Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wallpaper Removal

Today I mastered the art of removing wallpaper. Luckily for us, about 90% of the rooms in the house are wallpapered. I say lucky because removing the wallpaper exposes the original walls and we can assess their condition, and then paint the walls directly, rather than adding another layer of paint.

The one drawback? Neither of us had ever removed wallpaper before. We made a rookie's mistake and bought expensive wallpaper remover from Home Depot. We also purchased one of those large orange Home Depot buckets (a steal at $2.49), a wallpaper remover and a large pack of putty knives. The wallpaper remover was in a spray bottle, and very watery. I would spray it toward the top of the wall, and it would just drip all the way down. And if I sprayed it on top of the wallpaper, it wouldn't do a thing. I had to rip the wallpaper off, leaving the bottom layer of paper/glue, and then spray that. And I had to really get it soaked before it would scrape off. And did I mention how horrible it smelled?! Halfway through the room I had to go find a mask to wear it was so bad.
I did finish about 3/4 of the Dining Room though. The only spots remaining are in the corner where the sill damage is (I was afraid to stand there for too long.. it didn't look like it could support long term standing weight). It was a good room to start on because most of the room is paneling, windows, doors, fireplace, etc.
Dining Room built-in cabinet
Front Dining Room windows
Toward the end of the day, we ventured into the Living Room to assess those walls. Turns out, those won't be as easy. The Living Room walls (or at least what we uncovered today) are all original horsehair plaster. Taking off the bottom layer of paper/glue often resulted in making holes in the plaster and dry sand pouring out of the wall. The walls also are very textured. Not a nice texture, more rigid and bumpy. Which is to be expected for 239 year old walls. They didn't have the tools back then to make them perfectly smooth. Due to the holes (existing and new) and texture, we'll most likely be putting a skim coat of plaster on these walls. I'd much rather do that than tear it all down and replace it with drywall.
Living Room fireplace
Living Room wall

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day One... of the rest of our lives

Today we closed. Because the closing was right smack in the middle of the day, we took the whole day off from work. We spent the afternoon doing your typical post-closing activities... changing the locks, cleaning out some of the garbage/stuff left behind, and just walking around in awe that it was actually ours.

We met with the seller about a month before closing so that we could discuss what we wanted left in the house. Which was a waste of time. He was suppose to leave everything that was in the attic, as well as some pieces of furniture on the first floor. The main things we were interested in were an antique spinning wheel from the mid-1700's and an army foot locker from World War I. Gone and gone. He was also suppose to leave the kitchen table, which wasn't a nice table by far, but it was at least something to hold us over until we got our own table. Gone.

But in their place he did leave a bathroom full of wet, dirty towels, cabinets full of old food and dishes, and a couple garbage cans full of garbage. Luckily he also left a Dumpster, which we took complete advantage of! We also did a little Dumpster diving, and "rescued" some antique wooden skis, an old wooden sled, some drywall tape, old glass bottles, and books, among other things.

First Post... New Blog

And hence begins another project. I just can't seem to have enough.  Today my husband and I became first time homeowners. And no, we did not buy your typical starter home. Our starter home is a 2,300 square foot 239 year old two and a half story house on 1.14 acres with a garage and two sheds. We like to be different.

We have friends and family spread out all over the country, as well as in other countries, so this blog is our way to spread our progress, setbacks, discoveries and (hopefully) finished results along the way. I also hope that it helps other historic home owners when researching and restoring their own houses.

We are both trained in house design and construction, but of course, there's only so much you can learn in school and in an office... so we are anything but experts. But it does help to have a little bit of a background when tearing down walls.

So here goes everything... Wish us luck!