We strapped on our armor this past week. We were doing battle.
Against the creatures who have lived and died in our walls.
What is living in the walls of your house? The better question might be phrased What is dead in the walls of your house?
It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t picture-worthy. What? You say, you don’t really want to see pictures of Dead mice, Old nests, Dead ladybugs, Old hickory nut shells, Scat, and Spiders? Throw in dirty insulation, rusty nails, and forty-year old newspapers that have been stapled to the walls? And dust, lots and lots of plaster dust…
Lesson learned: If your house is neglected, unwanted creatures will move in to dwell with you.
I actually wished that the newspapers were in better shape — I love looking at old newspaper ads and reading articles from the seventies would be fun. But the newspapers were of the sort that couldn’t be touched without gloves — heavy duty work gloves, that is.
I have stopped dithering about what is to be done next and decided to just go with what is. Or what will be? Everything we do to this old cottage is an improvement; so does it matter if one project isn’t quite finished before we start the next? Or, more accurately, does it matter how many rooms are torn up in the effort to finish them all?
Lesson learned: Demolition of walls is only fun once it is done.
The holes in the mudroom lead into the living room. An air conditioner was once there; a log box for storage and easy access for fireplace logs was once there too. Now they are just gaping holes that have to be repaired. Wiring is another issue. The wiring in the living room is just hodge-podged up there and has to be fixed. The electric panel is in the mudroom, and right now with those holes between the two rooms, it is a perfect time to rewire the living room too.
When we bought the window for the mudroom a few weeks ago, we also ordered a new series of windows for the living room. (Can’t pass up a sale on Anderson windows!) In order to take out the large window in the living room to replace it, we had to take off the current trim and a bit of the old paneling. Once we had some of the paneling off, there was a terrible stench. We have had bad smells at this place pretty often; we have torn up carpet, peeled off wallpaper, and scrubbed walls to get rid of smells. This one was very bad, so we had to keep tearing out to find the root of the evil, er…the smell.
We are now down to bare studs on the living room wall. (We were hoping this wasn’t the plan…) But three dead mice later, the smell is gone. So now insulation is a necessity too.
Lesson learned: Every part of a house is interconnected.
We thought we would be doing this cottage one room at a time. It’s easier to manage that way; it’s easier to think about one room at a time. But the inter-connectedness of the wiring, walls, roofline, ceilings — all makes that impossible to do. And I’m okay with that — finally.
My post on the finishing of the kitchen that is ready to be published? It will just have to wait. And that’s okay too. After all, the whole house has to be finished for us to get featured on This Old House anyway. 😀
There are many lessons in this post, but these three should be repeated:
- If you neglect your house, unwanted creatures will move in to dwell with you.
- Your house is interconnected; it can’t be dealt with one room at a time.
- Demolish the strongholds of ugly stuff today; the longer you wait, the bigger the job.