Creating a New Room
I've had the privilege to work at some of the best addresses in Manhattan. From The Dakota to the teeniest apartments in Tudor City, New Yorkers adhere to a singular space-planning theme: every alcove, niche, sliver or slice is put to good use and deemed "a room." While part of the charm of my old house is its nooks and crannies, my space planning philosophy remains entirely 21st century--if I'm heating it, I'm using it!
So, while the painters are busying themselves in the entry foyer, I'm re-working 100+ sq ft of emptiness in the middle of the house. Leaving what is best described as a center hall empty irritates my green-living sensibilities. So the question is--how can a hall be made to act like a room? Well, some walls would probably help. Here's the space on my floor plan:
And here's how the space looks from the living area, and from the kitchen.
from the living room
from the kitchen
The top of the custom built-in hutch conceals the rise of the staircase, which travels clear through the top of it. I antiqued the nearly black Narragansett Green HC 157 with black glaze and finished with a brown paste wax to knock back its newness, making the piece appear logical where it stands, or so I like to think.
The space itself measures 9 ft 6ins wide. Four feet is wide enough for a short hall so that leaves me 5 ft 9 ins to spare. Although I have seating at the kitchen island, I prefer to sit on a chair, at a table. There isn't quite enough room in this space to seat four-- I'd need 8 feet for that, and it would still be tight --but it's really just a spot for me and one guest. I can finagle in four chairs for the sake of appearances and, if all goes according to plan, I'll have a lovely breakfast room.
Re-painting the built-in would be a big job because the piece has been waxed. Why I do this to myself I don't know. Waxing with a basic butcher's wax enhances the durability of painted furniture, rendering it impervious to water and less likely to scratch, but it cannot be painted over until the wax is removed. (I'll tell you much more about waxed surfaces in the weeks ahead when we get to the new kitchen backsplash.)
Black walls will make a space feel very small--not what I was after here, so I hired "carpenter Dan" to install a 3/4 high, bead board wall. The vertical lines, breaking just below the sight line, will visually push the black down. To replicate the finish on the hutch, I choose a nearly black, black, with just a tinge of green. Stonecutter 2135-20, in an Aura matte finish, is a near perfect match to the existing hutch, which leans toward green. Best of all, the Aura covered the white primer beautifully.
Now I made a mistake with the paint--a rookie mistake. Anytime you install wood over drywall and you're planning to paint the wood an amazingly exciting color (such as black!), paint the edges of the wood first! Carpenter Dan installed the bead board before I finished my morning coffee and the teeniest bit white primer is clearly visible in the joins between each board.
Sure, I can fix it . . . by jamming (and ruining) a tiny brush between the boards. It would have been a ten-minute painting job before the install. Now, it will be one very annoying half day. Very rookie mistake. It wouldn't have happened after lunch, but at 7 a.m., stuff goes wrong. So here is some
- Prime the backside of raw wood before you install it.
- Paint the edges of primed wood before you install it.
- Paint the wall receiving dark painted wood, before you install.
If you choose to overlook these steps, here's the brush you're going to need for the fixing. :)
It may seem either a small or obvious thing, but did you notice the small "addition" beyond the doorway? That adds four more feet to the length of the space, and now, I have a 9 ft 6 ins x 12 ft room. See that--almost a Tudor City apartment!
All I need to do now is create the illusion of more wall and for that I'll get to work on some black accessories. For the table, which I'll show you next time, I saved myself a huge expenditure at Maine Cottage or Restoration Hardware by finally decoding how to replicate the intriguing weathered finish we're seeing everywhere. We can now paint everything to look like sun bleached oak--Mother Nature will be so proud!