25.4.13

Peeling back the layers




It's taken over a hundred years for the bedroom walls to acquire their many layers.




And now, when I am not working, I am stripping it all back. The effect is subtle and beautiful, as if they were large, abstract artworks.




Most of the more recent wallpaper is quite hideous, but this faded white Chrysanthemum sample - one of the older ones -  is rather tasteful.  



28 comments:

Soozcat said...

It's beautiful. It's like paper archaeology.

rachel said...

Always interesting, stripping layers of paper - unless one of them is woodchip, of course!

Annie said...

Hi Gretel,
The walls here were just the same as yours....in fact in many places it was the wall paper that was holding the plaster on! It was really fun imagining the whole room decorated in some of the papers. Most of our top layers were wood chip!!!!!! yuck and really awful to peel off. Of course now we are looking to move when we go looking at bungalows it is a little off putting to see so many of them with wood chip on their walls :-( I have a feeling we will be doing the same as you when we get moved.
Hugs,
Annie x

DollZandThingZ said...

What beautiful images!

Rosemary said...

It is interesting to think about all the people who have resided in the house over the years and wonder who they were - perhaps their choice of wall covering is a reflection of them.

Elizabeth Wix said...

Always a thrilling and thought provoking task.
I always love the word palimpsest - about the sort of writing that is written over other writing or diagonally across it from the days when parchment was very expensive.
Yes, wonderful inadvertent abstracts!

janet said...

Yes...if walls could talk!

janet xox
The Empty Nest

Lin said...

Don't you wonder who chose it and put it up? And what their life was like? Houses in America don't have that sort of history--it's a shame. I think we are missing out.

. said...

Fantastic effects and textures, its like history unfolding one layer at a time. Great pictures of them. Our walls (not as old) had only one paint on it "1980s deep dirty pink" and it was painted over as fast as I could... looks great now but it was not as interesting to work on as your walls are.

Happy Spring!!!

Unknown said...

They do look like interesting artworks by someone expressing peaceful vistas abstractly. What a job you've taken on! Most of us would see that as just a big job, but with your artist's eye, it becomes a story in color and pattern. Still a lot of work though. Wish I lived next door, I'd lend you a hand.

Kim said...

Wow! That's going to be a JOB! ephemera artists might love some of that...you should box up any good pieces and sell them...ya never know...

Emma Kate at Painted Style said...

What a fun job! We found all these messages under our wallpaper from 40 years ago and height charts to document the previous occupants sons growth. x

the veg artist said...

Old houses give up secrets like this. I once lived in a house where the (tall) hallway paper was only held on by a sort of cobwebby fungus the surveyor had never seen before. It could be tugged off in entire sheets!
There will be a sense of satisfaction in knowing your walls to their bare bones.

Frances said...

Gretel, I agree with you about the abstract beauty of your layers of vintage wall papers. It's also a bit of decorating history to see that prior owners continued to layer up, over and over again.

These photographs are very fine. I could most likely do a little meditation looking at them. Isn't that odd?

xo

Jess said...

I love to discover the hidden parts of an old house. When I see a tiny fragment of the paper I imagine what it would have looked like across the whole room when it was new. With old drawers I wonder what was in them in the past and how the contents have changed. :)
Happy stripping Gretel!xx

Twiglet said...

That's funny you should say that about the last layer - Maxine's wall paper is Laura Ashley modern but the effect is pale silvery chrysanths just like that!!! x Jo

Little Dotty Bird said...

I love thinking about the life a house has had before Ive come to live in it..our little bout of flooding the other months meant that we had to lift layers of carpet and found 2 layers of crazy 60's lino tiles underneath..oh how styles have changed!

mountainear said...

I wonder what tales those walls can tell? I used to love decorating and imagining the lives of previous inhabitants.

Can't imagine papering over layers and layers of paper though - perhaps stripping it all back is a more recent method.

By the way, I seem to remember that there is a wallpaper archive at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester!

Caroline B said...

I enjoy stripping wallpaper, something very satisfying about it as well as the surprises hiding underneath. Is your room bigger now all that has gone??

the woolly dog said...

We've come across some amazing layers in the houses we've lived in especially wallpapers of the 50's. Some I've wanted to leave a patch of and put a frame around, and once we uncovered a wallpaper of rosebuds that was the same wallpaper as on my bedroom walls when I was about a year old, it can be quite an emotional thing peeling back time. X

Rattling On said...

I hate stripping paper, all the steam and yuck! But as I've always lived in wrecks it's a part of life.
You're looking at it in the right way, as a discovery rather than a chore.

Crazyhound said...

Well good luck with the stripping, and I can only praise your attitude, but I guess it helps when the layers are beautiful underneath. Good luck with the project !

Vintage Jane said...

When we pulled our wallpaper off all the plaster came off too ... an almightly b****y mess that then stayed like it for 4 years!! Good luck! M x

Abbey Crafton said...

I love the weathered look of all the layers...I would pay for a wall like that!

daphne roseque said...

I want this too for our wall. I already told my husband to help me for this project :)

rossichka said...

Hello, Gretel! I see that you are occupied with an activity maybe not that pleasant, but necessary for making the house your home. I believe you'll manage and won't get bored, because this monotonous peeling off is full of suprises!
Hope to see one day how you'll decorate the walls! Hope also that today you feel better than yesterday!:)
I'm sending you hot greetings from sunny Bulgaria! xxx

Jeri Landers said...

It looks like a faded stencil, quite a popular look here in America during the Colonial times. If it were consistent throughout, I would keep it.

The fabric of my life said...

I love seeing the many layers of life a house has had. I wonder about the previous occupants and what their lives were like as I strip them back. A tedious job but one made better by daydreaming.

D x