Thursday, June 12, 2014

In Which We Camp Out In The Living Room

We had decided last year that the drywall in the downstairs bedroom would have to come down, we thought we'd probably put drywall up again but the multiple rotten wallpaper layers should be removed first. And remember that I already had multiple holes blown through the drywall from previous Exploratory Missions. The boys and I began demolition this week, only removing as much drywall as I could finish in a day. Once the drywall is down there are multiple wallpaper layers over a layer of fabric and then below that is the original wallpaper that the Smithsonian dated to 1840. This bottom layer has to be sprayed with a vinegar solution and then scraped, after that it has to be washed several times to get the traces of glue and wallpaper remnants off. The paper had been patched in several places, we removed a patch and you can see how light and pretty it once was.

At the bottom of this paper there are traces of salmon colored paint, which is faintly visible on the trim board as well. Can you imagine what this room looked like 170 years ago?

We had several unexpected discoveries. One was that the boards over which the wallpaper is glued, are hand planed. I'm fascinated by that and loathe to cover it up now.

A partially scrubbed wall

The unscrubbed section

We also decided to remove the one and only closet in the whole house. It takes up an entire end of the room and makes the bed placement really awkward. What we found confirms some of our earlier suspicions that the cabin part of the house was moved here from elsewhere. Behind the drywall/wallpaper layers were boards that didn't match the others, we took one down and discovered a doorway!

Micah looking into the crack where the doorway was.
My theory is that the cabin was moved here in the late 1830s to very early 1840s, instead of lining the doorways up (which would have given the house an odd jog along the outside wall) they cut a new doorway to match the door in the back part of the house. Then they had the hand planed boards added in the bedroom solely so that wallpaper could be laid (I can find no evidence that they were ever painted or sealed in any way). At some later date some of those boards had to be replaced and that's when they put up these whitish boards.

Looking down inside the wall where the doorway was
The right side of the doorway, still with the nails where the jamb boards were attached

When we were scraping the paper we found section after section of intact paper and took various photos of the seam lines (that's what confirms the early date). The paper is 19" wide and 42" long, seemingly little effort was made to run the paper straight up and down, most of the seam lines have a noticeable list to them.

We moved our bed to the living room last night where it will stay until we're done with the walls. Since I don't want to cover the hand planing again I'm tossing around just sealing the boards, or maybe giving them a light paint wash.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this interesting project! So exciting!


I love reading your thoughts and appreciate them all. Thank you!