all the trimmings

moving here to victoria, buying a house that needed work, not really in possession of the time or the skills to do much of that work myself, i was hoping to find someone(s) like the twins, the contractors in toronto who installed our living room window, helped us renovate our bathroom and framed our mudroom. except better than the twins, like maybe they would always be available when i called and charge half the price? well, i found them! two carpenters who are local and not booked six months out and excited to work on all the projects with us. they also do a bit of general contracting, which means i can basically call on them for most things, even if the project is unrelated to carpentry. after a decade in toronto, i was super encouraged to find that trades here actually call you back (and promptly!) and that the quotes that we are warned are “not the cheapest” are at least not quite the same sucker punch to the gut as is typical back east.

so, priorities: after cleaning and painting both bedrooms and the living and dining rooms, i couldn’t stop looking at the trim, which is not original to the house (in these rooms anyways), put up sometime in the ’90s and butchered by a hacksaw and a man named ray to make room for the electrical outlets, which are low to the floor and should have been built-in to the original 10″ baseboards instead of… this horror show:


i don’t know, maybe i’m grateful that there was nothing worth saving here, trim-wise. if ray (or the cat!) had butchered the original baseboards instead of whatever this crap is, i might have felt obligated to repair all the original stuff, which would have been super costly and a major headache. as it is, i had no problem ripping this (and four other types of trim) out of these four rooms and asking my new carpenters to replicate the original casings and baseboards, which can be found in a few other parts of the house. 


aside from the beaverboard nailed to the walls — well, not the walls exactly, as there’s just lath behind those panels — the piano room is mostly untouched by renovations. it has original flooring, one original (crumbling) plaster wall and original casings and baseboard. so, as much as it makes me cringe to call this room “our inspiration,” i’m glad it exists as-is so that we can insert original-looking features into other areas of the house. and you can trust that my carpenters will be tackling this room  in its entirety sometime in the next year or two.


we started off with a bit of a set-back — the trim that the boys had ordered wasn’t pre-finished to their satisfaction so they sent it all back to be redone, delaying our start date by a week. but that delay worked out in our favour, as it gave me more time to get paint on the walls (not having to cut in around trim makes short work of painting) and for pierre to change out all the almond-coloured electrical outlets to white. once the materials were re-delivered, the boys got to work measuring, cutting and installing the door casings and baseboards in both bedrooms and the living and dining rooms.


there is evidence of two heights of baseboard in the house — one that’s 7″ high (can be found in the piano room and frankie’s bedroom closet) and one that’s 10″ (found in the alcove off the kitchen leading to the bedrooms). we decided to replicate the 7″ baseboards in the bedrooms and use the 10″ baseboards in the more “public” rooms as that type of distinction would be pretty common in a house of this age. moving forward, the kitchen, bathroom and piano room will get the 7″ baseboard treatment and the alcove will get new 10″ baseboards. but we have a fair bit of work to do in those areas before we will be worrying about trim!


it was definitely worth having professionals in for this job — they replicated so many beautiful original details, like a mitred return on all the quarter round and plinth blocks for all the door casings to sit upon. also, as you might imagine, our walls and floors are not exactly square! they also more than solved our electrical outlet eye-sore; all the outlets are now built in to the baseboards, except in our master bedroom, where the outlets were already positioned about a foot off the floor. they used a spacer to bring out the outlet boxes just enough so that they sit flush with the baseboards. it took the boys five days and then i was able to focus on what i do best — painting, so much painting. the trim is all extra white by sherwin-williams (semi-gloss).


on their last day they caulked all the trim and cleaned up, but not before drafting up plans to rebuild the diy bookshelf that divides our living and dining rooms. we love the functionality of this built-in — it divides the living and dining rooms without affecting sight lines or easy passage — but it can only be described as scrappy. the plywood shelves are bowing, seams are visible and it’s thrown together with a few different materials — whatever was lying around, i guess. the boys will be back soon to demo this and rebuild it as something that’s more in keeping with the character of the house. and then we can finally unpack the last of our boxes — our books!


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