I recently updated that we were working on our “room divider” in the living room. I needed Mr. Project to finish it really fast because I was hosting a bunco party. So he kicked it into high gear and start to finish he had the room divider and all the wall trim up and painted in less than two weeks.
Now I’m going to show you this before picture, but I do have to warn you that this is like SUPER before. This was what it looked like when we bought it:
Everything about this before is terrible, and let me tell you that if you had smell-o-vision that picture would stink to high heaven because of the 30 year old carpet and probably the 30 year old paint job. Let me point out some very special things about the before just in case you miss the subtleties. 1. Popcorn ceilings, 2. hideous 30-year old orange peal textured walls (like really bad bad texture, not new slightly bad texture). 3. old stinky carpet, 4. 1-inch stained pine baseboards & pine doors, 5. creamy old switches and plugs, 6. wall blocking the kitchen, 7. rickety metal railing (we tried to salvage the wood beam, but the stink had permeated it so we had to toss it). Basically the whole space was repugnant and have I mentioned that everyone tried to talk us out of buying this house?
Well that was more than a year ago. Before we moved in, most of the work was done in this space – though I don’t have a good progress picture. So Imagine the space with the pretty stairs, hardwood floors, smooth white ceilings and walls painted gray. It was a nice space, but really boring and other than the stairs lacked architectural detail. And for me, the biggest issue was that there was no clear division of space. I’m all for open concept, but I want spaces to feel like they have a beginning and end. Here’s my first progress photo to show about where we were at when we got started + the cabinets, beam, and columns:
So for the first part of this project, we decided the specs on the cabinets – we didn’t want them to feel too big and bulky, but yet they still needed to have some weight to them. We went with 12″ deep on the inside of the cabinets (standard size for an upper cabinet), 34″ tall (standard height for a base cabinet), and then 22″ wide (just a good size for the space).
Mr. Project built the cabinets – the face frames and doors are maple, the boxes and shelves are pre-finished melamine board. The outsides of the boxes are trimmed with 1/4″ MDF to create the paneling on the sides and backs. The cabinets are topped with a solid chunk of Black Walnut that we got from a friend who had cut down and milled some walnut trees on his land several years ago (whenever using solid wood, make sure that is is properly dried to avoid warping and splitting). It’s really gorgeous and Mr. Project was thrilled to get some solid pieces big enough to use without having to glue anything. Initially I had planned for the whole thing to be white, but I’m so glad that Mr. Project suggested walnut – it’s expensive, but in the end it brings some much-needed contrast to the very white space.
Once the cabinets were done, he installed them to the walls and bolted them to the floors. Nothing’s moving these suckers. Next he installed a 2×4 to the ceiling (screwing it into the beams above) and then built the beam out of 3/4″ MDF like a big U and screwed nailed and glued it onto the 2×4. The columns are built out of 3/4″ cabinet-grade plywood cut and mitered and affixed to one small square screwed into the beam and one small square screwed into the cabinet top.
Once all the main pieces were assembled and installed, trim work could begin:
Mr. Project continued the crown molding along the beam, and then trimmed out the columns and put baseboard on the cabinets. Then he started on the board and batten that we did all around the front room, one wall in the dining room, and then up the stairs.
Once all the trim was done the real work began… putting, caulking, sanding, priming, sanding, and painting. Mr. Project and nearly the entire house was covered in a fine white dust for a good 4 days. It was pretty awful. And all I wanted to do was keep cleaning and vacuuming because I couldn’t handle the dust. but in the end it was worth all of the hard work!
Here is the room divider all finished (missing the doors). It’s so so so so gorgeous, and just the perfect thing for the space. You would never know that it wasn’t always there either. It really is just a great focal point for the room. Especially since this is what you see first when you walk in the house.
And here from further back, you can see the expansiveness of the board and batten.
And head on with furniture in place, a peak of the stairs to your left.
And now the full stair shot – I loved my stairs before, but now I super duper love them with the trim.
And then a few days later Mr. Project installed the inset doors and shiny latches. This matches our kitchen cabinets & hardware to tie the spaces together.
And the over-all shot. Bestill my heart! Such a beautiful space, and completely unbelievable that it’s the same space that we started with over a year ago!