Little Brick Cottage: More Surprises!
So remember how excited I was to find the old oak plank flooring under the kitchen linoleum? That was a really sweet surprise. Well I found another sweet surprise…
This was the dining room before we did anything:
It had carpet and this floral striped wallpaper. We removed the carpet and pad to find a maple floor in okay condition. For the walls I was thinking that I would just paint over the wallpaper, which is actually fairly commonly found in old houses because wallpaper didn’t have vinyl in it, and the old rough plaster walls were made smoother with the paper. However, it only is a good idea to paint over wallpaper if the paper is very well adhered to the wall, and even then you have to be careful because the paint on it can dampen the paper and cause it to fall off.
The other day I was looking closer and realized the paper was split and gapping a couple inches from the baseboard in one spot in the dining room. I went to examine it closer and found a secret hiding behind that gap. With a little work, this is what I uncovered:
Below the 1970’s floral wallpaper is another layer of wallpaper, the white and green paper that looks to be probably from around the 30’s or so, then below that, is what at first seemed to be plaster, but because it was cracked and peeling in a tiny spot, I was able to chip it away and uncover below it the original beadboard from over 130 years ago.
At some point in the history of this house an owner must have decided that the beadboard was too dated, and instead of tearing it out, they removed the chair-rail trim and just skim-coated over the beadboard to fill the grooves in it and then wallpapered over that.
So today I went to the little brick cottage with a couple of different putty knife type scrapers and a spray bottle of vinegar water in hand. As I kept spraying, and letting the water penetrate into the skim coat, it would, with some strong encouragement from my putty knife, give way in tiny little chips. Here is the same wall with a little (well actually a LOT) more work:
It’s plaster above the beadboard, and you can see where the chairrail trim used to be. It will be a lot of work to finish the whole room, but how can I possibly even consider not doing it? Right there before my eyes is a wonderful treasure hiding just behind a few layers. I hope it’s all intact, but no way to know for sure until I get the skim-coat off and expose it.