Our New Old House

1918 Bungalow


Posts Tagged ‘6’

There can’t really be more wallpaper… can there?

Oh yes, my friends, there is more wallpaper. In fact, I probably haven’t gotten through half the wallpaper in this house yet.

(Consider this fair warning: I am cranky at the time of writing this. I worked overtime at my day job yesterday. Then I battled my way in to work this morning through an ice storm so I could work some more overtime. Meanwhile my darling husband’s day job called him this morning and told him not to bother coming in, they were closing on account of the weather. What makes getting out of bed on a cold, crappy, icy day even harder? Leaving behind a warm and snuggly somebody who gets to sleep eight more hours than you do. So, I’m cranky. Try not to hold it against me. Or, you know what? Hold it against me. I kind of feel like picking a fight right now anyway. But I digress…)

This weekend I scraped the last bit of painted wallpaper in the front bedroom, which left me with walls full of brown paper residue. Here’s the progress midway through scraping all that residue off:


I got bored of that room so I went on to the bathroom, which had sad looking strips of peeling wallpaper everywhere. I pulled it all down and made a pile in the hallway:


When I was done pulling, the walls looked like this:


Here’s why having wallpaper in the bathroom (anything more than a border or a trim) is a bad idea. See those water spots over the window and over the woodwork behind the shower? There was mold growing on that paper. The mold was hidden behind a layer of “bathroom ready” wallpaper. Wallpaper in the bathroom? Just don’t do it.



Now the joyful work of removing at least three more layers of wallpaper can begin! Hip hip hooray! Hip hip… oh f*** it.

While I was in the bathroom with a stepladder I took a picture that tells another cautionary tale. Well, two cautionary tales. I want you to look at the picture, see if you can guess what it is, and then don’t bother to tell me your guesses because frankly, I don’t care. Ok, you ready? Go.


The previous owners of my house smoked. A lot. Everywhere. Including the bathroom. An interesting fact about the bathroom in my house is that it has never had a shower. Just a clawfoot bathtub. Brandon and I installed a shower and have been happily cleaning ourselves in it ever since. But one day I looked up at the ceiling over our shower and found these puzzling spots. Turns out the tobacco residue on the ceiling paint has been loosened by the steam of the shower and is now congealing in little blobs over the source of the steam: the shower. So, the moral of the story, kids, is DON’T FREAKING SMOKE A PACK OF CIGARETTES WHILE YOU’RE ON THE JOHN!!! Or if you do, then just never install a shower. Either way.

Cranky Kelli, over and out.

Fascinating Fixtures

This weekend was the second meeting of the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. I was thrilled to see so many repeat faces, and even more excited to meet some new people this time around. Steve Wilke-Shapiro already posted pictures of the event on RenovateDSM.com, so I’ll show you some pictures I took of some fascinating plumbing fixtures in this late 1800s house. Some of them are very old and some are new but have a classic character.

This toilet was in the third floor bathroom off what is known as the “ballroom.” Most people would call it an attic, but rumor has it the original owners of the house actually used it to host dances or something. Notice the carved pattern around the rim of the toilet. Talk about art in unseen places!


This sink is also in the third floor bathroom and seems to have new faucets but the original drain handle. Notice it says “pull” on top of the handle. How quaint!


And finally, this clawfoot tub has a really cool retrofitted faucet with a spray nozzle attachment. I covet it so!


This house has made me excited to find a Victorian era house to rehab next!

Super-fun amazing plumbing, part 2

In addition to the wonderful parts I got from American Plumbing Supply, I also got a piece of pipe that makes the shower stand a towering 7 feet tall!

Admittedly it’s not pretty, but this is a $10 fix for a $1 part I bought at the ReStore for an item I had originally budgeted $200 for. It gets less ugly when I look at it in those terms. Plus, it’s hidden behind the shower curtain, so who cares anyway?


Now it goes over the shower curtain like it’s supposed to.


Brandon is very happy not to have to stoop to wash his hair any more! (He’s 6 feet tall. The shower was hitting him in the sternum before.)


My Chemical Romance

Here’s a brief glimpse into my day:

Me: I stripped paint today!

My friend Brian: Who is paint and why did he/she let you strip him/her?

Have I mentioned I love my friends?

But back to the point, I did strip paint today. I bought a bottle of Citri-Strip months ago, but I’ve never stripped paint before. I decided to try working on the windows outside because it’s October now and soon it will be too cold to work on the outside projects. Unfortunately, by the time I gathered all my supplies and got the ladder level enough to work on, the sun was going down. But I just wanted to see how the stuff worked so I applied some to a side window and waited the 30 minutes recommended on the bottle. 30 minutes wasn’t enough to really get a full layer of paint off, so I did a larger area and waited an hour. That took off quite a bit more. Here are pictures:



My test area ended up kinda big for a test area, but what’s the worst that could happen? It’s already paint I want to remove.

Safety first, people!

The directions on the bottle recommend a scraper like this:

But I had more luck with a razor blade scraper that I made sure had been dulled on a previous project so it wouldn’t gouge the wood. I wouldn’t recommend this for anything delicate, but on this straight, solid piece of seasoned wood with at least four thick layers of paint, it was a real time saver.


After an hour it looked kind of bubbly and shriveled.

So I started scraping.

It took off one good solid layer of paint, but that’s all. Incidentally, the wood trim on my house used to be slate blue, kinda nice!

It got dark and I had to pack up and go inside, so I thought I’d see how the chemical stripper worked on interior paint. Rather than just test some random spot, I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and take care of a problem we’d been having ever since we moved in.

Our bathroom door has been painted with so many layers of goopy paint that it will no longer close. I truly believe that the lady living here before us never really closed her bathroom door because she lived alone. We have two VERY nosy cats, however, who just can’t wait their turn, so a properly closing bathroom door is a MUST.

I applied a layer to the inside edge of the door:

And the doorway:

This was interior latex paint, so 30 minutes was plenty of time for it to work:

Again, the plastic scraper wasn’t quite satisfactory.

The razor blade worked much better.


After I’d taken two layers off, I used a coarse scouring pad to dig out the corners and scrape the edges clean.

Then I used a rag with mineral spirits and wiped down all the surfaces I’d scraped. I didn’t go all the way down to the bare wood because after I took two layers of paint off, the bathroom door was able to close! It was getting late so I called that a step in the right direction.

Brandon knows someone who’s going to loan us a heat gun to try taking some of the paint off. There are so many layers of paint on everything here that if the heat gun works, I’ll probably use it on the first couple layers and then use chemical stripper to get the rest really clean.

One final note:
The Citri-Strip claims to be a lot more friendly to the user because it doesn’t give off the harsh fumes that other paint strippers do. In fact, it has a really pleasant citrus scent. Don’t let that fool you, though! It still gives off fumes that can be dangerous when it’s used indoors. I didn’t even realize I wasn’t getting enough ventilation until I started feeling lightheaded when I was working on the bathroom. I opened a window and everything was fine, but it definitely snuck up on me.

But I did learn that I really enjoy stripping and I do plan to spend a lot more time doing it! 😉

Six of one, half a dozen of the other?

I’ve been thinking about whether to try tackling laying ceramic/porcelain tile in the bathroom myself.  I’ve never done it before so I’m taking into consideration the likelihood that I’d screw something up while trying to save money by doing it myself.  This is one of those things that seems less easy to correct if it’s screwed up the first time.  I will be asking a flooring professional to give me an estimate and recommendations about the process.  Meanwhile, I’ve been reading up on what I’ve seen in home improvement shows and watching how-to videos like the ones on RemodelingMySpace.com:


 We have a few more pressing projects to tackle first, but it’s definitely a nagging question in the back of my mind in the meantime.