Deconstruction, House and Acreage Restoration

“Oh Crap! Lathe and Plaster!”

When restoring an old home to its original glory, there are bound to be surprises. Some pleasant…some not so. Just two days ago, I was marveling on how fortunate we had been thus far. A complete upstairs demolition with only one little roof hiccup (see yesterday’s video if you missed it). But there we were. In a home that is 114 years old and we had no bats, varmints, termites or carpenter ants or bad rot that caused any foundation or safety issues. Sure, the laziness of former owners kept creeping up (short cuts don’t mean light work in the end when you are the person determined to repair a house the correct way!), but we were lucky.

One of the items about the upstairs renovation that we were looking forward to not having to deal with downstairs was the classy wood paneling. It brought on this extra step that took getting the walls down that much longer. “At least,” we said, “downstairs we only have to deal with drywall.”


Jokes on us.

As the drywall began to come down I heard laughing behind me. “Oh crap! It’s lathe and plaster!”

Yes, when the house was “remodeled” (I use this term lightly), it turns out that the previous owners just put up drywall ontop of the lathe and plaster.

Now, I had no previous experience with lathe and plaster before (I know…you are totally shocked given my amazing nail pulling and sweeping abilities thus far), but I am a percussionist. And the sound the lathe and plaster makes when you are breaking it up to tear it down is the EXACT same sound as a really nice bamboo rainstick. “Why does it sound like rain?” I asked the fella.

“It’s the sand. That’s why it’s so heavy. There’s sand in it and by hitting the walls we are breaking it apart.”

The excellent thing about lathe and plaster is that you can take out your anger on the walls of your home. I threw the hammer at the wall with a violent force that was very liberating. It was as if the house was egging me on…daring me to get angry with her after so much positivity this past weekend.

The only problem was we were listening to NPR’s Jazz at Lincoln Center during this part of the demo and, at first, the music didn’t fit the mood needed to really pound down the walls. Then, a crazy fast be-bop tune came on (very surprising for a Wynton show) and I felt my blood pound and I swung the hammer at the wall and took the straight bar and pried up the plaster as it crashed to the ground.

However, there was some other interesting elements we found at the house. For example, the wallpaper. The Robin Egg Blue of the Lathe and Plaster have led us to believe the drywall was added sometime between 1960-1970. Underneath the Robin Egg Blue Paint, in a very few corners where we removed molding around the doors you could see this:


Originally wallpaper so molded to the plaster that it looked as though it were painted on the wall. So it is quite likely this wallpaper was pre-1960. Which makes it fabulous.

Another gem was the carpet. Likely to help with the carpet being softer, a new carpet was laid over the old. Which was a fantastic 1960s green thing. Like this:


I can only imagine the beauty of Robins Egg Blue walls and olive green carpet. Whoa.

But even with the setbacks, at the end of the night, we were still on a roll. Because despite the extra work the lathe and plaster creates (far more than wood paneling does), we noticed another little gem. The ceiling had been dropped and drywalled over the lathe and plaster. Meaning, our main floors just gained about another foot of headspace. So we can expect beautifully large 9 foot ceilings.

That is…once we make it rain lathe and plaster from above. Yeeeesh.



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