Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Living Room

The bad news is that I have not posted in a month. The good news is that there has been a lot of progress in the meantime. This past weekend we invited up several friends to help us paint all the rooms which will be having the wood floors restored. This includes two bedrooms, the office, the dining room, and the living room. Instead of making this another marathon post explaining everything that has changed, I will instead do a series of posts going room by room showcasing the new paint job.
I will begin with the living room. Here a few shots from before we bought the house:

This is the front door. It enters into the living room from the east side of the wraparound porch. I must remind the reader that the dates on the photo are incorrect. At the time I took this picture, we were still in escrow. Note the wallpaper peeling from the walls. This was the only wallpaper that had not been painted over in the house.  It was not normal wallpaper. It had a linear vertical texture on it and felt more like plastic than paper. I would date it to the 1980s, but I am really not sure; maybe 1990s? We removed it just a few days after moving in, the same day the work crew had the plastic laid down for removing popcorn ceiling.  Here is a nice close-up of the two lovelies posing together:

Here is what the turret looked like when we first moved in, complete with blue carpet, popcorn ceiling, and wallpaper:

I apologize for the darkness. This was taken before I ever planned on having a blog, before I owned the house, and before electricity was turned on. 

Here is the west wall just after the wallpaper came tumbling down. The doorway on the right side of the photo is the pocket doors leading into the dining room. This is the wall you face when you first enter the house:

Here is the south wall of the living room. It leads into the office and is on your left when entering through the front door. The dark area is the paper backing that was a little more difficult to remove. This is one of the nice gentlemen who were working on our house spraying it down with water so that it was easier to remove. While removing the wallpaper we came across several large holes. The horizontal boards behind the holes are the lath which held the plaster in place. I think exposed lath really gives a room that haunted house feeling. Frankly, I liked it. But alas, the gentlemen did patch it because that was all part of the 203K deal. This picture also greatly demonstrates the difference between the blue carpet and underlying painted wood floor, but that is another post entirely.

We did not just have to repair holes and remove wallpaper. Almost every wall in the house also had texture applied over wallpaper which was then painted. The texture sort of resembled craters like the surface of the moon, except on a much smaller scale of course. Sure, we could have just painted over the texture, but it looked very dated and was not particularly well done to begin with. Richard tried to sell me on the idea of it being just fine, but I was not buying it. I suppose a more authentic restorer would have removed the texture and the wallpaper underneath down to bare plaster and restored from there, but I did not choose that route for several reasons.
First, I do not think it will noticeably improve the visual appeal of the walls. Because we skim coated over the texture, everything is as smooth as the underlying plaster would be. Also, I feared what we would find underneath the wallpaper. I have a feeling that the wallpaper may very well be holding together the plaster. Also, I am not sure how possible it would be to remove textured-over wallpaper from plaster without further damaging the plaster underneath.  I have seen plenty of examples of people removing layers and layers of wallpaper from plaster, but not texture over wallpaper. I was afraid that if I tried, I would end up destroying the plaster underneath and then have to sheetrock the walls, which was the last thing I wanted to do. I like knowing that the plaster is under there somewhere so that if I or someone else ever wanted to restore the plaster walls, they have as much to work with as possible. I find it psychologically comforting. Plus, I like that I can still claim to have plaster walls. I do not know if I have mentioned it yet, but I know absolutely nothing about construction, home improvement, or old house restoration except for what I have read on the internet. And therefore we skim coated, painted, and called it done. Here is how the same wall looked after holes were repaired and skim coating:

The following are mostly nighttime pictures with one notable exception, to give a contrast between what it looks like lit by lamps and what it looks like in the sun. These pictures go around the room clockwise. Here is what it looks like now:

The color on the walls is Restful. The upper wall above the picture rail is Mountain Haze. The ceiling is Navajo White. The trim has yet to be done. That is definitely a post for the future. I think one last before and after is in order. 

That is all for this time, folks!


  1. Oh, yeah, and I also like the picture of Chair! Or maybe it's Chair's Victorian cousin. May have to turn this into Lovely Listing.