Cracking Eggs

They say you’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette… so begins our ‘cracking’.

In our first phase of demolition, we knowingly committed one of the top 5 Worst Mistakes of Historic Homeowners. But in the end, I think it will better that we did.

After removing wallpaper, we saw that all of the walls at the farmhouse were originally constructed of (1/4″ thick) wood lath covered with the 3 coats (7/8″ thick) of plaster.

Demo begins – peeling off wallpaper to reveal original plaster walls

Although we would have loved to keep the historically authentic and structure strengthening walls, we ultimately decided to take them down all the way to the studs. Not only were we planning to change some of the layout of the house, but we also knew there was very little insulation, poor electrical wiring with not enough outlets per room, and lots of crumbling plaster after leveling the floors in the house.  These were are all reasons that led us to this decision. However, to bring back the warmth and character that the walls originally would have had, we are planning to install hybrid modern plaster walls.

Before getting into extreme hammer-swinging-dust-flying-demo mode, we carefully removed all of the original wood doors, trim, moldings, and hardware so that it could be preserved and reused. To help streamline re-installation in the future, these items were labeled and grouped by the room they came from.

Starting to remove original trim

With that taken care of, and with our PPE on, it was time to start cracking eggs!

Dad working in the dining room
Chipping off plaster in the dining room

After the plaster was chipped off, the wood lath was yanked off with crowbars. (It’s a great workout!)

Dining room down to studs
In the kitchen underneath layers of wallpaper we found stamped (or etched?) plaster made to look like tile.
Stamped or etched plaster wall in kitchen
We moved around like a tornado going room to room downstairs until all of the interior walls were clean down to the studs. (The exterior walls were left intact until later when the temperature outside warmed up.)
First dumpster full
My step-grandpa, Chuck, helped take the original back porch, which at some point had been enclosed and made into a mud room, down to the studs. Our plan going forward is to keep this space as the mud room.
Chuck demoing the mud room (original back porch)
After the downstairs was mostly stripped, we moved upstairs. Blaine and I made a slide out of some scrap metal and wood, which enabled us to efficiently send material downstairs and then out to the dumpster. Wheel barrows were used to catch material and roll outside.
Debris slide made from scrap metal
Side view of slide and wood brackets, taken from the den

In the photo above, near the wheel barrow you can see evidence on the floor where the original stairs once came straight down and a wall extended out dividing the rooms, similar to Stillwell’s Large California Bungalow design.

Knob and tube electrical wiring

My mom and sister also helped us during this phase. It was dirty hard work. We were thankful everybody chipped in.

Sis helping demo upstairs
Mom cleaning up downstairs
At the end of it all, we had a clean slate and could see nothing but potential.
Downstairs interior walls mostly demo’d
Upstairs interior walls cleaned down to studs
In the midst of it all, we found Ratatouille. Wonder how long he’d been in the wall – he was mummified.
And his friends also made an appearance. We found three in total!
We’re not sure if we’ll bury them in the backyard, put them back in the new walls where we found them, or toss in the dumpster?! For now they’re sitting out watching us work.  🙂

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