This weekend we were working on a multiple projects. An old house restoration is like a
symphony when you start humming along with restoration. Many individual components coming together to form something magnificent, bit it takes some conducting!
One important project was complete documentation of the period stenciling in the front parlor. We took several hi-resolution photos of the stencils for archival purposes. Our next step was to carefully trace the stencil pattern. I like to use drafting paper rather than tracing paper. It is slightly heavier and as long as the design has good contrast you can trace it with no problem. The first step was to find the "best' area of the stenciled border for tracing. You want to avoid areas that have cracks or missing details. I use a blue painters tape to tape the paper into location and trace the outline of the stencil.
You want to do a "repeatable section" in other words you do not want your stencil so large that it would be unwieldy yet at the same time you want to do more than just one image section at time. I generally find a 2-3 repeated image section to be most workable. As you can see with the lower section. This would be good sized stencil easy to work with.
The upper section was slightly lighter and took a little more time to trace. but We wound up with good section. As these stencils will be eventually reproduced for sale and in multiple sizes, we will color in the image and these will be scanned into the computer, using digital software we will 'clean up" the image, yet still keep some of the slight 'inconsistencies of the original to maintain the historic effect. This image will then be sent out and laser cut on stencil material. We plan on offering the smaller image in three different sizes so it can be used as a border , a chair rail or accent. The larger top stencil will be offered in two sizes. The original border size and a larger "frieze size" for homes with taller ceilings that have more distance between the hanging rail and perhaps a crown molding. Stay tuned for the release of the "Knox Hill Cottage" stencil line soon. As is our policy, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to local historic preservation efforts.
In our belief that "nothing should go to waste" when the house behind us was getting ready to come down we salvaged the original wainscot that was in the staircase and upper hall of that home. This is "old growth wood' and you simply cannot find wood like this anymore with the graining. Our house didn't have wainscot in our stair hall but we felt this would have been an appropriate for the house. Aside from the practicality of wainscot in a high traffic area the wood is beautiful and when we finally get the paint off of it, get it stained and refinished it will add to the overall grandeur of our rather modest stair hall.
Installing this called for some minor demolition of plaster as you want the wainscot at the same height as the plaster above. If you applied it over the plaster it would sit too "proud" of the wall and the staircase itself. So we first had to demo the lower sections of plaster. This was done carefully so as to keep dust to minimum.
The wood itself goes up quickly, and eventually there will be a small trim at the bottom where it meets the stairs and a larger piece at the top to make the transition to the plaster. When its all done you will never know it was not always there. Of course we will cover the stripping and refinishing when we get to that phase of the project. Long time readers may recall our staircase is missing its railing as when they added the basement stairs that took out the railing and added a solid bead board wall in its place. The only place we had some remnants of spindles and railing is upstairs. These were "cobbled together ( or maybe they came from another house)? But in any even we began removal of them. We will be building an entirely new railing baluster arrangement for this stair. We carefully removed them so as not to damage them. We will hold on to them for use in future projects.
If all that wasn't enough we began wall insulation install in the kitchen.Projects, projects everywhere AND we raked a ton of leaves as Fall is upon us in fill force. A special note One Year Ago this last weekend we placed the offer on this house! Although it seems like little has happened at times when I look back and compare photos , considering we have only worked weekend and then only a few hours a day. The transformation has been remarkable. Later this week I will do a "then and now" post to compare what we started with to where we are now.