• December 20, 2003

Living Room Discoveries

Moving along with the restoration of our living room

Built-ins, Removing Paint, Restoration Diary, Woodwork,

In any restoration there are surprises, both good and bad. The good news? We discovered just how nice our built-in storage bench is. The storage bench, sometimes referred to as a gentleman caller’s bench, is a fairly unique feature in our neighborhood for a bungalow of this size. It was difficult to see the details of the hardware and woodwork because they were hidden under layers and layers of paint. Everything seemed to blend in with the white walls. We didn’t even notice the bench before we moved in because the previous owners had placed a huge projection screen television in front of it.

It never occurred to me that anyone would paint over a mirror! I felt the bench needed a tiny mirror hung on it’s back but decided to wait until we completed the restoration. Thank goodness I waited or else I would have shattered the original mirror when I hammered a nail into it.

We were amazed to find the amount of detail present on the hooks. Each hook has a tiny face on it.

The bad news? Someone drilled holes in the pocket doors and later filled them in with plaster. The only thing I can figure out is that someone put a chain through the holes and then added a padlock to keep that room secure. My neighbor told me that our house was broken into twice when the previous owner’s grandmother lived here. She added bars to the windows after the second break in.

I’m not sure of the best way to repair these holes? The plaster will need to be knocked out. Maybe the holes can be filled in with Bondo?

:: Read about the process used to strip or remove paint from our woodwork. ::

The front door. You can see where part of the door frame was been replaced with plywood. That is also probably the result of a past break in.

The windows on either side of the fireplace are now stripped.

Built-in bookcases. The doors are missing. We hope to some day have replacement doors made.

Built-in storage bench with mirror and coat hooks.

Comments { 9 }
  1. Heather

    David and Heather,

    The house is looking great! I wrote you earlier this year asking about your success with paint removal. Thanks for the tips. I am impressed with how the gentleman caller’s bench came out too. As I said before my fiance and I are refurbishing a 1920 Bungalow in Northern CA. We are a little stressed because we are not living in our house yet and feel somewhat anxious to get in there. I am curious…did you refinish the floors yourself?? They are beautiful?? What tools/products did you find useful??

    Best of luck to you in your continued efforts. Merry Christmas in your fabulous home!!

    Heather and Tony

  2. heather

    Hi, Heather! Thanks for your message. I wish we would have had more time to work on our house before we moved in. By the time everything went through escrow we only had a week before we needed to move in. It was crazy! Everything takes so much more time to complete than I had anticipated. Hang in there!

    We were told that our floors were “shot” and would need to be replaced. You can only sand down floors so many times and it appears that someone was overzealous with the floor sander some time in our home’s past. Our realtor refinished an old home, which he lives in, and was able to recommend someone. The person we used was amazing and he was able to work magic on our floors – which everyone else had said were a lost cause. I think the person who did the work on our floors took pity on us because we gave us a very low quote.

    At that time, hiring someone to do the floors was a stretch but I’m SO glad we did. It was worth every penny.

    Good luck with your house. Please, keep us posted on your progress. Here’s to 2004 in your new home!


  3. jeannie & aaron

    Oh SO cool! Congratulations on the new website look, you two! Plus, the house is just getting better and better.

    And it’s somewhat comforting to know that we aren’t the only couple in the world with dysfunctional bathrooms. One bathroom has a shower and toilet. (That’s in the closed off part of the house upstairs.) The bottom floor bath has no walls, no ceiling and 1/2 a floor only…but the sink works. Want to wash your hands? Step carefully, first floor. Everything else? Second floor.

    Hope that 2004 is very, very good to all of us. It is the Year of the Monkey, which our pals in China tell us is a good thing.

    p.s. Wouldn’t it be easier if we lived next door to each other? We could at least share a glass of wine once in awhile…and the dogs could play.

  4. heather

    Oh, it would be wonderful if we lived next door. Not only could we share some wine and let the dogs play, but we could swap tools and when I feel tired of my house, I could help out on yours. I am highly skilled with a sledge hammer. You could have used me on your bathroom floor. :)

  5. Tim C.

    Your house is coming along extremely well. I just checked in at your site for the first time in a while and everything (the site included) is coming out grand.

    I wanted to mention that there is a nice trick to fixing the holes in your built. Basically it involves a router (with a template guide), building a template out of thin wood or mdf, some scrap wood of similar appearance to the piece, and a saw. The patch is called a Dutchman. If you all don’t have the tools, it should be a simple job for a furniture restorer.


  6. heather

    Thanks, this is a great tip! I’m going to do a little more research online about it.

  7. Dianna


    I cannot believe the number of similar sites to yours. We bought a 1930′s bungalow that has had every speck of original charm removed…so naturally we’ve the begun the slow process of restoring it.

    Your pictures and dairy are a great help and your home looks great!

    Thanks for sharing : )

  8. Cari daly

    I love this site! We’re neighbors now, and I think I bought my current house, in part because of this site. Anyway, I’d love the name of your floor person, if you’re willing to share it. I’m getting the same story about my floor being too thin, and it’s filled with globs of wood putty as well.

    Also, do you have a cellar/crawlspace door? Mine self-destructed during foundation repair, and I want to build a new one, since mine is a 1970′s redo. Any ideas where to see pictures of cellar doors?


  9. Mike

    Love the effort you’re putting into restoring the woodwork. Not everyone would go through the trouble.

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