I have finally gotten around to starting a painting project which was supposed to have been done this last winter. I bought most of the stuff I needed in March, but for whatever reason, it never got done. I suppose, there were probably other things that got in the way; there always is!
This is a photo I took right after we moved in. The previous owners had painted the walls in two shades of blue, both of which I found particularly dull and so not to my taste. The white chair rail was also installed by them. The rest of the room has it's original molding around the doors and windows and the original baseboards, but if there was a chair rail originally in this room, it has been long gone.
The previous owners had some furniture in this room, but no window treatments. The furniture consisted of dark blue denim couches, a coffee table and a rug. Denim couches? Seriously? I can't think of anything more putrescent and 1980's than denim couches. Oddly, there was also a baby changing table in the corner of the room also. (They had a baby, but why you'd want a changing table in your living room, I do not know.) Some of my antique furniture was placed in this room and some other decorative items on the mantel, but I didn't do much else with it because we knew we'd need to change the color. We considered wallpaper and had even gone so far as to have a professional wallpaper-hanger who has worked on other Victorian houses in the area come take a look at the room.
We found a gorgeous reproduction room-set by Bradbury & Bradbury also, but the cost deterred us. Bradbury & Bradbury http://www.bradbury.com/victorian/victorian.html makes hand-printed silk wallpapers; many of which are authentic reproductions of patterns that were popular during the Victorian era by the premiere designers of the time, such as Walter Crane, William Morris, Herter Brothers and Dresser.
But, it's not cheap to buy and near impossible to hang yourself. If you want it to look right, you need to have a professional who has experience hanging Victorian wall paper.
Someday, we still plan to have this done, when we have more money to spend. For now, we decided our next best thing would be to paint the room and use a Victorian style stencil to create patterns similar to the art wallpapers that were so in fashion. This is a subterfuge which has been used successfully by other folks in the same situation as us. I have seen some great Victorian room examples of this in several issues of my favorite magazine, Victorian Homes.
To the left is room-set from the Christopher Dresser collection from Bradbury & Bradbury.
I could spend years trying to replicate this by stenciling, but I don't really want to do that. I'll go for a more simple approach until we can afford to buy the paper and have it hung professionally in the future.
Right now, this is how the drawing room looks. I have moved the furniture to the center of the room, draped everything, including the fireplace mantel and mirror. Switchplates have been removed and masked. I have washed the walls and molding with a solution of warm water and dishsoap. We had not hung anything on the walls, so there are no nail holes to fill or sand. ( The previous owners had pictures etc in the room, but amazingly, they did cover up all the nail holes they made and sanded them smooth and then painted over the spots.)
After washing the walls, I used some silicone caulk to fill in the gaps that had been left between the wall and the chair rail that the previous owners had installed. There were a few areas around some of the molding around the French doors and the fireplace mantel where there were small gaps also. I filled in the gaps using a small bead of caulk, then used a wet finger to press it into the gaps and make a crisp edge. The chair rail now looks much better and almost as if it has been there all along, rather than some sloppily installed modern addition. This will also make it easier for me when I paint around the molding.
Once the caulk dries, I will again be washing the walls with a solution called Jasco TSP No-Rinse Substitute. This is basically a preparation solution used to clean, de-grease, and de-gloss painted surfaces prior to re-painting. It has been recommended in many articles and home improvement books and by professional painters to really give you a clean and dull surface to paint over, which gives much better, professional-looking results.
Tomorrow, I will begin masking the baseboard and priming the lower part of the wall. I'm using a light green color palette in this room and because the lower part of the wall is very dark, I will have to prime that part of the wall first. I think I might be okay with the top part, which is much lighter.