Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stripping Wallpaper

I'm in the process of cleaning out the bedroom before stripping the wallpaper but I thought I'd take a few last shots of it.

Gone will be the wallpaper, the turquoise floor (Benjamin Moore Calypso Blue) and the vintage Cape Cod cottage kind of look that I originally thought the house should have.  So here goes...

When I bought the house just over four years ago, every single room except one had wallpaper dating from the '50s to the '70s.  It seems a little strange to be stripping this wallpaper but after having done it so many times, I've worked out a method that works pretty well.  I know they make a lot of different tools and solutions that are supposed to make it easier but I think most are a waste of money.   The only tool I use is a wallpaper scraper with a changeable blade, a spray bottle, a scouring pad and a washcloth.

 First, I look for seams up by the ceiling and starting at a corner, I peel off the top layer.  All of the paper I've stripped seemed to have a top layer that could be peeled off leaving a paper layer on the wall.  Really old wallpaper might not have this and one of those scoring tools might help the process.

Here's one wall after I've peeled off the top layer.  Once this is done, I use a spray bottle of plain water to wet the paper.

Here I've sprayed alternating layers just so you can clearly see what's wet and what's not.  I've put down a few layers of old towels just to catch overspray and water that runs down the wall.

The paper will absorb the water pretty quickly so keep spraying it so you can see a sheen.  The idea is to reconstitute the glue.  You'll see in places that the paper bubbles up as it expands.  After about four applications of water and letting it sit about 15 minutes, I start testing the edges to see if it's separating.

This piece seems ready so I start peeling it off the wall.

This first piece came off almost in one piece.

If there are any stubborn spots, just spray them again and scrape them off with a wallpaper scraper.

After the paper is removed, there's still glue on the wall so I use a scouring pad and warm, soapy water to get most of the glue off the wall.  Be sure to do this before the glue dries.  Then follow up with a clean cloth to make sure all the glue is off the wall.

Once last piece and this section of the room is done.  Isn't the pink pretty?

This section of four strips took my about half an hour.  The white stripe down the wall is where there was some old water damage that I plastered over and primed before the wallpaper went up.

I still have blinds and curtain rods to take down and a little more cleaning out to do but I hope to get at least half of the room stripped today.

This door on the bathroom is my favorite door in the house.  I just love the proportions of it.  I can't wait to try my "Silent Paint Remover" but I want to wait until I can have all the windows open for ventilation or even take it outside on the porch to strip.

It might look good from a distance...

...but it's really caked with paint like most of the woodwork in the house.

I'll also strip the hardware using the chemical-free stripping method I've found very successful in the past.  I experimented with painting the hinges silver and as you can see it wasn't really successful.

I've changed my mind at least three times about how the room will look.  I'd really like to better integrate modern, vintage and antique elements so we'll see how that works out.  I think it's easier said than successfully done.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Dunes & Duchess

This post is long overdue.  When the photoshoot for the Better Homes & Gardens New Cottage Style book took place, I had the pleasure of meeting stylist Stacy Kunstel and photographer Michael Partenio.  Their work is amazing and I thought you would enjoy seeing some it.

Stacy is not only a stylist but an editor, writer and producer.  She is Homes Editor of New England Home magazine, New England Home Cape & Islands, New England Home Connecticut and is regional editor for national magazines Traditional Home, Better Homes & Gardens, Country Living and Renovation Style.

Stacy has her own blog StacyStyle with recurring posts on design, travel and, my favorite, her 5 Best Things of the week.

Here are a few shots she styled. 

This next shot is one I've seen all over the internet and Pinterest and it's one of my favorites.

And here are a few of Stacy's covers.

The next I think is my favorite.

One of the things that impressed me the most about Stacy and Michael, aside from their vision, was their work ethic.  When they arrived at my house, they had been on the road for three weeks, shooting in a different location every few days.  After working all day my house, they had an evening meeting with a client in Boston to go over 2000 photos and then they were back at my house by 9:00 the next morning to finish the job.

Here is some of Michael's work:

Photo:  Michael Partenio

Photo:  Michael Partenio

Photo:  Michael Partenio
 If you love these shots you may want to look through Michael's portfolio. Every luscious shot captures the beauty and air of New England.

Photo:  Michael Partenio


If that isn't enough, Stacy and Michael also have a company called Dunes and Duchess that creates the most beautiful handmade (in America) lamps, sconces, candelabra, tables and chairs.

I particularly love their lamp paired with a wood veneer shade.

Below is their limed oak candelabra which is quite exquistite.

They just attended the New York International Gift Show (photo of their booth below) where their products were very well received and I'm seeing rave reviews all over the internet.

For more information on where you can buy Dunes and Duchess products, see the main page of their website and scroll down to the bottom.

Stacey Kunstel and Michael Partenio:  I think they're quite the Dynamic Duo.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Other Side of the Tracks

One of my goals for this year (not related to the house), is to find more balance in my life.  It will probably mean a little less working and blogging and more healthy eating and exercising.  So after my morning oatmeal, I did some time on my elliptical, cleaned up the house and then took a walk on the other side of the tracks in Cambridge.  I took my camera so I could share.

By the "other side of the tracks," I mean the old part of the city first settled in 1630 and where Harvard College started in 1636.  Prior to the Revolutionary War, wealthy merchants who remained loyal to Britain--referred to as Loyalists or Tories--owned estates that lined  Brattle Street, also referred to Tory Row.

This is one of the Loyalist's homes built in 1767.  He was run out of town and the house was seized during the Revolution.  Some of the estates had over 100 acres of land at time but today this home sits on three acres, still a huge lot for the city.

Here are some of the other homes in the area.

Bronze scupltures placed alongside the driveway of one of the home.

This one was recently renovated top to bottom.  Could use a little landscaping but it's gorgeously done.

Check out the detail on the gable fascia

You'll notice several of these houses have a painted chimney with a black band around the top.  These are often referred to as "tory chimneys."  It's unlikely that anyone would have so blatantly advertised they were loyal to Britain.  It seems like more a design element that was either fashionable at some time or done to visually break up the massive chimneys.

As you'll notice, many of them have spectacular fences.  A fence company told me that Cambridge holds some record for the most fence per square mile but think that's a joke.  Maybe.

Notice the shiplapped siding on the front that makes a smooth stone-like surface.  I thought this was used on Greek Revivals to make them look more like stone temples but I've also seen it on older Colonials so I'm not sure what the idea was. 

I love this house.  I guess this would be Queen Anne style?

Another Torey chimney.

Love the lawn art.

This Old House fans might remember this mid-Century modern house that renovated on the show.  It does seem a little odd tucked in between all these Colonial and Victorian homes but it's a great house.

Close up of the front.

Gorgeous old beech tree in this front yard.

Couldn't resist taking this photo.

I've always wanted to have a house with a curved driveway.

Even on the quiet side streets, the houses are really charming.  This one was built around the same time as mine.  I'm not sure I would have the guts to try that color but it's beautiful.

A great salt box dated 1765.

Detail of the salt box.

So that's the other side of town.  I hope you enjoyed tagging along.