The first time that I saw this cottage, it was rather sad looking. Clearly it had not been very well looked after, but it had so much potential and because of its overall condition, I could afford it!
I took possession in 1996 and quickly found out that it was one of many homes in the area, built in 1920 to offer economical homes to soldiers returning from the Great War (WWI).
One of the attractions inside were the doors. They were obviously made of wood, but had so many thick coats of paint from the (then) previous 76 years that while there were signs of some detailed trim, it was rather buried under paint!
This cottage has been an ongoing renovation project and is now, nothing like it was when I bought it, but a lot closer to what it was when originally built.
This past Tuesday presented a golden opportunity to remove the bathroom door; take it outside, and strip the paint right back to the original wood! What stories that door might tell!
Beneath the rather discolored white which we were now used to, was a very distinct mauve. This was estimated applied in the 1970’s, or perhaps the 80’s. Beneath the mauve was a typical builders “standard cream” which I would guess goes back to the 1950’s. Beneath that was a real surprise because there was a very bright orange, and underneath that was wood! Given that door is now 96 years old, and with only 4 coats of paint, I can only guess that the owners for the first 15-20 years were happy with the natural wood finish.
One of the first jobs when I moved in was to have the heating ducts vacuumed out and, to my surprise (and that of the contractor doing the job) there were a large number of 1/8″ diameter lead balls in there! He offered the opinion that they were BB Gun pellets. Stripping the door back to the original wood exposed quite a few 1/8″ diameter indentations. Perhaps the door was used for target practice?
The trim detailing was quite nice now that the various contours were exposed, but one piece was a distinct bad fit. Removing it showed that it had been broken, but this was all resolved without undue problems and the door was ready for sanding and oiling. What I now have is a fine example of a 96 year old door. Of course there are signs of “wear and tear” but, overall, it is very nice “warm” looking door!
While I was applying a coat of oil to the door, it occurred to me that this whole project had an analogy of befriending an elderly person. They too would carry all the “wear and tear” of their many years, and they too may be totally different to how they appear on the surface. Taking the time and trouble to peel back their layers may really surprise you. Those of you with grandparents could perhaps dwell on these questions. What were they like in their late teens? How did they party? What trouble did they into? Ask Grandpa to describe his first girlfriend! Ask Grandma about her first boyfriend!
We so easily accept the elderly as rather slow moving, set in their ways, always taking naps, and probably criticizing “the youth of today”, but we forget they were young once. They experienced much the same as you and I when we were in our teens/early twenties. They also no doubt had parents who knew nothing!
I just finished peeling back the numerous layers of paint and was surprised to uncover a lovely wood door. If you could peel back the layers of your grandparents (or anybody else), I wonder what surprises you might uncover? Food for thought!