Graceful Rejuvenation of a Water Damaged Living Space


What she did: She painted the ceiling and walls that had been damaged by water to restore their graceful appearance.

Shown: The refurbished woodwork and the elegant proportions of the room are highlighted by fresh paint.

Start from scratch: Before

Her story: “Three-years ago, when my 1910 brick house was built, almost nothing had been done inside the house since 1944, when it underwent a major renovation that was initiated by the family from which I purchased it. They removed the plaster and lath and covered the interior walls and ceilings with drywall and wallpaper. They even wallpapered the ceilings!

Shown: She removed the wallpaper and began to skim-coat them.

Cast-Iron Fireplace Insert is a Deserving Focal Point

“A roof leak had caused damage to the living room wallpaper. I quickly fixed the leak and began to clean it up with a putty knife, a sponge and a sponge. Sometimes the wallpaper was easy to peel off, while other times thick chunks water-damaged cement plaster were removed from the exterior wall. It was not an easy task to fill those holes. Each one required six to seven coats ready-mixed joint compound. After that, I smoothed the surfaces and added more mud to the ceiling and walls. My months of working in this room part-time helped me to build real arm muscles.

“The rest was simple. The walls and ceiling were primed, painted and stained. All the trim was given a soft sheen by a top coat of Howard Feed N-Wax.

Shown: Rita’s living room is still dominated by an antique cast-iron fireplace insert. Gas flames heat the ceramic plate and decorative metalwork of the insert when they are lit. This reduces Texas’ winter chill.

Uncovering the “Special”, in a Fixer Upper

“I am proud of the way the room turned out and I feel happy that I’m one step closer in my quest to bring this old house back to life. Although I knew there was something special about the house when I bought it, I didn’t know how much I would love seeing the fruits of my labors.

Shown: Rita relaxing in her living room.

Lessons Learned

The hardest thing I did was to mud and sand the ceiling. This required more endurance than strength. It was difficult to hold my arm up while standing on a ladder. This part of the project took me a while to complete. It took me about an hour to complete it.

What I learned: How do you remove wall paper? Prep the wall and how to fix it. I’m proud to have learned how to tape and mud the walls. Since then, I have completed two additional rooms on my own. This work was rewarding, and I am so grateful for it. Easy? No. Fun? Questionable. Satisfying? YES!

Hack: Although the overall condition of the wood trim was good, there were some areas that needed to be repaired, particularly the base molding. I used a 120-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the area. Next, I applied a second coat of stain to the wood and blended it in with the original. After that, the surfaces were coated with wax. The entire process took approximately nine hours.