Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Guest room makeover, stage 4 (almost there!)

Check it out! Our guest room, which for the past three months has been a construction zone, is now...a room!

Once the paint was on the walls, it was only a matter of a few hours here and there to do all the other little jobs required to put the room back together. Last Saturday, we removed all the old, cruddy outlets and replaced them with nice new ones that match the wall color almost perfectly. This job actually went faster than we expected; Brian feared, based on our experience refreshing the downstairs room, that we might have to add ground wires to all these outlets. (They were three-hole outlets, but so were the ones in the basement, and those turned out to be just for show.) But fortunately, these outlets were actually up to code, so all we had to do was switch off the power, pull the old outlets out of the wall (along with a fair amount of crumbled plaster lodged inside the cavities), and attach the new ones in their place.

Before starting on this job, Brian got a coat of metal-compatible primer onto the heaters and heater covers, so it would be dry by the time the outlets were done and he could then apply the paint. He'd removed the covers when we first started working on the room, so those got laid out in the basement and painted with our new little roller, while the fixed parts of the heater got painted in situ with a brush. By Sunday, everything was dry, and he was able to reattach the covers to the heaters. Once again, the "almond" metal paint blends in nearly perfectly with the wall color.

Then, at last, we were able to restore the bookcase with all our cookbooks on it to its rightful place. This actually turned out to be the most complicated job of the lot, since Brian insisted on keeping all the books in their proper order so we wouldn't have to rearrange them later. So he carefully removed them all, shelf by shelf, and laid them out in order on the floor and whatever other surfaces were available. Then he pulled out the removable shelves and handed them over to me, and he lifted the entire empty bookcase up by its one fixed shelf and carried it up the steps. (Okay, it's only a Billy bookcase from IKEA, which is just lightweight birch-veneered particle board, but he still looked very manly picking it up and casually walking off with it.) Once we got the bookcase back into its accustomed corner, he took a few minutes to check its alignment and shim it up nice and level before we retrieved all the cookbooks.

We also moved the plant table, which had been sitting in the middle of the room under a drop cloth, back into the corner. We discovered in the process that the finish on the top has suffered some damage—probably before, rather than during, the painting of the room—and will need to be sanded down and refinished at some point. Brian fears it won't come out very well, since it's already been refinished once, but I don't see why that matters, since it's solid birch. (The table was a gift from his dad, who built it with his own hands, the first year we lived together.) But even if it doesn't come out perfect, we can always purchase a Plexiglass top for it, like the one we got for our nice cherry table when we turned it into Brian's desk, to protect it from further damage.

It was amazing how spacious this tiny little room felt with all the furniture back in the proper places. I'd gotten so used to maneuvering around the table to get to the closet that it felt positively luxurious to have all that floor space completely clear. But at this point, it still looked a little bare. It was missing the key piece of the puzzle, the one piece that would turn it from a spare room into a guest room: the futon. So, Monday night, we headed downstairs to haul it up.

Fortunately, this futon is a "lounger," which means that the cushion is in two small pieces rather than one big one (the big square piece gets used when the futon is in loveseat form, and the smaller piece is added to turn it into a bed). So wrestling these up the stairs, though still very awkward, was easier than trying to move a single, full-sized mattress. The frame, however, presented us with a bit more difficulty. At first, Brian thought we might be able to get it up the stairs in one piece, but after a bit of maneuvering, it became clear that it wouldn't quite fit through the opening. So we had to remove two bolts (which required the use of a rubber mallet to pound them out of their holes) and separate the frame into the bottom piece, the back piece, and the two rotating feet. Brian made careful note of how these pieces all fit together before separating them, so we could reassemble it correctly once we got it upstairs.

After moving it, we had a bit of debate over how to orient the futon in the room. I'd assumed the only place it would fit was against the back wall, where you see it in the picture above. However, Brian pointed out that it could also have its head against the side wall (opposite the window). We tried laying out the cushions in both positions and found that putting it sideways would actually leave a bit more clearance between the fully extended futon and the rest of the furniture, but it didn't look as good. The back wall, which is visible when the door is open, would look kind of bare with nothing against it, and the extra cushion, which we normally keep tucked against the back of the futon, would be visible if it had its side to the door. So we went with the nicer-looking spot, reasoning that, after all, this futon will spend more time sitting in the corner just looking nice than it does actually sleeping guests. And we can always move it later if we change our minds.

At this point, the room is about 90 percent finished. It's usable in its present form, but it still needs a few finishing touches. The closet, for instance, is still sitting open without its door, which is waiting to be sanded down and refinished. The main door to the room will need to be refinished at some point as well. The closet shelf needs to be cut down, repainted, and replaced before the rest of the items that live there can be restored to their normal homes. We also need to put back the old bamboo window blinds (which we're planning to keep for now, though we might replace them at some point) and hang some art on the walls. But for now, just having a usable room instead of a dust-filled, drop-cloth-draped cubbyhole is the best Hanukkah present I could ask for.
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