Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Built-In Beginnings

As I hinted at on Friday, I'm pretty psyched about my newest project: "built-ins" for the living room! I had a vision to do this way back last May when we first toured our house and after tons of other projects have come and gone, it's time to make that vision a reality. Now when I say "built-ins" I mean that they will not technically be built into the wall but rather freestanding while the crown molding makes everything feel built-in. Here's what I'm talking about:

So after a mad hunt for two bookshelves to serve as my base I finally found the ones:

 Oh and our window isn't off-centered, our curtains are. Go figure.

These Bennington honey pine bookshelves with their orangey-finish and country charm didn't exactly draw me in, but their solid construction and simple lines were the kicker. These bookshelves had been in the owner's family for years and years and they were still holding strong and none of the shelves were bending in the slightest (a problem that most faux-wood shelves have since they can't hold the weight for very long). Of course in my eagerness to get started you only get shots of them shelf-less. The top shelf is not removable and there is one shelf behind each door.

The plan is to remove the paneled backing and paint the wall (white? navy? keep it the same Wheat Bread?) as well as paint out the whole thing in nice crisp clean white. Between the bookcases there will be a bench seat with a hinged top for storage. Then the whole united will be finished off with crown molding when we add crown to the rest of the living/dining room as well as base trim to really drive home the whole "built-in" idea.

Funny story about picking these guys up at the owner's house. The couple were older and their house was beautiful (always a good sign when picking up a Craigslist-ed item) and these two were located in their newly refinished basement. When the husband tried with my brother to get them up their two-leveled stairs  they simply would not clear the ceiling which caused the homeowner much grief. I believe he wanted them out just as much as I did! After about twenty minutes he called his son-in-law to take over for him and along with my brother they shimmied and pivoted as best they could and still no dice. The conclusion was that after they had the stairs carpeted (with some nice plush carpeting) the extra quarter inch was just too much for the shelves to clear the landing. After removing both the handrails, the homeowner had the idea to remove a ledge that was along the bottom wall and handed his SIL a crowbar and hammer. Once that was gone, there was a little more pivoting and finally it broke free! I was so relieved we were able to get them out that day and so happy the homeowner was willing to remove ledges and handrails and do whatever possible to help us out. 

Now the first order of business was to remove the dental and decorative moldings, the latter of which kind of reminded me of the wardrobe from Beauty and the Beast...

You see it, right?

Ahh, much better. Then I removed the doors and all hardware.

I got busy sanding with my orbital palm sander and the trick here (that I read numerous times when researching 'painting wood furniture') is to just remove the shiny-ness. You do not need to get down to the bare wood, unless of course you were staining.

 You can see the difference here.

The doors got their own fair share of hand sanding...

...and the areas where the original hardware were had to be extra sanded.

I'm not gonna obsess over the fronts of the doors and go crazy sanding every nook and corner. Rather I am going to rely on a good cleaning, quality primer, and lots of curing time between coats for a nice long lasting finish. Now if only this sporadic rain would stop I could get in more sanding time. I foresee this whole project taking a little while so be patient with me as I try to complete this as best I can and take all the proper precautions for drying time to achieve the most long lasting and durable finish.
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