the Great Debate II.  The house color we selected has apparently drawn a lot of attention in our small town.  The color we chose is from the Benjamin Moore historic palette (Mill Street Blue) and is a very close match to the original paint color of the house (uncovered under several layers of wood and siding when we removed the old front porch).  Our painter has indicated that he's never had so many people stop by to comment on a job (fortunately, all positive to date!) or received so many additional jobs from a single house-painting job.  We are thrilled with the results - it's exactly what we were hoping for, and, it's always nice when a decision we agonized over for so so long appears to be the right one (or at least, one of several "right" ones, since there is usually more than one way to "skin a cat").  

Here's the process (yes, the entire house was brush painted by hand, three coats, to give it the authentic vintage brush stroke look) and the end result:

The Great Debate II is officially over, results posted, and we have a winner!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Visitors: One Welcome, One Not So Much

Last week on the project was very productive - four hands are always better than two and Rob had a visit from his old friend from high school, Mark.  Together, they were able to get so many projects done throughout the week, so Mark was definitely a welcome visitor and we sure appreciated his willingness to help on the project.

First, Rob and Mark installed the new pulldown steps to the attic in the ceiling of one of the bedrooms (still needs a good paint job):


They were also able to get all of the cement board cut and laid for the utility room, mud room, and two bathrooms - all will be tiled in the coming weeks.

Most importantly, they were able to get all of the ipe (Brazilian hardwood, pronounced, "ee-pay") installed on the back lower porch.  Previously, Rob had installed the ipe on our small side porch to work out the "installation" kinks:

Mark and Rob did a beautiful job and the back porch looks wonderful:

As to our other visitor...

We had a very large black snake make its way to our front porch, trying to make itself at home, possibly in the house!  Rob hurried the snake off the porch and escorted it to the back of the property, snapping a few pics along the way:


Hopefully one of our visitors will come back and see us again and the other will not make a reappearance any time soon!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Floors: Delivered, Acclimated, and Installed

We are completely floored at this point - the vintage heart of pine floors upstairs are completely installed, as are the brand new, custom cut white oak floors downstairs.  The new hardwood floors arrived a couple of weeks ago via freight delivery, so we lined up reinforcements to help with the unloading of the 100 bundles of long length floor boards, each bundle weighing about 60 pounds.  Josh, Joe, and good friend Rob (all business owners - one of Victory Golf Events and the other two, The Bookler) all arrived ready for a workout and to give Rob a hand (they work for pizza!).

The new wood was all placed in piles throughout the downstairs for the same acclimation process that was already underway with the vintage pine boards upstairs. Amazingly, they were already a close match with the moisture levels of the sub-floor, so the acclimation time was not lengthy.  This was a good thing because the board piles were everywhere and the made it very difficult to navigate through the house - I ran into the piles more than once.

First up on the install were the vintage heart of pine boards upstairs (the smaller of the two jobs since many of the original floors were still in place upstairs).

The match with the existing boards was terrific.  The installers then turned their attention to the downstairs and it looks equally amazing.

The installers will be sanding both the upstairs and downstairs floors for us at a later stage in the project and they will be sealing the upstairs with Waterlox - a product that we purchased and "played with" on boards.  I'm very excited about Waterlox - more on the advantages of Waterlox when the floors have been sealed.  We'll be tackling the staining and sealing of the downstairs floors (also with Waterlox) ourselves, also at a later stage in the process.  But, that didn't stop us from purchasing a variety of stain colors to test on leftover boards.

Although the picture doesn't really show the color and shade variations, there actually were large differences among the samples.  We are leaning towards, "Early American" second sample from the right.  For now, it's enough that we have solid floors throughout the home!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Stripping on a Deadline

Back in the cold weeks of winter when there wasn't nearly as much to do on the project or otherwise, I decided to plan ahead a bit.  I knew that there were some heavy duty wood stripping projects in my future on the project plan for Glenlochan, and it had been a number of years since I'd tackled stripping anything.  Additionally, my lifetime portfolio of refinishing projects was pretty sparse.  As such, I decided that a little research and a little practice was in order.  So, on a wintry weekend, I visited one of my favorite Philly thrift shops, on the hunt for something small that I could strip and refinish to hone my skills a bit before starting the items in Glenlochan.  I lucked into finding this cute little bedside table - a little negotiation and 24 bucks later, it was mine.

I loved it - but it was definitely worn and scratched, well-loved, and cute as a button - it was the perfect testing ground for my nascent stripping skills.  I worked on this for several hours over two weekends and made huge progress.  After trying a variety of products, methods (we've tried everything but a heat gun) tools and tricks, I managed to get it mostly stripped in the tiny basement of our Philly house (with the door open in the middle of winter to let the fumes escape) and then I moved on to power tools - the palm sander Rob had purchased a while ago beckoned to me.  With Rob safely gone so I could experiment in private, I moved to the front porch (only place with an outside outlet) and proceeded to learn the ins and outs of the palm sander.  Wow - that was the ticket - my new favorite power tool.  Rob was suitably impressed when he came home and saw my progress:

The wood is beautiful, but before I could finish this side practice project, the house and other things needed attention, so I turned my efforts towards the first of three vintage mantels we salvaged from Glenlochan prior to the demolition phase.  This was the biggest and most ornate of the three mantels, and my hope was (and still is) to get it stripped thoroughly enough that we can actually stain and finish it, rather than paint it.  Here's where I started:

Unlike my thrift store find, this baby was covered in a good 2 coats of paint over the original stain and varnish, so it has required a lot more effort.  I dove into this project over the course of two days spent in VA and made some good progress - the pictures below illustrate the progression:

 The mantel right now:

It's a beast of a job, but hopefully it will be worth it.  The amount of time and muscle and patience it takes to strip something like this made me very concerned when, just prior to last weekend, Rob announced that we had to get the stairway banister and posts stripped by....THE END OF THE WEEKEND.  Holy crap, Batman.  He insisted that it had to be done prior to the floors getting laid because of the mess made when stripping.  He was absolutely right, and I expressed all the confidence in the world that we could get it done (although the two unfinished stripping projects described above were weighing heavily on my mind and I had severe doubts that I'd ever finish a stripping project).

Like the mantel, the upstairs banister had been heavily coated in layers of paint, some really ugly black stain and varnish.  With my practice on the end table and the mantel, I had learned that I had a strong preference for Strypeeze chemical stripper over any of the others I had tried.  Unfortunately, Lowes stopped carrying Strypeeze sometime after I bought it a few months ago, so I had to resort to an online purchase.  A huge price break was given for buying four gallons - I would have been stupid not to!

Here's was the starting point for us on the bannister:

We were planning to keep the spindles painted since that was how they were originally - they had never been stained - but the downstairs handrail and newel post had never been painted and they were beautiful heart of pine.

At some point, probably when the upstairs of Glenlochan had been converted to a separate apartment, the upstairs banister had been stained black, and then later, painted once or twice.  It promised to be a challenging job.  Fortunately, before I arrived for the weekend, Rob gave us a headstart:

Although it looks like it was mostly done, it actually wasn't, and I jumped in and started on it early Saturday morning.  Together we both worked on the bannister for most of Saturday and Sunday to get it done before the vintage heart of pine floors were to be installed on Monday.  Rob had set up a nifty scaffold over the stairs that allowed us to work on both sides of the rails comfortably.

We were stripping machines:

By Sunday night, we had both bannisters looking almost the same.  A little bit of finish sanding will still be necessary, but the end result was pretty amazing and we are so excited that the bannisters are going to look so matched and terrific when finished and sealed.  Here are the two bannisters (never painted and newly stripped) side by side:

While driving back to Philly at 4:00 am Monday morning, I was totally psyched about our ability to restore the mantels and ultimately, to finish my practice project.  I don't plan to do either on such an intense deadline, however.