Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Makeover: Transforming our Guest Bedroom into a Vacation Hideaway

Welcome to the first post in a (likely to be long) series of room makeover posts. Since the people who owned our house before us were elderly, and had lived in the house for 36 years, I'm sure you can imagine that it needs a little updating. First up, the guest bedroom.

Here is the before picture, taken by the folks at Homes in Motion (used here with kind permission from them) who were hired by the previous owners for the purpose of selling the house. Did you notice the rug? We didn't, until the previous owners removed their furniture and we saw what terrible shape the floor was in underneath it.

As post-home-purchase surprises go, this was not a bad one. The floor was structurally sound and all, it's just that the stick-down vinyl tiles were probably stuck down thirty-odd years ago, and they were all peeling up around the edges. This was a mixed blessing, since although the floor needed to be re-done, the old tiles came off really easily.

Because of this floor our new guest room was in worse shape than any other room, so we decided that (besides painting) replacing the floor had to be our first big project in the new house. And, since I started ripping the tiles off the floor as soon as we had made that decision, there was no looking back.

With the help of a putty knife and some determination, I ripped out the old floor, and my good friends chisel and mini-crow bar (featured here) came in very handy for removing the baseboards (learn how to do that here). I really like doing demolition, and ripping the tiles off the floor was actually incredibly therapeutic. Check out what the room looked like at that point:
As you can see, we had already started spackling the cracks around the window (check out my spackling tips) and painting the trim in the room at this point.

Next up was closet demolition. The closet had built-in shelves that were clearly installed eons ago, and never removed (not even when the room was painted). Each shelf had four legs, and each leg was attached to the shelf with one nail, so the shelves were not very stable. We decided that our best bet was to dismantle the shelves, and hold off on deciding whether to paint and reinstall them, or use the wood for some other project.

There is something great, I think, about getting a peek at the history of a room when you're renovating. In particular, I love to see what colours a room has been painted (or what wall paper has been put up) in the past. Interestingly, it seems like much of our house was, at one time, painted sea foam green (I hope not all at once!). Here's what we saw when we took the built-in shelves out of the closet.

As you can see from the next photo, the painting was well underway at this point. In fact, we had completed one coat on all of the walls. We were originally thinking that we would do all of the painting before we installed the new floor, but before we started on the floor we asked for advice from my Aunt Lori, who has lots of experience installing floors (once word got out that she knew how, it seemed that every friend and neighbour had a new floor just waiting to be installed). She suggested that since it's easy to clean paint off of a laminate floor, and not so easy to touch up the paint if we scuffed the walls in the process of laying down the floor, we should save the second coat of paint until after the floor was finished. (You can read about laying the floor here, here and here - it was a big job!) Here is a photo of the new floor in the process of being laid down.

Once the floor was laid, it was time to put the baseboards back on. But we just couldn't do it. The rest of the room was so beautiful and clean and new looking, and the baseboards were encrusted with yellowing varnish, and dripped with paint from years gone by. So we embarked on the very time-consuming task of sanding down the baseboards. (Well, we did cheat a little and paint the baseboards in the closet, since it hardly seemed worth the effort to sand those ones.)

Once we got started, there was no going back, so we were very glad to discover that under all that yucky varnish the baseboards were made of beautiful oak! We decided to invest $30 in a power sander, which made the job go a lot more quickly, and before long we had sanded, oiled (use mineral oil from the pharmacy) and replaced our beautiful new baseboards.

Then we installed a new pole (rod?) in the closet to hang clothes from (post about how to do that to follow), and a shelf above it. We used two cup hooks and an old curtain rod we had hanging around to hang the curtains. Incidentally, I made these curtains for James' bedroom in his apartment in Austin way back when we were first dating, and thanks to my grandmother Gloria's wise counsel, I never get rid of curtains. 

As for the furniture, we put in a double bed, instead of the single bed that you see in the "Before" photo, but I still think that the room looks bigger now. We're still on the lookout for an inexpensive (or free?) bed frame for it. 

We found the bookshelf on the side of the road (and it's in great shape!). I re-painted the little white bedside table, which sat beside my bed at my parents' house for as long as I can remember (and may have been in my aunt or my mum's childhood room before that). The mirror in the guest room also came from my childhood room, and my mother painted the painting that's hanging above the head of the bed.

And there you have it, our brand new guest room, which we now out to tourists and business travellers through AirBnB. It's very quiet because it overlooks the back yard, and comes with a lovely view of the garden.

If you went on vacation to another city, would you like to stay in a room like this? Would you mind having a dog like Asta around? What do you do to feel more at home when you're travelling?

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