Progress in the Powder – Part 1

Remodeling & Design / Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Brugge 560

How lucky we are to live in an age – and a country – with indoor plumbing. This picture was taken a couple of years ago in Bruges, Belgium. The well didn’t have any dating information on it, but the surrounding buildings had date plates from the mid-1600s.

The SoMoToHo has plenty of bathrooms, all of which need updating. Downstairs, there is an en suite in the master and a guest powder, or half bath, across from the library. This is how it looked when we bought the place:

2014-10-19 20.18.452014-10-19 20.18.18powder resized sm2014-10-19 20.18.50

That’s not paper on the walls; it’s fabric. And it’s padded.

Actually, this room has been the source of some controversy. Some of our friends like it and think we should keep it pretty much as is. While I didn’t much care for the pattern or color of the paisley, the padding didn’t bother me and I thought the converted antique dressing table with the itty-bitty brass sink was just quirky enough to be kind of cute.

Debra, on the other hand, thought that pretty much everything about it was hideous. So there never has been any question that we’d redo it; the only question was when. That’s no longer a question.

Early one morning, I had just gotten my first cup of coffee and opened the paper at the kitchen table when I heard a RRIIIIPPPP come from the direction of the powder.


Debra had decided that the powder would be next.

I wasn’t really surprised that she started ripping the stuff off the wall. I was a bit taken aback, however, that she started doing it before 6 in the morning. But I adjusted well enough after the second cup of coffee.

The real surprise was what was underneath:


I don’t know why I expected blank, white walls but I did. That’s certainly not what we discovered. The wall paper hiding under the padding reminded me of a science fiction horror film that I saw as a kid called the Day of the Triffids about some intergalactic spores that traveled through space and hit the Earth during a meteor shower, only to develop into man-eating plants. (Don’t worry – no spoilers here.)

The piping and the batting were attached to the wall with tiny staples that required really sharp needle-nosed pliers to get out. I confess that I only removed some of them. After about an hour, I decided to let the painters deal with them, since they were going to have to prep the walls, anyway.

Here are a couple of shots of the Triffid-esque walls after the toilet and vanity were removed:

We decided to keep the walls smooth, as opposed to an orange peel or some similar texture. I tend to prefer that, anyway, and for the paint selection that Debra’s vision called for, there really was no other choice.



A smooth wall is far more difficult to achieve than a textured one – the real purpose of the texture is to hide imperfections in the surface, after all. These guys knew what they were doing, though. The color variations in the pictures are because the mud was still wet when they were taken.

Next up – a sparkling new powder bath, a bit more contemporary than the “soft modern” updating going on in the rest of the house. I think you’ll like it. As a teaser, here is a wall sconce that didn’t work and a mirror that got away before we could consummate the sale:

I hope you’ll come back for the “reveal,” as the saying goes. Thanks for reading!


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