May 5, 2023

Rainy Day Project: Sewing Room Walls

Last time, I showed you my cleared out space in the sunroom and told you what I want to do with it. Even though we're in the middle of spring planting and the greenhouse build, there's been time to make a start on the sewing room because everything outside is so wet and soggy from April's parting gift of extensive rain. The goal here is not major renovation, but simply cosmetic. The first step was covering the exposed insulation, starting with the old door. 

This door used to exit onto the front porch

We discussed tearing out the closet, but my preference was to leave it because it's useful for storage. It was added after the room was built, we think because the family had three children, two girls and a boy. The house was built with two bedrooms, so adding a closet in this room gave them three bedrooms. 

In some ways, the entire room seems like an afterthought. All the walls in the house are either plaster or tongue-and-groove, but the walls in the this room (dubbed "the sunroom" by the realtors) are plywood. Also, it wasn't built with the electrical wiring in the walls; rather, electricity was added later using exterior outlets and a conduit along the baseboard to cover the wire.

Electrical wiring must have been added after construction.
You can see all the photos of the original room - here.

The foundation and roof give no clues, as they seem to have been built the same time as the rest of the house. Our best guess is that this room was originally part of a wraparound porch. If an additional room was needed, it seems logical to convert part of the porch. The floor was probably replaced when central heating was installed. The house's original heat source was coal stoves in each room, so the ductwork would have been part of an upgrade. There are only inches of clearance under the floor in this room, making it impossible to crawl around under there. So it seems logical that they tore up the old porch floor, put in the ductwork, then installed the floor we have now. 

Anyway, our options for covering the old porch door ranged from tearing off the door trim and trying to match a new wall to the old one, to an inset within the door trim. Dan asked my preference, but since this wall is going to be covered with storage units and shelves anyway, I voted to do whatever was easiest. Maybe one day we'll do a proper renovation on this room and can make a different choice then. For now, here's what he did:

Dan filled in a few gaps with foamboard, then
added a vapor barrier and a board for nailing to.

We priced wall options and chose the least expensive - more plywood. 

Ready for trim and paint.

Then the front wall. It was a little more challenging because the last of the original plywood wall had to be removed. We couldn't match its thickness, and the other option would have been a bunch of shims to try to build it up.

That one strip of remaining wall on the left had to be torn out too.

It was probably just as well, because the old blown-in insulation in that covered corner had settled a lot over the years. Dan managed to not disturb it.

Energy leak at the top where the insulation had settled.

We didn't want to buy an entire new roll of insulation just to cut off a small narrow strip, so Dan filled the gap with a scrap piece of 2-inch form board. 

The foam board was leftover from our pantry upgrade.

Then the new plywood wall.

Ready for trim and paint.

I'll wait to do the painting until after Dan's done with his part. Baseboards and electrical wiring are in this next post, Sewing Room: Electrical Outlets and Baseboards


Ed said...

Roomed in porches are quite common from that era. I get that they needed more room but I dislike that it set in motion several generations of houses with no covered porches, which I find much more pleasant to use that decks.

daisy g said...

That's quick progress!

Leigh said...

Ed, at least the part of our front porch was left as a porch. The only bad thing about it, is that it gets the hot summer afternoon sun, and so isn't a pleasant place to sit in the evening.

My in-laws bought a place in a retirement village in Florida, where each house had a "lanai." Everyone who bought a home there decided to wall it in (because everyone else had). The result, not surprisingly, was that greenhouse effect turned the lanai into an oven! Then they all had to put in an air conditioner so they could sit out there. You'd think people would have caught on and started leaving their lanais open, but they didn't. Go figure.

Daisy, we took advantage of several days of wet rainy weather!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I have never seen that kind of electric "wiring". It makes sense, but seems highly...well, weird. Sensible given the circumstances, but weird.

In terms of covered porches or decks (covered or no), it really depends on the climate for me. Even now, we are reaching the stage where outside is unpleasant to spend leisure time in, and will be so until October. We are fortunate that we have fairly large shade trees, but I am no fan of humidity.

Leigh said...

TB, so many things about this 100 year old house have left us pondering. I'm guessing most of it was needs-must. Dan came up with a good alternative for the wiring (at least I think so!). I'll share that next time.

Nina said...

It looks like it's shaping up to be a nice bit of usable space. I do like windows, even if it sometimes gets too warm, because a lot of natural light just seems to make it easier for me to get things done. I've been debating the idea of turning our back closed in porch into a work space. There's no insulation at all, the floor slopes and it faces north, so no sun whatsoever, and in the winter, it gets mighty cold out there. I truly wonder if it is worth all the effort to have a space which is only useable for storage 6 or 7 months of the year?

Leigh said...

Nina, that is so true about windows and the direction a room faces. I love this room because of all the windows, but it does get the afternoon sun. That's great in winter but will be hot in summer, even with the energy efficient front window.

I will lose some of this light when we install the rain catchment barrels in the greenhouse. They will go against that window wall, three 55-gallon drums, and so will block some of the light. They'll also add thermal mass to the greenhouse in winter, so they're important and I'll just have to adapt to the light I have.

PioneerPreppy said...

Wow you seem to have more than enough Windows in there. I would love that my old house is so dim inside.

Leigh said...

PP, this room has the most light! The rest of the house seems dark by comparison. I'll lose some of that light when we install our rain catchment barrels in front of those side windows. But it will still get plenty of light. :)