Peaceful Dreams ... at long last

As anyone who has restored (notice I didn't say renovate) an old house understands, one of the most difficult things is undoing all the "bad, evil and wicked" previous owners plopped into your house. We have fought againstminor things such as tchotchke light switches, bad wood trim additions and colors choices that I have only previously seen in my worst nightmares. Some of the major things are using spray foam insulation to rebuild the foundation and installing windows into a wall that had a crumbling main support beam (see Sunroom) . Couple that with natures inevitable drone forward, catapulting your plaster into little piles of dust or sagging those ols joists enough to crack the walls open in some places, and you always have longer than expected projects in hand. Such was the master bedroom restoration.

Within weeks of moving in we were drenched at about 3 am when the ceiling and wall above our heads gave way to a gusher of water from the roof (just like an illness or a plumbing disaster, these bad things never happens when you can actually, easily do something about it). The bed was placed against the old fireplace/chimney breast (long since removed) and the flashing around that chimney was horrible so ... in came the water. Strangely, after I was dry and caught a few more hours of sleep, I saw this as a potentially positive situation. See, the ceiling was one of those poporn things and there are these arch-like-things that span from the chimney breast out to the side walls and create little "niches" on either side of the ex-chimney breast. The popcorn ceiling makes me think of a bad apartment I had years ago that smelled of cat box and the niches are a little too cutsie for my taste. Why not have the plasterer remove them both when he comes in to fix the damaged ceiling ? Brilliant !

A few days later the roofer had the chimney flashing repaired and since he grew up in this neighborhood we heard lots of stories. In fact, he dated one of the girls who lived in this house in the fifties and confirmed that the beams in the parlor were a late addition.

OK, roof watertight ... time to get the plasterer in to fix up the interior.

Fast forward a month and about 20 plasterer estimates and youll understand how we ended up with a team of drywall-guys in the house hanging drywall on the ceiling. Who knew plaster would be that expensive (just dont tell anyone it's not plaster.) They did a fine job and even connected us with a good electrician. Meanwhile, before we moved in, the master bed room was wallpapered. When the ceiling collapsed there were bits of walpaperpaper torn off, of course. Well, you know how a tiny thread on a sweater beckons to you to pull at it, the same is true of torn wallpaper. One swift pull and the paper came off one of the niches and licked around a corner onto a full wall. Not a big deal until you try to smooth the torn edge of wallpaper - you cant. The drywaller said to pull off all the paper and he could skim coat the whole room ($$). So we did ... and he couldn't. The mud wouldn't stick to the underlayment paper that was beneath the wallpaper and we couldn't remove it either. He recommended that he hang 1/4 inch drywall over all the wall$$$$$$$$.

So the walls and the ceiling were repaired and smoothed with more drywall, and oh, those arches that I wanted removed, yeah, they were structural and hid the slope of the roof. Realizing we had to keep them, they were made straight, rather than arched. Not perfect, but it looks pretty good.

Repairs to the wood trim were minimal and I used up several tubes of caulk around the edges of the drywall.  The alcove area was not changed, excepting my usual obsessive scraping and cleaning out old caulk (really, what are people thinking when they just squirt that stuff in and leave it all lumpy and gross?).

Painting was a little crazy. The original color scheme was light jade green walls, maroon trim (to mimic the color of the Chinese antiques we have) and a fleshy-pink ceiling. Painting the ceiling came first, high gloss since the walls are a flat finish. I always put on a coat of trim color since painting the edges of the trim makes me nuts (its easier to edge the wall along the trim than the trim along the wall, if that makes sense). Then I did the walls. I used Benjamin Moore paint that we got 1/2 off at a sale this past fall. It was terrible paint - like syrup. I hated it, but put on 2 coats.

Here is a funny fact. light jade green turns into awful mint green when its translated into a flat painted wall. So I panicked. I added some yellow, some brown--I mixed and trialed into the night. I painted the whole room that re-mixed color and wanted to sit in a corner of that hideously colored room and cry.It looked like old Jadite kitchen glass and made my perfect ceiling look hot pink ... what a mess.

The next day we reviewed the paint chips for Porter Paint - I had a sample of it for the dining room color and liked the consistency and the color options. We chose a dull deep olive as you can see in the photos. Its so much better with the dark color of the trim and furniture. and makes the ceiling look fantastic.

Check out the photos ... they show off how dramatic the change from bubble-gum pink to sophisticated green is ... and not only that, but the whole room feels like a big-boy room now, not a litttle girls barbie-inspired hide-a-way. Back to the basement, next, still have to finish what we left when the temps got too cold to easily work there.

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