Working On Removing Ceiling

objects found in ceiling: den

On Saturday, Greg and I worked on removing the ceiling from the den. We first removed the dry wall that was added sometime around the 1920’s (I found a date on a small piece with 1921 as a marking) when we assume they added electricity. Below the dry wall was a series of laths covered with portions of plaster.

Lath and plaster was a common construction technique that was used up until the 1950’s. The lath is the narrow strips of wood nailed horizontally across the ceiling. We are removing the lath so we can install a new ceiling that properly matches up with the decorative crown molding. Previously, it was hung too low and sagging which covered up parts of the beautiful woodwork. After the the lath is removed from the entire ceiling we will install blueboard with a skim coat of plaster—a technique that mimics the look of old lath and plaster.

Above some objects we found in the ceiling between the lath and beams. To the left a hand-stitched cotton bag, a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, leather, and then some objects we have yet to identify. Maybe shoe templates and tools?

p.s. greg picked me up this great book of Martha Stewart renovating her Turkey Hill home in Westport, Connecticut. She includes every detail including decorating and landscaping. The books is inspiring but also makes me insanely jealous that I can’t afford a crew to renovate my home.

Greg removing lathes

Taking Down Lathes from Ceiling

Below Plaster was a series of lathes

lathes removed on ceiling

Lathes from ceiling

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Expanding Doorframe in Den


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17 Comments

  1. that little bean shaped handle with the the metal piece poking out is a gimlet, it usually was used to start holes for screws or drill thin material, the other pieces do like like something that could be used to make shoes. Also noticed the beams and subfloor above are white washed, probably means it was once exposed. Nice work!

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  2. What amazing treasures you’ve recovered! The photos of your process are gorgeous. I admit, that I love it as is… but trust that whatever direction you take it in will be the perfect one.

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  3. Kelly,
    We have thought about keeping the beams exposed but it just doesn’t work in this room with the decorative molding. We have weird spacing issues because the decoration was added later. Basically it’s an overlay.

    I hope to have some other rooms with exposed beams.

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  4. Marblehead had a very large shoemaking industry – made up of small factories all over town. A gale in the mid 1800s destroyed half the fishing fleet off the Grand Banks and the shoemaking business grew ’til a fire downtown in the 1800s put an end to a lot of it.

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  5. Your photos make it all look so neat and tidy, ha! I hope you guys are wearing masks when you’re tearing it all apart — I hear old mouse condos can be pretty toxic.

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  6. You guys are amazing!! Martha Shmartha. You will have so much more to brag about when it is over since you’ve done it all yourselves:)

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  7. So Amazing! you guys have to be proud of yourself . I was feeling pretty good about putting in new attic vents in but wow you have completely outdone yourselves!
    I never find anything good- just a creepy collection of bones- yeah sure animal bones…?

    have you guys thought about leaving the ceiling bare? it looks great beautiful boards.

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  8. S@sha – you are right – that “subfloor” you see in the ceiling consists of 25 foot long boards between 20-30 inches wide and almost 1″ thick. Katy, you didn’t mention the 100 year old mouse condos we found. The shopvac tornado swept them away for good.

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  9. Could that wooden thing possibly be a bobbin for making lace? I seem to remember seeing some lace making bobbins that look a lot like that. See link above. Ipswich is famous for being the only place in the U.S. with a lacemaking industry.

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  10. Isn’t the width of old ceiling boards really amazing? Those above the beams look like they are at least 2 feet wide. Wood like that would be impossible to come by these days, and definitely unaffordable! I read that Martha Stewart book many years ago, it was inspiring.

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  11. Amazing work Katy & Greg. I love those little treasures you found. Whenever we dig deep in Mum & Dad’s back garden we find all kinds of crazy stuff.

    I know exactly what you mean about the Martha book. I get all excited about decorating my little rental apartment and then see a book with some amazing space and just wish I owned a quarter of it.

    That said, when I look at your place and what you’ve done so far, it never falls short of my expectations. You’re both doing a stellar job. And maybe those limitations are where your boundless creativity really gets a chance to shine?!

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  12. How funny. I was working on taking down our bathroom ceiling this past weekend with my fiance, and we found our own treasures as well. A couple match boxes from Russia and a 1922 stamp of Teddy Roosevelt that had been ripped off of an old envelope. My fiance being the history buff that he is, was utterly amazed. Its interesting what you can find above the plaster.

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  13. How cool to uncover little pieces of the past like this as you renovate. I can imagine the book about MS’s renovation of Turkey Hill could induce some envy, but I think (cliché as it may sound) that by the time you’re finished, the experience you’ll have had will make you feel that much more satisfied. I’m so impressed when I see these posts that you all are taking this on and doing such a good job of it!

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