Thursday, June 9, 2016

This old house in bits

this is why I gave up on scraping down the door:  the white paint went on, as they say, straight from the can, and heavy. under that is/was a dull flat grey with the tenacity of cement, and under that this original paint which the camera interprets as semi navy blue but in reality is more of a sapphire.  That the woodwork was a dull pale green seemed not to matter, lol.  by god someone got hold of a bit of blue paint and they wanted to use it. =)

This is a corner of the mantel in the dining room.  The dentils are all hand done, and whoever painted it used the same white paint and almost totally obscured the detail.  The paint used  had the holding power of putty;   I could go just so far before I felt like I was going to do more damage than good to it.  Its this color, truly, underneath.  You wonder why anyone felt the need to paint this at all

And this is the mantel in the parlor.  This part of the mantel is where I stopped trying to dig out the white paint that someone had slopped over the other three or four coats on the dentils.  the carving on this is just lovely.  the left hand upright molding on the side, you can see, has a remainder of the black paint all the fireplace wood was painted with at the time.  That silver looking band on the bottom is the front edge of the heavy aluminum flue cover, to keep the birds out and the smoke heading in the right direction.  

I wanted to get a nice shot of the greeny grey paint but the camera insists its a lovely pale grey and I refuse to get in  a shouting match with a camera at this point.


  1. Thank you! And I 'm so glad this house is in your hands, not a reno fiend wanting to tear down interior walls right and left, sandblast the old doors etc and then pave the meadow!

    There's an archaeological feel to unearthing layers of paint,or, if you're really unlucky, Lincrusta, beloved of Victorians.

  2. im glad its in our hands, too. I have a tremendous respect for Old Stuff, always have had. We even stuck with wood because baseboard heat (even when it was cheap) with oil just seemed too intrusive. the pipes are in place for the next guy, but I found I like the wood heat thing better.

    oh yes, the sandblast-and-bleach crowd, they come up with pristine doors and woodwork and its the most lifeless stuff I've ever seen.

    Had to look Lincrusta up. Pretty, but awful at the same time. Right up there with sand-textured ceilings.

    The fun comes in figuring out What Went On Here when you discover a fully framed enclosure under the old plaster, or why is there a long skinny patch of different lathing in the ceiling up there...or the opening for a door no one ever remembers being there. aha, you think. a mystery.

    This was a family house from the start, so a lot of the history has been passed along, but still, a lot of surmises came too. The filled in well in the cellar (which makes a heap o' sense in snow country), the never finished cellar, the reason why the house feels backward in its setting. some houses have stairs that dead end at the top, and you have to wonder why. What was there that got removed? Or was never added?

    We did briefly consider meadow paving, but felt it might be too hard to mow...

  3. What fun to lpeel away at the history of a home.

  4. oh peel isnt even close. This family loved their paint. The parlor fireplace had about five coats, from white to black, from light blue and grey to a gharstly pale yellow. The wood underneath all of the paint is pine, what my mother in law used to call 'pumpkin pine', with a knot free patina.

    The original builders had enthusiasm but not a great deal of skill, sadly. Not all colonial houses are of museum quality, with true lines and flat floors. We are just figuring out why the kitchen floor slopes in at least two directions at once, and why the doorways are never truly square.

    Ive become very good at hanging doors, or maybe you could say my hanging abilities match the doorframes Im working with. =)