Prep, prep, prep, PAINT!

Fill. Putty. Caulk. Sand. Repeat… as with the outside paint job, the prepping proved to be the hardest part! To say the least, painting an entire house from ceilings to baseboards is quite a challenging (read: sanity testing) experience. I can’t say that either of us have ever – literally – started from scratch with bare sheetrock and trim in every inch of a house, so it was eye opening to realize just how many nail holes must be filled and how many coats of paint it takes to get to the final coat. We prepped for days before we popped the lid on our first can of paint. Fortunately, our painting crew returned and we had lots of help! Matthew’s father, Wayne, carried the team (again!) through more than two weeks of painting frenzy. He was our MVP for sure!

Endless Prepping:

Putty Man Matthew

Putty Man Matthew

(With the help of his momma!)

(With the help of his momma!)

Power Sanding

Power Sanding

Sanding by hand

Hand Sanding (still powerful).

Baseboards for days...

Baseboards for days…

Caulking all the seams!

Caulking all the seams!

Finally, a paint brush... putting on the primer coat upstairs.

Finally, a paint brush… putting on the primer coat upstairs.

How many Newtons does it take to paint one corner?

How many Newtons does it take to paint one corner?

Thank goodness for good help!

Thank goodness for good help!

The Boss and The Master. ;)

The Boss and The Master. 😉

Scraping all the original doors.

Scraping all the original doors.

Bringing them back to life!

Bringing them back to life!

Bringing out the big [spray] guns!

Bringing out the big [spray] guns!

The fun part, of course, was choosing paint colors and seeing our walls come to life! We chose a pretty neutral palette with bright white trim and we think it brings a crisp-yet-calm look to the inside of our nest.

Nest Neutrals:

Our final selection!

Our final selection!

The Transformation:

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Our biggest challenge in the painting project was making the formal living room suit our style… the wormy chestnut built-ins were very nice, but the heaviness of the dark wood just didn’t agree with the rest of our house. So, brace yourselves wood lovers, we painted it. (I know, I know; you’re horrified.)

A reminder of what the dark woodwork looked like... not bad, but a little dreary for our taste.

A reminder of what the dark woodwork looked like… not bad, but a little dreary for our taste.

No turning back!

No turning back!

While the whitewashed woodwork certainly brightened up the room, a new problem surfaced… despite many coats, the paint just amplified all the little holes and imperfections in the wood. It literally looked like someone had splattered black paint all over whitewashed wood. It wasn’t pretty. Enter: The Peacock Twins (my mom and her twin sister, Julie.)

Holes, holes, and more holes!

Holes, holes, and more holes! Yuck!

As with many times in my life, my mother came to the rescue! She and my Aunt Julie helped me spackle and putty every single hole. Seven hours and 30 raw finger tips later, things were looking much better and my spirits lifted. FINALLY, this disjointed room was coming together. I spent the next few evenings after work sanding away to make sure it was smooth before the final coat of paint.

Peacock twins to the rescue!

Peacock twins to the rescue!

Filled, primed and ready for paint!

Filled, primed and ready for paint!

So, here it is, the big reveal:

Ta-daaah!

Ta-daaah!

Although painting the wormy chestnut was a really tough decision, we feel like this is an improvement that brightens the room and makes it feel less disjointed.

Although painting the wormy chestnut was a really tough decision, we feel like this is an improvement that brightens the room and makes it feel less disjointed.

Despite the long days and our struggle with “to paint or not to paint” the woodwork, we are oh-so-happy with the final product! (And overjoyed to retire our brushes for a while!!!)

 

All the trimmings. 

Boy, oh boy, the details are fun!
For two weeks now, the trim carpenters have been busy little birdies trimming our nest and making it look its very best. They’ve been more than patient, too. As with any old house, things aren’t exactly plumb and square around here… so the carpenters had to take a few deep breaths and get creative on projects like re-hanging old doors, dealing with a few slightly sloping floors and installing a tongue and groove ceiling in a room that is slightly off from square (They were within a few boards of being done when this little snag became apparent and had to rip it all off and start again with a slight adjustment to compensate. Yikes!).

But, despite a few old-house hiccups, the trim-work is complete and we are just beside ourselves with the transformation! Check out our nest with all the trimmings…

Trim materials have arrived!

Trim materials have arrived!

Window Trim! (Guest Bedroom)

Window Trim! (Guest Bedroom)

Laundry Room Doors are up! (This wall is new, but these doors are original to the house. We repurposed them from a small hall closet that was removed when we rerouted the hallway to the bedrooms.)

Laundry room doors are up! (This wall is new, but these doors are original to the house. We repurposed them from a small hall closet that was removed when we rerouted the hallway to the bedrooms.)

A view of the doors when they're open -- they fit perfectly and lay flat against the walls, so they don't block the butler's pantry pass-through.

A view of the doors when they’re open — they fit perfectly and lay flat against the walls, so they don’t block the butler’s pantry pass-through.

Baseboards and crown molding are up in the guest bedrooms!

Baseboards and crown molding are up in the guest bedrooms!

Powder room window is trimmed and looking fantastic...

Powder room window is trimmed and looking fantastic…

Powder room doors go up.

Powder room doors go up.

The HVAC ductwork that runs through all the upstairs dormers is being hidden with little window seats :)

The HVAC ductwork that runs through all the upstairs dormers is being hidden with little window seats 🙂

Master bedroom ceiling trim is in place. We are really loving the way this detail turned out!

Master bedroom ceiling trim is in place. We are really loving the way this detail turned out!

Master bathroom!

Master bathroom! (Blurry, but you get the idea…)

Ta-dah! Great room ceiling is in.

Ta-dah! Great room ceiling is in.

What a difference!

What a difference!

 

Going Gray!

Hooray — we’ve gone gray! 

No, I’m not talking about our hair color beginning to fade as a result of nearly eight months of home renovation (although, the lone long-locked Newton has noticed a few new silver strands). We have finally said goodbye to the patchwork shingles and painted the exterior of our house! We settled on a medium gray color for the cedar shakes and then called in reinforcements to help with the transformation.

The slightly more senior Mr. and Mrs. Newton (Matthew’s parents) joined the painting party and we were able to prime and paint the exterior of our little nest in two weekends’ time. Not too shabby for a bunch of amateurs—well, three amateurs and our fearless leader, Matthew’s father, Wayne, who owned his own paint contracting business for 30+ years… as the sole professional on site, he kept the rest of us from messing anything up! Painting all those shakes was no easy task and start-to-finish it took us a month of weekends if you count the prep work too, but we were strutting around with grins of accomplishment when it was all done!

We began by prepping the exterior (a lot more work than I thought!):

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Taping off the windows!

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Puttying all the little nail holes!

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Caulking windows!

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Double caulking!

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Triple caulking!

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Rooftop refreshment 😉

Here we go! Check out the power of a coat of paint:

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Shaking up the paint! (My staring totally helped…)

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Primer coat is on!

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Mr. Newton – head painter in charge – spraying more primer.

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Two Newtons and a dormer.

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Three Newtons and a dormer. 🙂

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All primed and ready for the final coat!

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Revving up the sprayer for the final coat!

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Matthew and his Momma taking a little break.

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Final coat of gray is on; ready to start painting all the trim along the roof!

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Trim is looking crisp and white!

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Oops! We almost forgot the garage…

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Goodbye, basketball goal!

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Hello, Bat who was hiding underneath the goal. (Sorry little guy!)

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All done!

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Hello, gorgeous gray! All that hard work paid off… we are really digging our Nest’s new look.

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Many, many thanks to the Newtons for helping us with such a big job – we couldn’t have done it without them!!!

A few Eggs of Wisdom…

  • It’s true, many hands make light work.
  • Happy music and time with family makes even the hardest jobs more fun.
  • If you have a choice between rolling/brushing paint and using one of those handy sprayers, choose the sprayer every time! 😉

Drywall, y’all!

It feels a little like we have come full circle… the Nest has come so far since we were swinging sledgehammers to take down walls. Now, we are celebrating new ones!

It’s honestly hard to put into words how exciting it is to have solid walls again and see all the changes we’ve made take shape. Not to mention, drywall marks the beginning of the “pretty things” like trim, paint colors, cabinets, and more! Get ready, y’all—we’re about to really start dressing up the Nest!

Great Room/Kitchen (The great room ceiling will be covered by tongue and groove, so no drywall there!)

Great Room/Kitchen (The great room ceiling will be covered by tongue and groove, so no drywall there!)

Kitchen view.

Kitchen view.

View of great room and kitchen from the back door. Looking good!

View of great room and kitchen from the back door. Looking good!

Who needs a ladder? Stilts are the way to go!!

Who needs a ladder? Stilts are the way to go!!

Dining Room

Dining Room

Dining Room opposite view, looking toward butler's pantry and stairs to second floor.

Dining room opposite view, looking toward butler’s pantry and stairs to second floor.

Formal Living Room

Formal Living Room

Powder Room and Office

Powder Room and Office

Office, opposite view.

Office, opposite view.

Looking from formal living room into the powder room (thanks to my dad for adding that beautiful window on a whim -- more on that in a future blog post :) ).

Looking from formal living room into the powder room (thanks to my dad for adding that beautiful window on a whim — more on that in a future blog post 🙂 ).

Guest Bedroom #1

Guest Bedroom #1

Guest Bedroom #2

Guest Bedroom #2

Hallway/Hall Bathroom

Hallway/Hall Bathroom/Guest Bedroom

Super stilts to put the finishing touches on the master bedroom!

Super stilts to put the finishing touches on the master bedroom!

Master Bedroom!

Master Bedroom!

Master Bathroom

Master Bathroom

…and just because I am so impressed by the stilts, here is a little video of our guy in action:

Removing a Relic

We think our Nest has lots of special features, but one of these is a certain type of wood paneling that has my dad – the master forester – seeing hearts. It’s called Wormy Chestnut… or as Richard Harper calls it, “a true relic.” Apparently, this woodland artifact is basically extinct and wormy chestnut lumber is an extremely rare find these days…and Matthew and I  [GASP]  wanted to paint it. So, in swooped the mighty mustachioed forester to rescue the Chestnut lumber in all its wormy glory from those who seek to whitewash its beauty beyond recognition!

The room we call our office was paneled floor-to-ceiling with the “good stuff,” so in lieu of covering up something so special with paint, we decided we would rather share the Wormy Chestnut with someone who really appreciates it! It took a few tries to discover a method of removing the tongue and groove boards with little damage (because they are so old, they’ve become fairly brittle), but the forester finally landed on a crude-but-effective system of prying each board away from the wall about an inch and then using a saws-all to cut through the nails holding it to the wall. Then his trusty nail puller (me) dutifully pried out the remaining nails.

What will the forester do with his loot? Well, he’s not sure yet, but Matthew and I have a feeling it will be something very special and maybe a little piece of it will make it’s way back to the Nest one day  🙂

Close-up of the grain and pattern of American Wormy Chestnut.

Close-up of the grain and pattern of American Wormy Chestnut.

In case you would like to know more about why Chestnut lumber, especially Wormy Chestnut, is so rare, here’s a little explanation from the Nest’s very first guest blogger:

So… what’s so special about the American chestnut?

Before the turn of the 20th Century, American chestnut was a dominant hardwood tree in the eastern United States occurring mostly in the Appalachians from Maine to Mississippi. Some of the largest trees reached heights almost 100 feet with diameters over 9 feet occurred right here in the Southern Appalachians which occupied 25 to 40 percent of the lower cove forests. Large crops of its sweet nut were enjoyed by humans and were a major contributor to wildlife forage.

Unfortunately, an Asian chestnut tree imported to the U.S. around 1900 carried a bark fungus commonly called the chestnut blight. The American chestnut had little resistance and the blight virtually girdles the tree killing it. By the 1930s, an estimated 3 billion trees had died.

The wood is somewhat rot resistant and many trees lay on the forest floor for years before being salvaged, hence the “wormy” effect of the lumber where insects bored throughout the tree; a.k.a. wormy chestnut.

The wood was strong, light, and was widely used for construction, furniture, and decorative trim. It has a true brown patina – not too light, not too dark… just right to warm a room – chestnut! My favorite is a room paneled with variable width boards that have been left to age to its natural brown patina.

Small shoots of American chestnut are still living throughout the Appalachians, but are soon attacked by the chestnut blight before reaching a few feet tall. Hybrids are being developed to resist the blight. One live chestnut hybrid in the Clemson area is almost 18 inches in diameter and about 60 feet tall – there is still hope!

So, what really is so special – it is a relic of a once great tree important to the forest, and… well… I just like it!

Richard Harper
Professional Forester, Retired

There you have it, folks! Straight from the Forester’s mouth.

Here are a few photos of the removal process:

A "before" picture of the Wormy Chestnut walls.

A “before” picture of the Wormy Chestnut walls.

Getting started!

Getting started!

Saws-alling with a smile!  :)

Saws-alling with a smile! 🙂

Pulling off the last few boards.

Pulling off the last few boards.

The loot!

The loot!

Here's a little Forester Flashback of Richard in his early forestry days. He's on the cover of Westvaco CFM News magazine, November 1983.

Here’s a little Forester Flashback of Richard in his early forestry days. He’s on the cover of Westvaco CFM News magazine, November 1983.

From Stoop to Porch

Nothing says, “Welcome, friends!” like a sweet little covered porch!

Truthfully, there wasn’t really anything wrong with our original front stoop; a sturdy set of stairs and a little landing leading right up to our front door. Totally functional? Yes. Something to remember? Ehhhh, not really.

Its lack-luster presence and barely-there overhang at the front door (hardly enough to keep a guest out of the rain as they ring the doorbell) just wasn’t exactly the warm welcome we wanted. So, with a few very simple changes/additions, our so-so stoop has become a precious porch!

We worked with our builder to design a simple, architecturally appropriate overhang that would shelter the entire front stoop and add a little extra curb appeal to the front. I could describe it all to you, but wouldn’t you rather see pictures? I thought so…

A few “before” pictures:

Before! In fact, this photo is so "before" that it was one of the very first photos we snapped as we were beginning the journey to buy the house (September 2014)... it was ours roughly one year later!

Before! In fact, this photo is so “before” that it is actually one of the very first photos we snapped way back when we were a couple of baby birds just beginning the journey to buy our Nest (taken September 15, 2014)… it was officially ours roughly one year later (we closed on September 25, 2015!).

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The “after” pictures:

Well hello, pretty porch!

Well hello, pretty porch!

Side view!  You can see here how much farther the porch roof extends from the house. It now shelters the entire landing.

Side view! You can see here how much farther the porch roof extends from the house. It now shelters the entire landing.

New front door!

New front door!

Close-up of the tongue and groove ceiling.

Close-up of the tongue and groove ceiling.

And just in case you didn’t quite get the picture… here are a couple of side-by-sides:

Front Porch Before & After

Front Porch Before & After

 

How Appropriate

Ladies and Gentleman, we have chosen a paint color! (For the outside, at least. 🙂 )

8 paint swatch cards and 5 sample jugs later, we have stood close, stood back, squinted, discussed, and viewed them in nearly every hour of daylight… introducing the color chosen to grace the exterior of our nest:

Ta -daaaah! Sherwin Williams Gauntlet Gray

Ta-Daaah!  Sherwin Williams’ Gauntlet Gray it is.

Appropriately named for the “challenge” we’ve endured (Mostly kidding, it has been a lot of fun, too!) to bring the Newton Nest back to its former glory, Gauntlet Gray just seems like a fitting color in which to shroud our bundle of sticks.

Swatch testing!

Swatch testing!

We hope to paint the outside in just a few weeks—stay tuned!

Patchwork Perfect

Hallelujah – our cedar shakes are finally finished! The outside of our Nest has an interesting pattern these days, but after a lot of removing, replacing, and refurbishing, we have a solid exterior again.

Although we think a patchwork quilt is a thing of beauty, the Newtons definitely plan to paint the shakes to ensure that they all blend together soon; so choosing a paint color has become a top priority over the last few weeks…

As part of shaping up the outside, we have also replaced all the trim along the roofline. Initially, we were hoping to patch areas of rotten trim like we did with the shakes, but after some consideration, we decided that this would probably result in a “chopped up” look. Plus, removing and replacing all the trim with new, treated materials would be less labor intensive and weather evenly over time.

So, without further ado, here’s a look at our newly-thatched Nest:

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We had a crew of professionals who did the majority of the cedar shake repair, but the perfectionist of the Newton duo also learned to replace shakes so he could switch out the few sub-par shingles that missed the first cut.

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Matthew taking it one shake at a time.

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This didn’t make me nervous at all… #yikes!

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Once the cedar shake work was complete, Matthew washed the entire exterior in preparation for paint. Talk about a big job!

New trim along the roofline:

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In case you ever decide to try a little cedar shake repair of you own, here’s a sampling of the music playlist that kept us inspired:

  • Shake It Off – Taylor Swift
  • Shake, Rattle and Roll – Elvis Presley
  • If I had a Hammer – Peter, Paul and Mary
  • Shake Your Booty – KC and the Sunshine Band
  • Shake it Up – The Cars
  • Milkshake – Kelis
  • Shake It Off – Mariah Carey
  • Can’t Touch This (Hammertime) – MC Hammer
  • Our House – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

🙂

The Nest gets new stuffing!

What’s fluffy, pink and keeps the Nest cozy all year long?
New insulation, of course!

We have lined our nest with brand new, downy, pink insulation (that oddly enough smells just like cotton candy!). Although very important, we didn’t think much of this step at first…but it actually made a huge difference in both the look and the feel of our house! After the insulation was installed, we noticed that it was much quieter inside and it made all the rooms feel “cleaner” to have all the batting neatly tucked between studs. All-in-all a much more exciting step than we anticipated. 🙂

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A close-up of the pink stuff!

Here’s a look at our newly lined nest:

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The Newton Nest Insulation

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By the way, our insulation guy used stilts instead of a ladder!! Amazing!

Oh, and by the way, our insulation guy used stilts instead of a ladder!! Amazing!

The best part of completing insulation?? Now we can move on to sheetrock!