We have finally been able to get around to DIY (of course!) re-making one upstairs room in our 18thc. cape into a most snug and welcoming "guest bedchamber"---(aka computer room, sewing room, etc.) This room was the pits when I was alone and bought the 1700's house 16 years ago, but so was the entire house. There was a seemingly endless list of priority 'to do's' before I could ever consider working on it.
Because early capes are a story and a half, the 2 upstairs rooms have short knee-walls and charming sloped ceilings. The larger, which I always knew would be the 'guest chamber' went up in a peak, following the roofline. The original hewn beams added a lot of character and warmth. Unfortunately, someone in the 50's or 60's had covered the entire room with that nasty 1 inch thick, 8 inch wide board knotty pine paneling that seems to have been the rage back then, and a 'country look' to some well-meaning but warped minds. The boards glowed with the golden light of the hideous shiny varnish slathered all over them, calling attention to each and every knot. There was also awful, dirty, once-cream wall to wall carpeting on the floor. That was ripped up early on when all 3 of my fireplaces had to be rebuilt from underground to new chimney.
I had hoped to just have the original old floorboards, and although they were there, as is so often the case in early houses in New England they were pretty wonky and uneven, and worse, there were big patches here and there of funky pieces of 'modern' wood. Yankees used pieces of whatever was around---ugly old painted doors, etc.
---A new pine floor would have to be laid, and left unfinished to age .
I painted the knotty pine paneling off-white, and had to content myself for that for many years. (So virulent was the varnish, that even with 4 or so coats of KILZ primer and multiple coats of a good paint, the knots still 'bled' through.)
In the sloped ceiling, on the back of the house in this room was a fairly recently installed skylight, adding lovely light to a room that had only one window, at the gable end. It was nice enough and did not leak, so I kept that.
Fast forward many years. Something HAD to be done with that "upstairs room". Adam and I painstakingly tore down every board of that knotty pine paneling a couple years ago, then hauling every one to the dump. This was a grueling job. The boards were over-nailed, as if someone expected a typhoon to blow through. Mouse poop would fall on our heads from the nether regions between insulation and the boards. It was a miserable job.
I won't go into every remodeling detail here. We envisioned a period room, done in the 17thc. style we both love, and our efforts of the past couple of months have exceeded our expectations!
As usual, we had our stash of free salvaged/garbage picked materials.
It has been a lot of hard work. We've removed and rebuilt a window casing, installing a dream leaded glass casement window in that gable wall. I have hand plastered the entire room, and all boards and beautiful beams are exposed.
I have just now finished 'aging' the walls, and they look mellow and authentic. We love them so much, I am now doing it in our own bedroom.
We came up with an ingenious way to hang rods for bed curtains on a sloped ceiling, and I made the hangings from bittersweet-orange wool.
A lucky 'find' was the headboard for a 17thc. bed. Someone gave us 2 thick 18thc. boards, and even though we had never done anything like it before, we made the bed rails and bottom posts from it ourselves, even managing to match the finish on the ancient headboard!
We were able to get new, 12 inch wide pine boards for a bargain, and we laid the floor ourselves, face-nailing each board with reproduction rosehead nails, and then beating it with antique iron chains to distress it. (It will 'wear' and age over time and look like those we put in our kitchen a couple years ago.)
There were many other things we did to create the upstairs dream room.
We'll be revealing the completely finished room on the TOUR page of our website at the end of October, but in the meantime, you can see some of our progress HERE.
We wove a wattle shutter for the skylight ourselves, even cutting down every sapling to do it! The shutter is hinged at the top of the skylight with period iron hinges and swings up and out as a cage bar would, hooking onto the ceiling just opposite when not in use!
A sneak peek an some of the actual 17thc. furnishings we moved from other spots in the house to their new home in the 'guest bedchamber'
The 2 of us even made this bottomless custom box from a wide 18th century board we had to hide the laptop computer.
Adam hand carved our initials on it in 17thc. script.
SEE MORE OF OUR PROJECT HERE~
We have several of these early huge 'summer beams' we were able to salvage for free from an old house that burned down just down from our home. We love the one we added to our 'main room' so much, we've just put up another spanning the existing beams in our own bedroom.
It's nice to re-purpose a little piece of local history.
TAKE A TOUR OF OUR PERIOD HOME HERE~