Warning: lots of photos in this post!
This project took me all.summer.
It originally started off as "just stripping the paint off the newel post and the steps and add a little white paint and brighten up the foyer". But like everything else in the house, I got started and realized it wasn't going to be as simple as one weekend of "let's take the paint off he newel post and the steps and add a a little white paint", oh noooooo. As I got deeper and deeper into it, it became painfully clear just how much work this was going to take to get the job done right.
At the time, my work schedule went haywire and I had very little free time at home to do projects. And Kevin was constantly on the road working and hardly ever home, either.
So almost all my free time - including many very late nights - was spent stripping layer after layer of paint off. I was using a toothpick to remove some of the paint. A visitor to my house during the stair case re-do would would find me hunched over the stairs or the railing with my face about two inches away, sanding away.
A few weeks into the project, I started having horrible eye pain. It got worse, and wasn't going away, so I ended up having an emergency visit to the eye doctor, where it was determined that I had some kind of infection in my eye - most likely from the contaminated dust stirred up from the sanding. After all, much of the old paint was lead. I had several prescriptions given to me, and it cleared it up - but from then on forward I wore eye protection and a face mask.
(With the paint all gone)
Then the stair project spilled over on the the floor, and we decided to strip the whole foyer down to the original black pine flooring from the 20s. There were about three layers of gross brown paint on top of it. I spent weeks and weeks on my knees and every spare moment I could get.
Of course once the stripping and sanding was all complete, the walls all needed re painting, and the trim... and the exposed wood needed touching up with stain to even out the tone... meanwhile, fall is setting in, and colder weather. And my work schedule is still ..... complicated .... at this point. Even more complicated than before.
But finally, it was done. It's not perfect - and that's OK. We're going for lived in cozy farmhouse, not perfect. We're not shellacking anything either - we might wax, but we don't want high gloss. High gloss and farmhouse just don't work well together, in my opinion.
I still have to strip door frames and re paint doors but that is for next year's warm season.... when I can open all the doors and windows for ventilation so I don't get another eye infection. That, and I am just plain worn out from months and months of this remodeling work. I feel like even though I worked for months, we've still barely scratched the surface of the volume of what has to be done to this house before it's done-done.
For the past year or so, I've been buying framed vintage prints in a similar color scheme and collecting them in my stash. By summer's end, I had enough of them to complete the look for my newly re finished stair case wall.
Thank you, Pinterest - the idea of cutting paper to the exact size of the prints and arranging them on the wall before putting holes everywhere is genius.
You'll notice, in this photo, that some white paint remains in the cracks of the newel post. I gave up on it. I was scraping it out with a toothpick hour after hour and it just got old.
You can't really tell here, but there is faded painted stencil lettering on the bottom of the newel post, from the lumber yard in South Boston where this must have been purchased back in the 20s.I left that, too. I find it super cool.
I'm so glad I got it done before Christmas. Now I get to festoon the railing with real pine/cedar garland and bows...