Sunday, May 16, 2010

The End Game

I haven’t even started the foyer but that doesn’t mean it isn’t too early to begin to stress about paint colors and finishing touches. My only saving grace at this point is that there are not window treatments to think about. There is a 3-light transom over the front door and a double hung window in the stair hall, but both will remain unadorned.

So it’s the walls I need to worry about. As you would imagine, the room was originally wallpapered. There were two designs in the room. The main field below the picture rail was a fairly simple design. I don’t have a picture of it, but it almost looked hand painted. It was not the perfect, elaborate design that many think of when they think of Victorian wallpaper. It was a red ribbon design that swirled around making very broad, repeating patters. Not the most pleasing design, if the truth be told. I remember that the colors had run badly when a second layer of wallpaper was added later. It seemed to be on a cream colored background, but that could have been from the paste that was used to put on the next layer of wallpaper. There were only two layers of wallpaper in the foyer and then many, many layers of paint.

Above is the design that was on the frieze and ceiling. This I really like. This is one of the more elaborate designs I’ve found in the house. Again, few colors. There is just the red and a silver or gray, and then the background color. It is difficult to say what the color of the background was originally.

And this is the paper that was in the stair hall. A very simple pattern. So simple I could almost make this myself. This is another pattern I like a lot. I’ve written about this in the past, but I think what distinguishes all of the original wallpapers from 1895 that I found in the house is how much they don’t reflect what is found in many of the collections of reproduction Victorian wallpaper found today. Perhaps Mrs. Petch had more eclectic tastes than most of the country at the time.

I’m leaning towards lincrusta for a dado and then a painted field and frieze, with two different colors for the field and frieze. It would be similar to what is in the dining room, only with a lincrusta dado instead of a wood dado. I’m leaning, but I’m not there yet. It may be too formal for my tastes. So far the only lincrusta pattern I found that I like is only sold in the UK, and it is real lincrusta, as opposed to the vinyl stuff I found so far in this country. I’m not sure I can bring myself to putting vinyl on the walls in the foyer.

I’m going to need to be careful about the color choice for paint because the same color for the frieze in the foyer will also be used in the stair hall. I want it to be a light color. This color may also be used in the upstairs hall. As you move from the foyer, up the stairs, and in to the upstairs hall, there is no molding that transitions from one space to the next. All of the outside corners are rounded with inch and a quarter wood. It would be challenging to stop one color and start another with a crisp line.

I was hoping to get more done this weekend but I had to go in to work yesterday for 6 hours because of a software upgrade. The plan is to get the room ready for demolition, which hopefully will start next week.


This fixture comes down and gets replaced with a simple bulb socket for the duration of the project.

The door from the foyer to the dining room gets hung back where it came from. Note the lovely green paint. That is the dining room side and some of you may remember the photos of all of the woodwork painted that color in there.

I’ve never really been sure what to do about this door. It is 34-inches wide and so finding a salvage replacement in the same style is pretty much out of the question. The other side has a nice shellac finish and would face the foyer. If not for the hole drilled for the deadbolt, it would be an easy restoration. Why the deadbolt on an interior door? Because this was the front door to apartment #2. The door originally swung out in to the foyer, but in the 20s they re-hung it to swing in, like a normal front door. If I was going to use it permanently I would need to put it back to swinging out in to the foyer, because as it is now, the light switch in the dining room will end up behind the door.

The green painted side is another issue. It would be tough to strip it off and have it come out nice. Even with the shellac under the paint, I found that anyplace where the wood gets dinged the paint gets driven in to the grain it is hard to strip it all the way. No doubt this door got dinged and banged a lot by all of the furniture that was moved in and out by renters for 80+ years. This door represents weeks and weeks of work and the end results may not be that good. I think it will end up in the attic.

After the light is down and the door is up I will cover all of the floors with plastic sheeting and then cardboard. This will stay down for the whole project. I can then start to remove the last of the plywood and bad plaster. Yea, that’s right, I said plywood. Several rooms in the house had the walls covered in quarter inch plywood. I removed it from the foyer a long time ago. In the picture above, the lower yellow part of the wall is plywood. {sigh!} I’m sure the plaster behind it is a 100% loss. Again, 80+ years of renters carrying furniture up and down the stairs took its toll. The vertical line you see on the wall is from when they ran electrical conduit throughout the house in the 50s to expand the number of outlets. {sigh!} I ripped out all of the conduit when I rewired, but the scars remain. It will be nice to see that finally go away.


Karen Anne said...

Free associating from plywood:

I got to see the double decker I grew up in when it was for sale a year or two ago.

The most recent owner had put plywood over wainscoting. That was in the second floor. Why? Inquiring minds want to know, what possible reason for this could there be?

In the first floor, he'd chopped out all the woodwork detail, glued rec room paneling over the plaster, replaced columns separating the living room and dining room with wrought iron, and "modernized" the entire bathroom.

Greg said...

It boggles the mind.

Nathan said...

I'm very excited to watch this project unfold. I'm sure it will be another beautiful restoration!

Greg said...

You know, I'm getting excited myself!

Cottage In The Sun said...

I just started reading your blog - love it! - and am playing catch up. It will be fun (for me at least!) to watch one of your projects in real time.

Jayne said...

I second Karen Anne: Why? Some of the things people do to old houses are absolutely incomprehensible. Greg, are you nervous about painting plaster walls that have never been painted? (I don't remember if that was the case in your dining room.) I'm stripping painted-over wallpaper off my entryway and front parlor and I'm a little anxious about painting the bare plaster walls.

St. Blogwen said...

About that door . . . Gary L. probably has something on the subject over at his Crackhouse blog. If it ever crept into your mind to give stripping it a try, try an area with the heatgun first (I followed up with the Howard's). The paint and all may come off more easily and there may be less residual damage than you think.

Of course, I speak as one whose POs didn't prime anything before painting over the shellac. For the most part, once I make a tiny chink in the paint with my (dull razor blade) scraper, the paint just flakes off.

Kate H.

Greg said...

I spent 3 months stripping that same green paint off of the rest of the woodwork in the dining room. (See Along with stripping 2 other woodwork heavy rooms of paint.

Even if it didn't have the deadbolt hole and other issues, I'm sure I could get most of the paint off, but most is not really good enough, and that is really the point. The point is, I would spend weeks working on the door and then not have a door that would look good enough to hang in the room.

There is just too much other work that needs to be done. After 8 years of restoration I need to pick my battles more carefully.

mickmaguire said...

Greg have you ever tried a dark brown paint wash / brush on wipe off to cover the green dents / flecks.

mickmaguire said...

Another thought: on the deadbolt it seems like a set of strategically placed finger plates would help hide the damage

Greg said...

I'm too much of a purists to do the brown wash or graining. The dining room and foyer are filled with copious amounts of original woodwork that is all the finest tight grained, curly, and burl redwood. That is what the door needs to be. Otherwise, I think it would be obvious that it is not. I would rather just have an opening with no door than to try and wing it

mickmaguire said...

Hmm - I didnt really mean a full wash - definitely not graining. What I mean is wipe or wash on dark brown paint then rub it off with a cloth back to the wood - this would leave the paint in the low spots only (those spots which have green in them. If done right you should end up with similar to what you have with the green paint but with a more neutral brown - it would just look like a small ding in the wood not a ding with green paint pushed into it - if you see what I mean?

more of a repair than a cover up. I have never tried this on a burled or curly redwood so dont speak from specific experience - but it has worked for me on other woods.

Greg said...

I'll keep it in mind. There is plenty of time to think about it.

Holyoke Home said...

Wow. That last wallpaper? Amazing. So modern looking! I would love to blow up the graphic and paint it on the floor of my back porch.

Greg said...

Yes, one of my favorites from the house. It is just a simple, elegant design. A rare attempt at "less-is-more" for the period.


Anonymous said...

i'm psyched. and pumped!