March 19: More Layout Mysteries Solved?

I had half a post about getting insulation out of the attic written and I was going to post it and then the triumphant easy project became…a lot less easy. It’s happening, but it’s more in process than “finished in a day,” oh well, welcome to my house.

So instead, let’s talk about the work Eric and I have been doing on the second floor. As a refresher, here’s the layout when I bought the house (on the left) and what I thought earlier this year was perhaps the original layout (on the right):

However, as I started to work up there a little more recently, I noticed some oddities. Specifically, there was a single panel of drywall on an otherwise all-plaster bedroom; the doorway into the front bedroom was not original (you can tell because the trim isn’t the trim that’s everywhere else upstairs); and there was another oddball panel of drywall on the ceiling of the front bedroom, right inside the door, which I discovered when I pulled at some loose hanging wallpaper.

At this point I was starting to develop a theory of the case, which I confirmed when I realized there was a faint shadow on the floor of bedroom #1, right about where the weird drywall patch in the ceiling ended and the plaster began. So here’s my new theory of the original 1892 layout:

1892 layout, take 2

Notably, this still doesn’t really account for the massive space of the “landing” — if the stairs came up the center hall, as they clearly did, you must have emerged at some point onto this giant landing which would have been a profoundly unusual use of space. I guess maybe there were some big built-in storage units? That would have occupied some square footage. I dunno. Anyway, my new theory proposes that you once entered the front bedroom via the doorway that currently leads to the stairs going down to the first floor. Then, you would have had a big close more or less right next to the door, and the middle bedroom would also have had a cupboard or closet of some kind. When they did the big duplex renovation, they pulled out both closets and reconfigured the door situation, adding a drywall patch to the ceiling of the front bedroom and to the wall of the middle bedroom to cover the removed closets.

Here’s my own current plan:

Essentially, this means knocking out the bit of wall between the stairs and the current entry to both bedrooms to create a new doorway into the front bedroom, and closing up the current door into that bedroom. This achieves two things. First, it means the doors to the two bedrooms aren’t directly on top of each other. They’ll still share a wall, but psychologically they’ll feel more separated, which I think will be nice. And second, it gives me a place to actually put a bed in that front room, which was lacking — the wall configurations were all weird, otherwise. I still might not be able to fit a double bed and a nightstand there, I have to measure, but minimally I can put a twin and nightstand, with a desk against the front window.

Oh, also, did I mention the ceiling drywall patch had a bit of mold on it? I’m not excessively concerned about it for a variety of reasons, but anyway, I wanted to pull it out. So that all led to this (I can’t embed it, sorry, you’ll have to click the link: )

Or, in photo form:

What you see on the right of the photo there is the back of the drywall patch in the bedroom, btw, and indeed it’s clear there used to be a doorway of some kind, presumably into a closet or cupboard; they added a stud down the middle when they drywalled it in, but you can clearly see the old doorframe.

That, plus some cleanup, pretty much took all morning, and then I ran out of the heavy duty contractor bags you need for plaster dust, so here’s what it looks like now:

Definitely getting there. I have someone coming to help me with the rest of the plaster haulout on Monday evening when the weather should be better than it is today (and I’ll have more garbage bags by then too!) and then eventually we’ll turn our attention to reframing, which basically means pulling out the studs on the left and moving them into the hole on the right. I think at that point the big drywall adventure can begin. I need to put up a bunch in the back room where the plaster came down, some big patches in the upstairs hall, and now this wall plus replacing the ceiling patch will have to happen. All reasonably straightforward hah hah famous last words!

PS: work downstairs has been stalled out for a couple weeks while I waited for more supplies to show up — that’s why I suddenly started focusing on upstairs. On Friday, however, I received enough plaster to finish the living room and I also have the dining room wallpaper in hand now. So I might get to some prettier things once the literal dust settles upstairs.

Published by Catherine R. Osborne

Historian, theologian, editor.

One thought on “March 19: More Layout Mysteries Solved?

  1. Still exciting stuff. How big is the window in the area at the top of the stairs? My parents have a similar space in their newly constructed home and it’s definitely more of a living room/sun room area.

    As always, in love with those still gorgeous old pine (?) floors throughout your house.


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