• October 21, 2003

Under 18 Layers of Paint, We Struck Douglas Fir

Restoring our beautiful Douglas Fir woodwork, built-in china cabinet, plaster walls and hardwood floors

Before and After, Removing Paint, Woodwork,

Built-in china cabinet before and after with Lulu.

The dining room was the first room completed in our house. This was before we started writing about our “adventures” in home restoration on the web. So, you don’t get to read all the gory details about how we almost killed each other selecting a paint color for the walls or how I caught the wainscoting on fire.

Dining room before restoration and after.

The woodwork was covered in about 18 layers of paint. We got to relive each decade as we stripped the paint away. There was a groovy 1970′s phase with purple woodwork and hot pink walls.

In the before photo, I had started to strip the paint from the wainscoting. You can see just how dark the original mission finish was.

I had originally intended to paint the dining room a deep burnt red color. We went through 9 different shades of red trying to find the “right” one. After the first 2 paint jobs, David “loved” everything no matter how awful it looked.

Before and After

In the end we settled on this warm golden color, Shelburne Buff from Benjamin Moore’s Historical Collection. Several people have tried this color after seeing our walls and been dissatisfied because the color wasn’t gold enough.

Dining Room After

When a wall is painted a dark color like red, it will need to be primed before a new color is applied or else the dark color will bleed through. Lots of people out there probably already know this, we didn’t. The red undercoat has altered our color. Our walls are not a true Shelburne Buff. But, we are very happy with the color…whatever it is.

Dining room After. The light is from Restoration Hardware. We have since purchased an antique fixture off of eBay but have not installed it yet.

After. Our box beam ceilings and Lulu just because she is a ham.

More about the resources used in our dining room here.

Comments { 23 }
  1. Heather

    Dear Dave and Heather,

    My fiance, Tony, and I really enjoyed looking at the photos on your website about your home restoration We recently purchased a 1920s bungalow that is in very similar shape as your house was. Not only similar shape but similar detail (the dining room, bathroom, sun porch, and kitchen look almost exactly like the ones in our house!!) Your before and after dining room photos are very encouraging. With some hard work maybe our dining room will look as beautiful as your does.

    We are both novices at renovation work and would really love to hear about the techniques or products you used that you found to be most helpful. I am particularly curious as to what you did to get rid of all that paint on the wood and bricks??

    You really did an amazing job. Thanks for sharing your pictures online!!


    Heather Richardson
    Davis, CA

  2. Kim Del Rio

    Thanks for shareing your great house and all it’s photos!
    Boy, and I thought we bought a fixer-uper! LOL!

    We just tore appart our kitchen. Took out an ugly 1970′s sink and pink counter top, and are in the process of putting in a 1920′s jadite green bungalow sink and a tile counter top.

    Our biggest dilema now is trying to figure out how high off the ground the sink should be! LOL!

    Thanks again!

    Kim Del Rio
    Milwaukee, Wi

  3. mike mckay

    You guys did a GREAT job on that house. Any tips on
    stripping off all that white paint. We’re buying a very
    similar 1924 craftsman.

    thanks for any help . .

    [email protected]

  4. sharonk

    LOVE your dining room! You have done such a fabulous job restoring the woodwork. I love the paint colour on the walls – I am using something similar on some walls in my hallway and it makes me smile every time I look at it. I second the other poster who requested more pictures of Simon and Lulu….that is one cute cat…

  5. gwenne

    Thank you for posting this site. I’m just about to purchase a 1929 Bungalow-style house in Southern California, and want to restore it to its former glory. Let’s continue this work for future generations, and hope they appreciate it!

  6. Laura Catudal Hostetler

    Dear Dave and Heather,

    I am the daughter of Ray Catudal and I believe I have found some pictures taken outside the house. Of course, they are baby pictures of Ray and Roy so the focus is mostly on them!

    I also have postcards and letters adressed to your address but I didn’t find anything regarding the other Hobart address. We have many, many, many pictures from the old days but unfortunately they are not in albums. It will take time to go through them again but I look forward to doing so.

    I have been researching my father’s side of the family and you have provided new information! To make things worse, they all had nicknames so sometimes it is difficult to put the pieces together!

    I look forward to meeting you two and seeing the house. The work you have done looks beautiful!


  7. kristen

    hey guys…

    great job on the bungalow…i own a 1905 bungalow in buffalo, ny. your woodwork looks great, and is quite an inspiration, since every inch of wood is painted in our place. we’ve started stripping, but i was wondering what shade of stain you guys used, because your wood color is beautiful.

    any input for getting all that paint off the fireplace brick would be appreciated as well!

    keep up the good work!

    Kristen Thomas, MD

  8. heather

    Hi Kristen!

    Congrats on your house. You can read about stain color here:


    Our fireplace was stripped with Master Strip paint remover, although that ended up fading out our bricks. Other people have had good luck using a product called Peel Away. You can read a little bit about the brick fading here:


    Best of luck with your house!

  9. heather

    Hello Laura Hostetier! I see you posted your comment a long time ago and I just saw it today.

    David and I would LOVE to see any old photos of the house or your family that you would like to share. It is wonderful for us to be in contact with your family.

    You are more than welcome to stop by and see the house anytime. We still have a lot of work yet to do but it might be interesting for you to see the house. I think you might be surprised with how small it actually for your great grandparents, grandparents and two twin boys to have all lived here.

    Please contact us any time.
    Best Regards,

  10. Linda

    Oh my gosh!
    You have done a terrific job! what a difference!
    we are currently working on our 1923 bungalow
    but we were very lucky because no one had painted over any of the extensive woodwork throughout the house!
    I do have to remove a lot of this woodwork to put up new walls, but I intend to put all the woodwork right back where it belongs.

  11. Linda Moore

    I was glad to find our website. We have a 1904, story and a half home and want to “re-do” the kitchen. We recently removed the “dropped” ceiling, exposing the high 11 foot ceiling. I’m trying to find where to find pictures to see what the kitchen originally looked like. Your website was a help. Thank you.

  12. Donnie

    I was looking at your profile on houseblogs and decided to take a look at your pics. Wow what a beautiful bungalow! You guys rock!

  13. Dom

    We are just begining to restore our craftsman house. It was built in 1913. The living room and dining room are almost identical to yours. The previous owner began restoration on the wood but didn’t finish. We intend to finish. I wrote this comment to see if we could get in contact with you guys for some general counceling on the great task at hand. I see it has been several years since these posts were made and we wanted to check and see if it was still active. If so please email back at [email protected].

  14. JBanker

    Guys, your dinning room is amaizing! I was looking on web for pictures of interiors to get some ideas for our house and happened to find your picture, so I followed the link to see your site and fell in love with it! You two doing a great job!
    We have some original Waine’s coating on our dinning room and kitchen walls. We do not touch kitchen yet, but starting dinning room. We plan to remove original boards of Wainscoat to replace them with panels like yours. Our boards (like yours in bathroom – just individual vertical boards stuck together) are painted over and some are badly damaged by people not being carefull with installing electric outlets. So I don’t want to spend lots of time stripping paint from boards that are not worth it. But we intend to keep (where possible) the upper head (?) board and all the door and window casing. Planning that I faced a problem – we can not have those panels all same width on all the walls. I think we would have to keep them same width within each single wall stretch but they will differ up to 2 inches in width with other walls. So looking at your dinning room picture made me wonder if all your Wainscoat panels are same width around all the walls in the room?

    • Heather

      Aw, thanks!

      It sounds like you are making the right decision by replacing the trim in your dining room, particularly if it is in such poor shape. The wood panels are very close to the same width all around our dining room, although they cheat a little (by a few inches) in the corners.

      Good luck with your project! These old houses are a labor of love. Keep in touch and let us know how your dining room project turns out.

  15. JBanker

    Thanx! That hepls! I hope I’ll be able to share some time our progress pics, but it isn’t going to be too soon :(
    We deal with two little monster kidos and a zoo of cats and fish, so the work is slooooow…

  16. JBanker

    This is our 1911 house after we had it repainted last year, if you would be interested. http://www.flickr.com/photos/lookoverthere/4936390265/in/photostream
    We think it can be called a bungalow, do you? I can not find many looking like our but there is another one very similar built in 1910 few blocks away.

    • Heather

      My husband and I just looked at your pics and think your house can definitely be called a bungalow! I really like how you painted the roof brackets a dark brown color. It contrasts beautifully with the light trim.

  17. Kim

    I am in the process of removing paint from walls just like yours. I have a question I can’t seem to find an answer to. How did you remove the paint from the trim that is next to the plaster walls? Did you remove the trim and reinstall or is there some way to protect the walls and remove the paint from the trim? Please help!

    • Heather

      Hi! We have removed trim to strip before. Some people find it easier but it can be hard to get it back in place. If you remove lots of trim at once you need to number it so you know where it goes.

      Mainly, we left the trim in place and taped the plaster with blue painters tape (the wide kind). We had a lot of issues with our walls and had them skim coated with fresh plaster. So, any areas in the plaster that got damaged were patched.

  18. Kim

    Thank you! That was the answer I was hoping to get. I’ll use the painters tape and be careful with the paint remover.

  19. Bobbie

    gorgeous! a lot of work, but totally worth it!

  20. Marie Crabtree

    Removed lead based paint from interior douglas fir doors. Testing still revealed lead-based paint still exists. What do I do to ensure no more lead-based paint? Do I use steel wool with TSP Solution?

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