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The Inside...
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While it was probably top of the line in the late 70's, the inside of our new home was in desperate need of some updates. The living room and bedrooms were blessed with a plethora of dark wood paneling and shag carpet as far as the eye could see. The only saving grace was that there was indeed the original hardwood flooring hiding under all that shag! We decided to take care of as much of the messy work as possible before the move, to avoid having to move furniture and evacuating entire rooms later on to do it.

The Living Room was the first to go!
The decision to start here was mostly beer powered, I think. There was the question of what exactly to do with the paneling... Paint it, try to take it down, or just demo the entire wall to the studs and put up new sheetrock. My efforts to peek behind the paneling revealed that it was glued to a sheet of drywall as a remodel of the original house. A bit more prying caused the whole sheet of paneling to pop free from the wall, as the glue was hard and brittle, and it was only nailed at the top and bottom. I ended up pulling off the mopboard trim and just leaning the whole sheets away from the wall to remove them. This was all well and good for getting rid of the paneling, but left huge stripes of hard adhesive bonded to the drywall.

The only to get rid of it was to use giant paint scrapers, and dig it off the walls . Other options were a lost cause, the sander just melted the glue to the wall, and I haven't found a stripper yet that would remove the glue, and leave the drywall intact. This was another decision we had to make... whether it was more cost and time effective to try to dig the glue off and repair the wall, or just to gut the place to the studs and install new sheetrock throughout the house. In the end, we decided to try repairing first, knowing that if it didn't work out, we could always go back and tear it completely out if we had to. So one stripe at a time we scraped and chiseled the glue from the existing drywall, leaving a wall that was cleaned off, but now about as smooth as the surface of the moon. Now it was time to divide and conquer. Mere started working on the tedious task of wallpaper removal in the bedrooms while I started one of my least favorite jobs: mudding drywall. If you've ever repaired drywall before, you share my pain. A drywall patch is one bad enough, but I think this job was worse. In may places, when the glue had come off the wall, it had taken a big chunk of the paper drywall surface with it. There was no way to get anything smooth. The exposed paper would disintegrate into the mud, leaving voids and lines everywhere. Almost as much time was spent making clean cuts in the ripped paper, as doing the mudding itself.

The walls were tough, but after a couple coats of mud, and plenty of sanding, they were smooth enough to take a coat of primer, and not look like a gravel driveway. One of the more unique architectural features of the house, the arches, were another story. One the things that we liked about the house was that the doorways into the living room from the kitchen and hall are soft sweeping arches, instead of standard rectangular holes cut into the walls. In addition, there is a huge archway in the main entryway that adds even more character to the room.

Yes, it's kind of dated, but it also makes the house unique, instead of just another cookie-cutter cardboard box. Trust me, it IS possible to successfully turn 70's kitsch into current style. There's nothing wrong with a little retro... Just wait til you see the kitchen! Anyway The arches were in rough shape. The hall arch had a big hole at the bottom left that had to be patched before I could even get started. Now, mudding outside curves is hard enough, but doing 5" wide inside curves that finish flush with a wall is a royal pain in the butt! I spent hours just on the arches, trying to get them looking halfway decent. The hall and kitchen arches weren't flush with the surrounding walls, so the walls had to be built up one layer at a time, to create a nice even transition and a square corner on the edges. The big entryway arch that spans the entire width of the living room was a different matter altogether. The part near the center of the house was a little rough, but ok. The majority of the rest of it was a disaster. It looked like someone had just stuck some hand bent tin up there and slapped some mud on it. Later, when we pulled up the rug, we discovered that the original arch was only as wide as the kitchen door and there had been a wall from the front door into the living room creating a sort of entry hall, that was later removed to enlarge the living room. After completely rebuilding that, and patching a couple holes where the previous owners had mounted a huge bookshelf near the door, the only thing left was to repair the ragged hole that was left when they replaced the air conditioner in the living room wall.

Finally it was time to paint and put on the trim and make our first room a place where we could really live. With the help of a dehumidifier and a respirator mask, we got 2 coats of primer on the walls without too much trouble. When it comes to paint, I completely defer to my wife. Remember, you're talking about the man who has issues matching his clothes, much less picking colors to paint a place we're going to live in for a few years. In the end, the living room was to be painted a color called mulling spices, trimmed in a brown called canoe. We decided to leave the largest wall opposite the windows a bright flat white as a neutral place to hang some of our photos and artwork.

Copyright © 2006 Devon R. Jacobs. All Rights Reserved.