We have completed sanding the floor and woodwork in the room, but if we thought that was the end of it, Nic has had a bright idea and the original banister rails are being replaced by scaffold board bookcases. Inspired by Elephant Buffet’s blog post ‘How to keep from falling down a staircase’, we’re starting off in a similar manner but with some differences in the construction to keep it simple, rustic and thoroughly modern with straight lines and clean corners.

The staircase opening to our modern rustic (to be) bedroom with the original banister rails

Our starting point is unique to this room, but for anyone wanting to create something similar, the existing bannister rails need to be removed. The bannister posts here run down into the floor and are incorporated into the structure of the downstairs walls. Rather than remove them completely, we have decided to allow the posts to contribute to the base of the bookcase. Having placed the lengths of wood that will be used to make the base of the bookcase on either side of a bannister post, they act temporarily as a cutting guide. The bannister post is then saw off, running the flat of the saw across the tops of the guides.

Dismantled banister rail with a small piece of the original post

The remainder of the bannister rails are removed. In our case, a small piece of the old bannister is left in place but it could have been completely saw down to the level of the floor.

Destined to have been made into bath trays, we’ve taken our scaffold boards and cut them to size for bookcases instead

The bookcase is mostly constructed from reclaimed scaffold planks. Having decided how big we wanted the bookcase to be, the scaffold planks are cut to size, one length for the bottom shelf and two pieces to make the sides. Just to check everything is correct, we balanced everything in place and cast a critical eye over the dimensions, condition and warping of the planks. Not bad.

The bookcase is to have 2 shelves, one at bottom and one halfway up. As scaffold boards are about 35mm thick, a grove of this width is chiselled into both planks that make the sides. As this bookcase butts up against the wall, it is sanded smooth and bolted into place, making it very sturdy, steady and safe for its dual role as bookcase and bannister.  Our second bookcase/bannister will be free standing and we’ll post on this blog the way we make it. At the moment, we plan to make it much like this one.

Put the base of the bookcase in place and screw to the floorboards

We’re using lengths of wood cut to a square profile. The one at the front that can be seen has been darkened using our aging solution. The other at the back of the bookcase has been left its natural colour as this will be hidden in the construction. Both pieces are screwed to the floorboards.

Our reclaimed scaffold boards are slightly warped. Clamping before screwing gets them nice and flat.

Sand the scaffold board that makes the bottom shelf. Screw the shelf into place along one edge – in this case the back and then if you have something to clamp to, apply pressure to flatten it out and then screw. We we’re cautious in applying the pressure as it is possible to split the planks in two if done too much. However in this case it did flatten out nicely so all is well.

Any clamps can be removed and the bookcase is ready for the other side to be fastened to the base and middle shelf slotted in. We did think about using dowels, glue and screws to hold the shelf in place but simply slotting the shelf in is enough.

Finally, the two planks for the top can be screwed down into the side planks. Originally, the top was a light blond colour when removed from the pallet but will be aged using the solution we’ve made. This needs to be done to both planks and the back of the bookcase needs making. We’ll show how this was done and the second free-standing bookcase made in ‘How We make A Bookcase – Part 2’.

Unlike President Nixon’s first speech to the nation on April 30th 1973 during the Watergate scandal when he proclaimed “there can be no Whitewash at the White House” there is definitely whitewash at our house.

Having looked up the recipe for making whitewash with hydrated lime (thanks YouTube) and fortunately having a huge sack of it for making cement ring cones and other such concrete niceties (available through our Esty shop once we have the finish we’re after)  we’ve slapped on the first coat. As we have blogged before, it would have been great to have kept the bare brick and stone as stripping things back to their raw state is part of our ethos at Estuary Home. However, the cement is too dirty and the brick is still permeated by yellow soot/sap/mysterious ooze and so we’re going white.

The second-hand paint was bought for £3.50 (2.5L white satinwood) from Reciprocal which is sadly closing down. Hopefully we’ll come across another organisation trying to keep good quality paint in use. It does mean that we’re now making the Estuary Home room a white interior. The saving grace is perhaps the floor, which, now sanded, is going to have the Estuary Home aging treatment to make it silver-grey or dark and keep the room weathered and rustic looking.

Having said that, we do have a tin of lime-effect wax and so the room may become completely white.

 

We’ve not decided what to do with the unattractive electric heater. Being off-grid when it come to the gas supply means it’s a balance between getting the right look, being energy efficient and sustainable and having a hygge home

The stairwell bookcases have been designed and will be made from the scaffold planks which we had earmarked as bath trays but when you’re taking reclaimed materials and making them into great things it’s good to see where it takes you. We’ll put this down to R&D and hope it produces something fab.

Only 3-4 days drying time to wait and we can have another go at the whitewash.

With all the sanding that we’ve been doing, I’m amazed we haven’t produced our very own dunes. Enough-was-enough and we gave-up on our own elbow-grease and hired in ‘The Machine’. This was just a standard floor sander, but the 24 grade paper attached, it tore through the varnish and stained floorboards in no time.

Needless to say, the bulk of the floor sanding is now done. Maybe we should have hired an edging sander too but even using the 24 grade sandpaper and working by hand, it is very effective so we’ve pushing round the edge with this. The drop in the summer temperature from the 30 degrees to the 20 is very welcome in light of the physical nature of the work… phew!