This weekend we brought a contractor in to take a look at what exactly we were dealing with on these walls. Cause we have no clue. Much to our surprise, the drywall-looking material underneath the seven layers of wallpaper in the living room (which we'd already spent about 25 hours steaming and scraping off) was not actually the bottom layer of the wall at all. It was a very thin layer of gypsum board, about a quarter of an inch thick. And underneath that gypsum was another four or five layers of wallpaper, the last of which was actually newspaper pages from a 1921 edition of the Boston Post. (We found the front page of the "Sporting Section" with the date and a headline about the Yankees preparing to open their new ballfield in Gotham… Yankee Stadium. Though I'm a born Sox fan, it was still cool to see that little bit of history built into the walls of my house.)
Here are some shots of the newspaper scraps:
Anyway, underneath all those layers of wallpaper and newspaper was solid wood beadboard. Surprises abound!
At this point, our contractor advises that the best thing to do is to rip all of the gypsum down and drywall the entire house. While we're at it, we're ripping out the weird ceiling panels that nobody has ever seen before and installing nice, flat, modern sheet rock. So right now our house is being gutted, from bottom to top, and completely modernized with brand-spanking-new ceilings and walls. It's going to feel like a completely different (and livable!) house when it's finished.
The dining room ceiling and walls are all down now:
And the new ceiling is partially up in the living room:
This alone has made a huuuge difference in that room. The ceilings feel so much higher!
I couldn't be happier about having professionals doing this work. It would literally have taken us years upon years to get the house to where they'll be able to get it in just a matter of weeks. Move in day is Sunday, so it looks like we'll at least have most of the construction done in the downstairs by then!