Secret Project Revealed: John’s Room

I disappeared again.

Let’s take a minute or two to talk about old houses, shall we?

Old houses have been around long enough to have their own personalities. The initial phrase people use is usually ‘charming’. As in, what a charming old house this is! You have to focus on the charming to get past the fact that nothing is going to go right when you’re working on an old house. Or at least, it’s never going to be perfect- but what house is? They’re like people that way, kind of wonderful. (Often frustrating.)

This is John’s room.

I love John, he’s a wonderful husband and friend. He’s also a dictator of a big brother and a very devoted son. He does a lot for the people in his life that he feels deserve the best. He’s always going out of his way to make my life as perfect as possible and sometimes I get teary just thinking about how great he is because I’m that kind of sap. Honestly, words will never express how much he means to me, so I’m not going to bore you trying. You get the point: John does a lot for others but he’s never really focused on himself or what he wants.

That’s my job.

So while John was planning a trip for his job, I was trying to come up with ideas for what to do for him. Originally he was planning on being out of town for two weeks. (Two weeks at the beginning of February, in Des Moines. All of that sounds like a fantasy work trip, right?) With two weeks, I could do it all right?!

Or maybe I could just… clean.

That corner confused me the most. It reminded me of Toom’s from the X-files. Only instead of bile and newspaper, I thought John might be making a nest out of old socks and clothes.

Let me show you a few problem areas that John had been looking at every day.

The people before the last owner were big fans of starting projects but not finishing them. (The last owner didn’t do anything to the house except cover it in bird seed and glitter.) So as you can see here, they painted the ceiling but let it come down onto the wall. Maybe they were planning on painting the wall eventually… None of the walls have been painted in the house though. Half of them are in various stages of (bad) repair, with a lot of drywall tape making appearances in weird places.







The doors all looked like this at the top of their frames.

Plus his room had the worst corner in the whole house. Which also happened to be right next to his computer. He told me that he hated seeing that corner because it just reminded him of how much work needed to be done.

Before we get to the in progress shots: there was one wall next to a chimney that runs through his room that was the worst as far as the walls go. Any wall next to a chimney- especially a plaster wall, is going to have cracks. If it gets to the point that you can see it, that means that there’s even more going on beneath the surface. You should actually do some wall repair so that you don’t just paint it and it shows up ten times worse a week after you’ve painted it.

Now you can actually see what I was working against. Every crack had to be caulked, taped and then mudded over with drywall mud. Sanded and then mudded again until it was smooth and blended with the wall.

That’s a lot of work. Which wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d had the right tools. When I finally got around to sanding, I only had 200 grit sandpaper. Which made me want to die. (I needed more like 80.) My dad got a bunch of tearful messages that week and he decided to show up and see what was going on. When he saw the sandpaper I was using her was like, “that’s like bringing a knife to a gun fight, Linds- no wonder you’re having problems.” Then he showed me how to use a power sander. All that I worried about after that was choking to death on drywall dust in the frenzied tornado it caused.

Well, okay, maybe that didn’t get rid of all my worries.

There were some major problems near the window. Problems I didn’t even know how to begin addressing. Once I pulled that big piece of plaster out of there that was just floating around, I found I had more questions than solutions. So I decided to just ‘throw some mud at it.’ A phrase my dad was fond of using this past summer when we were working on the upstairs. (Which I still haven’t gotten around to posting pictures of, sorry!)

My Dad knows he’s awesome. Also- see that corner? That’s the same one that had the hole.

John’s Dad and brother came over and helped us move the big book case so we could paint the wall behind it. If they hadn’t, it would have stayed how it was originally and that would have been fine. But I was glad that they helped us because the room looks so much more put together with every wall painted.

John also had his work trip cut short to a week. Meaning all of the things that I wanted to do also got cut short. I had plans for this and that, but here’s where we were after a week:

Can you tell that he’s a fan of maps?

It definitely looks different. What do you guys think? Have you ever tried to surprise someone while they were out of town? How did it go over? I still have plans to get a rug and a few other things to bring the room together but now all of the big stuff is out of the way. Plus, he was genuinely surprised by the whole thing. I thought for sure he knew what was going on because I’m terrible at keeping secrets but he had no idea what was up.   [<- that link takes you to a movie of his reaction.]

Seriously though- tell me what you think in the comments!

11 thoughts on “Secret Project Revealed: John’s Room

  1. Nice looking room! I so want a big wall of shelves for books and stuff. Love the green. Your house has such awesome wood trim it’s hard for anything to look bad. Cool seeing the before and after. Great job!

    I have a new saw coming so I can put down a floor, and I’m hoping such a tool will open up a bunch of other projects previously out of reach.

    But the big question is, where did you get a Radio Shack t-shirt? Awesome.

    1. Oooh, what kind of saw? A chop saw? Are you putting down laminate floor? That’s what we put up on the third floor in Miranda’s loft. The wood work in our house is pretty sweet and there are random little embellishments around the house that I really appreciate.

      The Radio Shack t-shirt is a favorite. I think it belonged to John’s dad from when he was a manager there. Back when everything said “A Tandy Corporation.” John also worked at Radio Shack in college.

  2. I can attest to how good this room looks since I had the pleasure of seeing it in person. I still can’t believe you did that all in (less than?) a week. The walls look gorgeous and I love the color you chose. It really highlights your awesome woodwork and ceiling. GOOD JOB APOCAKNITS.

    Now….will you come over and help me hang shelves in my dining room sometime? 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment! You just name the time and the place and I’ll bring over one of the big crazy levels we have in the basement.

    1. I like that ‘color me impressed’ pun. Har har. Thanks! I did work hard and he seemed to really appreciate it. He was especially impressed that I fixed that hole next to the window. 🙂

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