Saturday, August 23, 2014

Before II: Second floor

Ok, now for the second floor, home of two reasonable bedrooms and the house's only starting bathroom.

  1. Bedrooms:

    Now we are into the realm of fake paneling, drop ceilings, and carpets whose semi-shag profiles might take you back to bad memories of 1978. First up is a sizeable bedroom that has the odd feature of being very long (nearly 20 feet!) and thin. On the left side as you enter, there is room for a queen bed and a nightstand without much to spare (two nightstands if you go double bed instead), but then to the right there's the same amount of room again, with the closet and space for a desk and probably a beanbag or two by the windows. (The loose piece of paneling covered a chimney-soffit between the halves which I impatiently tore open; it has lots of space for running ducts and other goodies between the floors.)

    Here, removing the drop ceiling will gain us a foot or more, but the two halves are at different heights, so we will have to decide whether to make it all the same, or to frame around the break and get extra headroom by the windows. It's a great room, however we handle it, and makes the whole house feel bigger than it is. Opening it all up and painting it a light color will really put it over the top.

    Also on this floor is a more standard bedroom that suffers mostly from dark curtains, carpet, and trim (the "rustic" stuff stained nearly black). We'll also open up a chunk of space on one side of the chimney that was needlessly framed in, and also a couple feet of extra vertical space above the closet, which will probably become cupboards in one of the two bedrooms. And, you know, paneling and stucco and dropped ceiling surgery...

    Here's the other side of that same room, showing the closet (which continues beyond the wall on the left end a couple of feet!) and its mirrored doors. This room can be easily saved from itself, although it will never be a particular show-stopper.

    Right outside this second bedroom are the stairs to the third floor, which continue the dark trim. These stairs are a little steeper than the main stairs, but not anything like the stairs found in Philadelphia trinities, which need a vertical grip bar and a strong sense of confidence to climb. The main problem with these is that the carpet and padding tilt you back as you step on each step -- can't wait to rip it off so one doesn't feel in constant danger of tumbling over backward. Once the steps are wood again, I think they'll be fine to climb to the master suite. And look a little more welcoming.

  2. The bathroom: This is the sole bathroom that served a family of eight!

    A vanity fits just inside the door to the right, which is walled in by the back of the shower (slightly under standard size, with a 54-inch tub base), and the toilet is fit into a little niche on the left. There's so little space to spare that even the baseboard radiator seems to be encroaching visually here. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do without screwing up the sewage lines and/or stealing most of the closet from the long bedroom. So I just plan to update the feel of the place, trying out some Ikea fixtures (going for a bit of this spa look), and make it visually larger by carving back the edge of the shower wall to let you see beyond. In the end, this will be the secondary bathroom of the house, so I think it's ok that it will continue to be tight for whatever kids or guests end up using it on a regular basis, but I want to do the most I can to make it feel a little fancy here and there.

    Here's the current vanity, which is perfectly serviceable but uninspired. Just visible in the lower left of the shot is the current access panel for the shower plumbing, which makes it such that the vanity can't fill even the space available to it. Since we won't tile this side of the wall, we won't need an access panel (just cut the drywall if you need in, and patch afterwards), so I can put a 30- or 36-inch vanity into this 42-inch space, rather than a puny 24-incher. Other bonus plans -- get the light switch out of the interior of the medicine cabinet!!! (The only thing crazier than that placement is the switch for the patio light that's located inside a kitchen cabinet nearby. Whee!)

    Actually, the bathroom is one of the places needing actual repairs -- a crack in the rear stucco wall clearly led to water leakage into the space behind the fiberglass shower enclosure, with the result that eventually plaster crumbled and pushed the enclosure away from the wall. The damage was also visible at the top of the shower, but I guess it didn't bother the residents enough to do anything about it -- they were living here until a few months ago! We'll be repairing the wall from both outside and inside before we put a new shower and tub here. These are the kinds of low-glamor repairs that make you feel proud to settle a new family into the house, knowing that they won't run into trouble in years ahead.

That's it for the second floor. Later this week I'll have a stab at the third floor, where the most structural work will happen, and at the basement, whose fate is still somewhat in the hands of city permit/inspector folks. Then it's on to demo and chaos!!

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