Archive for the ‘dining room’ Category

a quiet return

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

mad is returning from a long hiatus with a short explanation and a follow-up on one of our little mad projects. The good news is that mad is still here, still in the maison d’etre (oh no, bad international puns), and still working. We’ve thought of our little blog and our faithful readers many times, but we simply fell off the mad maison wagon for a bit. Part of it was my employment situation–I (denise) left my job at one technology company and found a great job at another (better) technology company. In truth, however, that’s not the only reason. While I won’t say that mad stopped working on the house completely over the last few months, we definitely slowed down significantly. Call it a break, call it a little home repair burnout, mike and I needed to catch our breath for a bit. With a new year, of course, come new resolutions and new convictions. We’re back to repairing plaster, spackling, and working on our little projects.

As you may recall from this post, I wanted to make an old lamp I found in the house a little more mad. I’m happy to report that the project is complete (after spending a few too many months in our garage). It’s still old, it’s still funky, but it’s much more to our liking:

a little lamp project (after)

a little lamp project (after)

And for those of you who would like a reminder of what it looked like before:

a little project

my little lamp project (before)

Thanks to those of you who have patiently waited for our return; we plan to reward you in 2011 with more frequent posts about our ongoing adventures!

Old piece, new life

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

As I mentioned last week, mad has a couple of final touches for the dining room, including the refinishing of my grandmother’s buffet cabinet and dining room chairs. This week, we decided to tackle refinishing the dining room cabinet, and we’re quite pleased with the results.

Dining Room Before

a reminder of what the buffet looked like before

I have to give credit to a blog I read regularly, young house love. John and Sherry at yhl wrote about their experience refinishing a mid 20th century dresser for their new daughter’s room. I was shocked to learn that it is possible to refinish a veneered piece of furniture, as long as the piece is well constructed. I knew the overall look of my grandmother’s piece would work well with our style, but I assumed I was stuck with the color, which honestly doesn’t quite go with the rest of our dark wood pieces. After sanding a discreet test area, I knew we were in business. The hardest part of the sanding process was working through the veneer and sanding the doors, which have plenty of nooks and crannies. We gave up our garage parking spot for the week and used one of minwax’s stain/poly products. We completed three full coats of stain to get a color that would work for us.

buffet after

the cabinet after the mad treatment, with Max's approving gaze

It’s the very first time we’ve refinished any piece of wood, and overall, we’re very pleased with the results. You’ll see the color works pretty well with our dining room table. We’re also happy with the new hardware we used that matches the pulls and knobs on the built-in dish cabinet. I often read about fellow bloggers who buy flea market and cragislist pieces and breathe new life into them. I now understand how they feel–amplified by the fact that it’s my grandmother’s piece (so it has a personal history and no cost). The final cherry on top is that we have a little more room in the garage. Of course, it also means its really time to move on to Mike’s office.

back with a bang

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Our apologies, loyal readers–mad took a little unexpected break from blogging. We’re happy to announce we’re back with gusto–and with a new room to show you. For while we weren’t blogging about it, we were throwing a healthy amount of energy into completing the rehab on our dining room. While mad would never say that rehabbing any of these rooms is easy, we will admit this room was less frustrating than our bedroom. Removing the three layers of wallpaper was easier because it didn’t cover the entire wall (thanks to the wainscoting), and because for some mysterious reason it wasn’t infused with the wall itself (we think the house was giving us a break). In addition, the challenge of painting the wainscoting was actually pretty straightforward. The room has already been put to good use–both as a dining room and Denise’s office. We’re particularly proud of the built in cabinet–not only did we paint it, but we replaced the door hardware from strange plastic wanna-be art deco hardware to a straightforward black hardware. Feel free to check out the full collection of dining room before and after shots on our flickr site.

In the coming days/weeks we’re going to get started on our guest bedroom (which is also Mike’s office), so we’ll have plenty to share with you. In addition, we still have some remaining tasks for the dining room (refinishing my grandmother’s old buffet cabinet and reupholstering her dining room chairs), so the house work is far from over. In the meanwhile, thanks for enduring our blog break and for sticking with us.

Dining Room Before

The dining room before we moved in

Dining Room After

The dining room after the mad treatment

DR after 4

Before and after of the built-in cabinet in the dining room

mad archaelogy

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

Today, mad completed our first archaeology project. My brother came over today to help us with some dining room mad rehab. Before we got started, he told us a legend that had been passed down from my grandfather to my father, and from my father to him. Supposedly, when my family first moved into this house there were doors separating the two rooms that comprise the aforementioned “double parlor.” For reasons that weren’t altogether clear (perhaps they considered it an ancient, dangerous doorway into another dimension), my grandfather covered up these doors, sealing them for all eternity (or so he thought).


The legendary secret door.

We decided to see if there was any truth to the legend. The risks were great–if we removed the wood, we could damage it, making it hard to reinstall it. In addition, of course, there was the prospect of double work–removing something simply to have to put it back together again. The three of us decided the potential reward would be worth the risks. With pry bars and mallets, mike and my brother started lightly banged away at the piece that likely covered up the door. After a short time, it was clear that there was something behind the wood they were removing. About ten minutes later (after removing all three pieces of wood) two functional, wood pocket doors were revealed. These doors will come in handy when I need to keep working in one room and Mike wants to relax in the other. Also, mad appreciates revealing yet another original detail in the house. However, we’re also tempted to stop all other rehab work on our home and search for the treasures that we’re now convinced are hidden elsewhere in the house.


Our new pocket doors, compliments of Mike and my brother. You can check out the whole reveal process by clicking on the photo and going to our flickr site.

dining room inspiration

Monday, March 8th, 2010

Now that mad has removed all the wallpaper from the dining room, we can start of the next steps of prepping the walls for painting. Our dining room has some unique features: it has pressed tin wainscoting covering the first five feet of wall, it has a “plate shelf” that sits right above the wainscoting, and it has a coved ceiling. It is also connected to our living room by a wide arch (often referred to as a “double parlor”), so we want to make sure the two rooms work well together. We will therefore carry the beautiful earth-tone wall color we painted in the living room into the dining room.

And again, apartment therapy and my mom come to our aide. My mom, after flipping through a recent issue of Living etc I brought back from the UK, suggested we paint the lower half of the walls the same color as our living room. I was initially wary about painting the pressed tin until I saw a tour of a charming SF apartment over at apartment therapy where the inhabitants painted their wainscoting a darker color. As you can see, the look is compelling and we’re tempted to follow suit. I’ll be doing some test painting after work this week while mike completes some of the other prep steps like washing the walls and completing the plaster repair. Regardless, mad always gets excited when we get to the this point of a project–I think we’re both shocked we got to this point so quickly for this particular room. Whether or not this pace remains is all up to the pressed tin, primer, paint, and guile.

dining room inspiration

My mom proven correct, again. Photo from

A little site business for those of you interested: you’ll notice this photo links to our new flickr account. We’ll be migrating our photos over there, as well as uploading a few additional photos that haven’t been previously blogged.

mad catches a break

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Last summer, mad started the journey of rehabilitating our home room by room. We started in the living room, thinking it would take a week and that would be that. Starting with that fateful room, mad soon learned that this was not going to be a fast process. The wallpaper in this house seems to have been partially infused into the wall, all to address cracks and damage to the plaster walls. We realized each room would take weeks or months to strip, repair, prime, and paint. Our dedication to rehabbing this house “right” was recently reinforced when I read a well-written blog by a couple in Chicago who are rehabbing their Chi-town bungalow. When presented with one wall in their bedroom that is like every single wall in our house, they decided to leave the wallpaper and paint over it. It’s become clear to me that our path might be honorable, but it’s also lonely. We started building our arsenal of wallpaper removal products, from scrapers, to DIF gel, to power steamers. It was with this sense of patience and determination that we decided to head to the next room for repair, the dining room. Our dining room is the largest room in the house and serves as both dining room and my home office. It has great bones, and we were thrilled that due to the presence of tin wainscoting that lines the lower five feet of wall (more on that in a future post), we wouldn’t have as much wallpaper to remove.

That thrill was initially squelched when we first moved in, removed some wallpaper in the room “dry” (without any removal gel or steam), and discovered three layers of wallpaper on the walls. Last week, however, we decided to jump in and attack a very small stretch of the dining room with all of our newly found know-how and our arsenal of supplies. Lo and behold, that section of wall was free of all three layers in under an hour. Before we knew it, we removed a third of the wallpaper in less than three hours. Yesterday, mad was committed to getting the dining room to a wallpaper-free state by the end of the day. And I’m happy to report at exactly 11:59 pm last night we stood and looked at the hospital green walls now visible where wallpaper used to be. In addition, unlike every other room in the house, the dining room has three cracks total that will require the infamous Big Wally’s plaster magic. That means we won’t have to skim (and therefore sand) the room. That means we can do minor repairs, and then immediately prime and paint. We might even have a finished dining room before spring is fully upon us. We are eternally grateful to this room and this house for finally giving us a break.

A view of the three layers of wallpaper found in the dining room.

Who would have thought mad would find an expanse of hospital green walls in their own house so beautiful.