May 8: A little bit of trim

In this week’s episode based around recurring themes “eh, we’re not quite ready to do that yet” and also “chicken and egg,” we hung the first bit of salvaged window trim and are re-stashing the rest to wait until after the floors in the living room and dining room are done.

The very first bit of trim!

This saga goes back to over a year ago now, only a month or so after I bought the house on January 4. The original upstairs trim is all in place, and it’s lovely. Downstairs, however, someone at some point had done a truly enormous remodel and as part of that had ripped out all the original Victorian trim. Here’s what the living room looked like; you can see the windows and doors are just not appropriate for the age of the house.

side note, I’ve put in an enormous amount of effort into this room only to come back around to all white walls and ceiling in here

So, I was scrounging around on facebook marketplace, and saw a post offering a really large amount of salvaged trim that (a) was the right age (b) was gorgeous and (c) was only about a half-hour drive from me. It was also a decent price and had been up for weeks, indicating that there wasn’t a ton of interest. I figured it was a sign, offered a lower price than the post suggested, was accepted, and borrowed Leah’s SUV to go get it. It turned out to be in the second story of a garage next to a pretty new house; the couple had apparently bought it salvaged many years ago and moved it two or three times already before concluding that they were never going to have a house it would be right for, so they were finally selling. (Since they’d bought it salvaged in the first place, they don’t know where it was from, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to me if it hasn’t really traveled far from its point of origin.)

Then I had to get Leah and Peter to come help me haul it into the house because I was exhausted by the time I’d loaded it and driven it home.

It wasn’t actually perfect. There’s not quite enough of it for the whole first floor, there’s no baseboard, and more importantly, it was from a house with at least 12-foot ceilings; mine are 9’6″. But I figured cutting down would be easier than adding. And you can see in this photo I took that day what a big improvement it was going to be over what was there!

Massive fast forward to…I actually can’t remember. Sometime in the late fall or early winter? I hired my neighbor William to mill some new stuff to match. But it’s still just been sitting around in the front room waiting for the dining room and living room to start to look more like rooms. And then suddenly last week I had the wallpaper up, the living room was mostly plastered and painted, and I was nearly ready to go. First step had to be staining and shellacking the newly milled trim.

Here’s the raw oak after I patched in some nail holes

Here it is with a coat of stain

Two on the bottom have stain; two on the top have the first coat of shellac

After three coats of shellac and one of this thing called “restor-a-shine,” wood just starts to glow. It’s so pretty! Not an absolute perfect color match to the old stuff, but I don’t mind and also think that as time goes on the new stuff should darken a bit and get closer in tone to the old.

So, yesterday we did hang one window’s worth of trim, mostly as a test to make sure the nail gun was going to work well enough. It’s the same window as in the contrast photo above.

Isn’t that pretty?! Doesn’t it look Victorian?! But despite an initial plan to keep going today with more windows, I’ve decided to put that off a bit longer. Two things happened: first, putting this test trim on emphasized how much I need to clean the jambs up before I go any further. That white paint still on part of them stands out a mile even in the picture! I also still have to clean up, stain, and shellac the old sills. So, not quite ready to “finish” the windows.” And third, I realized that if we set all the plinth blocks it would make life hell for Charity as she sands floors this week. So, for now it’s just a sign of things to come, and the front porch is turning back into a sanding workshop now that it’s reliably above freezing. Not a moment too soon too — I’ve been using the dining room as a workshop all winter but with the wallpaper up and the floors about to be refinished I have to stop doing that, obviously!

Published by Catherine R. Osborne

Historian, theologian, editor.

2 thoughts on “May 8: A little bit of trim

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