A Continuing Niche…Dreaded

A few days ago.


Yesterday. I refinished the lower inside corner.


The corner has a thin strip of Lincrusta. I had no idea it was there.


Doing this corner was hard because it requires that I bend a lot, and am forced to squat and sit. And my sixty-one-year-old body protests mightily. It is the kind of work that I would have not given a thought to at, say, forty. But sixty-one? Ouch.

After sitting on the floor for a while, it is hard to get up. Then it is hard to actually stand erect. So I walk around kinda bent for a short while. The very image of some old guy.

This age thing is something that I have yet to get my head around as I feel like I am, I dunno, thirty-five. So, who is this old guy?

When I am painting the exterior, I build the scaffolding in such a way that I rarely have to bend or sit. Usually, I am standing and this makes it vastly easier to do the work. But inside? There is nothing I can do about walls and base well below my waist. I now think of these as the Dreaded Areas.



  1. Barb Sanford on April 9, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    I cannot believe how much better that corner looks with all the shellac gone. The wood just glows. And I can sympathize with the “old man” stuff, because old lady stuff is sneaking up on me, too. I get cramped up if I sit on the floor for any length of time. My joints creak when I sit too long. Any minute now, I’ll start tucking Kleenex up my sleeves in case I need one later. But in my head, I’m 35.

    • Cindy Belanger on April 9, 2018 at 7:06 pm

      I too am starting to feel the pain and stiffness, but your comment about the Kleenex is so funny, made me think of my great aunt who used to do that.

  2. RobynMe on April 9, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Get a rolling mechanic’s stool or even a comfy poof! Cushion on a dolly for the really low stuff. Also gardeners kneepads. That’s my plan for baseboard stripping. 🙂

  3. David F. on April 9, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    As a MUCH younger almost 60-year-old, I feel your pain and share in the confusion about “Why oh why can’t I do this as easily as I used to?” Stock up on Naproxen and take in prophylactically.

  4. Gabi on April 9, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    You need some young volunteers. 🙂

    • Cody H on April 9, 2018 at 7:40 pm

      I second this motion. If Ross would have me, I’d be more than happy to be his summer intern!

      • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 7:57 pm

        A Cody summer! I would love that!

  5. Marjorie on April 9, 2018 at 1:24 pm

    It looks beautiful. The Lincrusta cleaned up well. That is good news.
    I was going to suggest the rolling garden seat. I have two and use them often. You can roll to a spot to pull yourself up if you need a little assistance. Good luck, give the seat a try

  6. Beth on April 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Looks beautiful! I am having the same age problem. Whenever I have to do something down low, I sit on this short oak stool – it helps.

  7. Mo on April 9, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    Ross, the bending and stooping and then getting up is why I bought a small stool. It was probably a footstool for a ladies’ chair in its former life, but it’s low enough for me to work at floor level, and at just about 10″ tall enough for me to get up from. I found mine in a used furniture place, but they abound in antique and resale shops all over my area. It was less expensive than a hardware store alternative and can be used in any number of places in my home, in addition to serving this primary purpose. Your work in the niche is lovely, by the way.

  8. Kim on April 9, 2018 at 2:16 pm

    Ooh – the lincrusta – been wanting to see how that would turn out and it’s lovely!
    Like a few others, I might also suggest a rolling gardner’s stool. They can be very handy & easy on the knees.
    If you want a volunteer I’m good for 5 to 8 hrs a day. 🌻

  9. Suzanne on April 9, 2018 at 2:22 pm

    I use a sturdy wooden child’s chair! Works well for picking up after and bathing kids!

  10. Paige Sander on April 9, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    If you actually count…how many doors does the Cross House have? I feel certain it is over twenty…but is it even higher?

  11. SEB on April 9, 2018 at 3:42 pm

    Hey Ross, You know what, I’m 49 but I know that exact experience of “after sitting on the floor for a while, it is hard to get up. Then it is hard to actually stand erect.”

    I have that experience after weeding in the garden. AND, I’d like to refer you to “the Bracing Sequence” on pages 40-41 of the book “Becoming a Supple Leopard” by Dr. Kelly Starrett. (these page numbers apply to the latest edition; The bracing sequence also appears in the earlier edition, so either edition is a good option).

    When I stand up and have that inability to straighten, right that very minute I screw my feet into the ground and squeeze my butt and… follow through the rest of the steps. Then I hold the ideal position for a few seconds and breathe. This allows the vertebrae to float back to their happiest alignment.

    It takes about 30-60 seconds to go from hominid to human 🙂

    If I ever make it out there (next Thanksgiving, maybe?) to visit, I’ll be sure to offer to go through the bracing sequence together. Butt squeezes and happy spines for the win! 🙂

    good luck, from my spine to yours

    • Kim on April 10, 2018 at 7:54 am

      Happy spines, indeed SEB – wonderful! What you describe is very akin to a part of the yoga process, which has kept me going for years. Keeping flexible certainly keeps the aches at bay.

      We warm up to run a race & cool down after, to let our body properly adjust to the task . It makes sense to properly prepare the body for any arduous task and ease it’s transition away.

      Keep it flexible Ross – we got your back. 😉

      • SEB on April 13, 2018 at 2:05 pm

        Thanks for the love, Kim 🙂 And, for the non-yogis, by “butt squeezes” I meant one squeezes one’s own butt muscles. To be super clear (because Ross didn’t respond to my message and I’m worried I offended), I’m not flirtin’ with Ross. (I’ll leave that crowded field to more worthy contenders). Neither of us are the other’s type (and my spine already loves another). xo from California 🙂

        • Ross on April 13, 2018 at 2:35 pm

          Rest assured, SEB, I fully understood and appreciated your first comment!

          • SEB on April 13, 2018 at 3:42 pm

            phew 🙂

  12. Dan Goodall-Williams on April 9, 2018 at 5:02 pm

    Love it. But, why is that there? It looks out of place in the sense that it appears it doesn’t line up with anything else. Sorry if I’m off base here. Great work. Be thankful that you can still get down and up!

    • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Hi, Dan!

      Why is what there?

  13. Jenine on April 9, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Your pictures pointed out another dreaded task. The radiator will need to have the untold coats of paint removed in order for the beautiful detailing to show up. I don’t know if there is a shutoff valve on each radiator that would allow you to pull one out of the system without affecting the rest, but it would certainly be easier to work on it if it were disconnected.

    • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 6:49 pm

      Hi, Jenine!

      There is NO WAY that I will ever disconnect any radiator! Not after all I have gone through to have the system restored to working order!

      The niche radiator does not actually have a lot of paint build-up. Where the white paint is chipped, you can see the original gold finish under.

      I expect to start stripping it (in place!) soon.

      The original finish on my radiators, from what I can tell, was a dark gold, with a brighter gold on the raised decorative details.

  14. Cindy Belanger on April 9, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Ross, the niche looks great. You can really see the details in the wood now. There were some good suggestions from your followers that may help you back and knees. Hope they work. I am working on my ceiling and my neck is not what it used to be. I work on it a little every day, takes longer, but better on my neck.

  15. lindy on April 9, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    It looks beautiful Ross. I’m sure you are wondering if this is all worth it, but I’m saying that it is!!!!

    • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 7:53 pm

      No, Lindy, I never ever ever worry if it is all worth it!

  16. Cody H on April 9, 2018 at 7:43 pm

    What was the ultimate determination regarding the original finish in the lincrusta? Is what we see in this post the “base finish” that was was brought up some time ago, or is this how you intend to leave it?

    Personally, I wouldn’t change it. It coordinates well with the tone of the wood as-is.

    • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      I was told by a Lincrusta expert that there was a final finish which the alcohol dissolved.

      My hope is that this can be confirmed, and, if true, the “lost” finish can be recreated.

  17. Sandra Lee on April 9, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Niche is looking fabulous! Worth every ache & pain–

    • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      Oh, Sandra, I agree!

  18. Brian A on April 9, 2018 at 8:41 pm

    It appears the corner blocks on the door/window trim are darker than everything else. Is it a different type of wood inset, or finished differently, or what?

    • Ross on April 9, 2018 at 8:44 pm

      The dark squares are carved wood. Same with the circles under the column.

      These show darker. Same with the background of the column capital.

  19. Elin on April 10, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    I think Ross needs himself a toyboy. For several reasons.

    • Stewart Mclean on April 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      I am uncertain as to why you have made such a post to this site. Although he may share parts of it on this site, judgements about Ross’s private life are inappropriate and not our business. If you aren’t embarrassed to have written it, you should be.

      • Ross on April 10, 2018 at 8:05 pm

        It’s OK, Stewart,

        I took Elin’s comment as just having some fun.

        And I am good with fun.

        • Stewart Mclean on April 10, 2018 at 8:19 pm

          Well, if you feel that way, I have about a hundred inappropriate comments saved up, like:

          “What kind of fun?”

          “How good are you, really?”, and…

          Oh, never mind.

          Should I post the rest, I ask, with a silly grin on my face, as I make a fool of myself, again.

          • Ross on April 10, 2018 at 8:26 pm

            Now, now. Down boy!

      • elin noller on April 12, 2018 at 12:10 pm

        Ehm..The only one judging here is you 😉

        I am a fan of toyboys myself. Don’t judge me!

  20. Devyn on April 10, 2018 at 9:12 pm

    Looking great Ross…. As for this getting older BS, I am in my early 50s and constantly underestimate how much time a project will take. Why can’t I work a project for ten continuous hours? It was easy 20 years ago. And yes, doing work below the waist is becoming more difficult as my stiff limbs are attesting.

  21. San on April 13, 2018 at 9:05 pm


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