Long Term Home Remodel Project

Phase IIIb - Add a Piano Alcove to the Living Room


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This project actually started as the first step in building up the floor in the den here. That end of it, that will become the walk in closet for the master bedroom had been a storage room for years. It had to be emptied to make room for the new piano slab.

Old overhang Since the remodel of the living room, the piano has been on the south wall, slightly in the natural path from the kitchen to the bedroom wing. Piano Slab This is how it looked, kitchen on the right, bedrooms on the left. We cut a hole through the wall behind the piano, set forms and poured a concrete slab on top of the den (former porch) slab. This had to be done before we could raise the rest of the den floor. Of course the new slab had to eventually be covered in slate to match the rest of the living room floor. Fortunately, when I ordered slate for the front window extension, I ordered plenty to do this project with a fair amount still left over for "other things." This is the new slab as seen from what will be the walk in closet.

From Living Room From Den After finally finishing the den sub-flooring, we next built the walls and ceiling for the piano alcove. This was fairly uneventful, except for leveling the new slab with the living room, to be discussed below. We first cut the hole through the wall. This wall originally held a large window to overlook the covered porch that the previous owner left when closing in the porch. Shortly after buying the house, I replaced it with a solid wall. Anyway, being a former window wall, it already had an 8 foot header to support the roof. I opened it from the floor to that header. We then built the surrounding walls and ceiling to enclose the alcove. These are photos of the structure, one from the living room and the other from the den. The den photo also shows what will be a large and useful shelf above the alcove for storage in the closet. It will probably be left open.


From Living Room From Den After the walls, the next step was to level the new slab with the living room. It took two layers of 1/4 inch cement underlayment with a little bit thicker mortar toward one end. I had planned for a single layer of 1/2 inch like the living room. Our new slab was pretty level but the living room was not and the old stem wall between the two was even worse. The first 1/4 inch brought the new slab up more or less even with the stem wall and the second, covering the stem wall, brought it up to the right level for the slate. I didn't get any photos of the underlayment process but this one gives an idea of the nature of the stem wall and the abandoned floor vent that had to be filled. The other is the finished floor with slate to match and baseboard installed.

From Living Room Actually, we skipped a couple of steps there. You probably noticed the new walls were covered with sheetrock before those photos and before leveling the new floor. Also after laying the slate, I painted the whole south wall before installing the baseboards. There was over two weeks delay in the process. No local stores carried the matching baseboard in stock anymore so it had to be ordered. After it came in, I went looking for the corner blocks, which I'm sure I had seen fairly recently. Again, those had to be ordered, resulting in another lost week. Then, of course, it all had to be prefinished before installing, another few days. Finally, hang the art, install lighting and other electrical stuff and put the piano in its new home. This was not trivial and required some days of planning. The alcove opening is 6-1/2 feet wide and the piano is 5 feet and weighs between 500 and 600 pounds. With help from a son and son-in-law and a little "southern engineering", we managed to get it done. Finally, this is the piano in what should be its permanent home.