Holy Wow! Is this not the coolest wall you’ve seen in a long time? This is a wall that we removed the crumbling plaster from this past weekend. As an added bonus, there are many more just like it! For those who may not know how old houses were constructed, this is the structure that was required to adhere the plaster to the wall. The plaster goes in the cracks in and between the boards, dries and holds fast. They used to mix horse hair into the plaster for strength and to provide some structure to hold the plaster together. Taking down horse hair plaster is a messy, dusty, kinda gross job. But, beneath it lies this pretty cool looking wall. Though I contemplated leaving it, as it’s an interior wall, I felt in the end it needed to come down. The boards were brittle from many years next to a fireplace, and were cooler looking then they were functional. We will be replacing this with drywall, and I’m a little sad that the lathe (that’s these boards) needed to go, but the plaster was in bad shape. And we are doing this on a tight budget. And I’m no plaster master.
Demo days are all hands on deck. When my husband removed the bottom cabinets in the kitchen, we discovered the whole wall needed to come off. This is the way with old houses, once you open up a can of worms, you’ve got to renovate so much more of the nest then you expected. Ah well. If you look to his left, you see a wood wall. This is the exterior wall of our kitchen and you may also notice that there is not ONE stitch of insulation in the walls. Unless you count the old mouse condo he found in there…or, the ancient bees nest with petrified honey in it. Yep, all critters were using this as home! Now, the wall being opened up completely was unexpected, but it’s offering us the chance to seal it up well, add insulation and block off the welcome mat spots for the critters we really don’t want to share our home with any longer. We’ll also be opening up another one of the walls in the kitchen and expect to find this same condition behind that one as well. The perfect time to get it snug and warm. No insulation in New Hampshire winters= freezing cold everything!
This is the bee hive board. See the rich honey color of the wood…well, that’s actually honey coloring that wood! There was a very old hive, there was no active bee activity (thank goodness!) and it’s adjacent to part of the wall that is yet to be dismantled, so there may be more. I bet it smelled good when the sun hit that wall!
Demo means all hands on deck. We decided that the boys were going to be really helping with things as they are both old enough now to truly lend some actual skill to it, rather then just busy work to keep them out of our hair while we do it all. This is going to give them invaluable skills for when they are men with their own households. They will have done some of this work so that they will be capable of fixing things in their own homes. Their father did not have any mentor for all of these types of challenges in his life, and it is important to us that our guys aren’t handicapped by that in their adulthood. My husband has taught himself how to do countless things when it comes to home repair. He amazes me with his skills and ability to figure out what needs to be done in most situations. He can plumb, wire, build and install with the best of them!
There are layers to this house. It’s from 1837, and it has had other renovations along the way. I started to peel the wallpaper in the kitchen and I peeled off 5 layers from the original plaster. Some of it I found quite amusing as the stuff from the 70’s really looked like a blast from the past. I could actually tell what was from the 30’s-40’s, the 50’s, the 70’s and the 80’s. The style of those decades was very apparent in the wallpaper choices. I will take a picture of it if I can find a piece that represents what I’m talking about well enough.
So much to do, and just about feeling the pressure of time. I got the kitchen cabinets ordered, met with the contractor that is building our shower stall, met with the tree removal company and had the power company out to evaluate the two trees that we thought would be their responsibility. Turns out, they aren’t and if we want to remove them, we’ll need to add that to the cost that we’re already incurring…to the tune of $3,500-$4,000 already! But there is one HUGE old oak on the property that dangles over the garage and the roof on the house and it’s got a lot of disease in its old age. Widow makers dangle precariously from it’s creaky branches and it is time to come down. That tree alone is going to be big money to take down.
It’s shaping up to be a big adventure so far, tiring, but it’s also fun to get down and dirty and make things the way we want them. A few things we wanted to do aren’t going to be possible, but the longer we are pulling things apart, the more possibilities seem to be opening up as well. Stick with us and see where we’re going from here!