Panels Down

Last night Noel and I spent a quick half hour and finished emptying out the Accordion Room in preparation for its transition to guest room. The hard part was not moving the stuff, of course, but finding somewhere to stash it until I finish the work.

Room cleared out

The Accordion Room is very small, so the only way to show the whole thing is these funny stitched-together images. For a sense of the size we're talking about, I give you this photo, with dogs for scale:

With dogs for scale

After taking that photo, I spent half an hour ripping the paneling down. It's been more than three years since I tore down fake wood paneling, and boy, have I missed it. I've especially missed this sort of boneheaded design decision:

Little bit of paneling over the window

Because you know it would have made a huge difference if they had just left that without paneling. And lest you think I'm just being mean, I'd like to note that wherever the paneling is, the plaster is completely ruined. Sure, it's likely the plaster under that paneling was already cracked, but I'm guessing it wasn't as bad as installing the paneling made it.

And then there was this:

Room with the panels off

I need to get Noel to help me remove the panels stacked against one wall there, but that doesn't look too bad, does it? Until you realize that that is white paint over one hundred and thirty years of sloppy wallpaper installation, of course.

Here's a look at the layering. There's the plaster, some paint over that, then four or five layers of wallpaper (one of which is painted over, so you can't see what it looks like). I kind of like this floral greenish stuff, which might be appealing to me if I ever lost my mind and decided to like wallpaper.

Interesting green wallpaper

This stuff just didn't age well enough for you to see it well, but it's a little too meek for me to think it's attractive. If you must destroy the life of the people who live in your house after you by putting down wallpaper to be painted over, go for it.

Floral and striped wallpaper

And speaking of meek:

Boring floral wallpaper

There was one point just a short while ago when I'd uncovered half a wall of this stuff, and I had to scrape it off just to keep from dying of boredom right there.

So now I get to scrape at the wallpaper for a while. You see, my big problem with wallpaper is that inevitably it gets old and dated looking, so you want a new wall covering. And inevitably, you don't take the stuff down, but just paint right over it. And as soon as you've painted over wallpaper, you've set it up so the glue will fail in some number of years and the whole thing will have to be taken down, but of course you can't just steam it off because there's paint on top -- possibly several layers. In my parents' house, one room had some umpty layers of wallpaper-paint-wallpaper adding half an inch to the wall. And it all had to be removed by hand, thank you caring loving redecorators. So for the next day or so I will be on a ladder, scraping off this top layer of paint and wallpaper to give me access to the bottom layers that are mostly (but not, alas, entirely) peeling off on their own.

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posted by ayse on 12/14/07

3 Comments

Thanks for the Hockneyesque panoramas, particularly the second one, which is amusingly melty because of the texture from the ripped off plaster & wallpaper.

The wallpaper patterns are surprisingly reminiscent of fabric patterns from two hundred plus years earlier (that is, 100 years older than the house), an effect increased by the weathering.

The panoramas are lovely, no? They do take a long time to put together, but I think they work better than the single-shots of the room.

As for the wallpaper, I thought it looked particularly Victorian, at least the bottom couple of layers. After that it starts looking very 20thc. to me, especially that blah one with the posies. Reminds me of how people decorated their homes after WWII.

I'm thinking of pictures I saw in books on the history of quilting (was it the one from the Winterthur collection? my memory is not being very helpful). Pre-Victorian, anyway.

I am telepathically sending you my mental images of the book pages in question so you will know exactly what I mean.

Maybe it's the effect of the flowers on the vertical striping.

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