master recap

As usual, we’ve been doing plenty but failing to share it. I’ll do my best to catch you up here over the coming weeks. In the meantime, see Instagram and Facebook for sneak peeks. Anyhow, I wanted to revisit our master, to share some details we added.


First, a quick recap of how we got here. We bought insulation for the external walls, only to discover better stuff already inside. Then we painstakingly restored a wall of paneling behind the bed, replaced trim and painted the other walls, ceiling and beams.


Next, we took our first shot at laying VCT flooring –this went surprisingly well, and it still looks great. Then we installed a solar shade, which makes a BIG difference, helping it stay relatively cool, despite the western exposure. It also looks pretty slick.


Then we got creative, making matching wall sconces, to flank the bed. We made another light fixture for the opposite wall, gave our hallway closets a refresh, and restored the original wood doors, to the master suite and shower room.


Now for the new stuff. We’ve struggled to find quality modern bedding in the US (without spending $$$) so we designed our own. As a result [cue shameless plug] we’ve started our own company, twig+nest, with an Etsy store and website in development.


This is our Nest duvet set, with subtle gray/white crosshatch pattern. We’ll be adding more bedding, pillows, and artwork, while curating/selling lots of other stuff for the home. Well, that’s the plan. It’s a natural complement to our baby bedding business. Plug over.


Elsewhere in the room, this simple furniture project. This used to be an office desk, but it was severely damaged during our move here. I cut it down, removing the affected section, and attached some legs, to make this TV table. Nothing special, but it works.


We also framed this PANTONE artwork. I’d like it on this wall, but Karen would rather it sit on a long, low (as yet, non-existent) bench/credenza. We have a green, orange, gray and brown version of this print too. A couple will likely land in our office, where they should make sense.


A few more things to do. We need to re-upholster Karen’s long-owned brown leather chair (scratched by over-zealous English cats), install a blind for the small window behind it, get the bench/credenza I mentioned, and buy an area rug…which we’re yet to find.


So we’re not quite done, but the room has come a long way. Here’s an early look-see. Note the off-white spray paint, covering walls, ceiling and beams. And the bleh beige carpet. Every surface has been changed. For the better, we think.


We reorientated the bed too. We figure this must be the intended position, as there are equally spaced power outlets on either side –perfect for the wall sconces. Visually, the wood paneling makes an attractive backdrop too.


As a bonus, we now get to look back at the house/patio through the sliders. Our model doesn’t have an atrium (like most later Eichlers) but I love how the living space and master wrap around this side patio.


This orientation also means we get to eye our office (AKA all-purpose room) when we wake up, and contemplate the tough morning commute. It’s a hard life. A busy weekend ahead though. Plenty more updates on the way…

master paneling

We’ve been tackling some master bedroom projects, which I’ll need to spread over a few posts. With no need to insulate, we skipped ahead to restoring (yet more) wood paneling. We actually started this a while back, before we’d painted the ceiling beams gray.


We planned to restore this wall from the start. It faces our long bedroom corridor, and is visible on approach, so it literally sets the tone for the room. This time, the paint stripped okay (albeit slowly) with just a razor. I spent parts of the next several days carefully chipping away.


Though this felt like prison work, I secretly enjoyed it. But, despite taking care, I created many divots, adding to existing holes, rough patches, and metal brackets we couldn’t remove. We remained optimistic, and used Citristrip and steel wool to remove final paint remnants.


Then we applied pre-stain conditioner, and Restor-A-Finish, in the hope this would blend any bad areas. I guess we shouldn’t have expected too much from this 60-year-old, previously painted, partially damaged wall. It was never going to be perfect.


But it was too far from perfect. So, we started from scratch. We removed all the wood panels, except the tiny one on the far left, next to our sliders –we didn’t want to risk shifting that. This took a while, as we had to extract (what seemed like) hundreds of nails.


As a bonus, removing these panels allowed us to confirm this wall was insulated too. Check. While we were at it, we decided to rip up the carpet. It would be going anyway, and this would give us better access. We added it to our growing dumpster pile.


Then we set to work sanding the panels. Ideally, we’d prefer to hand-sand, with the grain, but these looked pretty far gone, calling for drastic measures. I grabbed our orbital sander, and gave them a thorough going-over. This is thin veneer, but there’s actually some wiggle-room.


It took two full afternoons to sand all four boards (I can count –one isn’t pictured here) but this allowed us to reach all the edges, impossible when attached to the wall, and remove the divots that were previously causing problems. It’s amazing how much dust this generates.


Thankfully, our unseasonably warm California weather meant I could do this outside, in the sunshine. Once happy with the sanded boards, we used an eclectic mix of (sweeping, sucking and blowing) tools to remove excess dust from the surface.


While laying out the boards, I noticed a stamp on the reverse, with a supplier name (that now I can’t make out) and date –April 5, 1955. I thought this was pretty cool. Incidentally, we couldn’t just flip the boards, as the reverse is a rough patched-together surface.


Meanwhile, Karen was busy painting the ceiling. This looked like incredibly hard work (I certainly need to do my share, elsewhere in the house) but well worth it. You can really see the difference in color, in this transition between master bedroom and corridor.


I didn’t take many pics of the painting in progress (I was busy sanding) but you can see more of the finished ceiling below. It contrasts well with our gray beams. Some people caulk the gaps between each board, for a slicker finish. Perhaps for another day.


Next, we re-mounted the paneling, carefully nailing to the studs, using existing nail holes…but new nails, of course. Then we applied pre-stain and Restor-A-Finish, as before. You could instantly tell the finish was far more even, and the results would be way better.


We also sanded the top mahogany trim (I have no idea what that’s called?), applied Restor-A-Finish, and nailed in place. This really defines the line between ceiling and wall, and finishes things off nicely. It’s starting to look a lot more ‘done’, at least when you look up.


We still need to buy/fit replacement baseboards, replicating the originals, removed long ago. With just carpet underlay down, the floor looks a little like poured concrete in this shot –that’s something we considered for the whole house…but quickly dismissed as too risky.


We’re so pleased we made the extra effort, and didn’t settle for our first attempt. Plenty more to do in here, but this wall represents a big step forward. Next up, something a little outside our comfort zone –our first go at laying VCT flooring. Wish us luck.

ready. set. strip.

Our paneling quest has resumed, prompted by another delivery. Ready Strip Pro is, apparently, amazing at removing multiple layers of paint. But, despite being described as “environmentally friendly” by the manufacturer, it does contain some harmful chemicals.


And it’s almost impossible to buy in California. We managed to get some shipped, and promised to be very careful with it. We’re using this on the three-quarter height wall between our kitchen and living room, which roughly matches the area covered by this gallon-sized tub.


We brushed on the Ready Strip and left overnight. When it’s ready to remove, it turns an off-white color, which is helpful. I removed the paint in long strips, using my trusty razor. It’s a slow process, but oddly satisfying. Karen doesn’t have the patience for this, so it became my ‘thing’.


After lots of careful razoring, all that remained was some greenish primer/stain and stubborn patches of paint. We tackled this by hand-sanding the wall, paying particular attention to the problem areas. With the paneling looking pretty good, we paused, to tackle a related task.


This is the so-called ‘flying coffin’ –a lengthy kitchen cabinet, suspended from the ceiling, and partly resting on the wall. We couldn’t decide whether it should blend or contrast with the paneling –early photos we’ve seen suggest the latter. Either way, first step was stripping it…


…which was every bit as horrible as it looks. It took several hours, over a couple nights. After all that, lots of sanding and filling, before we primed and painted with Sherwin Williams’ 7066 Gray Matters. Truthfully, it may need another coat, but it’s looking pretty good.


Eventually, we’ll paint all our kitchen cabinets to match, with the doors in contrasting high-gloss white. We’ll also be replacing that awful tiled countertop. But I digress. For now, we’re basking in the glory of having transformed just one of the cabinets. Anyway, back to the paneling…


…we finished it off by cleaning-up with mineral spirits, applying pre-stain conditioner, then using Restor-A-Finish (as per our office) to blend blemishes. Again we picked walnut, in a bid to mute the reddish wood tones. It turned out great, creating a rich, even finish.


Now this wall is done, it gives the living area a much warmer feel. The rich wood paneling contrasts well with our white, gray, and green color palette. Now we just need to install new baseboards, to replicate the (long gone) originals, though that can wait until we replace the flooring.

the bookcase

The bookcase on the right was added by the original owners, a long time ago. This pic is when we just moved in, as I didn’t take a ‘before’ shot for this post. Anyway, while useful, it interrupts the flow, conflicts with the design, and narrows the space by our entrance. It had to go.


Having moved our books to the guest room, the time had come. Removing it was easy. We cut caulked edges with a Stanley knife, extracted a few nails, and loosened the bookcase further with a crow-bar. Then we prised it away from the wall, being careful not to cause any damage.


Now the bookcase was free, we set to work on the paneling, peeling-off the white(ish) paint from the top section, which had always  remained uncovered. This came off pretty easily, with a razor, and only took about ten minutes.


Then we removed what appeared to be a thin coat of primer or stain, using Citristrip. You can see how the wood grain starts to reveal itself. It dries much lighter in color, but this is pretty much what the paneling will eventually look like.


Next morning, we awoke to freshly resurrected paneling. Not sure it’s healthy how excited I was about this, but there you go. It’s in great shape, just needing a light sand, condition, stain and wax. But that can wait for another day.


We also uncovered some cork flooring, previously under the bookcase. This was the original Eichler flooring used in our model, and would have run throughout the house. Flooring is a little down the list, so this will stay for now. And it’s a good talking point.


Now the bookcase is gone, it makes a big difference. The entrance is really opened up, giving a much clearer view into the living room, and the back yard, immediately upon entering. This makes the space feel way more open and inviting.


Looking towards the doorway, it makes an even bigger difference. You can see the whole door, and everything lines up, as the architects intended. We’ll probably get a low-level bench (this would be perfect) to go next to the wall…eventually.


Next step is to follow the paneling around the corner, to the right (behind the couch) and restore the main section, facing our living room. That’s been painted with several layers over the years, so will be more challenging, for sure.

the office

Quick update on our office (technically called the “all-purpose room”). We revisited the wood paneling I told you about, to improve on the finish. We used more Citristrip to clear any paint remnants, cleaned with mineral spirits, then applied another coat of Restor-A-Finish.


The results were worth the effort, though it’s difficult to do it justice with my camera. It’s still not 100% perfect, but it’s close. A couple of neighbors have seen it and seem impressed. That’s good enough for me, and this is how it will stay –during our watch at least.


We also remedied our desk situation –our original desks were damaged in the move, and didn’t quite work anyway. We took a trip to the local IKEA, having identified some components that would fit together, better fill the space, and match our modern aesthetic.


We attached three four-foot table tops, supported these with center drawers and legs at either end, then added brackets to make everything sturdy –we’ll spray these white. We attached wooden blocks to the bottom, to bridge the height gap –we’ll make a white plinth to cover these.


Then it was painting time. We’re using Sherwin Williams Duration in 7067 Cityscape for the trim. This is the same color that will eventually cover the entire exterior of the house, including the (currently brown) siding, visible through the window.


Mostly fiddly details, including this window frame. We like the combination of the gray, wood paneling and cinder block wall. The window will eventually be replaced, along with most others in the house, but that’s way down the list. It looks pretty tidy for now.


We’re also using Sherwin Williams Duration for the ceiling beams, in 7068 Grizzle Gray –a darker gray, for contrast. You can see the original brown color of these half-covered beams. They run through every room of the house, so this is just the start.


Which reminds me, another thing that needs painting throughout is the ceiling. It looks pretty white here, next to the dark gray, but it’s very much on the cream side. The original owners and recent renters apparently smoked, which can’t have helped.


Still a few bits to do in the office. We need to replace the carpet with VCT (which will ultimately run through the whole house), paint the cinder-block wall, paint/insulate the external wall (not pictured) and do something about the mess of cables under my desk!

we got wood

Having eradicated (almost) every trace of orange from our office wall, it’s time for stage two. We did some research and found a product which we hoped would remove the final layer of primer, and help us expose the original wood paneling.


Karen isn’t just modeling the Citristrip (and the over-sized gloves I mistakenly bought her) she did all the work too –applying it to the entire wall, removing it with a squeegee, then wiping off any excess with mineral spirit.


This removed most of the primer, and revealed more of the wood grain. But we needed to go deeper. So we bought a power sander, and lots of 120-grit sanding discs –then we went slowly, hoping not remove the entire layer of veneer.


This stage took an eternity, and was much harder work than I expected. The vibration alone created plenty of stress on my arms. But now we were starting to see some results, though the wall was still far from perfect.


Next, we cleaned up. But this was no ordinary clean-up, as anyone who’s sanded an area this large will appreciate. We’d removed pretty much everything from the room, and stapled a curtain over the opening, so it was sort of contained.


But it still invaded the rest of the house, and the office itself was a lost cause. Now we considered our options. The wall still had plenty of marks, and was pretty patchy. We decided to blend it with Howard’s Restor-A-Finish, in walnut.


We’re not big fans of rich red mahogany, typical of Eichler paneling, and ours doesn’t seem to be that type. We’re pleased that it’s more of a walnut color, particularly as it’s such a large wall. It should work nicely with our future color palette.


There are still some imperfections, but we keep telling ourselves it adds character. In truth, we will regroup and revisit (sand/stain patches) at some point. For now, it’s a big improvement, and we’re thrilled to have re-gained our original Eichler paneling.

orange peel

Remember I told you we repainted our large orange living room wall white? Well, that was only half the story. The orange paint-job extended around the corner, into our all-purpose room/office, so we tackled that too. Actually, I had the pleasure of doing this bit.


And I quickly discovered some differences with this section of wall. First, it’s a slightly darker shade of orange, presumably painted at a different time. Second, it wasn’t primed very well, as the paint began stripping off rather easily. Actually, that’s an understatement.


It peeled off in large sections, much like wallpaper. This is exciting, because under this paint is the original Eichler paneling, much coveted among enthusiasts, including us. I immediately showed Karen and we both got giddy at the potential of restoring such a large original wall.


I pressed on and stripped the entire wall, including fiddly baseboards and beading. Turns out, we were far from finished. Under this vast orange layer was a thinly primed surface. You can see some of the wood grain, so it shouldn’t take too much shifting, but we’re nowhere near done.


There are also thin lines of orange in between each panel, which will need further stripping. Next step is some research, to find the right product to remove the primer. I have a feeling this will also need significant sanding, thereby creating a substantial mess.


But that’s for another day. We’ve made a great start. And it’s satisfying to see this mass of orange off the wall, and in the trash. It’s also very exciting to think that we could soon be the proud owners of a near original wall of Eichler paneling. To be continued…