Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pushing the Limit

Frugal Remodeler Episode 3

Ever since we moved into this house, I have been doing battle with the entry foyer. And since this space is the absolute first impression you get when you walk into our house, it wasn't exactly wowing visitors.

The foyer wasn't in the best condition to begin with. Asbestos flooring tile had been painstakingly glued with asbestic mastic to the original hardwood floors at some point in the past. After the asbestos removal people paid me a visit, I ended up with nothing but the old diagonal plank sub-floor. And, you could see through the cracks to the basement below! To top it off, the newel post at the bottom stair was so wobbly that it took the railing with it as it moved from side to side.

First thing, I had to tackle that newel post and the railing that was not properly connected. With a growing daughter who was climbing stairs, we needed a sturdy railing. I really had to do my research on this one. For things like this, I tend to visit the websites of trusted home improvement shows like This Old House. I've never done anything like this before, but I found you just have to have the right instructions, the right tools, and a little muscle. I had at least one mis-fire when trying to stablize the newel post. But at the end, I stood up, placed one hand on either side of the newel post and shook.... Nothing. I shook it again, harder this time..... still nothing. Dude, I totally fixed the newel post! From there, I reattached the railing and balusters and built new caps for each newel.

The next problem to solve was how to get gorgeous flooring on a budget. I have found that you can get amazing deals on quality flooring if you visit your local flooring stores and ask to have a look at their discontinued inventory. I purchased pre-finished solid-wood, tongue and groove, maple flooring for a third of the original price - simply because they were trying to get rid of it because it was a discontinued line. On-line resources like Craig's List are another great resource for cheap but good flooring.

The last big step to complete the job was painting. Now, I've painted many a room, but this painting-the-stairs business was beyond the usual scope of my painting work. I had to use several brush sizes and a lot of painter's tape to do this job. It took several days to complete. A good tip for painting stairs: When you paint the stair treads, do one half at a time so you can continue to use the stairs throughout the project. You'll have to go back and forth from the left side to the right side with each coat of primer or paint you apply to ensure a nice even coat. I guess the alternative is to send your family or roommates away for a few days, but good luck with that. Here's a photo of the completed stairs and new wood floors.

I've finished off the room with the chandelier I wrote about in a previous blog post and a used coffee table for a bench and shoe storage. I also hung a piece I produced for Design MMOCA in 2008 - a coat rack made out of a piece of salvaged window casing.

The Foyer's Future
The foyer also has a little nook that I am constructing a mini-office in by jazzing up some salvaged cabinets from the Habitat Restore (pictured below). Watch for photos of the finished project in a future blog!