We just might be out of our minds. Who adds a bathroom on the second floor of a hundred year old house? Plumbing is hard enough without having to deal with tight floor areas and pipe routing through a finished first floor. We had to start with every TV renovator's favorite... demo day!
This awkward little corner had a Sheetrock closet that was an easy tear out. You can see the outline of it on the floor. Our plan is to build a wall across the closet where you can see the broom over to the wall by the doorknob. Then we will need to punch a doorway through the wall on the left. We will also have to do something with the conveniently placed cast iron plumbing vent running up through our new bathroom. Time to start breaking stuff!
Tearing Out Lath and Plaster
As expected, reality TV has little to do with reality. On our favorite shows, the photogenic hosts break a bunch of stuff in a theatrical manner, and then after the commercial we see a clean and empty house ready for renovating! In reality demolition requires a LOT of hauling stuff out. Seeing how we were doing this ourselves, we didn't have a crew, a garbage chute, and a Dumpster. What we had was a narrow set of stairs and HUNDREDS of POUNDS of plaster. I hauled some of it down two 5 gallon buckets at a time, and then resorted to a garbage can and an appliance dolly.
The easiest way to remove plaster is to tap the wall with a hammer until the plaster shatters and falls off. You can also work a flat bar under the plaster and pry it off in larger pieces. You will want a dust mask as this stuff is really dusty. Make sure to put up plastic or you will cover everything in a sticky, gritty dust. It is easiest to clean all the plaster off and haul it away, then deal with the lath.
After I removed the lath pictured above, I needed to cut the door hole through the other side. I was able to use the existing studs as the two sides of the door and I used a reciprocating saw to cut out the middle stud. Now I needed to cut a hole through the lath and plaster that wouldn't require me to redo the entire wall on the other side. I used a circular saw with an old blade to cut the door opening out. It throws sparks and ridiculous amounts of dust but it provides a clean cut that won't break the plaster loose from the lath.
There is the completed door opening. Behind it you can see the floor opened up and the plumbing began. Next time we will talk about what it took to bring that about.
How close to authentic do I make it? Renovators always struggle with this question. If I tear out all the lath and plaster and put drywall everywhere will it loose its old school charm? We mostly have lath and plaster with a little bit of drywall. All the walls in our fixer-upper were "smooth". Smooth should definitely be in quotes. They had no texture, but they also had cracks, lumps, and bulges. We considered what we could do to improve the overall appearance and still give it an authentic feel. Adding texture would help cover the unsightly mess, but a spray on orange peel wouldn't be appropriate for our custom craftsman. We decided to go with skip trowel.
Our next project is the front entry room, which I suppose was called a parlor back in the day. We're planning to put table and chairs in here and make it a dining room. It has original lath and plaster walls, one newer drywall wall, and a super cool original wainscot around the bottom. The color scheme is pretty dull though, and the walls look patched and poorly finished.
The first order of business is to wash the whole place down. We used the Norwex mop system to scrub greasy soot off the ceiling and walls. What a difference! One time over using nothing but water and the place was squeaky clean.
Next, I troweled the wall with a multi-purpose joint setting compound. (YouTube has several videos that were very helpful.) Here is my assistant doing one of the upstairs rooms.
First you knife a thin coat onto the walls, then you slide your trowel along really flat and let it skip over the surface. The result is intentionally uneven. You can use a consistent pattern or you can be random. Here is how the entry turned out.
We agonized over the color scheme we should use for this room and for the whole house. We decided to go with a color palate that would invoke a nautical/beach-house theme. Here is the room after we were done.
Next, it's time to tear into the big, harry, audacious job. Adding a bathroom on the second floor!
We bought a fixer upper. Yikes! Our home was built in 1913 and has been added onto several times since. The main structure is log. Not that you can tell, the only tip off is the depth of the window trim. I figured it out when I was doing a simple dryer vent job. I ended up having to drill a 4 inch hole through solid wood. Good thing I had hole saws and an extension. This house is pretty plain and dull, but it is bursting with potential. It will be a few years before we get to everything we want to do.
The First Project
We start with the living room and the entry way.
The trim is peach and the walls are cream. Not much in the way of contrast! The trim in this historic house is a simple 2 1/4 inch. The windows have no sill and are just boxed around with the same. The baseboard was laid flush to the sub-floor with the carpet butted against it. That leaves hardly any trim exposed. This is in contrast to the original trim upstairs that is 8 inches tall! We don't have the budget to install a truly accurate reproduction of trim like that, and we only have a few weeks to get the downstairs move in ready. We will build custom window sills and install 4 inch trim with a craftsman style fillet on top. We will go back later and add a crown molding on top.
Here is a look at the finished product.
We will be switching out those tired old single-pane windows in a project for another day.
This was our first project that we knocked out super-fast so we could get moved in. We did a skip trowel texture over the smooth wall and painted the living room green. In the next post we will look at the trowel and paint job that we did in the front entry. Until next time... happy renovating!