The Sky is Falling (But I have a Design Plan)

The “Balcony Bedroom” is the name I’ve started using for the bedroom we’re working on now, to move into for the summer. It really was supposed to be my project, to work on during the summer days when Doug was working, but I gave him two jobs for this room : to figure out what to do about the damaged ceiling, and to hang a new light fixture.

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The ceiling (painted to look like the sky, hence the post title), if you remember, was mightily damaged by the fact that the roof was laying in the driveway for years. I really, REALLY didn’t want to rip the plaster down – It actually breaks my heart on TV shows when people say, “Oh, the plaster has to come down!” – ESPECIALLY when those same people are trying to “preserve the character of the house.” To me, the plaster walls ARE the character of the house. Now, I’m not insane – I know not every wall can be saved, and I know there might be valid reasons for destruction, but in general, I would rather have imperfect plaster walls than perfect drywall.

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That, of course, is the Preservationist side of me. There’s also the Environmental side that doesn’t want all that plaster in a landfill, the Lazy side that doesn’t want to drag it outside, the Timekeeper side that knows how much work would go into re-doing the ceiling, and the Annoyed side that would know what a mess it would make.

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So, Doug went to work trying to figure it out. We scraped away the loose flakes, he pushed on the ceiling to find exactly where it had pulled away from the lathe. The corner was easy – a tape and re-mud. But the ceiling wouldn’t work. We couldn’t get mud to stick. Or primer. Or screws to hold in the lathe that clearly had been eaten away by water over the years.

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Harumph. Marina and I sat on the balcony, in search of further wisdom. I have a feeling that there will be MUCH further wisdom learned on this balcony in the coming decades. It’s just that kind of place.

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Doug took to his place of inspiration, his computer, and came back with an idea from the brilliance of Tom Silva and our friends of This Old House. As always, a wealth of knowledge there, THANK YOU! You can watch the video, here :,,1630910,00.html

The plan would involve buying ceiling button plaster washers, and using those to reattach the plaster to the lathe. Yes, you are right : I said the lathe was rotted. Of course, he had a plan for that, too. He opened up the wall of our temporary living room on the third floor, to access the ceiling below from above. GENIUS.

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He cleared out the insulation –

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Which was gross and had been compacted by years of water. Ew.

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And he built this fun piece out of scrap lumber, to set between the joists to give the washers something to bite into.

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Next came a button bonanza. Very exciting!

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And then new insulation on the third floor.

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And mudding over the buttons. I was skeptical of this part, for no reason. I thought for sure you’d see the buttons. It did help that previous owners textured the ceiling with sort of a stucco pattern – incidentally, we hate that – but it made it much easier to camouflage the repair.

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I also started working on the design plan and color scheme for the room while this was going on. I mean, there were features of this room that I LOVE :

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And features that I LOATHE :

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I love color, and I love pattern, and I love mixing patterns and textures. A lot. Though I can appreciate the calm soothing nature of an all-white space, I will only every visit such a place. I won’t live in it. Color, Pattern, and Texture are so important to me.

Generally, I start with a fabric. I find something I love and can’t live without, and I pull all of my colors and other fabrics from it. For this room, I started with the rug. We aren’t refinishing the floors yet, so I wanted to cover as much of the paint-splattered floors as possible with a rug. I was really drawn to this one :

Strata Free Spirit Multi Floral 8'x10' Mohawk Rug (11825) contemporary-area-rugs

Something about the cool gray with the vibrant colors really made me happy. So I bought it.

THEN, we went to Franklin Heritage Architectural Salvage here in town, and I found a ceiling medallion. I bought it pretty much because I enjoy having spare chandelier and lighting parts laying around, but when I got home, I realized….. kismet. THEY MATCH. I was actually a little sad, because now I don’t have a medallion to paint and that’s SO MUCH FUN. But, ALL the colors match. It’s almost creepy.

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Also, I bought this drinking fountain that day. Seriously. What on earth do I think I am going to do with this? But, I could not leave it behind.

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Ideas are welcome.

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From the carpet, I pulled out three colors : the ceiling will be Silver Leaf, the Main Walls will be Clarified Butter (YUM!), and the band between the crown molding and the picture rail will be a turquoise. Not that exact color above, but the color of the bathtub I restored at Jackson Street. I have enough of that paint leftover, so I am putting it to good use!

Clawfoot Tub 035

So, walls repaired, and as of tonight, it’s all primed and ready to go! Woodwork painting is next, then the ceiling and walls. And then sleeping in air conditioning!

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Making Progress!


  1. Bravo! You are a true renovator – and I’m glad you weren’t around when I obliterated a ton of plaster lathe. I have 2 1/2 rooms of original plaster remaining and I promise to keep them. You have such good taste and great style – oh how I wish I could paint a room…

    1. I may have rolled my eyes at you for losing the plaster but I wouldn’t have scolded! Especially not when you are so kind with your words to me! 🙂

  2. That drinking fountain is screaming “bird bath.” Kind of ironic, since you murdered all those birds to makeover this room.

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