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Powder Room Reno. Part 2: Crown molding and Weird Angles.

As I continue to redo the powder room in my Arts&Craft era house, I’m correcting a few DI-Don’ts: 

1. Aside from picture rail being more of a thing for the era of the house (Part 1), there was crown molding installed in this room in an unusual way. Granted, this was a challenging room for trim, as within the small space there were eight wall sections, including one on an angle. The floor plan sketch shows this.

Each of the straight sections of crown molding were composed of two pieces, upside down relative to each other. Mitred joints for crown molding are mind bending geometry, but I can only speculate this is a style I’ve never heard of or seen before, or a fun way to use up scraps of trim. Down it came. 

2. On the subject of trim, mitring joints and angled walls, I’m pretty happy with my fit of new baseboards in the room. First challenge was the angled wall. My compass said one corner was 134 degrees and the other 143, or 145 depending on how high up the wall. Theory says mitred cuts of half of each of these angles should work together to make a smooth piece of trim. Trial and error lead to figuring out which side of 67 degree cut matched up with the other side of the cut at 67 degrees to make a good 134 degree corner.1 

These joints worked out with a single cut. The rest of the baseboards required standard shenanigans related to almost 90 degree corners, sagging floors and bowed walls. 

3. Another DIDon’t I took the opportunity to improve was the drywall finish. This mess around the plumbing for the toilet I can only attribute to a quick repair. I took the time to render invisible a few drywall seams that showed, like the one in the photo above. Filled the hole above the toilet water supply and fitted the baseboard around the pipe. 

I have to admit, an advantage of drywall is being able to apply drywall compound to fix any surface that isn’t perfect. Actually, drywall compound repairs work on plaster, too. With plaster, it’s usually the ravages of time that need covering up. In this powder room, it’s bad technique – taping and mudding leaving visible dents and gaps. Also, it looks as though there was wallpaper stripped from the walls with the occasional gouge into the drywall surface. All were fixed.

Back to sympathetic renovations: The floor had made its way to vinyl interlock over plywood, over the original subfloor2. Not a fan of the vinyl, as it’s pretending to be wood, but isn’t like wood except if you are 50 feet away. Unless a drone is flying at a weird angle to a window, it’s impossible to see the floor from 50 feet away. It doesn’t look like wood, it doesn’t sound like wood, and it doesn’t feel like wood when you step on it.  

To replace it, I decided a bathroom of the era might have sheet vinyl. Back in the day, it may have had asbestos in it and if found today tends to be summarily removed. However, modern-made sheet vinyl has no currently recognized toxic properties so I decided this was perfect for my powder room. To my dismay, the first zillion sheet vinyl samples I found were faux wood or stone. Wrong concept for the era. Fortunately I found an overseas distributor that understood the need to diverge from modern trendiness. Or was in a trendiness of its own, on another continent.

And now to put it all together. See Part 3.

1I can draw diagrams with angles and triangles cut into parallel surfaces, then how they fit together, but prefer to enjoy the magic of the mitre saw, especially when applied to contoured pieces of trim. 

2Oddly, some of the subfloor is wide plank, 8 or so inches, and some 3 1/2″ groove and tongue. The plank is laid diagonally on the joists, while the groove and tongue is perpendicular. There is some vague correlation to where there might have been hardwood vs. tile above, as was the practice …but the room arrangement has shifted since the subfloor was installed. Anyway, the annoying thing about the plywood layer, although I know it was laid to provide an even surface for a new top finish, is that there are repairs I would make to the subfloor that require taking the plywood off. 

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