Monday, June 16, 2008

House archaeology

I started work on another room in the house today. I am working my way back toward the more private areas of the new house. This is the first room you encounter walking down the hall from the livingroom. It is, technically, a bedroom, but it will be our office.

As you can see, it is pink and the ubiquitous blue. The carpet is pink. Despite the powder roomish decor, it is really quite a nice room. There are those built-in shelves on the righthand wall. The small window, above, looks out to the backyard. If you turn around 180 degrees, there is a double glass door (open in the photo) that looks into the hallway where there is a window that looks out on the front garden.

I can really picture working in this very pleasant room, but I do not like the color scheme and I especially do not like the wallpaper.

Only once in my life, as a teenager, have I lived in a brand new house. In our married life we have always lived in old houses and I love the idea of old houses. I love the idea that generations have left their mark on a house. In our current house I have preserved small places, inside closets and inside cupboards, where there is old—very old, in fact—wallpaper or linoleum.

At some level I felt a kind of regret, today, as I removed the wallpaper in that room. I think someone thought this was a very pretty room. I have hung enough wallpaper, myself, to know the satisfaction of it. I have said that wallpaper equals instant gratification. When I removed the pink wallpaper I found a wall that had been painted an unthinkably drab battleship gray. I imagined some woman's delight that she had banished that drabness and replaced it with a delicate pink and such a feminine floral border. The chair rail was probably new at the same time and represented a thoughtful change. Someone put some thought and care into decorating this room. There were fancy curtains hanging on that fancy rod. I took them all down, too. I may leave the pink wallpaper inside the closet in her honor.

I wiped out most of that prettification in one afternoon's work. There is still a small panel of pink wallpaper there in the corner where all that internet equipment (now dead as a doornail) is still attached to the wall. If there are ghosts in the house, they probably aren't so happy tonight.


  1. Unless of course, they are the ghosts of the battleship grey. ;-)

    I can't wait to see what you do with this room -- I can't imagine that the ghosts would be disapointed with anything YOU come up with (especially if you leave a bit of the pink in the closet).

  2. i'm with you on the colour scheme, very 80s, but I love the idea of honouring the past by keeping bits in inconspicuous places... nice one!

  3. I really love your reflections on your new home and your residences of the past. I have never lived in a new home, and until recently I've done all of the painting and wall papering in every home we've known...and I've always left a little remnant of a previous inhabitant/decorator. You have put into words the feelings I've had, and I just love sharing them with you!

    Like Kristin, I can't wait to see how you customize this room.


  4. How I love rooms that offer a vista through the window, rather than another house or a parked car. Would love to work in this room, although I work in one that has equally lovely vistas.
    Janet in warm and sunny coastal Nova Scotia

  5. That room is very well designed with great bones. The color scheme is dated, though, and makes me think that this was a sewing room or escape for the "lady of the house."

    Fresh paint, fresh color and it will be so pleasant.

    I've lived in new houses since '92. Not all great. I'd gladly sell this to move to a charming smaller place in a city neighborhood.

    I've learned I hate the suburbs...