Today was a momentous occasion at the Knowles house. While we have done lots of work on our 1888 Victorian in the 17 years that we’ve lived here, I can finally say one room, our bedroom, is completed. We have two other rooms close to being done, but they both have minor projects that have been ignored for many years. With hanging the picture that hides the TV in the bedroom today, I can finally feel satisfied that one project is completed.
This is what we started with. The room had two matching closets that may or may not be original. They were trimmed with moldings and corner blocks that didn’t match the rest of the house, and they had bifold doors that obviously weren’t original. It was papered in that style of paper that people pick out when they want “Victorian”. There was no picture rail, and the redwood floors had been carpeted over.
In 2012 when the heating system was taken out from a flood, we had to move our furnace and ductwork into the attic. This required removing part of the left closet to make way for the cold air duct going up to the attic. So for several years we had a gutted closet on the left. It remained that way for years because I had too many other projects to work on, and not enough money.
Then in late 2016, Lori forced the issue, as she got so tired of staring at the ugly wallpaper at night that she started stripping it. At first we thought we’d just quickly paint the room, but as I started working on it, I realized I can’t do things half assed. So the plan became to redo the entire room with a gothic feel.
During our trips to England and Wales, we fell in love with the rich colors and gothic details we saw in a lot of the estates and castles. Since we have a very king sized bed, it seemed appropriate to make a grand room, even if on a very small scale.
We started off painting the ceiling with Yarrow Blossom, and then added a frieze using Waves of Blue. Next the woodwork was grained, using the same procedure and colors we’ve used throughout the rest of the house.
Since the casings and corner blocks didn’t match the rest of the house, and several rooms were missing some of the trim, we had Mad River Woodworks mill pieces that match the originals. We’ve had owner Tim Thornton do work for us before, and every time we have been super pleased with his quality, lead time, and pricing. Much better than that other local mill shop.
While prepping the rest of the walls for paint, there was some baseboard repair that needed to be made, and pulling off a section of the baseboard, we found fragments of the original Victorian wallpaper. It was interesting to see that the color we chose wasn’t too far off from the original, and that it also had metallic accents, just like the Bradbury and Bradbury reproductions.
The graining is done by painting a base layer, and then applying a glaze over the top of that. Using a variety of metal combs and rubber graining tools, the wood grain patterns are made by dragging the tools through the wet glaze. Then when that dries, we finished it off with a couple of coats of satin urethane.
Then came the hard part. Not having the money to hang the Bradbury and Bradbury paper we really wanted, I decided to try stenciling the walls instead. I found a fleur de lis stencil on Etsy that for $12 dollars and a lot of work would reproduce something similar to the Bradbury paper. For the walls the color we used is Drama Queen. After using the stencil, I noticed that the repeat on the design had a small error that could cause large drifts when doing a whole wall. We mentioned that problem to the artist who made the stencil, and hopefully they corrected it. But it meant I had to be really careful in what directions I used the stencil in.
The next step was to install the picture rail that separates the frieze from the wall. For the picture rail and all the other gold elements in the room, we used DecoArt Dazzling Metallics Splendid Gold paint.
In the other rooms we have worked on, we used a three piece crown molding that was sold by San Francisco Victorianna, but they have since gone out of business. So we started looking for other alternatives. Searching the Internet for gothic crown moldings, we fell in love with the Brighton Crown Molding, which we ordered from ArchitecturalDepot.com, a source we used repeatedly for this room.
Not content to do things the easy way, I decided to paint the moldings with same three colors used on the walls, except a gloss paint was used instead for the burgundy color. One of the hardest parts of painting the molding was finding the thin widths of masking tape that were required. Finally, I struck gold at Matthew’s Paints in Eureka. The various steps for the painting are shown below. The blue and burgundy were sprayed, the gold was hand painted, and the for the criss cross pattern I used a little round foam brush and dabbed it on.
Once the moldings were all painted, I was too scared to hang them myself, for several reasons. First, I didn’t have a saw large enough to cut the miters, second, I had never hung urethane moldings before, and third, I really had no idea how to make the corners match since it has the cross hatch pattern. So I decided to hire an expert, Rob from DCI. He came over and did a masterful job of installing the crown molding. Now that our room had a crown, it really was regal.
We had already moved the furniture back into the room prior to installing the crown, and before falling asleep each night I’d stare at what we had accomplished and couldn’t believe this was our bedroom. But looking at the antique light that has followed with us through every place we’ve lived, I felt it needed a ceiling medallion to set it off. So back to Architectural Depot, and found one that carried the theme quite well and would work for that type of lamp. It got the same paint treatment as the molding. The medallion is also made out of urethane foam which makes it a lot easier to hang than a plaster one, and I feel a lot better knowing it won’t knock me out if the next earthquake is a big one. (We live in very active earthquake country so that’s a big concern.)
Originally, we were going to have a cabinet made for the left side, and just grain the bifold doors on the right, but after seeing how nice the cabinet looked, and figuring we were into it so far at this point anyways, we had matching doors made for the closet on the right. Local cabinetmaker Steve Courtemanch made them according to my design. I wanted a place to have a compact stereo so there’s a shelf for that.
One thing we hadn’t planned on was the TV. I’ve never wanted a TV in the bedroom, but after my mom passed away, none of the other siblings wanted her 42″ flat screen and it was otherwise just going to go to a charity thrift shop, so we took it home. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do too much damage to my freshly stenciled wall to install it. It hangs from two brass picture rods that attach to the picture rail, and then all the wiring goes through the wall and over to the stereo shelf. We enjoyed being able to watch TV in the bedroom, especially when my back is hurting from a long day of chores, but it still felt out of place for the rest of the room.
So my final project, that I finished today, was to frame one of my photos of Stourhead Lake that I took during our 1995 trip to England. Again I returned to Architectural Depot for a urethane crown molding that I used as a picture frame. The photo is mounted on foam core, and the foam frame was then attached to that without any glass. The whole frame and photo is then attached to the TV using Velcro dots.
The picture hangers, curtain tiebacks, closet handles and knobs, and the fleur de lis hook on the door were all purchased from House of Antique Hardware.
Below is a gallery of images of the completed bedroom.