the all-seeingeye James McAllaster House: Sitting Room

Winter, 2003-2004

Roughed-in bookcases of MDF and pine. The middle third is a window seat.
Adding new, square, plumb walls to an ancient house is a treat. The space between the floor and ceiling is exactly 96 inches along these walls, but the floor and ceiling curve almost an inch in 8 feet . . .

November and December have been way too cold to work on my boat, so I've been up to some work on the inside of the house. I'm adding some closet space and some more bookshelves. If you've looked at the plans for the McAllaster House, this is the room between the master bedroom and the first floor full bath.

The trim detail for the bookcases will be a scaled-down version of the door trim in the oldest part of the house.

The closets are lined with bead-board detailed plywood, largely just screwed and glued to the old walls.

The door trim for the room will also be a copy of the existing pillar and architrave door trim elsewhere in the house. Here is a quick shot of some of the boards being assembled. Yes, that really is a Stanley* Model 45 in use. I used it to cut the beading. Each column is built up from three pieces, which you can see outlined in the photograph.

* not to be confused with the Connecticut garage-door opener company.

Just how far out of level are things? This photograph shows the two ends of the bookcase. The column base tops (the arrows) are level. The adjacent baseboard is the same height.

May 19, 2004

Progress has been made. Compare this view of the closet with the one above.

The window trim also matches the doors. Note the extra-wide ledge to give the cats a view of the bird bath and feeder. I think we'll end up putting a cafe table and two chairs in this corner. That will make a nice place to sit and have the morning coffee.

One of the reasons we set out to redecorate this room-aside from the need for more closet space-was the aged country-kitchen heart motif wallpaper the room was covered in. When we removed the trim around one of the windows, this even older wallpaper was behind it. We know that this wing had been added to the house prior to about 1922. The wallpaper, though, would seem to be earlier than that-but I can't be certain.

May 24, 2004

Trim work is completed, and painting all those yards of intricate molding is mostly done. Just about time to call in the floor refinisher.

This room is incredibly small and laid out in a way that makes it almost impossible to get a decent photograph. All in all, I am pleased with the results.

The big closet

The linen closet

New bathroom door

Bookcases and window seat