I spend most of my time on this blog talking about the little day-to-day things I do around here just to make sure we have food to eat and clean clothes, and that we don't step on sharp or squishy things on our way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. And, trust me, there's enough of that kind of chores to keep me plenty busy every day. But along the way, I am also in the process of tackling bigger projects while fixing up and decorating our apartment. Some things I save up to pay experts to do (like refinishing our wood floors - not that I think I couldn't do it myself, I'm just pretty sure I wouldn't want to), but others I research and tackle myself. Okay, and sometimes I make my mom help me when she thinks she's just coming for a fun visit, as is the case with the facelift we gave our entrance hall this fall (better than Heidi Montag's, I contend). There are a lot of wonderful details in our prewar walk-up apartment that make it feel special and distinct. Sadly, our entrance hall was not one of them. It was boring, bland and white, with (before I installed the chandelier) ugly recessed lighting, and a big, ugly electrical box that stuck out like a sore thumb.
Once you made your way past the hallway, you were able to see the loveliness within, but, I was always a little disappointed in the dreary first impression the hallway gave. To liven it up, give the hall its own identity, and take advantage of the tall ceilings, I decided to add wainscoting on the lower part of the walls, and a bright, peppy wallpaper above it. After a lot of nail-biting, and navel-gazing, and hemming and hawing, and inner-contemplation, vacillation and dithering, I finally settled on a paper, with which I am unequivocally pleased. (The wallpaper is Favenay Cream from Pierre Deux. I painted the wainscoting Benjamin Moore Navajo White in Semi-Gloss to match the background of the paper). The results were better than I had imagined, and, as an added bonus, the vibrant pattern on the wallpaper works as virtual camouflage for the electrical box. Here are the simple steps to get this same look for your apartment or house - you will need some basic tools (even if you have to buy them, it will still cost way less than paying someone to do this for you) and carpentry skills (which you can learn by doing), and one free weekend (or, maybe less, if you are able to rope your mom into the project).
You Will Need:
handsaw and miter box
jigsaw (optional, but helpful)
Lumber: (quantity of all lumber will depend on the size of the area you are covering):
1" x 6" or 1" x 8" boards
Baseboard molding (click on links for examples, if you don't know what I'm talking about)
5/8- 3/4" decorative molding
Step 1: Remove any molding that is currently on the wall (I use a hammer and a flat-head screwdriver driven between the molding and the wall- it'll pop right off). Use your measuring tape and chalk to arrange the dimensions of the molding, until you are happy with it (Just remember that a 1x6 is actually only 5-1/2 inches wide, and a 1x8 is only 7 -1/4 inches wide).
Step 2: Measure and cut a length of 1x6 exactly the length of your wall (remember- measure twice, cut once!) Use the stud finder to find the studs in the wall, and attach the piece of 1x6 to the wall using your drill and wood screws, driven into the stud at the top of where you want your wainscoting to be. Make sure it is level. Do the same with the side and bottom pieces. Make sure you sand the ends of your cuts so they meet up as smoothly as possible.
Step 3: Cut a piece of chair rail the width of the wall, and attach it to the very top of the front of the 1x6 frame. Measure a piece of the floorboard, and do the same. Measure and cut the decorative molding to fit the interior of the 1x6 frame. Use the miter box to cut the ends at 45 degree angles, so the four pieces fit inside at right angles. Nail these in with finishing nails and use the nail sinker to sink the nails into the wood. Don't worry if everything doesn't line up perfect-perfect- that's what the Spackle is for. Use it now to fill in any gaps and all the nail holes- this is a good job for Mom. Paint all of the molding with a primer.
Step 4: Be sure to paint the wainscoting completely before wallpapering the upper portion of the wall, so you don't have to worry about getting paint on it. I'll do another post about how to wallpaper, but this should keep you and your mom busy for a while.
20 minutes ago