This weekend was one of discovery. A peek beneath the vinyl siding — and some selective sanding — brought to light the various layers of exterior siding paint choices… including the heretofore elusive original color.

The most dramatic finds were made by Jim. He began removing 1960’s-era wood “paneling” in the bathroom! Check out our discoveries…

After removing small sections of vinyl at several random locations on the side porch, I used a palm sander to create a shallow “dish” in the paint. This exposed all the successive colors which have been piled up between 1886 and whenever the vinyl was installed.

The best results came from an interior corner which has been well-protected from weather.

This enlarged detail shows the individual eras more clearly. The first color, at the center, is shown to be a pale and grayish sage green. I’m calling it “putty drab”. I was kind of underwhelmed, but am warming up to it.

The next color appears to be even lighter, with a hint of blue-gray. The third color appears to be a pale gray-green while the fifth color reads as a darker gray-green. The sixth color is a pale yellow. Subsequent layers were all white.

The giant nail hole is typical of many which perforate the house. Oversized nails were used to attach both styrofoam “insulation” and the vinyl itself. The nail driven here shattered the edge of a clapboard and cause it to splinter off. There will be lots of prep work and repairs in conjunction with painting.

What do you think of the putty drab?

This area, found behind a bracket, shows the the best-preserved samples found yet of the dark brown trim color and of the olive trim color (seen dripped on top of the brown). The olive is the same color used on the porch supports and some moldings.

I’m trying to picture dark brown corner boards with the pale grayish sage siding. I’m not loving it, but not hating it either.

Let’s go inside where the most fun was had!

Jim began removing paneling from inside the narrow toilet niche. Two types of wallpaper were discovered; an embossed paper resembling a wainscot of Lincrusta (but it’s not Lincrusta) and a more colorful paper above. Details follow…

Bits of the original “wainscot” paper survive! Slightly textured, the paper has a subtle grid in the background behind a more prominent grid featuring alternating blocks of an embossed motif. The design is reminiscent of some wallpaper patterns associated with the Aesthetic Movement. This pattern seems to have transferred slightly to the plaster itself. Scrape marks, no doubt from the 1960’s “updating” efforts, mar the plaster after a failed effort to remove the paper.

Now how fun is this?! This is the wall paper found on the upper portion of the walls. It has another grid pattern, this one more suggestive of Aesthetic Period treatments, but still not a particularly sophisticated example of the genre.

This must have looked rather busy — a grid wallpaper over a grid “wainscot” — but evidence shows that these two papers were used together. We think that the rest of the bathroom was decorated in the same way, but have not removed any more paneling to verify that suspicion. We did not find a dado border paper, but one likely existed.

The wallpaper has a slight sheen to it, well-suited to a bathroom. The busy pattern was muted with pink paint at some point in the distant past before being papered over again.

Jim also pulled the brown carpet off of the marble slab beneath the toilet. This revealed two things: 1) the general shape of the base of the original toilet and 2) the fact that the slab was elaborated with subtle depressions along each side of the slab, an effort to maintain a cleaner floor.

Cleaning off all the old carpet adhesive will not be fun, but at least the marble survived.

In an adjacent closet, we removed both carpet and linoleum to reveal the trap door leading to the curved ramp in the basement. Here, a recessed door handle is seen by us for the first time.

That’s it for recent discoveries. In the recent progress department, some more windows are getting attention.

After a hail storm damaged the stained glass windows in this dormer window several years ago, the former owner had sheets of plexiglass installed in their places. Fortunately the original windows were stored in the attic.

This is how Jim found them. Fortunately his skills are not limited to carpentry. Having worked with stained glass when younger, he was anxious to restore these mangled windows. Closely matching glass was found both online and at a flea market last year.

The finished product awaits installation. In addition to repairing the damaged came and replacing broken glass, Jim also grouted the lead came to make the windows impervious to water. The grouting process also polishes the glass to like-new brilliance!

That’s all until next time… what are your thoughts about the original siding color?

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