We slowly tackled the primary bedroom over the first year of moving into our new home. We knew this was going to be the first room to fix up because of the green-on-green sponge paint. I’m not sure why anyone would choose this color and texture, but I found it nauseating after only a few minutes. One of my suspicions is that it did a great job disguising all of the cracks and damaged parts of the original plaster walls.
We spent many hours trying to figure out the right colors and furniture pieces to create a design that was historic in heart but that also felt contemporary and livable.
While this room originally would have had a standard Victorian full size bed, we opted for a king. This meant sacrificing one of the nightstands because the closet door took up the rest of the wall space. But it is so worth it! Check out my DIY headboard post about how I made the scalloped headboard.
This room took a long time and was a much bigger project than we initially planned. In the process I learned how to use corner tape to get smooth edges around the room, how to repair lath and plaster walls, and how to restore the beautiful pine moulding. Check out all of the work below.
The white stuff in these images was my novice and futile attempt to smooth out the cracks in the wall with plaster. I quickly realized this would not work and we started removing the many layers of wall paper that had been painted over several times.
The plaster was in various states detachment from the lath, which is typical for houses this age. When we first looked at the place all of the cracks in the walls had me worried the house was about to fall apart, but our realtor assured me that this was not a structural issue. After watching a lot of YouTube videos I learned he was right and I found that This Old House and OldTownHome‘s guides the most helpful in fixing the problem.
I began by drilling holes in the wall all around the parts that were falling off. Then I pumped in the special glue and secured with special washers and screws.
After the plaster was set, I applied several layers of fiberglass tape and plaster, then sanded down until flat.
PAINTERS TAPE PSA:
painters tape is a thing that exists in the world and it’s incredibly helpful!
I realize that all old house homeowners make mistakes. I’m sure I’ve made some already. But I feel like this is just inexcusable.
I used Smart Strip to remove the paint from the wood and it worked like a charm. After that, I sanded and refinished all of the trim in the room.
As you can see it needed a lot of work. The black stuff here is dried shellac.
A neighbor who does restoration work suggested I try using denatured alcohol. I applied it with very fine steel wool and with a lot of elbow grease and it started to look quite nice!
Over the years people who lived here thought these wood blocks were meant for nails to hang curtains on 😖. To fix this I used a color matched wax to fill the holes.
The state of the plaster on the ceilings was not great. After 127 years the plaster had started to sag off of its lath.
I learned I only had two options to fix the problem. The most extreme was to tear out the entire ceiling and replace it with drywall. I decided against this not only because it would have been a messy and involved endeavor, but because drywall doesn’t insulate or keep sound out as well as plaster. Instead I opted to add several layers of plaster over the existing ceiling and then sand it down smooth.
I also ended up renting a drywall sander with an attached vacuum hose, which made sanding A LOT easier.
I’m very pleased with how it turned out. It’s not 100% flat, but it looks way better. Now there are subtle waves that give it character, and the texture it lovely to stare at from bed!
The key to any room is lighting. So we decided to swap out the dusty ceiling fan that we never used with this beautiful fixture from House of Antique Hardware.
Nothing ruins the charm of a room, or in this case the beauty of the original moulding and wood blocks that I restored, then bad window treatments.
These custom made pin tucked curtains match the ivory duvet cover, and create a nice airy feeling in the room.