Day Ninteen: Cousteau Renovation

Up in the sky, it's a bird, it's a plane....

No, it's just me on the ladder inspecting the interior window jambs for any needed repairs.

The prep and painting continues and today.  We even got the new Entry Door Unit.  Dale Buchanan arrived from Dallas to install the Mahogany door unit to replace the old Oak unit.  The old unit offered zero privacy and didn't work well at all.  More on that in a minute.

First the old unit had to be removed, the security wiring protected and the opening evaluated.  It turns out that the opening was not only seriously out of square, but the old unit was not level or plumb.  That explains why the old door couldn't be opened without it swinging into the room and against the wall.  How much was it out of level?  About 7/8" of an inch in a 6' span.  That's a lot.  This required that a custom fit filler be created (and why a custom cabinet maker and wood artisan  like Dale is better for installing door units than a framing carpenter).  This then raises the unit to level.  

A project of this size is often done in phases.  Next year, the exterior updates will be done along with outdoor entertaining areas and a complete exterior repaint.  With the existing color scheme (which certainly won't be kept long term) the front door would want to be painted a color so that it adds some interest to the Porch.  However, the Austin Stone on the house is very handsome and should / will have a warm Gray color scheme to allow the varied creams and golds in the stone to shine yet a color deep enough to delineate the vertical elements of the house.  I say all this to explain the door and sidelights should ultimately be a rich warm brown.  Rather than have to strip the door when next year rolls around, we will stain it in the correct color now.

Notice that the swing of the door has changed.  This is also (more accurately) called the "handing".  The door previously had a left hand.  How to tell?  Pretty easy.  Door hinges are actually called door butts.  (I won't get started on window sills vs window stools and level vs plumb).  So to determine a door's handing, place your butt against the door butts and see which way the door moves.  The old door swung to the left making it a left handed door.  The new door is a right handed door.  Why the change?  Imagine you are wearing a bathrobe and need to accept a package or small delivery.  If you are right handed, it is far easier to open the door with your left hand and reach out with your right.  This will also allow someone answering the door to more easily control exactly how much access a visitor will have.  Typically you will also want to consider the placement of the interior light switches and alarm key pad.  In most cases I prefer that the keypad not be directly visible from the front door.  Generally you want to be able to reach the light switches right inside the door.  However, the front door is only used by guests.  The Client always enters via the Garage or West Hall.  So the light switches are fine where they are and do  not need to be relocated.  

With the installation of the new unit complete, Dale was able to finish up the Entry Hall paneling.  All the paneling will be finished in a Deep Forest Teal satin enamel.  This will create a very rich background for a beautiful Chinese chest as a MOP (Mother of Pearl) Syrian Mirror.  The door will be stained in a warm Gray Brown which will be deeper than the floors.

The prep work and enamel continues.  Seems like it is taking a while?  It is.  Let's look at the reason, that prep work is so important.  As I have mentioned before,  the entire crew spends most of the day prepping the items that will be painted later that day.  They will spend at least 8 hours preparing to paint something that may take only 1.5 hours to actually paint.  Sometimes much less.  Each color of enamel requires a different set up and different primer.  Different colors of enamel require different drying times.  So from a scheduling standpoint, it is pretty complex to figure out what should be painted first so that it has time to dry properly so that subsequent coats will bond properly without the coat being fully cured.  Spaces that have more than one color of enamel being used (most of ours do) require that one color be fully completed, allowed to dry and then "bagged" to be protected from the next colors being applied.

As a case in point, let's look at the Breakfast Room.  It contains an oil based color for the cabinetry interior (Haystack) another color for the cabinetry exterior (Urbane Bronze), yet another color (Pavestone) for the baseboards and door casings and finally a different base color for the glazing that will be done on the beams.  This doesn't include the color for the wood planked ceiling or the walls.  Multiply this by about 15 rooms or 4000 square feet and you have some idea of the organization required.  That is why painting is not as simple "as shown on TV".    Take a look below at some of the interior doors (the ones finished in Urbane Bronze) in the staging area as well as the West Hall cabinet doors and drawers.  Just small number of the individual items that must be disassembled, prepped and painted (minimum of two coats).   There is a truism that I hear often: "A bad painter can wreck the most beautiful cabinetry but a great painter can make average cabinetry look great".  So if you have a great cabinet maker and a great painter, you are all set!  It really is all about having the right team.

Back to my Superman reference, the trim in the Great Room is being painted so you can see they are masking off all the windows including the ones in the Clerestory.  And yep, it is a LONG way up there.

Isaiah was good enough to hold the ladder while Omar took the photo you saw that the beginning of this blog post.  While up the ladder, I checked out the beams from above.   In today's "What were they thinking" find, inside the beams were tennis balls and wadded up old paper laying on top of the old can lights.  These are not "IC" cans (meaning fully sealed) so they leak light out the top side.  This seemed to bother someone enough that they thought it was a good plan to cover them with brown pack sacks that had been torn open.  The tennis balls?  I can't imagine.  We weren't allow to run in the house as kids, much less throw tennis balls.  Just another rocket scientist on the loose.

More on Friday as the painters wrap up for the week and head back to Dallas.  They will be back for more fun and adventure on Monday.  The electricians will join us on Wednesday to resolve the last of our electrical issues (now that the attics are fully cleaned).  Have a great night!