I just finished a fun project in north Asheville's historic Grove Park neighborhood: installing new wainscot and chair rail in a home office.
We started out with a blank canvas: the room had nice white trim and French doors, but there was plenty of room for architectural interest.
I started off by installing a chair railing, which is nice in an office or dining room because it protects the wall from nicks and dings caused by the backs of chairs.
The homeowner requested a two-piece railing built up from pre-milled, pre-painted trim.
If you look closely at the right-hand photo, you can also see that I've penciled in the lines for the wainscoting.
Then I installed squares of moulding directly on the wall. Using the existing wall (instead of adding a wooden backing) makes a significant cost savings.
Wow! What a big difference this trim makes! It looks like something you'd see in the White House, and it's perfectly suited to this historic home.
Interestingly, the cost difference to install the two piece chair rail (as opposed to the generic standard) was very minor, and it is much more elegant than the plain piece would have been.
Wainscoting like this could be what sets your home apart from the "plain white box" construction that we see in so many modern houses. If you have a room that needs a little dressing up, get in touch with us. We'll be glad to help.
Today I want to highlight some excellent work done by Jesse Scott of J. Scott Handyman and More, LLC.
Jesse is one of the craftsmen in our referral network, and he sent some awesome photos of a tuckpointing job he recently completed here in Asheville.
"Tuckpointing" (which is also called "repointing") simply means replacing the mortar between bricks.
Bricks can last for hundreds of years, but the mortar between them usually wears out in about 25 years. Water gets into the joints and freezes and thaws repeatedly until finally the mortar crumbles away and if the wall is left unrepaired, the bricks tumble down.
In this case, the bricks were part of the foundation of a house. They had been plastered over and painted blue some years before, so he had to remove the crumbling plaster first, then carefully replace the mortar where it had disintegrated.
Let's get a close-up of that beautiful wall. I know from experience that tuckpointing is hard physical labor, and Jesse did a great job!
It's not just a question of hard work... good masonry repair also requires know-how, and that is where Jesse's experience really shines through. In his words,
I custom blended the mortar batch by batch to ensure that the bricks would not “deface” any further. Most folks just shove in a bunch of mortar from off the shelf, and that is not the correct way. The mortar needs to be as soft as, or softer than, the bricks. If not, then the bricks “deface” and degrade prematurely.
So this isn't just a quick patch job... it's a real repair that will last for another generation.
As a bonus, the newly-exposed red brick looks great against the green siding, much better than the crumbling old blue plaster. Talk about curb appeal! His customers must be very happy with their new foundation.
If your home needs repairs done with the same care and experience that Jesse brought to this brick foundation, give us a call. We'll put you in touch with a craftsman who's just right for the job.
I recently did an onsite furniture refinishing job, and the outcome was amazing!
The "Before" picture of this old table looks absolutely hopeless. Most of the lacquer finish has worn off. Kids have "decorated" it with red, green and purple crayons, and there are countless rings and scratches.
I didn't have much hope for it, but my clients weren't too worried about that.
"Just do the best you can," they said. "We're trying to sell our house, and we need a decent table in the dining room."
So I got started. Click any picture to see more:
As you can see, a few passes from my sander stripped the old finish right off, including the crayon "art" and the water rings. What was revealed was a gorgeous white oak top which worked beautifully with my clients' other furniture:
My clients liked it so much that they decided to keep it. I love it when I can take an old beat-up table and unearth its "family heirloom" potential.
If you have battered old wooden furnishings, why not ask me over for a furniture touch-up session? I can also fix scratches on wooden trim and baseboards. It's a great way to breathe new life into old wood.
I recently repainted a porch, and I can't resist showing you the best picture first.
Don't you just want to sit there and enjoy the pleasant fall weather?
The porch was actually in pretty good shape when I arrived, but closer inspection revealed that it needed a new paint job on the railings, the floor and the swing.
The swing was really gratifying to repaint.
While I was there, I also re-hung the porch gate. I used double-swing hinges, so you can push straight through the gate no matter which way you're going. It makes a big difference when you're coming onto the porch with an armload of groceries.
If your porch is looking tired and dirty, why not call me and get a coat of paint and a pick-me-up? The curb appeal of a clean porch is a great investment in your home value and, more importantly, in your lifestyle. After all, who doesn't enjoy a comfortable porch swing during Asheville's warm fall weather?
It's not even November yet, and I've already gotten a couple of calls from clients who are ready to winterize their homes. And according to the almanac, it's going to be a looooonngg cooooolldd winter. (Brrrrr.)
With that in mind, I thought I'd show off a few options for preventing drafts and saying warm during our Asheville mountain winters.
Especially in historic homes with old-fashioned fittings, it's quite possible that your front door is letting in a draft. Storm doors can stop drafts, and they also let in light on sunny winter days. I can measure the door for you, pick it up at the hardware store, and install it. You don't even have to lift a finger.
The newer doors are also very subtle and attractive.
Interior "Storm Windows"
This is another great way to stop drafts without having to replace all of your windows. Bonus: I've recently learned that they're the preferred choice in historic districts such as Montford, because they won't change the exterior look of your home.
These aren't the heavy, expensive Plexiglass windows that are so hard to put in and take out. The latest product is a super-heavy-duty plastic film stretched on a frame that friction fits into your window opening. And as the title implies, they're "installed" from the interior, so you can take them out if you want to open the window.
They're also very subtle in appearance, and they come in white or bronze. Here's an example of a white one:
You can barely tell the difference.
Here's what they look like up close:
I really like these as an alternative to the old Plexiglass windows. They're cheaper, they're easier to install, and they work.
Another common winter problem is drafts around otherwise solid doors. In those cases I recommend weatherstripping.
Now, you may harbor a few grudges against weatherstripping. It's true that the cheap stick-on stuff is awful. It's made of a low-quality foam that quickly degrades and leaves an ugly mess.
However, I can install a heavy-duty silicon rubber weatherstripping that lasts a lot longer and really stops the drafts. I can also install a permanent metal-and-rubber door sweep along the bottom of the door to prevent breezes from blowing in under it.
If you live in Asheville, Weaverville or Mars Hill, and you want to keep Old Man Winter at bay, give me a call, I'll be glad to help you stop those chilly drafts.