Thoughts on Painting a Victorian Home

This weekend the sun was shining and so more hay had to be made.  Our contractor left us his lift, and so we really needed to take advantage of free use of such an expensive piece of equipment…. this means we had to tackle the dormer window.  I have been looking at the paint on this window from inside my bedroom for a year now… the paint was so loose that it looked like you could just blow it away.


One of 4 colonades


In order to get up to work on this dormer, as far as I can tell, a lift is required.  This is a new experience for me, andI have to say it made me feel pretty hard-core.  It seemed so strange to be eye-to-eye with the piece of our house that I had only been able to admire from afar.  Once up there, the task at hand seemed even…bigger… overwhelming… intimidating….scary… all of these things.


Scraping the peak. Lance said that as soon as we started, a squirrel ran out the hole to the left. Your days are numbered squirrel- the roof gets fixed next week!


My poor dad. He just moved to town last summer and has volunteered countless hours to me and my crazy house. I am thankful for the memories we are making together.

Yesterday my dad and I scraped and scraped and scraped.  Uncovering bare wood that has been under paint for 126 years is kind of thrilling.  It makes me think about who cut the boards, who chose the design, who painted them the first time… all that mushy stuff.


The scraped dormer. Of course when I went back up today to prime, I was able to get a bunch more off. I think this would go on forever, so I was happy to put the primer on and call it done.

Mostly I thought of the other families before us who painted this beast of a house.  How did they do it?  Did they do it themselves?  How did they reach ALL of the dental molding???  Were they scared up there too?

Today, the weather was less than ideal for painting, but the according to my primer can, it can be used as long as it is 35 degrees, and it was 41.  And we have the lift.  For free.  So up I went again.  Stocking hat, gloves, wool socks, can of primer and a podcast of the “Splendid Table.” Up on the lift and up close and personal with the dormer.  I got it all done in about 2 hours, but that was just slapping on primer over bare wood- no need to stay in the lines or anything.  How long is it going to take me to actually paint all SEVEN colors up there?  What have I gotten myself into???

It is an odd feeling to tackle a project that is so big, so different from any other project, so important.  It is challenging me physically, mentally (i don’t love heights),  and when I feel like having a tantrum over the enormity of the whole thing, emotionally.  Bottom line: it needs to be done right 1) So that I am happy with it 2) as a gift to our neighborhood- yes, Main Avenue- the 7-colored palate is for YOU! 3) so that it LASTS AS LONG AS POSSIBLE.  This is the most important reason.  By the time this project needs to happen again, I hope to have 3 sets of braces paid off and at least 2 kids through college!  Then, hopefully, I can watch the painters up on that lift, remember the good-old-days scraping the peak with my dad, and then write out a check.


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