This weekend Ms. Bungalow and I are hosting a reception for our congressman here at the house. In preparation, we’ve been trying to make the house as presentable as possible for such an honored guest.
Ms. Bungalow decided that the patch of bare plaster left after my compulsive wallpaper picking last year needed to be one of the things that got fixed before the event. I was more inclined to let the plaster stay the way it is, so our compromise is that I get to pull a bit more wallpaper to make the seams less noticable, then I must paint all the exposed plaster to match the wall paint. It seemed like a reasonable deal to me.
First I removed as much of the loose wallpaper as I could above the right side of the dining room windows.
Then I used our steam iron to loosen the bits of wallpaper that remained adhered. Once the paper was warm and moist from the steam, it scraped off easily with a putty knife.
Although I scored the bottom edge of the crown moulding with a utility knife before removing the wallpaper, some of the paint on the moulding peeled off with the wallpaper as I removed it. Here you can see three (out of a probable four+) layers of paint: gold metallic covered in white, both done by the previous owners; and green, painted by us. I suspect at least one more layer of white is underneath the gold before reaching the finished wood surface.
I found even more layers on the walls themselves. From the wallpaper I removed, I found a total of six layers of wall covering. There were two layers of wallpaper and four layers of paint: white, blue, white, green. From our conversations with the previous owners, I knew that they had painted the dining room blue and that would have been recently enough that the paint would not have lead, so only the first layer of white could possibly be old enough to contain lead. A quick lead test swab showed no lead in that paint, either.
Freed from lead worries, I set myself to trying to recover part of the original wallpaper. I successfully steamed apart the two layers and here is the result: the paper on the right/top is the original, the paper on the left/bottom was covering the first and it was painted over four times. One of those paint layers is the blue you seen here:
The original wallpaper isn’t some beautiful arts and crafts paper, but it is still cool in a I-would-never-choose-that-myself sort of way. I have set the paper aside to use in an archival project of the house’s original finishes.