1 House 100 Years

Preparing For The Centennial Of A Place That Matters

Category: Bathroom Renovation

Built-In Linen Closet…A Huge Transformation To A Small Space

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My linen closet project is nearing completion after some stalls and stops. If you have been following for a while, you know that this small space had originally been the clothes closet for the back bedroom. It had been converted to a small hallway between the living room and bathroom.

By closing off the doorway that had been cut into a living room wall, I had a better space to work with and made a built-in linen cabinet that was hopefully appropriate for the period and for my recent renovation work. A post will follow soon with helpful suggestions.

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Here is a post showing how this space looked before any work was done to it Listening To An Old House.

These photographs were taken February 2014. This is an awkward space to photograph in such a way that you would be able to see everything clearly.

How To Paint An Old Wooden Floor (Well Maybe…)

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This weekend I painted the floor of my bathroom and renovated linen closet. It was a two day job (that required a real “giant step” to reach the porcelain tiled section with the plumbing fixtures while everything dried) but was worth it. Most importantly, painting helped unify these two spaces.

The paint is “Protective and Marine Coatings Industrial Enamel” from Sherwin-Williams. This is good paint. Actually it is amazing paint. I had originally used it on the untiled portion of bathroom floor (before I really knew what to do with the closet that was turned into an awkward hallway).

That was seven years ago, and the paint has held up to all sorts of wear, soggy towels, and wet feet. The parts that didn’t hold up particularly well were the gaps between the boards that I had filled with a wood filler product. Seasonal changes are just naturally inevitable.

First I painted a “base coat” of a warm neutral gray, SW #7046 “Anonymous.” It’s sort of like the color of dirt. (It could be great in the sunroom where I’m always tracking in stuff from the garden.) This layer was applied generously after masking the baseboards with duct tape.

After thoroughly drying, I used a “top coat” of a warm neutral taupe, SW #7508 “Tavern Taupe.” This was applied in varying thicknesses. Everything was covered, but in occasional random spots, some of the gray underneath was able to show through slightly, almost like a glazed effect, but very understated.

I’m pleased with the results. Before, the floor color had been very close to the wall color, and therefore too monochromatic for me. The paint had been applied thickly and evenly with no variations, and so even though the actual amount of space covered was small, it was boringly consistent.

In my bathroom and kitchen demolition work, I found that those floors had originally been painted a chocolate brown color, and so painting again for part of the bathroom floor seems very appropriate. This particular paint treatment compliments without trying to disguise the worn down spots and gaps between boards.

Quick Tip: When painting a floor with this type of alkyd paint, I have found that inexpensive bargain brand duct tape works well when masking the baseboards. Try in a sample section out of the way first to make sure this will work in your application.

Another Quick Tip: Use accent objects when selecting a paint color. These could be objects that inspire you in some way whether you intend to use them in the space or not. I’ve used an old “Air Pak” suitcase and a storage box that my mother gave me when cleaning out her house. Equally useful would be my favorite sports coat and tie or my favorite flannel shirt.

The background and “After” photographs were taken February 2014. The “Before” insert photograph is from a previous post Renovating Small Spaces.

Built-In Linen Closet Cabinet…Woodworking Storyboard

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For me, it was important to do a dry run of the linen closet’s built-in cabinet before securing everything permanently. I knew basically how I wanted the cabinet to look with a bead-board back to match other bead-board that I had used in the bathroom and elsewhere.

I also knew that I wanted to use a face frame with the same tapered leg style used for the kitchen cabinets. My hope is that visual similarities will make for a unified design throughout the house, even though my work is being done almost a century after the house was constructed.

Knowing these things and drawing them are wonderful, but it has been my experience that masses and spaces sometimes work differently in real life than as they are designed on paper. Everything can look great in a scale drawing, but feel awkwardly uncomfortable when actually built and used.

Are the proportions pleasing? What about the number of shelves? How many towels will actually fit on a shelf? What is at eye-level? Is everything easily accessible? How does it look from different angles and viewpoints? These are just some of the questions that a dry run can answer.

This photograph also shows one of the most essential home renovation tools that you can make yourself. This one simple tool will save you more time than you can imagine. Not only that, if used properly, it can make most old house idiosyncrasies disappear. That tool is a storyboard.

When you change rulers or repeat measurements, you risk having your measurements slightly off. This is then compounded each time a new measurement is added to a previous one. A storyboard prevents repeating the same measurements again and again. You just position the storyboard and transfer the pre-measured marks.

This storyboard helped me to compensate for a floor that had settled over time. By marking level horizontal lines on the wall for the top back and top sides of the built-in cabinet and then measuring down with the storyboard (rather than up from the floor), the shelves remained level.

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These photographs were taken November 2013. There is still plenty of work still to be done. The second photograph shows a close up of one of the shelves. The blue painter’s tape marks the position of the shelf supports. You’ll see that there is a gap between the bottom edge of the shelf and the top edge of the blue tape. This is caused by settling of the house which gives a slight slope to the floor. The shelf is level even though the floor is not quite level.