Here is the [house], here is the Steeple!

One of the first things that attracted us to this house was the steeple. Who doesn’t love a good, ornate steeple?!1

picture of the house, as seen from above from the top of the wassaic project mill

In theory and fantasy (and nursery rhymes), steeples are magical and majestic and awe-inspiring – and ours is, too. From the outside.
But the steeple room (inside) was one of the least attractive or extraordinary parts of the whole structure.

This is the first blog post in several months, so it's long. It's also multi-faceted, start-to-finish type narrative, so if you don't want to read the whole thing in one sitting I made a convenient Table of Contents to make navigation easier 🙂 
Table of Contents
Room as we found it / Prep work
Drywall, Lights, Plastering, Pestering, and Progress
Function and Form
Stuff I Somehow Forgot (it’s Electric!)
Footnotes

Room as we found it / Prep work

It was so terrible in the steeple-room, I didn’t even take an early picture of it.

The room was basically covered in plastic sheeting, poorly thought-out drywall, and millions upon millions of (presumed dead) lady bugs.

We vaccumed up the overabundance of insect corpses (eventually), but honestly the rest of it was not very high on our to-do list. It was a tiny, dark room with a giant beam cutting down the middle of it, and it really did not seem to add much by way of liveable space to the attic. We blocked the mini entrance with a pretty big TV (and a window-screen and a bunch of cardboard we duct-taped into place to keep kids and cats out) and proceeded to ignore it for ~6 months.

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW (circa 2019)!!!!!
Best show on TV, then and now.

When we finally did venture back in and bothered to clear out the yards and yards of plastic sheeting, we realized that the existing drywall placement was unbelievably stupid (lazy) and was blocking off huge corners of space in the steeple. Whoever hung the drwall reduced the already-too-small square footage by about 15%2 (and created a bunch of fire-friendly airpockets).

Drywall, Lights, Plastering, Pestering, and Progress <back to top>

The black lines are the actual walls/borders in place as we found them. The Yellow square is the actual (ish) floor space that was being hidden by stupid drywall decisions of previous decision-makers.

This discovery was both exciting and annoying: exciting because it meant maybe the room could actually be large enough to be useful, and annoying because it meant ripping out a bunch of oddly shaped drywall and replacing it with new and different oddly shaped drywall. This combination proved overwhelming, and kept the room pretty low on the priority list through 2020. But in 2021 we finally started ripping out the stupid drywall and letting the little room reach it’s full 64 square foot potential. At some point later, we (Sergiu) started replacing the supid drywall with more form-fitting (properly placed) drywall pieces.

This process was… frustrating.

Looks like symmetrical space, right? It’s not. Somehow, no two measuerments were the same. The frustration of that process led to another year or so of delay. We (I) also didn’t have any clear plan for the room, so it was dropped back down to the bottom of the priority list.
However, I did manage to muster enough motivation to get my friendly-neighborhood (live-in) electrician to install a much more awesome light fixture.

Ultimately, it wasn’t until the youngest kid in the house started wanting to play console games on the main TV that I made a real plan for the space: it would make a great game room.5

So early in 2022 Sergiu started plastering. Slowly plastering. (Not pictured)

It went slowly, until I started utilizing all my resources.

That adorable little future-gamer knew the space was destined to be his game room and someone (it was me!) strategically bought him a new game that he couldn’t play until the room was finished. I effectively outsourced my pestering to an adorable little 5 year old, against whom Sergiu is powerless.

So Sergiu plastered and painted way faster than before (the 5 year old offered him occasional “20 minute breaks”), and soon the room was ready for a real floor. By real floor, I mean the interlocking foam tiles I decided would be perfect for a game room floor (and I was right!)!
It was a lot of measuring and cutting (with scissors), and my hands hurt (possibly forever). It took about 20 hours of fitting the pieces in, but hot damn do I love when my vision comes together.
It turned out even better than I expected.

Function and Form <back to top>

I had to lop off some extraneous drywall-wings, add a gigantic6 fluffy beanbag-like chair, build some shelves, and find some consoles (and all their cords), but at the end of the day it really started looking like a game room.

Let’s talk about those shelves. Aren’t they fabulous?

The top shelf was built first, and 3/4 filled with consoles.
The bottom shelf was a few hours later when I realized I was going to need more space.

I used the pipe fittings I had used for the shelves that I built in Westley’s room (in an awesome use of triangles that Pythagoras would be proud of!). The wood on the top shelf is the drawer-front from a dresser that long ago stopped functioning as a dresser. It actually worked out perfectly (without any forethought or planning, in this case!) because the dresser knobs fit perfectly into the pipe-fitting and they lifted up the front, making the shelf level and stable!
The steeple walls angle in as they go up, so the right-angles found in most shelf brackets would not create level surfaces – and the dresser knobs solved that problem! I also used some left-over air-dry clay7 to sort-of hold them in place – this may or may not work long-term.

It’s perfect! (almost!)

The bottom shelf is a bit of left over wood/scrap from some other project. It’s not perfect and is not the final product, but it’s a great place-holder.8 And finally, the curtain hook on the left is great as a cord-organizer/controller holder! Now, I just need to find it’s pair so I can have the illusion of symmetry.

Speaking of symmetry, the (almost exact) center beam really limits navigability of the room, but since it basically holds up the house we had to get creative. My goal was to just make it less painful when we inevitably walk into it (soften it up a bit, reduce the risk of splinters, etc). So I wrapped the base with some leftover padding before I put the floor down (and then ordered some pure wool to wrap the rest). Several staples later and it was pretty well covered.


The beam literally bisects the room, at an angle that isn’t even fun –
though part of me wants to put a tractor-seat chair up at the top, just for me.

I needed to cover the wool with something less rippable (<2 unprotected days and it already ripped) and ideally more fun. I don’t plan decorative stuff as a cohesive whole, so I wasn’t sure exactly what motif I wanted in the center.
Which brings us to a Quick Back Story:

I love Angry Little Girls everything9 I’ve repaired my “I hate people” bag numerous times over the 17 or so years I’ve had it, and I’ve bought a few other excellent designs from the brand to extend the life/reduce my daily use of my favorite. Anyhoo… recently I wanted to buy some patches that expressed my grumpy old man (or angry little girl) feelings. Of course I can never find what I want when I want it, but my quest led me to discover Angry Little Girl designs on fabric via Spoonflower.

Spoonflower is basically the fabric version of TeePublic and Society6 – independent artist designs on fabric (of many types) printed and shipped by a central company.

{end back story}

Long story short, I ordered an awesome design10 (by a super nice artist!) on a hopefully durable fabric to wrap around the padding that I wrapped around the beam. I didn’t really order enough, though, so I had to secure it pretty tautly.

The fabric has all NINE planets 🙂

I was going to (and maybe will, eventually) attach it with industrial strength velcro, but that would have required me to dig my sewing machine out of the box it’s lived in the past 2.5 years. And as it turned out, I didn’t really have enough material to do this anyway.

So I lazy’d out, and returned to the trusty (easy) staple gun.

Pluto la la loves you!

But it ran out of staples and I couldn’t find any more, so I found another staple gun. But it also ran out of staples, so tried again and found some staples. But they were the wrong size for both the staple guns (maybe I broke one of the guns, maybe I didn’t), and eventually found a third staple gun that fit the staples I found.

Fancy velcro fasteners would probably have been faster.

But with the beam done, we moved on to the screen.

More back story
(it’s like in-line footnotes!):
Back in Brooklyn we had a glorious 50 in ‘dumb’ TV, paired with a Roku, in the living room. At some point we bought a 40-something inch smart TV for the bedroom, maybe 2014 or 2015. A few years later, the 5 year old (then maybe 2) broke our beloved living room TV with a toy hammer, we moved the not-broken Smart TV to the living room, and realized quickly the depth of our hatred for Smart TVs.11 After we moved to Wassaic we bought the first not-smart TV we could find and never looked back.
Meanwhile, the Smart TV hopped around from room to room on the 2nd floor and eventually settled in Westley’s room, as his comically oversized “computer monitor”

until today!

Our trusty old Smart TV12 found a new and much more fitting home in the game room, where it’s connectivity and “smartness” is irrelevant (and not only because the wifi doesn’t work in the steeple; I also hate online games and prefer cartridge-based systems) and it can just focus on being a normal TV.

Cartridges rule. And don’t require the internet to be awesome.

We tried to install it using a fancy full-motion wall-based TV-holder, but the slight angle of the steeple walls + the weight of the TV13 made it impossible to stay in-place (also not pictured). Gravity kept making it extend fully ‘out’, and the room is too small (and I’m way too paranoid) for that to ever work. So fixed wall mount it is! … which was somehow even more difficult to find than the fancy extender one. Fast forward 2 days (shipping time) and we tried again.

Worked perfectly.

That damn Big Joe is going to get on my nerves, though. I can tell you that right now. I definitely should have waited to stuff that giant thing in there until I’d finished the beam and the TV (and probably more stuff that I forgot, but not including…:)

Stuff I Somehow Forgot <back to top>

This is the point where I discovered that my friendly neighborhood electrician had not actually created an outlet for all of consoles and the screen.14 Seriously, how did I not notice this for the past several months?!

d’oh

A video game room isn’t much good without a power outlet, so I had to roll up my sleeves15 and put my extensive electrical knowledge (lies!) to use and create a fully functional outlet. Or, in a more accurate description of the process, I got a generous soul give up their Saturday afternoon to walk me through the process via video chat and ensure I didn’t lick the wrong wire during installation … … …

… and I survived! According to the photos, I was very confused. But I wasn’t electrocuted and the the outlet works! And I didn’t break the light! It didn’t work out exactly as planned, though. I had bought a fancy electric + USB receptacle box16 but apparently those are weirdly bulky and don’t fit in tiny outlet boxes when there are that many wires. I really did try. But it was also really easy to just give up and grab one of the ordinary ‘receptacles’ in our stash of supplies.

Ta da!

So let’s back up a step. Because of the previous stupid triangle-creating-drywall-placement, the box was flush(ish) with the beam but not so much with the new not-so-stupid wall. So I built it a custom wooden frame. I used repurposed wood from an earlier, abandoned project and the brass-toned paint from Westley’s defunct radiator. I measured (twice!) and cut the pieces to what should have been the right length/shape, sanded them (a lot), and painted them.
Fun fact, that paint takes forever to dry!

It should have worked out better than it did, but I’m clearly more function than form – and it shows: the final frame17 is far from impressive. It serves its purpose, but eventually it will have to be fixed / polished up a bit.

Honestly, that whole process makes me more understanding about Sergiu’s struggles with the drywall: no matter how many measurements I took, precision in the steeple is doomed to imperfection.

And finally, it wouldn’t be a proper post without the obligatory complainy part.
The damn room is not done. There are several spots that Sergiu just didn’t plaster/fill-in, a LOT of spots that he did but never ‘finished’, and I still need to figure out how to install little shelves in the wonkiest corners. Unfortunately, most of those items require Sergiu to actually finish a damn project – a skill at which he excels at work, but that disappears entirely when he’s working on projects at home.
Ok, rant over.

And one day I will fulfill the ultimate dream and install a fireman pole from the Steeple to the ground floor.
(maybe not a priority),

Footnotes <back to top>

1 Roofers love steeples, btw.
2 Totally made up percentage. That may or may not be remotely close to the actual number.
3 Still no hidden gold, though. 😦

4 I love a good triangle, but not when it wastes my usable space!
5 AKA, a room where he can play video games and won’t interrupt my repeated binging of Legends of Tomorrow.
6 Honestly, it’s actually too big. The Big Joe chairs come in like 5 sizes, and I got the middle one – and it’s still massively too big. But it works, and is incredibly comfortable.
— Also, fun fact: Oberon calls the beanbag chair “Jen”. He kept forgetting the name ‘Joe’, and kept saying “his name is Jen” instead, so eventually we just went with it.

7 The kids love clay, so we’ve gotten a lot of different types over the years. Some they love, some (like air-dry style) they really don’t use or enjoy… so I use it for all sorts of projects around the house. Sometimes even successfully!
8 I have to figure out how to fix my PS2 and Xbox 360 before this shelf matters.
But mostly I wanted hijack this space to talk about how much I love reusing materials in our projects: It is good for the environment, justifies why I hoard (seemingly) useless stuff, and it helps my wallet afford the more frivolous (fun) things. For this project, we used insulation that had previously just been shoved into other spaces (like the pantry) and leftover drywall, wood, and pipe fittings from a variety of other projects. And when I was installing the flooring I used the scraps from the foam flooring itself to level out the subfloor on the edges and in the corners. It all just worked out so perfectly!
9 Because I Hate People (but I love most persons!)
10 Pluto is a damn planet.

11 We seriously hate smart TVs: they never update and take forever to load when you turn them on.
12 As much as we hate Smart TVs (we do) I really appreciate how sturdy and reliable it has been (when you ignore all the smart features). I also anthropormorphize everything and build strong emotional attachments to inanimate objects. Also, don’t worry too much about Wes: he got upgraded to a brand-new not-Smart TV that is a much more reasonable 32″ – still enormous for a computer monitor, but a little less comically oversized and way less glitchy for his games.

13 It’s so heavy because it’s a Smart TV! AAAAHHH! Foiled again by my technological nemesis!!!
14 Yes, I have been in this room a lot since Elliot put the light in, and no – at no point did I notice the outlet was not an actual outlet but just a metal box on a wall with (very neatly, safely) secured wires shoved in.
15 The sleeves on the hoody I’ve been wearing for roughly 2+ years…
16 Did you know the “plug-in” part of the outlet is called a receptacle? I did not so my initial google searches for the part I needed were not terribly successful.

17 This was actually a totally unplanned reference to a mostly great episode of Legends of Tomorrow, where the team has to save the Earth from a trophy-hungry bowling team at a space-floating bowling alley on the other side of the galaxy.

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