Never fear, we’re still in the Land of Tedium. Right now, the biggest project is the interior re-building of the turret. It’s going well, but it’s tricky. There’s a reason that people don’t really put curved walls in houses anymore, and that’s because they just take SO LONG, especially when you can’t work on these every day. Really, our turret curve is pretty simple. It’s only a half circle, unlike some of the turrets I’ve seen that are almost full circles. We have it relatively easy.
Some of these would have been harder. I swoon.
Turrets are complicated because they’re worth it (and they’re interesting)! If someone were to ask “What’s your favorite thing about this bedroom?” It would be how fantastically un-square the room is. I’ve said before that I don’t like to be put in a box, and this room is DEFINITELY not a box.
If you remember from the last post, the new lath went on and curved pretty well.
But this area, just above and to the right, was too small to get the lath bendy enough. Doug couldn’t get water or steam to work in such a short area. So, I said, “It doesn’t HAVE to be lath, right? We just need something to attach drywall to, right? What about bendable plywood?”
Doug said, “That idea might work.”
Doug did some research on where to get bendy-ply (that’s probably not the official name, but I refuse to call it anything else), and that took him to Northwest Lumber Company in Indy. Of course, like many specialty building places, they are really only open during bankers hours. So Doug trekked over on a lunch break from work, and sent me this picture of the truck in a text, and said, “This is weird.” I don’t disagree.
This is where I try to fight the Victorian Era with Victorian Sensibilities. Part of me screams “THIS IS CHEATING!” because bendy ply wasn’t a thing in 1902. It feels like we’re taking the easy way out. It’s not that I have a burning desire to LIVE like people did in 1902. Let’s be honest, I would very much like to live in a time where you had to wear fancy hats ALL THE TIME. But, then again, there was Consumption, which sadly caused the death of the first lady of this house, Lucie Murray, in 1909. These are things to think about. But still, bendy ply feels like cheating.
However, Victorian Sensibilities would say that we should use the best and the most modern things that exist. So, in that spirit, we’re okay.
(Please bring fancy wear-all-the-time-hats back.)
Hooray! Bendy ply for the win.
Next up was adding drywall to the space. Someday, I’m going to try to do plaster for a whole fresh wall. But not a curved wall the first time. We’re pretty good at plaster repair, but doing a whole wall like this isn’t quite in our wheelhouse. It’s a bucket list item.
Doug researched. First, score the back and soak the drywall to get it to be pliable. Here are the scores, about an inch apart.
Scoring them with a utility knife is perfect. Don’t go too far down.
The front of the drywall looks normal, but you can see the depth of the scores on the back.
A spray bottle with water and a rag to get the whole thing soaked, and you’re ready to go!
But don’t go too soon. Or it’ll snap and be totally anti-climatic. Ugh.
BUT, if you’re patient, and let it soak for an hour or more, you can get a really nice curve. And if it breaks a bit, you can smooth it out with drywall mud. This wasn’t very hard, but it’s a little nerve-wracking, and requires a bunch of time – much of that is just waiting.
It’s a beautiful curved wall! Next up, Doug added the skinnier puzzle pieces of drywall, also soaked and scored.
And then, we mud. Mudding in this case is extra hard, because you’re trying to make a curve, fill in some pretty deep openings, and you’re trying to match drywall to plaster. And you’re MAKING A CURVE. Things to remember when doing this, to calm your nerves : Mud always sands, and wallpaper is going up to smooth the rest. Why do you think Victorians used wallpaper? They knew. It smoothed imperfections in the walls and protected the plaster. So, fear not, even though it’s going to take FOREVER.
Coat Four. Not as grossly ugly.
Coat Six. It’s getting there. Doug would often put on a coat in the morning before he left for work, and another before bed. That way, we didn’t have to eat up a ton of time – it could have plenty of dry time when we weren’t home.
Meanwhile, there’s this. What is this? If you’re restoring an old house, get excited for that fabulous game of “Guess the Stain!” If there’s nothing in your old house that doesn’t make you wonder if someone’s been slaughtered there, then you’re probably doing it wrong.
This is why wallpaper was invented.
Speaking of wallpaper, this border around the top of the room has lived long past the decade that it should. I started to take it off, and it was not happening. Too much of the wall was coming off with it, and it’s (mostly) installed really well. We’re going to cover it with anaglypta, which makes me happy. Also, in 30 years, maybe someone else will want to take my anaglypta down, and years of wallpaper will still be preserved for their discovery. I’m okay with that.
Here’s what will be going up! I’m deliciously excited about it.
The bottom of the picture rail that was hung previously left some damage, and there was some curling of the old paper. So I’ve been scraping that and making it even with a razorblade. Tedious, but easy. We are replacing the picture rail, with a slightly chunkier and more solid version. If you remember, the old was not original, was not installed super well, and was missing sections. So it’s a good decision.
Look at all the old papers! As per usual, I like the bottom (oldest) one best.
MOST of the wallpaper is up well. The corners and around the windows have puckered, due to age or dampness or poor installation. So I’m cutting that out, as well.
The holes that Doug cut for the electrical needed to be patched….
….and this one, above the window, had no lath to attach the new patch to, so this was Doug’s rigging to get a new piece of lath glued securely into place. This is pretty out of the box for him. He was so proud (and so am I!).
There are a zillion little things on our punch list, but I am SO EXCITED to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Soon, we get to put her back together.
I used a similar technique to Doug’s to install chair rail in my grandmother’s condo. Late 60’s renter’s grade apartment cheapness made all kinds of simple jobs really hard, and I ended up doing the same thing with a block of wood behind the drywall to hold it around a pipe chase. My mom was proud of me, but my dad said there was nothing novel about it and he’s done it before. It might even have a name.
Yup! On wood it’s called “kerfing” and we’ve done that before. But we’ve not done it on drywall! It’ll be used a ton on the baseboards!
no I mean blocks of wood behind the patches. I’ve owned a few houses with curved walls in my imagination, but never had to repair any of them in reality.
Oh, I see! Your dad probably would have made fun either way. 😉
He’s right way too much
Colour me impressed! I have two huge round cement columns in my place that I cannot figure out how to put baseboard around the bottoms of. I should probably hire you guys to figure it out
Ha! Thanks so much! We’d love to! It would be the same technique – for wood it’s called kerfing – so you can research that for sure!
It looks great! We have similar issues in our old house. We do not have a curved wall, though. I think I am relieved. 🙂
You guys are great! My spirit lives in your much younger body……In my next life, sigh.
I have an almost full circle tower, and after reading your post I am THRILLED that the plaster walls in the two tower rooms are OK. Whew!
Thank you for sharing your experience. We have some issues with our walls in the house and we can find here some help. If you want to have a look (we appreciate some advice) : au33delarue.wordpress.com