Saturday, January 1, 2011

Restoring the Red Dining Room

We waited six years for an opportunity to buy our old house--hoping one day it would be available. We loved it--even though we'd never seen the interior.

Our first walk through with the realtor was not a disappointment, it had spacious rooms--all wearing layers and layers of painted-over wallpaper.

As we entered the dining room we stepped over chunks of ceiling plaster and knew we'd have our hands full. Everything needed repair.

First item on the list: repair flashing at the chimney--the source of moisture that brought down the dining room ceiling. The following year Jon took down the chimney, cleaned the bricks, and rebuilt it.
West Side of House
Above: Jon on cobra lift, rebricking the chimney. This photo also shows new house color and progress of scraping, priming, and repainting the exterior of the house (my weekend job--summer of 2008). I worked on the exterior siding from the safety of a bucket truck. Jon called me "The Bucket Woman".

Getting back to my story . . .

Next, we needed water. After sitting vacant for decades, there was so much to do. New electrical, new plumbing, new heating, and insulation. All the basics--to make it a regular home. Jon accomplished each task one by one. It took one year of work before we could move in.

While Jon took care of those projects, I began the process of removing wallpaper in 10 rooms. Because of the tall ceilings, a rolling scaffold was the only furniture in the house for months.

Plaster Repair - Parlor

Below: Looking across the dining room, you can see the original screen door to the west porch. Window treatments were sewn by my sister Pam. The fancy lamps I purchased from Hancock Fabric--they had been $75 each, marked down to $15.75 each--and a perfect match to the wall color, Flaming Sunset by Valspar.

Below: Here's what the dining room looked like after removing many layers of wallpaper. Under all that wallpaper there was a beautiful stencil around the perimeter. Unfortunately the walls had tremendous cracks, requiring lots of repair. I traced the design--thinking I could add it back later, but got involved in other projects.

Through the door, you can see the kitchen under reconstruction. Jon couldn't save the kitchen plaster as it was as tender as a crumbling cookie.




  1. What a job, but it turned out beautiful. So glad you purchased the home and restored it, instead of it meeting a worst fate. Would love to have the built in china cabinet. When I purchased my grandparents my disappointment the previous owners removed the built in china cabinet!

  2. Le résultat est magnifique!!
    Très bonne année à vous dans votre merveilleuse demeure.

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  3. It's so nice to see the before-and-after photos. It really shows all the hard work that needed to be done. That bucket truck would have been too high for me! It's great that your husband knows everything about construction. I wish I could do things like that! Anyway, your dining room turned out so beautifully. I'm glad you found your dream house!


  4. Your dining room is GORGEOUS!! I love all the natural light coming in and the built-in hutch is fabulous. What an inspiring room to dine in :)


  5. Dear Ann,

    Thank you for sharing your story about your grandparent's house and the china cabinet that was removed. What were they thinking to remove the china cabinet?

    I use the china cabinet every day. It opens from both the kitchen and the dining room. On the kitchen side it is a great pantry, and on the dining room side holds several sets of dishes. The drawers slide back and forth between the two rooms.

    Tell me, did you receive any china from your grandmother?

    Mrs. D

  6. Well done Linda. Taking on a house like that either brings a couple closer together or tares the couple apart. You guys must be soul mates. By the way, your bathroom is so perfect for your house, again, well done. Wishing you a healthy and prosperous New Year.

  7. Hello from a fellow Victorian Old house lover. Found your blog through a friend. I have one you might like. Drop by and see me. Richard at

  8. Thanks Ms. D, for stoppnng by and thanks for the nice comment. I would love to share any sources with you. Just ask. Richard

  9. Thank you for the inspiration to keep going on our old house!!We have accomplished electrical rewiring and insulation = a dining room de wallpapered but my, have so much more to do!!

    WHat a beautiful room you have made of the dining room and look forward to delving into your blog more for more inspiration!

    be blessed

  10. Simply stunning! I just love Victorian decor!!


  11. Mrs. D, we just bought a victorian farmhouse and it too has many layers of painted wallpaper! (Not to mention that all of the window sashes have not only been painted shut, but must be removed in order to be restored.) Please advise on removing the wallpaper! THANK YOU! JILL

  12. Dear Jill:

    You asked my opinion about wallpaper removal . . .

    After weeks of hand-wetting small areas on the walls and tedious scraping, we started using steam to help us along.

    I'm not sure if that is the way for everyone to go--but, I must say I thought I'd lose my mind if it hadn't been for a steamer.

    The steamer made quick work of it, and we completed repair of wall cracks with plastic web tape and durabond. We finished with two skim coats of joint compound--followed by sanding in between coats--a technique shown to us by a professional.

    While repairing interior walls, we blew insulation through golf ball sized holes and of course repaired/closed them as we did each room. The insulation is a huge payback--reducing heating/cooling costs, and dampening noise!

    Good luck to you on your project. Let's keep in touch.

    Mrs. D

  13. LOVE what you've so painstakingly done to your HOME. Love it.

  14. Hello Deanna.

    I promise to spend some time reading all of your blogs, each and every post. Wow.

    Thank you for stopping at my blog

    Been journaling about our rural Wisconsin Victorian House restoration and our hobbies for 10 years.

    Looking forward to visiting with you.

    Mrs. D