Friday, October 14, 2016

The Tortoise Wins, Right?

Sometimes I think that I should have chosen a different name for this blog. The Papered House is fine, as far as names go. It's accurate and descriptive: it's true that our house was completely covered in vintage wallpaper when we moved in. It's also true that I spend far too much time and energy thinking about what type of wallpaper I'd like to install when we're at that stage of the DIY process.

To say that I'm a wallpaper nerd is an understatement. Case in point: for my birthday last year, my husband S bought me a 300-page book on the history of wallpaper. It was shipped from the UK, because no copies were available within the US. I've been known to exceed our cell phone data plan while browsing William Morris and Sanderson wallpaper designs. If I ever win the lottery, my first purchase will be hand-painted de Gournay wallpaper murals for our dining room (actually that's a lie. First I will order orchestra section tickets to Hamilton. And then, I will buy de Gournay).

Although I wasn't clever enough to remember the more common meaning of a "papered house" when I selected the blog name, now I take perverse pleasure in imagining some 19th century rascals dressed like the cast of Newsies covering our Victorian house with toilet paper. I know that's a highly improbable scenario. In all likelihood, the primitive toilet paper available during the late 1800s would have been expensive enough to prevent frivolous use. But reality aside, imagining this scenario gives me the giggles nonetheless.

Anyway, The Papered House works fine as a blog name. But if I had known then what I know now, I might have named this blog The Tortoise House. You would then know to expect verrrrry sloooooow progress from us. I'm a big fan of managing expectations.

This is how I often feel about the pace of our DIY projects:

We sometimes feel like we're spinning our wheels with this house, and it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We have learned that instant gratification is not compatible with rehabbing an old home. When I'm feeling frustrated with the pace of our rehab, occasionally I'll give myself permission to take the night off and relax after work with a glass of wine. But more often, I tell myself, "this house isn't going to fix itself." That saying is a constant mantra in this household, and it's usually enough to kick myself into gear and get back to the task at hand.

Since I last posted (in June), we've made progress on several big projects. Actually, I should say that my husband S has made progress on these projects. As much as I hate to admit that he does the heavy labor, it's true. I'm in charge of painting, cleaning, and otherwise containing the chaos that comes with having an open project in nearly every room. In the past few months, "we" have installed new electric for five of the seven overhead lights on the first floor. The overhead lights in the kitchen and back porch still need new wiring, and then we'll be ready for inspection. Since we were already drilling holes into the plaster in order to install the new wiring, we decided it would be a good time to repaired cracked plaster ceilings along the way. So far, the ceilings in the dining room and front hall have been repaired (though I still need to sand, which tops the list of my least favorite projects). In between those projects, we have also continued to chip away at other tedious, time-intensive projects on our list, like stripping and repainting all the original molding and restoring our windows.

Unfortunately, this summer we also encountered several house-related setbacks. I had a long, protracted post written about those frustrations, but I'll save that for a different post. Spoiler alert: it involves a slate roof, leaky pipes, an old HVAC system, and structural concerns about our porch. I think it's important to be transparent about the challenges of owning and rehabbing an old home, so I'll publish that post at some point. But today is not that day.

I'm determined that this post will be about the things that are going well at The Papered House. Like the family room! Our family room is coming together quite nicely. Our goal for this room is to give it an Arts and Crafts/Mission-style aesthetic, while still coordinating with the rest of our decor. We aren't done yet, but here are a few shots of what the family room looks like today:

Paper House Family Room Vintage Wallpaper

Papered House Family Vintage Wallpaper

As of my June post, we had checked off the first six steps in rehabbing the family room, including:
1. Install two new outlets. Run new wiring to overhead light (will be active after inspection)
2. Remove all the baseboard, window casings and door casing
3. Purchase, cut, prime, and install new window and door casings. Patch nail heads and caulk if needed
4. Repair plaster using Big Wally's Plaster Magic. Patch and sand walls after repair
5. Prime two walls (other two walls will have existing wallpaper)
6. Paint two walls (other two walls will have existing wallpaper)

In the past three months, we checked off the next six steps on our family room project, including the following: 

7. Paint new molding
8. Repair ceiling plaster. Patch and sand ceiling after repair
9. Prime ceiling
10. Paint ceiling
11. Restore three windows (strip paint on sash, channel, and sill; apply new glazing; install new weatherstripping, sash cords, and new parting bead; prime and paint sash, channel, and sill)
12. Install wallpaper border to coordinate with existing wallpaper and wall color

When we moved into this house, there was crown molding in this room. Like the existing baseboards, window casings and door casings in this room, it was clearly not original. However, all the woodwork was covered in chipping paint that was beyond repair, so it had to be removed. Rather than installing new crown molding, we decided to hang a wallpaper border from Bradbury & Bradbury. We used the "Aster Border" in Aesthetic Green from Bradbury's William Morris Woodland Roomset. We couldn't be happier with how it complements our existing wallpaper and the color on the walls (Craftsman Gold at 70% intensity from California Paints).

These pictures also show the detail of the new Craftsman-style trim that we installed around our doors and windows. We're so happy with the new trim. This was a design that my husband S created after researching and speaking with an Arts and Crafts expert. He spent a lot of time down in the basement using the saw to cut this molding, but it was totally worth it (says the lady who has only used the saw once in her entire life).

The antique swing-arm curtain rods were an eBay purchase. We have very similar ones in our bedroom (those can be seen here); we like the style, and the price was right. For the three sets in our family room, we paid just $60 including shipping. There is a downside to buying antique hardware: several of the brackets are a bit cock-eyed and bent, which causes the rods to be out of alignment. We might tinker with them in the future to see if we can get the curtain rods to appear more level. For now, they are fine. The curtains are a sheer linen fabric with embroidered medallions. They previously hung in one of our guest bedrooms, and were a last minute purchase at HomeGoods when we were hosting houseguests. Initially, I just hung them in the family room as placeholders, thinking they might be too modern for the family room. But now that they are there, I like them. S pointed out that the medallions on the curtains are similar to the medallions on the wallpaper. He's right. 

We still have a few tasks remaining in the family room. Some of these tasks are small, like hanging artwork. Other tasks, such as stripping and repainting the doors, will take more time. We've decided to hold off until stripping the doors until winter. There are five(!) doors in this room and we need to make some space in the basement workshop to strip them safely. We've also decided to prioritize some of the more time-sensitive tasks before winter sets in.

This weekend, we are tackling a number of exterior projects. It's also time for us to decorate for Halloween! In the meantime, I'll leave you with a creepy picture of our family room just after dawn. Tell me this does not look like the promo poster of a horror movie.

-The Papered House dares you to pull a Halloween prank. Go ahead, try it.
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