Earlier this year we finally completed the work in Lori’s studio, and with it being a rainy day today, I decided to take some photos of it since I wasn’t going to be working in the yard.
I was in the middle of the bathroom project when Lori decided she wanted to work on her studio. She volunteered to do some of the work, but most of it, like the painstaking detail painting of the crown molding ended up in my lap.
So for awhile, we had everything in her room (which ended up being way more than I ever imagined could fit in that room) plus everything from the bathroom stored around the house. It was impossible to put anything away because there was so much stuff stored everywhere.
Finally with the bathroom back together and Lori’s studio completed we were able to get the house back in order enough to entertain guests for the first time since March of 2019 when Covid-19 shut everything down.
When we bought our 1888 Victorian in 2000, it was missing a lot of details that make a Victorian such an interesting house. One thing we bought right away was plaster ceiling medalions for several of the rooms. For Lori’s studio we bought one that featured four Tudor ladies, and that started the appropriate theme for her room.
Here’s what we started with. Note the plain trim around the door. I originally thought that the trim had been replaced after the house fell off the foundation in the 1992 earthquake. The house suffered a lot of damage and I figured they salvaged trim from this room to repair some of the other rooms. This was the only room with the plain trim in the house so that made sense.
When I started removing the molding as the first step of the renovation, I found out that the molding was original. Why this room had plain molding instead of the fancier molding, plinth blocks and corner blocks like the other rooms we’ll never know. Possibly this was a kid’s bedroom and they just didn’t want to spend the money?
In 2020, we finally got around to hanging the ceiling medallion, 19 years after I painted it. At that time we also swapped the hurricane light fixture that belonged to her mother with the fixture we had in the bedroom.
May of 2021 I started painting the crown molding. Two coats of gloss black, and then I taped off to paint the orange. Next I had to hand paint the gold, using 2 coats because it doesn’t cover well. More meticulous handpainting for the burgundy eggs and leaves, and then finally painting the black over the orange for the scrolls. The molding is polyurethane, with the pattern chosen to match the wallpaper. We purchased it from Architectural Depot, which is where we also got the moldings for the bedroom and bathroom.
In the picture of the molding you can see the original wallpaper we found in room behind the one section of drywall that I had to repair. Originally our house had wallpaper on cheesecloth that was hung on the solid redwood plank walls. Later they added 1/4″ sheetrock, allowing us to recover the original wall coverings in several rooms.
While I was fixing the drywall in that corner I also did some minor electrical work, adding new outlets since Lori needed more for all her sewing machines, the computer, lights and other office necessities.
By November of 2021 I had finished painting the 8 sections of crown molding out in the garage, and I went back to working in the room. A picture molding was installed, and then I painted the wall above the molding flat black as the frieze wasn’t quite tall enough to cover the space.
Once I had the top part painted, we hired Anthony DiBerardinis (707-273-2308) to hang the molding. As with the molding in the bedroom, I didn’t have a saw big enough to miter molding this large, and I really didn’t want to mess anything up after all those hours and hours of painting. The guy who did a nice job in the bedroom wasn’t available but I got two recommendations for Anthony, and he did an outstanding job as well.
With the picture rail and crown molding in place it was time to start wallpapering. For Lori’s room we chose the Bradbury & Bradbury Neo-Grec roomset in the Terra Cotta colorway. This had long been one of our favorites from Bradbury and we were both really excited to see it start going up.
I did all the wallpapering in this room with Lori’s help. It was also the first room where we covered the entire ceiling and walls with Bradbury. More on that later. I designed the ceiling on the computer, trying to lay it out so that it would be a forgiving pattern to put up. Borders were used throughout to cover edges, and to make up any small errors if the walls weren’t true.
As we found when we installed the molding, the room is actually pretty square for a 130 year old house that had fallen off the foundation. Design-wise everything went according to plan.
I later found out I did my ceiling installation backwards from the preferred method. At the time it seemed like it made more sense to start on the outside and work your way in, but when I ran into some trouble and asked Larry Martin for advice, he said it works better to do the center and work your way out. I can see why now after I’ve done one. It takes a lot more measuring and laying marks on the ceiling but for putting it up and making your trims, it’s easier working out rather than in.
After installing the first border and the four Greek goddess blocks (Earth, Wind, Fire & Water) it was time to start installing the Star Trellis enrichment. The first piece went up fine and then trying to do the second piece it was like every movie you’ve seen where they try to put wallpaper on the ceiling. I found it quite impossible to keep the whole piece on the ceiling. One part would beging to fall and pretty soon the whole thing was peeling off the ceiling.
Our first mistake was we were trying to do it from ladders. Aside from the fact that it’s not a very efficient way to work on the ceiling, I also found Lori was not comfortable at all being up on the ladder when she couldn’t hold on to it. By uncomfortable, I mean panic attack level. After a frustrating night of trying to get the second piece up, we gave up.
I had never wanted to do a Bradbury ceiling in the first place. Before we were lucky to have a friend who happened to be be an expert wallpaperer. I did the walls, he did the ceilings. However, I have a policy of not paying my hard earned money to people who I know supported a president who never should have been elected in the first place and led a coup attempt against our government when we told him to leave.
So I started searching for another professional to finish the job. There aren’t many wallpaperers in Humboldt County and the ones I found passed when they saw what the design was. The closest paperer that Bradbury recommended was near Petaluma. I offered to pay for travel and lodging on top of his fee, but he wasn’t interested.
Lori thought we could just paint the rest but I wasn’t willing to give up. So that’s when we went to talk to Larry Martin as I knew he and Jerry had done some of their own work.
We talked me through the process and it was clear we needed a better platform to work from. I had planned to build Lori a new worktable anyways, so I thought I’d go ahead, build the table I planned, and just put it on a set of casters so we could easily roll it around the room as needed.
A month later with the table constructed, and the tips we learned from Larry we went back at it and it was so much easier! I was able to complete the ceiling and just to trim everything off a little more we ordered a bit of the Chain Border and added that to the design.
With the ceiling completed it was time to work on the walls. We didn’t want to move the heavy rolltop desk out of the room so we worked around it, finishing one half of the room, and then we slid it into it’s new spot and finished the rest of the room.
Because Lori has so much furniture in the room, our original thought was to paint the lower portion of the walls burgundy rather than use the Bradbury dado. But as I was papering the walls it just felt like the room needed the dado, and it was always the pattern I like the most in that room set.
So we decided at the last moment to go ahead and order that paper. I’m so glad we did. Even though you only see a little bit of it in the room, it adds so much to the total look. Hopefully whoever buys our house after we’re done using it will have less furniture and they’ll enjoy it even more.
Working on the walls was pure pleasure after doing the ceiling. It was so much nicer having gravity work in your favor rather than against you.
Another last minute change from out original plan was painting the doors. Using the LiveHome 3D program we had mocked up the room and had originally planned to paint the doors burgundy with cream panels. But as we painted the trim we thought it would look better to just paint the doors solid black to match the trim.
This project was the reason we bought LiveHome 3D in the first place, and aside from keeping us entertained during the Covid-19 years, it was invaluable for this project. I used it to lay out the ceiling design, we tested color combinations, and we even used it to rearrange the furniture to make sure it all fit.
Here is the design, followed by shots of the finished project. We’re so thrilled with the result and proud that we managed it all by ourselves, with the exception of Anthony’s work on installing the crown molding.