when the cats away

As usual, I had big plans for this weekend. 
Its Grand Final weekend so Wayne has gone to his friend’s house to watch the game and do the male bonding thing.
It was my big chance to do something I’ve been thinking of doing for a while now. We have (had!) a big cupboard in the corner of the living room which I used as my linen cupboard.
In the living room.
Who thought that would be a good place for a linen cupboard?
To make matters worse, it was brown, varnished MDF. Not exactly pretty enough to make me want to keep it!
A few weeks ago when I opened the door to take out clean sheets, the front piece of cornice fell off and broke in half. It was like a sign – the cupboard had to go!
So, with Wayne and his rolling eyes away for the weekend I thought I’d tackle it.
I didn’t get any before photos cause I didn’t think of it, but I started last night (Friday to those of us in the Southern hemisphere).
I started by pulling the doors off the cupboard (man those suckers are heavy!), then removing the last strip of cornice still clinging on. I was able to get the cornice off without breaking it, and the doors off without crushing any toes.
I removed all the screws from the inside of the cupboard which fixed it to the bottom frame, the wall and the outer side, totally planning to dismantle it and just move it out. I discovered that the cupboard itself was one complete piece, with a ‘veneer’ of MDF on the side which matched the doors, a frame which it sat on, and a bit of a strip where it met the wall.
The ‘veneer’ side was stuck to the wall with silicone gap filler. I had to get rid of that, then use a hammer to loosen it, again managing to get it off without crushing any toes.
 I got the whole cupboard off the wall with immense difficulty. Not only was it heavy, it was also very tight. I had to inch it forward on the bottom frame, then try to work it off and onto the ground without totally damaging the ceiling. You can see the scrape marks where I didn’t quite succeed.
What I was left with was an expanse of unpainted wall and ceiling, with plaster bits stuck where the cornice used to be, and gaps that would need sealing up. And mouse droppings. Lots of mouse droppings.
This is the frame the cupboard sat on. No carpet underneath of course. And a hole in the wall behind the packing tape.
About halfway through the removal progress I began to have second thoughts. I wondered if I could/should leave the cupboard there, open it up to shelves maybe. It didnt look too bad all white and much brighter than the brown it was with the doors. But I decided to go ahead and remove it, however instead of pulling it apart, I’d keep it intact and move it to the tiny back entry as my pantry.
So I had to put half the screws back in.
My plan is to put my corner office desk in that corner so Wayne has a much bigger space to work. He never used the office so I’ve claimed it as my space and he has a desk in the living room. For now, I’ll put in my desk and later I hope to make him a much nicer desk, something with character.
Anyway, once I got the cupboard off the frame I had to figure out how to get it out of there. The ceiling in that part of the living room is really low.
Actually, we have 3 ceiling heights in the living room. Originally it was 2 separate rooms, with a later extension. Why they didn’t redo the ceilings to match I have no idea. But there you have it. A low ceiling plus a lower beam meant I couldn’t get the cupboard out unless I lay it down on its back, then onto its side to push it to the entry.
Good plan.
I started to lie it down when it broke in half, almost crushing me underneath it.
Ok, it didn’t BREAK in half. It was 2 pieces, joined together. It just came apart at the weakest spot.
On the bright side, it was now 2 pieces making it easier to move!
I lay each piece on its side, then slowly pushed them from the living room, across the tiny hall, around the corner in the kitchen and into the tiny dark entry.
I put the frame down first, then wriggled the biggest piece of the cupboard onto it. Then, using a ladder and my body as a counterweight, I managed to slide the top piece up and sit it on top. Again, using a push, slide and counterbalance technique, I got the smaller piece into place.
So high school physics wasn’t a total waste of time!
I then screwed the bits together and to the bottom frame. I even managed to put a few screws into the wall behind to keep it stable.
It makes the fridge look tiny now, doesn’t it? ONE DAY I plan to knock out half the wall from that tiny entry into the kitchen, making the kitchen an L shape and making that pantry area part of the kitchen. It’ll remove the rabbit warren feel of the back of the house and bring the fridge into the kitchen.
Most country houses here in Tasmania use the back door as the front door. Our front door is on the other side of the house. Sort of silly really, but thats how it is. To enter our house you have to come into the mudroom (which we added on), go through the tiny dark entry/pantry, then into the kitchen.
For now,  I’ve just made the tiny entry into a real pantry.
The house is a mess, stuff piled everywhere. I grabbed a few things I’d taken out of the old wardrobe I was using as a pantry and put them on the shelves. I’m planning to leave the shelves open, not adding doors. I’ll see if Wayne can remove the hardware. My arm is already killing me and I dont really want to be trying to remove them using a screwdriver.
 But I wasn’t done. I couldn’t leave the holes in the ceiling or the floor. Firstly its cold today and there was a lot of cold air coming in. Secondly, it was like a mouse superhighway judging by the droppings.
I’ve never done anything like this before and its a really bad job. However, it doesn’t really matter. One of these days, when we win lotto, I’ll get the whole living room ceiling redone. Till then, I just needed to get the holes patched up.
I used the cornice which had come off (or fallen off). I only had to trim down one piece and it turns out, cornice is easy to cut. The problem was with putting it up. I know you’re not supposed to use nails, but seriously, after trying to get it up using liquid nails* and failing, I decided what the hell. I can paint over nails.
*I broke my caulking gun. Then I couldn’t find the new one I’d gotten as a spare. I had to go borrow one from Wayne’s garage!
I couldn’t get the plaster blobs off the ceiling. They’ll need sanding off. Ugh.
I got lucky with the skirting board. I was going to use anything at all, just to cover the holes, but I found some matching stuff in the casita. I even managed to cut it to fit into the corner!
After everything was glued and nailed in place, I used gap filler to fill in any gaps. I’ve left it all to dry overnight and tomorrow I’ll sand back and re-fill any spots that need re-filling. Like the hole I patched.
Now, I know its not the prettiest job I’ve ever done. Its messy and ugly. There are plaster globs on the ceiling, missing carpet in the corner, the skirting is uneven where it goes from carpet to timber. But I don’t mind. It will do for now. I can’t paint the walls cause I don’t have paint for it, besides I want to repaint the entire living room. And I plan to remove the carpet when I can too.
So, I’m tired. Its been a huge day.
Tomorrow is another day with more work!

1 thought on “when the cats away

  1. Pingback: smarter not harder | junk4joy

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