photo Home_zps26a364cd.png  photo AboutMe_zps6643b490.png  photo Contact_zps9a7ed6f9.png

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dining Room

Steven and I have decided to focus on renovating the downstairs living areas (dining room, parlor/"girl room", living room, and foyer) as our next home improvement project. As opposed to some other rooms (I'm looking at YOU, kitchen!), there is an obvious, finite, and cohesive angle of attack for these rooms...and the impact (both visual and lifestyle) should be huge.

Here's the gameplan:

1) Strip all the wallpaper.
2) Patch and skim coat the walls.
3) Prime & paint the walls and mouldings.
4) Rehab the built-in china cabinet-paint, new hardware, etc.
5) Refurbish radiators and update valves (plumber).
6) Have the floors refinished.

And, ummm...actually settle in! :)

With this decision made, we got to gettin' and started peeling wallpaper in the dining room last Sunday. Remember when I said to "expect the unexpected"? Well, we encountered it about 15 minutes into the project this time.

For almost a year, we've had this little patch of wall showing where my BIL took a stab at removing the DR wallpaper, found this bizzaro greenboard underneath which stumped us all, then moved on to the parlor fearing that the DR was going to be a nightmare.
We'd actually had a couple contractors in the house for other jobs tell us that it was an old type of green board used in lieu of sheetrock or plaster. So imagine my puzzlement when I start stripping paper off another wall in the DR, only to find more "green board", but with these weird dark green vertical markings. What the ???

So I take a step back...and it kinda looks like...something intentional. Something like...trees.
So I call Steven over, scrape off some more paper...and discover a handpainted mural under the wallpaper!

It turns out that the dining room was once decorated with handpainted murals on every wall. How cool is that? I felt like I was living my own slightly less glamorous, and yet still enchanting, suburban American version of Under the Tuscan Sun (in which author Frances Mayes buys a dilapidated villa in Tuscany, and at one point during the renovation uncovers the villa's original frescoes on the wall.)

The murals are unmistakably a tribute to the former owners' homeland (they were Italian immigrants who came over in 1912)--bucolic scenes of the Italian countryside, complete with quaint villages, vineyards, and palm trees.

Though we won't be keeping them (even if we wanted to, they're in pretty rough shape and already plastered over in some places), discovering the murals was a charming moment in this old house...
So we'll just enjoy them for a little while as we continue stripping wallpaper and figure out the best way to repair and skim coat horse hair plaster walls, and then refresh!


  1. I have always had a soft spot for murals...so far NO one has let me put one up(either in the office or at home) so I am enjoying your find...too bad they can't be rescued. Enjoy-it's like a treasure hunt. ~~Ala

  2. So sad the murals are not salvagable-it seems to be such a piece of someone's heart and soul that will disappear. But what a treasure to have uncovered and shared, even for a short time, with those who had gazed at those same walls in lives past.