Adventures in Office Renovation

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As I may have mentioned on here before, my husband and I have been renovating the room that is to become my office. It’s been a very long process that is fast coming to an end. When we started this project we were just going to sand the layers of paint off the beautiful woodwork and refinish the floors. The walls we were going to leave as they were because,  I really liked what everyone else called the ’70’s orange and brown plaid porn-set wallpaper.

The picture really doesn’t do it justice. Honest!

I know what you’re all thinking – “That’s absolutely hideous!” I know that’s what you’re thinking because I had the same exact reaction when I saw the pictures up on the real estate listing. However, the first time we went to look at the house, I walked into this room and fell in love with the wallpaper. The sunlight coming in through the window really brightened the colors to make it very cheery and comfy.

It was supposed to be a very fast and easy project since we were just going to strip all the pain from the woodwork and stain it. HA! The top layer of paint was more like a layer of plastic instead of paint so we couldn’t sand it or we’d just gum up the sander with the paint. We tried using noxious chemicals to peel the paint off, but it would strip the top layers, but not touch the bottom layers no matter how many times we applied it. We ended up resorting to a heat gun and scraping the paint off by hand. As I’m sure you can guess, that was a very labor intensive, time-consuming endeavor.
We started this project in early winter of 2010 not too long after we moved in. We’d be all gung-ho about it for several days in a row and get a bunch of work done and then not do anything on it for weeks and even months at a time because we were so sick of scraping hot, bubbling paint. This past spring we finally got it to the point where we just needed to sand the last bits off and we could call it good. Except, when we took the baseboards off to make it easier to sand them, the plaster wall began to crumble into dust.

That was NOT supposed to happen.

 

It was decided that we’d just go ahead and tear the plaster and lath walls down, put insulation in, update the wiring, and throw up drywall like we’re planning on doing with the rest of the house. As we began tearing down the plaster, we noticed insulation already behind the lath even though we were told there was no insulation in the walls. We at first thought it had simply settled down the walls from when they’d blown it into the attic, so we sent a bit of it out for testing to make sure there was no asbestos in it. We got the results back in about a week with a report of no asbestos, so we set to work tearing all of that out as well.

We made a bit of a mess…

 

Oh the little treasures we found buried in the insulation. There was a long, cardboard box which looks like the types of boxes used by florists for roses, a children’s math primer from 1877, a publication called Cottage Hearth (with instructions on how to “skeletonize” flowers for Midsummer) from an unknown date, a newspaper from 1883, and a complete mouse skeleton. I saw the tail of the mouse skeleton sticking out of a clump of insulation and it looked like a length of plastic, so I pulled it out only to find that it was in fact a skeleton. I admit, I made a bit of an EEP sound out of sheer surprise. I knew we were going to find some neat and interesting things in the walls, but all of this in just one room was awesome. I now can’t wait to tackle the rest of the rooms to see what we find.

When we got all of the insulation out, I noticed round plugs between each of the studs and realized that at some point there *had* been insulation blown into the walls at some point, but there was no record of it having been done. Ah well, the insulation wasn’t working so well anyway and needed to be replaced. I’m also really glad we were forced to tear the plaster down because the studs in some places are covered in mold (as was the insulation) from the who knows how many years the roof leaked. Now I can clean those up and not worry about it spreading and aggravating my husband’s allergies.

My brother-in-law who is a professional drywaller will be over sometime this week to let us know what we’re going to need and if there’s anything else we need to do in order to get the room ready for the new wiring and drywall. I don’t want to jinx anything, but I’m hoping this project is almost done. *crosses fingers*

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