Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Our First Room....Our First Mistakes

So if I haven't mentioned this before, this is our first house.

Em had lived in a historic house all of life before she went to college. I had lived in one in Kenton, Ohio up until age 10 when we moved to Cincinnati. From then my family lived in an apartment until I left for college in 1994.

So, I had zero preservation experience, zero home repair skills, zero pretty much everything when it came to managing a house. In fact, until we moved to this house, I had never even mowed a lawn.

Think about that. I was 27 before I mowed my first lawn. Wow...can't say I regret missing out on that joy. I hate mowing.

Anyway, so Em was the only one of us with any preservation experience. When we moved in she had just received her master's degree in historic preservation from Ball State. She had also spent much of her teenage years helping her parents restore their four square in Huntingburg, IN.

That wasn't enough to stop us from making a few mistakes in our restoration. But, I guess most people go through a trial & error phase when they do these things. You try, you fail, you adjust, and you hopefully avoid making the same mistakes twice.

One mistake I wish we hadn't make occurred during the restoration of our first room. The one we lovingly called the "Pink Room".

Pink carpet, pink wallpaper on the walls and ceiling. We even found out that the girl who used to live in that bedroom was named Rose. Rose later apologized to us and said "My parents never should have let us pick out our own wallpaper"

It was the first room we conquered and almost finished. You can see slideshow of the restoration here . In terms of decor, it's the least "arts & craftsy looking" room we have right now.

I say almost finished because we still have a stencil to paint on the wall. We found an original stencil underneath all the wallpaper. We traced it and plan to recreate the design just above the paint line near the ceiling.

So what was the mistake? Well after stripping and staining all the woodwork, we coated the woodwork with polyurethane.

What? Really? That's the mistake?

Sure, some might not consider that a mistake. However, we now we wish we had used shellac or lacquer. The latter two are favored by preservation purists.

Now that we're working on our second room, we don't plan on making the same mistake. And believe me, if that's the only mistake we ever make, I think we'll be okay.

But I seriously doubt we'd ever go back and re-strip and finish the wood in lacquer or shellac. We've got plenty of other things to keep us busy.

Like mowing the damn lawn.


I forgot that part of the original intent of this post was to share our trick for removing wallpaper. Em learned this while working on the restoration of the West Baden Hotel.

Score the wallpaper using the sharp tip on a 5-in-1 or something else with a sharp edge. We tend to score diagonally downward in one direction and then go back over the area in the opposite direction.

Then, we use a garden pesticide sprayer to spray a mixture of 409 and hot tap water on the wallpaper. You don't need a ton of 409. Maybe one cup of 409 for every 3 gallons of water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then start scraping. It's worked for us several times and it's cheap, quick and easy.


Jennifer said...

Good thing it's just a bedroom! I suppose that's why you always start on the back rooms first... we live on the edge, though. :)

The stencils will look so good!

DYSB said...

I agree. It's the bedroom we use the least so it's not that big of a deal.

We're working on our entryway now and taking a little extra care in making sure that looks better.

Thanks for the comment.

carmen said...

finally...a post! and a damn good one. consider yourself lucky, i don't think that is a huge mistake. good job on the progress!