That was the view from the kitchen. This is the view from the living room:
I mean, really, what the hell? Why? Really, why did they put those there? I always thought it was the dorkiest thing in the world. Well, okay maybe the dorkiest thing in the world that was in my house. I should have put a big red arrow on that first picture to show where I sawed through them. But it was at the skinniest part near the bottom before the grooved part starts. (Like the bottom of a human leg calf before a weird round ankle bracelet.)
I was telling my father-in-law today that I used a hacksaw and he made fun of me, but I explained that I could hold both ends and change arms and use all different muscles without overtiring any particular muscles. I guess most people would use a regular saw or even some sort of electric saw. I did pull out a really old jig saw that the in-laws gave us last year, but it was very loud and vibratey and it scared the crap out of me, so I immediately nixed that whole idea. I have used a jig saw before when I installed the pet door, but that one was a modern one that I had borrowed from Carole and had polar plugs and whatnot and wasn't scary.
Oh, so anyway, I used a hacksaw and did it by hand and it wasn't that bad. After I sawed through the skinny part, I just had to jiggle and yank on the newel posts to get them out. As I said in the original post, they were attached to the frame by some sort of large staples. After I yanked out any staple pieces that were stuck in the wood, I sanded the whole frame. You can see in this next picture where the base of one of the newels posts was:
After a good sanding, which made crazy dust fog all over the place, I cleaned up all the sawdust and filled the little holes and grooves with wood putty:
The weird wood putty that I had said you had to use an oil-based primer before you could paint with latex paint. I really do not like oil-based anything except food. Oil-based paint requires all sorts of brain damaging chemicals for clean-up. That's why when I have to work with oil-based stuff, I just plan on throwing everything away afterward. The paintbrush, the rolling pan, the roller brush, whatever. It's gone. I refuse to clean that stuff. I have few enough good working brain cells as it is.
I did a preliminary oil-based primer coat over the putty and the corners, where the roller wouldn't reach. (Also you can see how the kitchen table used to be positioned in this pic.):
After that dried, I rolled the whole frame. Then I threw away all the oil-based stuff. After that, I painted the corners with my latex paint and when that dried I rolled the rest and this is my finished result:
As you can see, we repositioned the table. I added a little lamp there, sort of cafe style. (I'm going to get a better lampshade.) I love how everything turned out. The whole kitchen seems larger now. I just want to add a little runner rug to really cozy the room up.