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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wallpaper Discoveries

We're back in the Boston area, and work continues on both House #1 and House #2. Mostly on House #1 right now, because we have just a few weeks to try to get it ready to rent. For the past few days I've been painting trim, spackling and sanding walls and ceilings, filling scratched and dented doors with wood putty, and taping walls and repairing sections with joint compound.

Now, I know that most of you are probably thinking how glad you are that you're not in my shoes right now: the owner of not one but two so-called fixer-uppers. I know the majority of people would much prefer to buy a house in great condition and move right in with everything already just so. But I am really enjoying the adventure of fixing our houses.

{I think both our old houses have character.}

House #1, which we bought two years ago and are now preparing to rent out, was built in 1852. In every step of the restoration process we discover bits of her history.

I spent a lot of time yesterday on the walls in the stairway. They're probably in the worst shape of all the walls in the house, with loose bits of plaster that seemed to be held in place only by the many layers of wallpaper and paint that had accumulated over the years. I was working to smooth things out so we could put on a fresh coat of paint, which meant in many places scraping the bubbling and peeling paint, sanding down badly-done lumps of spackling compound, and mending cracks and small holes in the plaster. Look at the layers of history I discovered:

See all those different wallpapers?

And oh, there was more:

So many different papers and paint colors.

"Union made."

Repairing walls is a time-consuming job, but I kind of like doing it. I enjoy wondering about all the people who've lived in this house. Who put up that floral wallpaper? Was it a new homeowner in the 50's or 60's? Someone improving the house looking to sell it? A young couple fixing things up for a new baby?

You may be wondering how bad old walls can really look, and why we can't just paint over everything that's there. Well, they can look pretty bad:

And sometimes you peel away a bit of paint, and a chunk of the plaster wall comes with it:

Speaking of plaster, some of my family members were recently expressing curiosity about horsehair plaster as I told them about the various restoration projects that invariable arise when you buy an old house. Here's a close-up:

I'm having fun with all the projects -- really, I am.

But I'm biting my nails a bit - metaphorically - about how we can possibly finish all this work before the school year insanity begins.

Wish us luck!

1 comment:

  1. These are fascinating pictures. This is exactly the kind of thing that makes me want to live in a historical house. I love it.

    However. I can barely keep up with normal home upkeep, which is why I live in a 10-year-old house. I will armchair travel through your home improvement blog posts!

    PS - I really like your new header.