Discovery #2

On my MOVE IN TO DO LIST, is installing a shower in the servant’s room on the second floor, SE corner.

I already have a huge 5-foot x 5-foot shower pan. I quiver at the thought of so large a shower.

The shower will cover over much of the west wall in the room, so I—of course, dahlink!—needed to first document the historical record.


The wall had many layers of wallpaper. Did any date from 1894, when this wall would have been part of the presumed “blanket closet”?


Two papers were evident. This is one.


This is the other. Neither seemed 1894.


After wetting the papers, and carefully peeling away top plain paper, this was revealed. NOTE: The water has darkened all the wallpapers.


Oh! So sweet! Paper #1.


Under, was another paper. At first it seemed like backer paper, being plain. Then this appeared (center). My heart got all excited.


There had been no indication of paper #2.


Paper #2. Just lovely!


I was then gobsmacked to discover paper #3! There had not been a hint of this!


Paper #3 had accents of shimmering gold!


Sooooooo lovely!


And, paper #4. The first layer of paper. I believe this dates from the 1929 apartment conversion.


You can see how much the water darkens the colors. Keep this in mind when looking at all the above images.


I have owned the house since 2014, and have looked at this wall many, many times. It never registered as something which might prove interesting.

But…I was wrong.

Discovering layers of history utterly fascinates me. The laborious process of wetting the papers and gently, oh so gently, scraping away the layers is a thrill.

The four papers do not, methinks, indicate a wide range of time. All papers seem pre-1950 to me. As such, the four papers would represent the 1930s and 1940s. They were, at some point, covered over with cheap paneling and I would venture a guess that this was installed during the 1950 motel conversion.

Oh…and under the first paper?

An incredible discovery was made. My skin is still all atingle.




  1. Colin Boss on February 26, 2021 at 2:40 am

    Morning Ross,
    Another great ‘uncovering the layers’ post. I love paper 1 with the fluorescent colours.
    In 1996 I painted the kitchen in my first apartment in those colours – bright orange walls with acid yellow above a Shaker-style plate rail painted in electric blue. I managed to live with it for 2 weeks before my retinas begged for a tone down!!

    Now dying to see what you uncovered under the first paper.


  2. Sherry Hyman on February 26, 2021 at 3:05 am

    Oh, no!!! A cliff hanger??? Hurry, Ross….spill…..

  3. Stewart McLean on February 26, 2021 at 9:34 am

    I have been experimenting with a way to preserve actual samples of each layer of paper. I choose as good a section of the pattern repeat as I can. At the art store, buy wheat paste powder so you can mix it yourself in distilled water and pieces of quality white paper at least the size to cover the repeat. I have been trying different papers and you just have to use your own judgement as to which one will serve you best.
    Hold a piece of the white paper paper the wallpaper section that I am trying to preserve and mark and score around the edges enough to be sure that I am through that layer.
    At this point the wall has not been wet down.
    Spray the wallpaper area thoroughly with distilled water mixed with the tiniest bit of anti fungal in it. I use a few drops of bleach. I am sure it does alter the color a little, but it is better than the black mold that can form.
    The layer of paper that you are trying to preserve should be wet enough that the pate holding the wallpaper up is thoroughly wet. The wheat paste will reader if you let it dry. At the last I mix up wheat paste, cover the piece of white paper on one side with it. and stick it on the good side of the wallpaper. It usually sticks quickly and one layer of wallpaper may come with it in one piece.
    After I have it off, The white piece is layer in a bath of distilled water on a piece of Nonwoven Polypropylene Spunbond fabric. I let it sit until there is no chance that the new paste is going to hold any more. Lift the corner of the white paper to see if the wallpaper sample is releasing without tools or pushing if possible.
    If it works well you now have one piece of wall paper face up in your bath. While it is still in the bath use a very fine brush to clean the paper’s surface and make sure all of the glue is off. Lift by sliding the Nonwoven Polypropylene Spunbond fabric carefully from the sides leaving dust dirt and excess glue in the water. Put somewhere to dry. There are thick, 1/2″ white felt pads that you can get to put it between with a piece of glass with weights on top, maybe books, to keep it flat while it drys.
    Issues that I have had:
    1. More than one layer comes off the wall with the white paper
    2. Parts of the paper stay on the wall
    3. With multiple layers of wallpaper the edges of the paper won’t align, so when you scored the top layer, you may have gone through a good pattern repeat on the next layer. I have considered not scoring through the paper with a knife, but trying to gently scrape one wet layer around the perimeter instead leaving the paper below completely intact.
    This process is still in the experimental stage so use your own judgement. I adapted some of this from reading and videos about cleaning paper art.

  4. Debbie Stevens on February 26, 2021 at 10:39 am

    I LOVE that wallpaper with the touch of gold! You should get it remade for somewhere in the house!! 🙂

  5. Barb Sanford on February 26, 2021 at 3:45 pm


  6. Laurie L Weber on February 26, 2021 at 5:01 pm

    Wow! But how can u leave us hanging? Naughty Ross 🙂

  7. Sandra D Lee on February 26, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Tease indeed!

  8. Jennifer on February 28, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Some of the colors you’ve revealed are so dayglo brilliant. Hoping some of these digital captures end up being printed and find their way into little, antique frames in your beautiful home. They are art.

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