The Smurf room may be tiny in comparison to our other bedrooms, but we have big, big plans for it. And, like a lot of our plans lately, it involves demolition.
We woke up early on Saturday morning and removed all of the trim from the room. We labeled it “Smurf” so we could find and reuse it later.
The room is roughly 8.5 feet wide by 15.5 feet long, and the ceilings are just over 7.5 feet
short tall. There are 3 windows in the room, and they’re all super old, single-pane suckers that need to be replaced.
Here’s how the room looks from all 4 corners, starting with me standing in the doorway and working clockwise:
From in front of the closet:
From the radiator corner:
And the last corner across from the doorway:
The flooring is newer (and in better shape) than the rest of the house, and the room gets a ton of sunlight. Plus we can see some big hills / small mountains off the distance.
It’s not a bad room. Just kinda tiny.
The short ceilings certainly don’t help.
Neither does the color scheme. It just makes the room look really squat. Still, we decided it would be great for an office. And with a pullout couch, it could easily double as a guest bedroom.
Bradley had another Saturday-morning project going on in the guest bedroom (more on that soon!), so he handed me the crowbar and sledgehammer and told me to go to town. I had some aggression to work out.
You see, earlier that morning, Bradley ran into our very sweet, very old and very
pig-headed old-fashioned neighbor, who chastised him for “making” me move heavy furniture across our yard. Bradley told him that I wanted to move furniture because I haven’t been getting enough gym time lately and have been complaining about not getting a decent workout. Our neighbor replied, “They weren’t built for physical labor.” And by “they,” he didn’t mean sassy bloggers.
I made 2 demands when I found out: 1) that we go sign up for a gym membership immediately so I can get my guns ready for some sleeveless flaunting all up in our neighbor’s face, and 2) that I get to smash something. I also told him I was going to blog about our neighbor because he’s 100 years old and probably doesn’t read blogs. So, neighbor, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry for stereotyping you.
Anyway, on to the smashing and bashing. When I removed the trim, I found a couple of surprises in the wall:
A valentine (awwww!) and a hunk of bee hive (ewwww!). Luckily there seemed to be no sign of bees, so I kept smashing walls until I was too tired to lift the sledgehammer:
That’s when Bradley dropped by and took over. We had to move a radiator to get to the wall behind it. Here he is demonstrating how not to pick up something that weighs a bajillion pounds:
I asked him to pose for a radiator-lifting picture and that’s what I got. Come on, Bradley, rules are in place for a reason. Lift with your legs, not with your back. Don’t lock your knees. Look both ways before crossing the street. I before E, except after C. No white after Labor Day. Rules rule!
We haven’t decided what to do about the closet door at this point. In fact, we’re not even really sure whether we want the closet to be a closet. Our bathroom is right next to the closet — you can see the plumbing for our bathtub through the hideous hole the wall. We’re not renovating the bathroom for a while, but we could use the closet space to expand into it. We could kill 2 birds with 1 stone: remove an awkwardly shaped closet and add a considerable amount of space to the tiny bathroom.
If we do decide to keep it as storage for the office, we can always install some shelves. We also talked about designing and making our own sliding door for it. We already plan to make a sliding door for the main entrance to the room, so we could make a second one to match and hang that for the closet door. There will be a long desk that goes between the closet doorway and the main doorway. The desk will be designed to accommodate the sliding door (or doors) behind it.
Told you. Big, big plans for this little room. For now, we know we have to insulate the two outward-facing walls in the closet regardless, so we have time to plan out our next move.
When we ripped out the plaster and lathe around the window frames, we found weights hanging on the inside:
There was one weight on each side of each window, so 6 weights altogether.
Plus several other weights at the bottom. The ropes must have ripped off or the windows must have been replaced.
They’re rusted and covered in dust right now, but we think they’re really neat looking. We’re saving them to reuse somewhere — maybe in a sculpture.
A very heavy sculpture. Each weight is 6 pounds. We have 11 weights so far and we’ll find at least 10 more weights in the house from the other old windows.
We made a rule recently that limits the amount of hours we work on the house on weekends. We start right after breakfast — around 9:30 — and work until 6PM. At 6:00 on the dot, it’s
pencils jackhammers down. Our self-imposed cutoff is so that we take time to relax a little on weekends. Both of us have full-time jobs and work at least 10 or 11 hours a day. When it comes to working on the house, we have a tendency to go go go until bedtime.
Between our long work hours, our 2 days a week spent in Brooklyn, and all of our renovating, we could easily burn ourselves out. We’ve got a long way to go, baby! We don’t have time to burn out! So we set up a strict deadline, and after 6PM, it’s all hot showers, BBQ grills, beers and Netflix. This way we can keep up the energy and excitement we need to keep on renovating.
At the 5:30 on Saturday, we had demolished the entire Smurf room, but we hadn’t gotten into the closet yet. And we had 14 contractor garbage bags full of plaster and lathe from the 2 walls we ripped down. Each 32-gallon bag weighed over 100 pounds:
Everywhere we turned there was a giant bag full of old walls staring us in the face:
I was so beat from an entire day of swinging a sledgehammer that I wanted to leave the bags overnight. I’m not sure how Bradley mustered up the energy, but while I took care of sweeping up the room, he carried every single one of those bags down stairs and out to the garage.
Mah hero! Mah poor, passed-out hero!
The next morning, we woke up and went back in for more demolition. The plaster and lathe were all gone, leaving behind only some studs and boards that separated us from the exterior brick.
It’s hard to imagine how people lived in this house without any insulation. I can understand it 130 years ago, but people were living here last year. They must have frozen their butts off every winter!
I spent my Sunday morning doing a pretty brainless task (the best kind of task to take on until the coffee kicks in!). I demolished the walls in the closet, creating 4 more bags of debris that had to be hauled downstairs. Meanwhile Bradley demolished another wall in the Smurf room:
That’s right: we exposed some more brick! We can’t help ourselves. It’s a culmination of all those years of living in apartments that had brick walls, but landlords who refused to set them free. Or maybe we just really, really love carrying 100-pound bags of plaster down stairs.
This is the flip side of the same brick wall we exposed in the hallway. It turns out there are actually 2 layers of brick. The brick on this side is in way better shape. We won’t have to do any re-pointing at all on this side! This is excellent news because we plan on exposing this same wall in the kitchen. This means less work for us! Squee!!
We were also pretty happy to see that the plaster is much, much thinner on the Smurf room side so it didn’t take a ton of work to get the brick exposed. Bradley used only a jackhammer for the entire wall — no hammer & chisel!
While Bradley jackhammered, I grabbed a regular hammer and moved on to brainless task #2. Every single stud in the room had about 30 nails in it:
That’s how the lathe strips (the wood strips from earlier photos) were attached to the studs. Lathe gets nailed to stud. Plaster gets smeared on lathe. Viola! Walls!
Bradley’s job was way more exciting than mine.
I kept offering to take over, but he really wanted to do this wall on his own. I think he secretly really wanted to expose the hallway brick, but he was too busy working on other projects and missed out on all that fun.
So I let him have his glory.
We finished at 6PM, and didn’t have any time left to clean up the rubble. Not that it mattered anyway. We were so beat from 2 days of demolition (sore shoulders, sore back, sore hands, sore arms, sore everything), that we couldn’t have cleaned up even if we wanted to. All we wanted to do is shower and go out for dinner before hitting the hay, so we didn’t even wait for the dust to settle before taking our in-progress pictures:
Isn’t it lovely?
Hazy, yes. But still very lovely.
We haven’t decided yet whether we will leave the brick raw or white-wash. I love the look of white washed brick. It looks so earthy, and much softer than red brick:
The color palette for this room will be white, yellow and greys, so I think a white-washed wall will work better. Bradley’s not totally sold on it. We’ll probably rock-paper-scissors over it, but in the end, I’ll be spending much more time in this room than he will. So Leena crushes rock, paper, AND scissors. Just sayin’.
The rest of the walls are totally naked and ready for new windows, insulation and sheetrock.
No more wallpaper in the closet!
After taking these pictures, we used a sheet of plastic to completely seal up the doorway. There’s no door anymore, so this will help keep the dust confined until it settles. Next time, we’ll just vacuum it up and move along.
Still left to do in this room:
- Seal up cracks with spray foam insulation
- Insulate all of the naked walls
- Sheetrock (plus tape & mud)
- Replace windows
- Sand floors
- Paint floors
- Replace trim
- Make and install a sliding door (or two?)
- Cry sweet tears of relief
It looks like a long list, but we’re getting there. Demolition always seems to take way longer than putting things back together, so we’re optimistic that this room will be done by the time our first set of visitors come out to see us (July 4th weekend…eep!).
What we learned in this project:
- Plaster is really, really heavy.
- Chuck Taylors: cute, comfortable, not meant for construction work. (Plaster is really, really heavy.)
- It takes approximately 4 weekends for us to create enough construction garbage to fill one standard dumpster.