Renovation Reminiscences – Guest Room

Back in the summer of 2001, I decided to leave my corporate job, move back to Virginia, and get a graduate degree in education. Oh, and buy a little fixer-upper to work on during my downtime.  I think it was just a game to me back then, or an ambitious art project.  Either way, I can tell you with great certainty that I did not think I would be plugging away on renovations 11 years later. Or that this pet project would become so dear to me.   Yes, there have been a few set backs along the way, and many periods of stagnation. But I have made huge improvements and am proud of what I achieved. 

This little blog of mine is the perfect place for me to document my progress over the years, and maybe piece together some of my stories and pictures.   And since I just tidied up the guest room, I might as well start there!

When I bought this house, the front bedroom/guest room was the only room that appeared to have been maintained or repaired over the years.  My biggest renovation challenges were refinishing the darkened floor, adding a closet, and repairing a leaky spot in the ceiling (which, sadly, still leaks today). However, the room had decent plaster and no real structural damage that I could see. Best of all, it had a groovy free-standing, turquoise closet.

The floors in the front of the house are composed of 1-1/2 inch oak boards and were in very good shape at the time, so I decided to refinish them myself.  I was driving a Honda Civic hatchback back then and there was no way I could rent and transport an industrial sized floor sander.  So, I used a hand-held orbital sander and just went to town.  It took a couple of days of non-stop sanding –  and dozens of sanding pads- but the results were pretty stellar, if I do say so myself!

Next up was tackling the closet situation.  There was only one closet in the entire house, and that was actually the pantry in the make shift kitchen which is now my bedroom.  Don’t worry, it will all make sense over time.

What it did have was a number of non-functioning chimneys.  It appears that the house was originally heated by small wood stoves throughout, with vent pipes cut into the front of the chimneys through large circular holes .  The stoves are now gone, but the chimneys and holes remain.  And as they each cut into the available wall space in 3 of my 4 main rooms, I’ve just had to work around them.

There was no question that the bedroom needed a closet, so I wedged it between the chimney and the front wall.  It had to be deep enough to accommodate hanging clothes which brought it further into the room than the depth of the chimney.  Not one to waste space, I added another small closet in the space in front of the chimney.  The framing was easy enough yet unexpectedly time-consuming.  I wasn’t sure about my framing job, but once the drywall was up I could see my design come together.

Lastly, I had some aesthetic matters to address.  Paint, chair rail, door moulding, and trim around the perimeter of the ceiling (in lieu of crown moulding).  I have to build a few more shelves for the small closet as well as the door. And there is still some baseboard missing along the new wall.  But that’s a project for a later date.

Oh, and drapes sewn by my master seamstress – Mom. Thanks again for all that hand hemming!

Until then, here are the (almost) final results!

And check out the shine on that floor!  Too bad I don’t have anyone to clean it for me.

Again, this was the “easy” room.  Much more to come!

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