As I typed in the title of the post, I realized it could be taken as a double entendre about a current issue in U. S. politics. But that’s another story. In this one, there is a an old house, with cracked plaster walls and a crafty owner. If you have an old house with real plaster and lath walls, walls that aren’t square, worn steps, small closets and other charming features, you have three options.
1. Live with the quirks
2. Throw money at the problem
3. Fix it yourself
The wall leading down from the kitchen to the side door has always been bumpy, lumpy and cracked. So years ago when all kinds of paint effects were a popular do it yourself decorating trend, I sponged, rag-rolled, and stenciled the walls to distract from its imperfections. Great! Problem solved, I thought…
Stenciled plaster stairwell with welcoming pineapple motif
Stenciling to disguise lumpy plaster wall
UNTIL…the upstairs tub sprung a leak in the middle of the night and tons of plaster fell out of the kitchen ceiling beneath. No one heard a thing and no one was hurt. These old plaster-walled houses are so sound-proof! I walked into the kitchen to make coffee and the ceiling was on the floor! Even the dog looked surprised.
SO THEN…the plumbers came and dug out the wall I had just decorated to get to the pipes. They commented a lot on these sturdy old houses and put up wallboard in the hole they created, slapping some white spackle on top and then they left, leaving only a big white patch and a big bill. Did I hear them chuckling about clueless old-house owners? Surely not.
SO NOW…the wall had a big white rectangle in the midst of the beautifully stenciled part.
My wallet being a lot thinner at that point, I decided to ‘fix’ the wall by painting it to look like the wall was broken through to an old brick wall beneath. I added a vine crawling up the rustic hole in the wall. (Are you with me on the wall within the wall with the final fake wall here?) It was not a super-realistic trompe l’oeil but I was pretty pleased with my frugal problem solving.
Brick wall painted on wallboard on a damaged stenciled plaster wall
BUT WAIT! There’s more. There is no rest for the weary old-house owner. One morning, my teenage son galumphed down the stairs carrying his one-hundred pound back pack over one shoulder. The back pack swung into the plasterboard patch and took it right out. There was a hole in the middle of the fake wall which covered the real wall, if you are following here.
SO THEN… I went to the local hardware store to consult with the experts. I patched the wall with some patching thingummy textile stuff and repainted the missing fake bricks. Fast forward almost two decades, the kitchen painter wants to know if he should paint over the whole hallway because the patch is beginning to peel off.
Nope… I can’t quite give up the history, so I re-glue the patch for now. That galumphing son now has an old house of his own and his own galumphing sons. Heh heh…
The old kitchen wall