Today I did all the cleanup work. Put the banister back on, replaced all the switches, installed cover plates, hung a picture, swept and wiped down the floor, put down the area rug, put back the occasional table by the front door.
In the process I found that the rods for the hanging fixtures included one rod (each) which was made of two 6" segments. I suppose I would have figured this out if I'd read the parts list in the manual; but 6" is twice as long as what will fit, anyway, and I still would have had to modify one of the rods.
Then I spent almost an hour tracing all the circuits in the house to make sure I could reliably shut down power to them, so I could replace things like sockets and switches without barbecuing myself. Used my fancy Dymo label printer to label the breakers 1-11, and then went down the list and verified what was off and what was on.
...which means I made something like 20 trips up or down the stairs. (Not for all breakers. #11 is for the furnace blower or the AC, one or the other, or maybe both. One is for the basement and one is for the utility room, neither of which I had to climb stairs to identify.) Typed up a list which showed everything that was on each breaker rather than a partial list (for example, until today, one just said "[Fungus]'s Room" instead of "Bedrooms", and the one labeled "main bath" actually covers that bathroom, the family room, and the hallway. And so on). Printed it, stuck it up inside the breaker box, so now I should never have to guess again. "I need to shut off power to the light over the sink! That's THIS one!"
Confident that I could now replace the hallway switches without frying, I set out to replace them...and only remembered that one was a 2-way switch when I got to it and saw three wires coming out of it. Sighing, I put it back in the box and hit Ace for a 2-way switch, and managed to complete the electrical stuff. (I had intended to buy 2, only bought one, and should have bought four, since the kitchen ones need replacing too.)
Once all the screwing and tightening and installing was done, I set out to clean up. Put everything into boxes, so I have one for drop cloths, one for painting tools, one for drywall stuff, and one for electrical. Put the utility table away, swept the floor, scraped off the few paint spatters that somehow eeled their way through to the floor, and wiped it down. Hung the picture over the stairs and set out the rug.
The front hall looks like a million bucks. Gone is the dingy old light green paint, the marks and gouges on the drywall, the places where my sister had done some haphazard patching in 2011.
The rest of the house will follow soon enough.
To my dismay, however, I found that the breaker box has exactly ONE single-pole breaker slot open. I can't add another 240v circuit as I had hoped to. The idea of swapping in a new breaker box with more slots scares the fertilizer out of me, because that would mean handling the big wires coming from ComEd with power still applied to them. We have a smart meter now, which means they should be able to cut the power remotely, but that still costs money to reconnect after disconnecting.
But you know what? That's so far off--so far down the list of priorities--that I'm not going to worry about it right now. I've got a lot to do before I get to the point that thinking about improving the garage is even an option.
So, the switches by the front door--they're these modular things. There's a metal strap which has three places you can put things, and once you've put them in and wired them, they screw into a conventional outlet box. The guys who built the place put in four single-pole switches and set them up for various functions (like the outlet in the living room, closest to the front door, the post light, the porch light, and the ceiling fixture just inside). But the thing could just as easily have had an indicator lamp and a switch, or three switches across and one on the bottom, or anything.
These are no longer widely available. I found some of the switches at Ace, but no cover plate for four switches in a two-place box. I don't think these things are to code any longer, so Ace just has the replacement switches.
What I need is to put in new-style double switches and then get a four-outlet cover. The dual switches fit the same profile as an outlet, so that works; but the switch plates we got from Menards, they don't have a four-outlet cover, at least not in the store, so I have to go searching for one.
In the meantime, though, the front hall sure looks good.