Saturday, March 14, 2009

Where's Bob Villa When You Need Him?

This past September 29, we celebrated our 17th anniversary in our home. I like our house ... I really do. It has character. Yes, this means it's old and drafty and could, in all honesty, be labeled a "fixer-upper." It's estimated that the original log part of our home was built in or before 1870. That was as far back as the previous owner was able to trace the deed. It's had several additions in the last century -- one in the 1920s, when This Old House was introduced to indoor plumbing, and one in the 1980s, when the previous owners did a massive renovation, including adding several rooms and exposing the original logs.

If they were here right now, I'd slap 'em around and ask what in the world they were thinking!!

In the last 17 years, we have fought with the logs (the logs won), replaced the siding, rebuilt the foundation (who in their right mind buries a wooden foundation in dirt??? **sigh**), fought with the septic system, and numerous other headaches. We had hoped to be into a house of our own design by the time our youngest child entered junior high. That was this year.

We're still here.

We're not going anywhere anytime soon.

For a long time -- years, actually -- I've talked about doing cosmetic work to the house, things like painting, removing carpeting, etc. It's mostly been just talk, since I've not had the time nor the physical endurance to take on a major project. But I also came to the conclusion that we shouldn't wait until we want to sell the house before taking steps to fix it up. Why not enjoy the fruits of our labor? So, I've taken some time off this week and I will be taking the ugly, disgusting wallpaper off my dining room wall.

I'm almost embarrassed to post the last one. The dirt from little hands really shows up in the picture, both on the wall and on the stair railing. The paint on the banister is worn off clear down to the bare wood, and that's saying something given that there's decades and decades of paint on it ... various layers and colors that all tell a story.

I'm going to remove the wallpaper and paint the wall light green. The railing will be a dark green. I started peeling at the archway into the kitchen, but as you can see below, the process is going to be long and laborious. The paper is heavy and old, and the previous owners, bless their hearts, didn't prime the wallboard before applying the wallpaper. My only recourse is to score the wallpaper and soak it. Someone at the bank recommended a warm water and white vinegar solution, which seems to work so-so. The top layer of paper peels off, leaving the backing layer behind. But it's cheaper than renting a steamer, and I decided against purchasing one since, once I remove all the paper in the house, I won't be papering again.

In this last one, which is a view of one of the beams in our ceiling, you can see how the previous owner "patched" everything. Beautiful handiwork, eh? I can't wait to see what we find when all the wallpaper is off.

I feel like Shelly Long in "The Money Pit." Home ownership is indeed an adventure.

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