(the misadventures of an expatriate corporate dropout)

Friday, February 19, 2010

riana inspired stairway ...

well, I've been doing some micro-projects in my house that I can manage on my own. Micro mostly because they can be accomplished in stages and are within my own capabilities. When I reach a point that I am out of my league, I pause and move on to something else.

I've been working on my stairwell. It is a typically french affair with wood steps, cheesy (before) wainscoting and who-knows-when plastered walls. The ceiling is also curvy because there is an identical stairway leading to the 3rd floor attic.

Last summer, JY started on plastering the walls above the wainscoting. Then I continued with the sanding. The problem is, there is one-third of the wall that he didn't do because he was also working on updating the electricity through that wall and so there remains a section of torn out wallboard ... behind which were old bricks which remained exposed.

This is an example of "out of my league". but I was sick and tired of looking at this unfinished area. I hadn't started on the stairs because I was waiting on the wall replacement. followed by plastering. and then a solution for the cheesy wainscoting.

I decided to move forward with the wainscoting and the stairs and the hell with the plastering for now. I covered the one wall that had the hole/exposed brick, using some old velour curtains that are ochre in color. not my favorite...but better than the hole and also helps insulate a bit (the hole leads into an unused, unheated room).

I then decided replacing the wainscoting is not in any existing budget, so I used cheap white paint, then sanded to distress and finished with a varnish coat. I then sanded (using a hand-held electric sander) all of the stair surfaces, filling holes with some weird wood filler (never found the same putty-like stuff we have in the states). It is like wet sand. It sucks.

I was going to then varnish everything (I left the risers stained, no sanding). but I was perusing Riana's flickr page and was inspired by her red cement stairs. I decided to paint the risers in my stairwell a Bordeaux red. Today I applied the varnish coat and wax to the stairwell. I'm really pleased with the progress so far. Right now, it still ALL looks unfinished and shabby, but with freshly painted walls and ceiling ... I think it will come together nicely. maybe not as pretty as Riana's, given her gorgeous antique curtained entry...but still.

I intend to paint the walls above the wainscoting an olive green ... and, based on my inspired daughter's recommendation...go with a soft grey on the ceiling ... which picks up the same soft grey on the walls of my bedroom.

The painting will happen after the plastering is done.

Jean-Yves has an upcoming small job with a client that involves wallboard and plastering. I'm going to propose I 'apprentice' myself to him for a few days and then try to tackle the remaining work in my stairwell.

the adventure continues! (I'll keep you posted on this particular micro-project's progress...)


Randal Graves said...

Remember, old+unfinished = classic antique. Sounded good, anyway.

Anonymous said...

a fun project with serious quality-of-life upside!

The Pliers said...

The work sounds and looks fantastic. And I think that the apprenticeship idea is fabulous! I once knew a woman who was a drywaller and I always admired her skill.

Rosie said...

Brilliant work. The apprentice thing is a great idea. Him Outdoors worked alongside our builders for the whole of our barn conversion and he learnt so much. Nothing beats learning by doing it.

Paulita said...

Wow. I'm impressed with your ideas and abilities. I'm too timid (lazy?) to attempt projects like that.

Riana Lagarde said...

i love wood stairs, you did a great job. someday we should become a two woman painting crew and charge a bizzilion euros to shabby chic rich peoples stairs :)