Tag Archives: wainscoting

Fun With Trim

This past weekend we made a good dent in our to-do list. First, we gave our china cabinet 3 coats of paint (I’ll save pics of this until it’s done), and I built the composter my parents gave us:

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But more importantly, we got a good ways into the installation of trim wood to finish our stair column and our dining room chair rail. First, I’ll write about the column. After we ripped out the stair wall, we had to put in a column since it was load bearing (here’s a picture from way back):

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We then needed to make it look presentable. We started this project by building the “box” that would encase the column, made out of primed/painted pine board. We glued the boards at 90 degrees, then reinforced with the nail gun:

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Then we adhered the two halves around the column, assuming they’d fit like a glove. They did not. We used nails to reinforce the glue, and just accepted that there would be gaps we’d have to fill. Nik had to do some fancy miter angles to fit the board against the slanted stair wall:

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It’s stupid that we pre-painted these boards because they’re a mess now and obviously need a repainting with all the filling and caulking we’ll have to do. So we learned our lesson about pre-painting trim. Then Nik built a base cap with wider pine board and some cove trim to finish it off:

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And he did the same at the top too, first the cove trim then the cap pieces:

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And there you have it, sorta finished! The top edge against the ceiling obviously looks raw, but we’ll be installing crown molding eventually that will cover that edge.

Next, I primed that raw drywall around the stairs so it’s ready for paint, and Nik still needs to cut that one last piece that will cover the angled wall:

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Then our final big accomplishment for this weekend was getting ALL our chair rail trim installed in the dining room! Installed doesn’t mean done –  we still need to fill, caulk, sand, and paint it, but having it up on the wall feels good. When we painted our dining room, we just left a rough line dividing the white bottom half and the blue top half, and finally having that edge covered up makes me happy!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we used a DIY way of making our chair rail (using 3 cheap pieces) instead of the standard chair rail in the store (made of 2 pieces that cost a ton).

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We started by measuring up from the baseboards 30.5″ and nailing in the bottom of the 3 pieces:

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Then we cut 1/2″ spacers and put the upper board over those:

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We left the very end spacers in so once the chair rail was put over this, you wouldn’t be able to tell there’s a space. We had big plans to measure everything perfectly and get the chair rail just right, but you know what ended up being the best way to get the chair rail centered on the back boards and looking good in waaay less time? Eyeballing it!

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Here’s a close up of what the ends looks like. After much discussion, we decided not to miter the corners of the back boards when we came to a wall end, and to do a 32.5 degree angle on the outer chair rail board.  And you can see where the spacers fill in that gap. Once things are caulked/filled/sanded/painted, hopefully you won’t be able to tell that we used multiple pieces of wood!

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Here’s some shots of the dining room with the chair rail. I think it looks great…great enough that we might hold off on doing the picture frame wainscoting below the chair rail for a day far off in the future where we don’t have more pressing projects to tackle!

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Next weekend we really have to stop putting off doing the finishing touches for all our trim (floor baseboards, stair column, and now the chair rail). Filling, caulking, sanding, and painting all this trim will be tedious but that’s the to-do list for next weekend!

To leave you with some fun pictures, here’s  a few gifts I crafted for Christmas this year that I never wrote about. We made Nik’s family home made apple butter that we canned (recipe here), and I added some decorative ribbon to be festive (idea courtesy of The Kitchen show).

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And I also painted a little bamboo serving tray for Nik (another idea stolen from one of my favorite blogs, Domestic Imperfection) – we just finished binge watching all seasons of Parks and Rec, so for those of you that are fans of this show, you’ll understand. For those of you who don’t get it, you should watch the show.

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That’s it for this week. After this weekend, I’ll show you our to-be-finished china cabinet and whatever else we get done.

Dining Room Progress

We’ve recently switched gears and started focusing on our dining room. Since we still seem to be a ways away from ever deciding on a couch and how we want to lay out the living room, the dining room seemed like a place we could actually work on and have an end in sight.

What we’ve done in here so far is the floors and floor trim (still needs sanding and re-painting over the nail marks), painting the walls, and some curtains, first sheers then curtains on top:

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A couple weeks ago we picked out mid-century dining chairs and a table to match the similar themed china cabinet we started working on last year, that has graduated to being inside since it just needs a few coats of paint to finish it:

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Ordering chairs was a disaster: we tried ordering other ones we liked a little better, then they weren’t going to ship until March…yes, next year. So we changed the plan and got some from Amazon and the set of 4 came in last week:

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The table came from Wayfair and arrived yesterday. It was so exciting – we almost had a complete room of furniture! Then we opened up the table box and realized nothing matches! The cabinet is a slightly darker walnut, the table is lighter walnut (but still matches decently with the cabinet), and the chairs are much darker. We thought of all the options – staining the cabinet darker, returning the table and getting the darker color (but return shipping was a third the price of the table!), and I think we’ve finally settled on stripping/sanding the chairs and re-staining them in a lighter color to hopefully match the walnut.

The whole reason for buying a new set when we are perfectly capable of refinishing things was that we were tired of not having furniture and we just wanted something ready-to-go so we can start living in our house instead of it being a perpetual construction zone. So this seems a little backwards that we now want to refinish the chairs, but I like all the pieces enough that I’m willing to go through the extra effort to make them match better.  So last night I dragged out the chemical stripper and tested a teeny spot on the underside of the chair. A lot of newer furniture is made out of some sort of fake type wood that doesn’t take up stain, so doing this test was critical:

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The stain stripped beautifully and the wood sanded easily to raw wood!

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Yay! So we tested out a variety of stains, from left to right: cherry, dark walnut, red chestnut, and polyshades (poly and stain in one) in American walnut. I don’t think any are a perfect match right now, we’ll have to do some mixing and matching when we tackle this project, but at least I know the wood takes up stain nicely which is a huge relief!

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And finally, here’s the table, assembled by Nik:

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It is definitely light considering it’s called “walnut stain” but we’ll live with it! Unfortunately there is a tiny chip in the glass (it never ends!) so we’ll have to get that replaced. I like how light and airy it looks, and it will allow people to actually see through to our cool china cabinet even if its on the opposite wall. We also have to pick out a rug that matches better, this one is just in there temporarily to protect the floor.

As for the actual room, we picked out some chair rail to start our wainscoting process. We’re doing very simple picture frame molding beneath the chair rail, similar to this:

This means we don’t have to disturb the baseboard that is already there which will save us some work. For our chair rail I picked out this trim, which I liked better than the curved trim above since it seemed a little more modern looking:

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It looked a little insubstantial though (only about 2.5″ wide), so we looked at the chair rail backer boards and they were $23/8 feet!! We needed ~30 feet for the whole room, so that would’ve been about $100 for chair rail backer…no way! So we improvised and found some thin trim pieces that had a slightly rounded edge and were only $5 something per 8 feet. They were thin though, so we needed twice many pieces so we could do one on each side of the chair rail like this:

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The cost for these makeshift trim pieces was much cheaper than the real backer, so I think it’s a perfect solution. Also, the lady at Lowe’s only rang up 8 feet of our 32 feet of chair rail that we bought (we didn’t notice until later, and I didn’t feel too bad based on how much we’ve bought at this store in the past few months…) so we got about $30 off this project anyway! Once we get the chair rail up, we’ll have to pick out the trim for the picture frame boxes, and get around the crown molding, but the room will look almost complete with the chair rail up so I’m just excited to get that done first!