Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Run Your Hands Over History Down The Hallway. Feel.

This was a real domestic archeology case for me, and took hours and hours to strip (in the days before a steamer was purchased!): I think it is quite beautiful (although it will be painted over), and reflects the layers of history through the peeling off of many layers of wallpaper, right down to just paint on the wall - the dark band at the top, which is about 4ft/122cms from the ground, the green and brown below it are all painted directly on the wall - the lower patches of pink and maroon are the thinnest remnants of paint and wallpaper

You can just make out the text, BRITISH MADE, if you read it sideways, on the detail pic! This band runs the length of the first part of the hallway, to just past the door on the left.

The doorway had been blocked off in the past 50 years and covered over, but the door surround was still intact, so we were able to rip off the hardboard covering both sides of the walls and fit a new door to the old surround. Can you see the weird angle of the door to the frame? This house is very crooked, nothing is 90 degrees! 

I might show you the door from the other side when we go in (after all, it does say 'open') as it's easier to see what I'm talking about ...

In the 1891 census, there were 9 (!) people living in this house, and 6 in 1901. Some of them were pattern makers, which is interesting, as there were lots of pin-like holes all over one of the walls in the room that leads directly off this hallway. 


  1. Wow, what an interesting colour palette reflecting the varied taste and trends of the past; the pastel pink seems a particularly strange choice for a hallway, which appears light and bright; how lovely to be able to re-instate the original door, I wonder who and why they decided to block it up, could this possibly be Albert’s handiwork?

    I see there is some wonderful detail remaining – like the corbel, which I’m guessing, is part of an archway?

  2. I think the pink colour was before the late 1960's, as all the original interior doors were panelled over with painted hardboard, for that 'contemporary' smooth glossy flat finish, as was the staircase - the pink paint is on the newel post, so that figures, with the date.
    Yes, all Albert's handiwork, he was very DIY, (and fearless, yet, I think, on a small budget) which is great, as all of the original doors, (some with glass panels) were kept and just re-modelled. I think the same reason for the blocked up doorway - trying to make a mid-Victorian house more 'open plan' for modern living.
    Yes, there is an archway, with corbels either side - will show it in it's (probably 25 layers of painted over) glory later on in the tour.

  3. It must be exciting to re-discover fixtures and fittings that have been hidden for years, (Albert should be applauded for his budget DIY approach) I have never had that experience, we have always been the ones having to reinstate original features.

  4. It's very exciting P, we uncovered a small fireplace in the back room upstairs. Again, unsurprisingly, underneath some painted-over hardboard.

    I think Albert was one-of-a-kind, and I'm very grateful to him and Audrey for their decorating and traditional DIY approach - i.e. improving what you have without destroying what is already there.

    Re-instating original features I think would be much more difficult, task-wise, and sourcing too.

    I will say that taking down original, but too 'far gone' for repair, lathe and plaster ceilings are not a joy.

    Anyway, I'm digressing - I'll let you in the door that says 'open' next, ok ...

  5. When we stripped my parents bedroom wallpaper a few years ago we discovered the details of the wallpaper and plaster workers from the first time the house had been decorated written in pencil.

    It reads 'Charles Green, Paperhanger. Sept 7th 1882'.

    How does a business card compare to writing your advert on a wall?! She painted around it and framed it :D

    1. What a wonderful social history find, Christine!
      It's very endearing that the text was painted around, thus preserving it, rather than covering it over.

      Sometimes it can be quite a dilemma - what to keep and what to paint over!

      Underneath the (felt like at least 10) layers of wallpaper in the (what traditionally would've been the dining room) was an ultramarine coloured wash on all the walls. I think it was a kind of size preparation, washed over the walls to make the paint stick to the 'newly' plastered walls. It was quite beautiful. I often think of it being there, now hidden underneath the layers of 'blue slate' emulsion paint.


Blog Archive