Tuesday, October 19, 2010

the dining room : before

Our first before-and-after house project! Warning that this may get a little long - we have an old house and I want to walk through why we made some of the decisions we did.
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When house-shopping the dining room was a big priority for us. We pictured this great, big, use-everyday-center-of-the-house-cozy room. About two years before house shopping we found a table at Crate and Barrel that we loved and made friends with the sales associate...who called us when the floor model went on clearance...which meant we had a HUGE dining table in storage before we even had a dining room.
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As you can see by the floorplan this room is definitely at the center of the house (could there be any more doors?) and was big enough to hold our little monster of a table. We also loved that the fireplace added that cozy element and the built-in storage had the old-house character and definite functionality. It has a large radiator on one wall that is no longer in use but we love the charm it adds.

So the before...
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While we loved the bones of this room, we weren't crazy about the finishes (except the dark wood floors and white trim -those we loved!) The curtains were dark/heavy and actually blocked a lot of light from coming in the windows. The (non-working) radiator pipes had been covered in a black felt and we didn't like how much they drew your attention. Like the rest of our house, this room was covered from head to toe in wallcovering (it had been painted over above the chair-rail.)

So this bring us to the dilemma...do you paint over the wallcovering or take it down? As an interior designer, before this house I would absolutely always say it should be removed. No question. If your house was built since the 1960s (therefore has gyp. board walls) I would still absolutely recommend you remove it. Our house is 100+ years old with original plaster walls and I did a lot of research on the best way to treat our walls. There were quite a few horror stories online of people taking down wallcovering only to severely damage their plaster walls and end up with costly repair bills or (worse) have to remove it altogether. Not a piece of history we wanted to mess with.

In our dining room the multiple layers of wallcovering were visibly and to the touch extremely loose, bubbling and not attached to the walls. Because of this, we could be pretty positive we wouldn't damage any plaster by removing it. So down in came...in about 10 minutes (told you it wasn't attached!) but we were in for a surprise.
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Instead of 100+ year old plaster behind the wallcovering there was a strange, sandy, dark brown concrete-like material. Looking at the layers of wallcovering we had to assume this stuff was installed pre-1950s...but to be honest we still don't know what it is! What we did know was that it was sandy, rough and completely impossible to paint over. At that point we brought in a professional to skim-coat the walls. Skim-coating is essentially a layer of gypsum/spackle that is applied to the walls and then sanded down to leave behind a smooth, finished surface.
Once we had a clean surface on the walls to work with, we needed to deal with the ceiling. In a little twist, we didn't remove that wallcovering. It was extremely attached and the thought repairing/removing our ceiling? Not something we were interested in. Back to the internet for research... and learned that IF you're going to cover your wallcovering, the best thing you can do is seal that stuff in. The worst thing that can happen is for moisture to get behind the wallcovering and start to loosen it. We caulked along the edge of the ceiling and any openings (the light fixture) and then painted on two coats of oil-based primer.
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NOW we were ready to paint...
Check back this afternoon for the after shots!

2 comments:

Renee@Modus Operandi Designs said...

oooh, liking what I'm seeing so far! Can't wait to see the "after"

canvas art prints said...

What a brilliant room, looks like its going to be a great room once it's finished!