Month of Makeovers Day 4: And there was light! Um, sorta.Posted: October 4, 2013
Hard to believe, but we’ve been renovating LurayVille for nearly a year now. The foundation for the addition was poured early last November. We’ve had the plans for eight years, drawn up after many many back & forths with an architect friend, so it’s been a long time coming. And a long time getting built!
That’s our builder there. We’ll call him Mr. Darcy, because he’s British and good-looking and single. I don’t know about the “income of 10,000 pounds a year” part.
As Mr. Darcy set up the framing for the addition, the first impact it had on our old living space was in the stairhall to the second floor. The window on the landing was pulled out and the opening boarded over. That made me a little sad, because that window faced east, and in the mornings the whole stairhall would be flooded with a lovely light. It was one of my favorite things about the house, and now it was gone.
WAAAH! I just wanted extra closets!
Thank goodness we had a plan.
My dad had a pair of sorta-matching stained glass windows in his basement workshop. For years he had them “temporarily” wedged in barnboard framing on either side of a doorway, like a grand entranceway to his workbench. Getting them permanently installed must have been one of those things he never got a chance to do, but in the meantime why should he have deprived himself of the pleasure of looking at them? “Temporary” worked just fine.
(Note to self: Enjoy stuff! Even if it’s not perfectly the way you want it!)
So our plan was to install one of the windows in the niche on the stair landing, partly to suggest a real window, partly to break up the elevator-shaft feeling in the stairhall.
Usually a stained glass window with no natural daylight behind it is lit with a giant vertical lightbox made from a couple of long-lasting fluorescent fixtures behind a diffusing pane of white glass. But we just didn’t have the wall depth for that. Creative thinking time!
Mr. Darcy and the electrician (we’ll call him Mr. Bingley, because he’s a really nice guy) chewed this over a bit, and decided to use a rope of tiny LEDs around the perimeter of the window. LEDs cast a very bright light, don’t burn out, and stay cool—excellent features for lights that would be mostly inaccessible.
Here’s the niche with repaired drywall and a rather startling shade of deep blue on the back wall. I thought the color would mimic daylight and also hide the shadows we could see through some of the more transparent glass onto the wall when it was coated with just white primer. (That’s Benjamin Moore’s “Twilight Blue,” in case you’re dying to know!)
And here’s one of my favorite tools: a 4″ foam roller. Fits in tight spots, lays paint down fast, and gives a nice smooth finish. If you’re working on “the flats,” as Mr. Darcy calls any surface without edges, this is what you want.
Mr. Bingley installs the LEDs . They’re tiny! And see how little room there is? Maybe three-quarters of an inch in depth.
Mr. Darcy installs the new casing around the niche, so it matches every other window in the house . . .
. . . and installs the window, just to see how it looks. The big moment has arrived. We flip the switch.
BIG hmmmmm. First of all, I still haven’t actually CLEANED this window, so now I can see how dirty it really is after years in my dad’s workshop.
Yep. That there’s some major gunk. Time to break out a couple old soft toothbrushes to scrub the dirt off the glass. And use the paint scraper to pull the crud off the wooden frame too.
Second of all, I think the deep blue works rather well around the perimeter of the window. But in the center? Not so much. Too dark for that peachy-color field with the flowers. I think they might be clematis, which makes me smile because my parents’ houses, one after another, all had a clematis vine somewhere.
But I’ve got many other things to do. So we’ll let things stay put for now—I am going to just enjoy this window, even if it’s not perfect. But meanwhile . . .
What if I paint the back wall right behind the center panel this nice light peachy color I just happen to have?
Stay tuned . . .
See the entire list of projects for our Month of Makeovers HERE.