Living room progress report

The following pictures show the progression of the upstairs hallway. The top shows some furring strips and some wallpaper. The second one is after the wallpaper was removed and we were down to bare plaster. The last one is how it looks now, with primer/sealer. Still icky, but definitely progressing.

I also have a few pictures of the living room now that it's been primed. It still ain't pretty, but at least it's progress we can see. And it really lightened up the room! Just a note: these pics were taken before we cleaned up. It's still messy, but not that bad!


Out, damn wallpaper!!

It's official: the upstairs hall is now a wallpaper-free zone. Any wallpaper attempting to enter this area will be burned on sight. Seriously, I'm tempted to have a bonfire in the backyard and burn the 2 bags of paper that I have left...

I got curious the other day and figured out that I have stripped approximately 2500 square feet of wallpaper off of the walls in the living room and hall. That's a lot of freakin' wallpaper!

I'll post some pictures soon, but I wanted to have a post to celebrate the end of the wallpaper. The walls areally aren't much to look at right now, but they're goregous to me, since they are free from the confines of the wallpaper. Starting tomorrow or Thursday, I'll be priming the walls with an oil-based primer/sealer. This will keep the plaster from sucking all of the moisture out of the drywall compound when Phil skims the walls. Without the primer, the "mud" would dry too quickly and crack.

We are now working on a schedule. Phil will be coming over on Saturday morning to start taping the cracks and repairing the holes, so everything has to be done before then. I finished up witht he wallpaper today. Shayne removed all of the remaining woodwork a few days ago, which will make the priming and skimming much easier. All that's left is to screw some more plaster washers into the sagging parts of the ceiling.

We've also decided on a final design for the bathroom remodel/restoration. Instead of turning the office closet into a bathtub alcove, we've decided to split it between a linen closet and a walk-in shower. This will preserve the closet door in the hallway (and return it to what it probably was to begin with!), as well as emiminate any major changes in the floorplan. The wall that we were thinking about removing is probably a load-bearing wall, so it will be much easier just to put a doorway in it, instead of bracing it from the attic. It will also allow the bathroom to appear to be period-authentic, excepting the door to the shower. The shower will not be visually disruptive to the character of the bathroom, but it will be larger than the frameless enclosure we planned on putting in the corner. There will be lots of shuffling with the plumbing, but I like the designs much better. The website I used would only allow me to design in metric, but I think I have the scale properly done. The "box" next to the toilet will be some sort of built-in cabinet, but it might be relocated to where the sink is.


Living with a drywell

We knew when we bought the house that it came with a drywell instead of a septic. At the time, I really didn't understand the impact that it would have on our lifestyle and buying habits. After living here almost 6 months, the drywell has become something that we have to consider every day. For starters, a drywell (also called a cesspool) is basically just a brick-lined hole in the ground. Modern ones are mde out of concrete, but I feel safe in saying that our is old enough that it is most likely brick. In our case, we have 2 of them; when the original one filled/clogged, a second one was added on. Because of this, it functions somewhat similar to a septic with a leachfield. The major difference is that the drywell is buried much deeper and has the potential for emptying almost straight into the water table. This makes it very easy to contaminate the water that we drink from our well.

The previous owners didn't seem to care about the drywell. They used Charmin toilet paper (c'mon, at least use septic-safe stuff!!) and all manner of harsh chemicals for cleaning and washing. This is NOT good for a drywell or your groundwater. Soaps will clog up the soil surrounding the the drywell, which will not allow it to drain properly. If the drywell fails, it will cost a lot of money to remove and replace it with a modern septic.

You don't even think about everything that goes down your drains until you realize that everything you put in your sink or toilet could end up coming out your faucet. We can't use any normal housecleaning products anymore, and we've had to change laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, shampoos, body wash, and shaving creams to products that are all biodegradable. And, honestly, even though we have to be careful about what we use, I feel much better using products that are safe for the earth and for us. Do you know what is in household cleaners?? That's some nasty stuff...


The end is near!!

The wallpaper is just about gone. Except for about 5 feet of wall, the stairway is wallpaper free, and the upstairs hallway is in progress. I'm taking a break, since the steamer keeps setting off the smoke detector, and it's driving me nuts. I've got the hallway fan on now, so hopefully that will help when I fire it back up. The upstairs wallpaper has 1 less layer than the downstairs, so it's coming off faster. The paint is also not peeling off the original stuff, so the last layer is just coming off in sheets.

For the first time since I started removing the wallpaper, I can actually, honestly, truly see the light at the end of the tunnel. In a month or less, the skimcoating should be finished and we'll be ready for paint. Paint! Joy of joys!

We'd be ready for Phil next weekend, except that I'm going backpacking. If Shayne wants to get up early and let Phil in and keep the dog from killing him, though, we might be able to start then. I'm so excited!

And then we'll get to decorate... My mom is making us a mission-style stained glass table lamp for the living room, and we'll be purchasing a new living room set. I don't want it to look completely period-authentic, but I definitely want to pay tribute to the style of the house. But more on that later. Right now I'm off to find some food, then it's back to the wallpaper...!