1993 - Renovation of the Family Room

Christmas 1992 Family Room with dark paneling and beams

As we look back at our history with this house we wish we would have taken pictures of the entire house before we did anything. Our favorite room and the one we spend the most time in is the family room that was part of the 1975 addition by the previous owners. We are not here to speak ill of the decorating tastes of others, we have made our errors as well, but this room was down right depressing in our opinion. As you can see in the Christmas Picture of 1992 this room featured very dark rough paneling and beams as the primary feature. Couple this with some very scarey orange plaid carpet, a northern exposure with two tall but very narrow windows, and an overhead canopy over the west door and you have a dark dungeon of a room.

Christmas 1992 Family Room with dark brick on the fireplace

As if all this wasn't enough there was the very dark brick on the fireplace and when we moved in there were black fixtures with orange (not amber but orange) glass hanging over the fireplace mantel. And the mantel! It was rough sawn cedar stained very dark and had candle wax melted into the grain in several places. But our budget and the fact that we had this on a contract for deed kept us from tearing into the room until 1993 when our loan was approved. We did replace the fixtures above the fireplace when we moved in and added a paddle fan, but the rest became part of our life for two years.

The paneling is gone!

I'd like to tell you that every project we started was well planned in advance and had a tight budget and that the plan had a scheduled ending date. But I can't, so I won't try to fool you by telling you otherwise. One rainy morning while at work I got a call from Sandy and I could tell she was in a gloomy mood so I asked what was up. She hated to make an issue of the room but it was down right depressing on a gray day and within a few weeks we were hip deep in cleaning up the mess. We started by removing the rough sawn beams from the ceiling and the associated post and trim near the north door of the family room. Then we pulled the paneling off most of the walls. We did leave the paneling around the fireplace since I knew that pulling it off there would result in a major project that was better left alone for now.

North door paneling removal project

The picture above shows the north family room door, which was later removed and closed up. The paneling was glued to the walls and had enough nails to hold it until the glue set, but luckily the glue did not rip the surface off the sheet rock so it was a matter of cleaning things up before painting. The black paint strips is an old carpenters trick for applying paneling, it masks the joints between the panels when the fit is not perfect. I cut some 1 X 4 #2 pine to cover the spots where the beams were (they did not tape these joints) and routed an edge detail. I caulked them in to make them tight and after scraping the big bumps off the textured ceiling applied several coats of white paint to finish the ceiling.

The walls are painted

As you can see in the picture above we applied light paint to the walls after some work to smooth up the scars from the paneling and glue. We painted the dark paneling left on the west wall and then replaced the dark orange carpet with a lighter textured berber carpet. Wow, what a difference. The light seemed to bounce off every surface and make it so much brighter.

Even the fireplace brick looked lighter

I also built a mahogany cover to slip over the cedar mantel and milled some special crown molding to cover a problem on the brick near the ceiling. It appears as though the beams were constructed and installed before the fireplace so the brick was cut around the beams. This left a very nasty hole so in the brick when the beam came down so we covered it with the crown molding. The final picture shows the transition between the family room and the older 1930's section of the house.

A new step into the family room

I could do an entire web page about this entry area and all the different ideas we had about how this area should look. But for now I will just say this was my first idea. I hated the very narrow passage between the two parts of the house, in fact what you see here would have been the back entry to the original house with the basement door on the right. So I decided that to make it look less like an old entry I would build this landing affair with a curved corner. We installed vinyl flooring since this was the primary entry into the house. Of course we later removed all this and turned a narrow hall area into what we now call the foyer.

Return to the projects page.