Sunday, January 13, 2013

Exploratory Demo Payoff

My favorite phrase since becoming the owner of a 125-year-old house has been "exploratory demo". I mean, who doesn't love tearing stuff down? Especially when tearing stuff down undoes inappropriate modifications to the house and might even uncover something beautiful.

After exploratory demo
Tonight, after a long day of wallpaper removal (not my kind of demo), I had the urge to vent my frustration with some good old fashioned smashing. The target of my pry bar? Hideous cardboard ceiling tiles in the stairwell.

Since we moved in, the whole stairwell didn't seem right to me. The ceiling, in addition to the horrible tiles, seemed low. At one point, the whole upstairs had obviously been boarded off from the rest of the house to reduce heating costs. And I had already removed an ugly makeshift doorway from the top of the stairs. But, I thought maybe the sloped ceiling meant there would be stairs to the attic hidden in the wall.

Well, there are no attic stairs hidden in the wall. Instead, under the makeshift ceiling is a beautiful full ceiling. The kind you could hang a chandelier from. The kind that you could hang an over-sized oil portrait in. Gorgeous. It's a little hard to envision with the framing still in place, but I'll post a picture once I get it out.

I'm trying to determine approximately when the false ceiling was installed. The concealed portion has just one layer of wallpaper on it, where the walls below have 4-5. Does anyone know when this type of ceiling tile came into fashion? They're the kind made out of cardboard that fit together with a tongue and groove mechanism.


Lois said...

I think they did that a lot in the 70s, maybe the 60s? We have an older home and after we moved in I realized that there was an intact stained glass window in the dining room that had been covered in drywall, it was a buried treasure. I love the myteries in older homes.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see the open source plans for the whittled-down caravan. How can I get my hands on them? :) Thanks,

Libby: said...

We are still working on the plans, Matt, and they should be done by the spring. If you email me at, I'll add you to our informal mailing list so you will be notified when the plans are available (I won't email you about anything else).


Diane D said...

The same thing was done to our 125 year old Victorian. These kind of"remodels" seemed popular in the 60's. We also tore out the ceiling of stairwell and ended up with gorgeous high ceilings with the molding intact.

Paige P said...

be careful, if it was installed pre 1970 it's probably asbestos tile.