Tales from the Sea Garden

Tales from The Sea Garden

Email me: theseagarden@btinternet.com

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Uncovering the past

Ever since I moved into my shop premises in 2003 I have wanted to rip out the modern fitted cupboards and dressers that lined the walls and find out what lay behind. On Monday Dave and I did just that, removing three layers of chipboard and pegboard to reveal the original raw planks that have been there since the building was still a cottage. Behind these planks are the rough, thick bare stone walls. It has felt good to let the building 'breathe' again; at the base of the wall behind the skirting the wood was completely rotten and will need replacing. I am relieved that there appears to be no evidence of woodworm. What has been the best surprise is finding some of the old wallpaper - three distinct layers, all quite differently patterned.

The dilemma I face now is whether to leave this part of the wall exposed so that the wallpaper can be seen, or to collage over the top, as was my original intention, with the paper collage I created when I exhibited at The Country Living Fair a few years ago.

For all its historical interest it is not by any stretch of the imagination 'beautiful' and would to a certain degree change the interior character of my shop, being of a darkish hue while all the other walls are a pale blue or white. Covering it over again will help in its preservation. It is peeling off in a lot of places and exposing it will only accelerate this. But part of me thinks that I should leave it exposed and make a feature of it.

What do you think I should do?


  1. Oh my goodness I can understand your dilemma and I have no answers except to follow your heart. Maybe leave parts do it exposed while covering most...like little peeks. Possibly hang empty frames where those peeks of the original are. It really is a lovely discovery.

  2. I'd strip it all off - you have photos, some of the patterns you could use creatively in other ways to keep the paper living on - then I'd scrub and polish those beautiful boards.

  3. Is is possible to carefully remove the paper? Then you will have it as a resource for something else, perhaps another collage.

  4. I would keep it and make a feature of it......even adding my own lighter collaged pieces in the dark gaps to lighten it a little and tie it in with the surroundings....it is a lovely find.

  5. I agree with Pat. Take off the paper and use it in a collage somewhere. Maybe with pictures of the original wall...
    Maybe you could trace the era of the paper too?


  6. I love your collages.How about collaging around the old pieces so they are incorporated

  7. I'm so respectful of everything belonging to the past that I wouldn't have the courage to cover it and do understand the part of you suggesting to preserve it ... maybe framed, in a corner, the most significative part, as a colour and design (it's so lovely !!!!) as if it would a picture ;)
    Thank you my dear friend for this interesting post, as you I'm so enthusiastic when in my ancient home I discover something so old I ignored before, they're all things talking about the history and the 'soul' of our 'nest' !
    With much love

  8. Oh my! There is such a trend in white or grey painted planks, yet with the rustic farmhouse look you have here it's priceless! Truly I visit a shop in Beverly Hills California who had a wall artist try to creat this loon in her shop, yet close to the feel not quite as authentic as you have uncovered, even if all your pieces are more whites, it truly will be the back drop to the soul of your business home.

    I would without a moments thought leave it.... Maybe you could do a matte sealer on it to trap in the old and sail it up for a perfectly imperfect surface?
    I say leave it and build around it with your beauty. I have 3 rooms in my home and if I had a wall like this in my home it would be left as is, and cherished for it history.

    The wall paper in its old paper form has something to say about it I am sure.

    I am off to enjoy more of you here and will be following you from here on in.

    See you soon


  9. Ps, with its historical value as you say! As an interior design/ retail shop owner 3 times around I have to say the value it holds is priceless, and is the anchor to your spaces history, I would scream for joy of I could find a shop that I could un-earth this much beauty, and if you came to my blog you would see my visit in how I live more a natural tone. I could see white ages iron beds, and whites, and grey's,mgalvanized pieces, wickets of age, French farmhouse pieces and even the sea cottages with rich poetry of gathered pieces crusty and white.

    I papered and tore corners off, and book papered and plaster painted to achieve this kind of country living look and our shop back in the 80' s was featured for its soulful hauntingly beautiful aged look in several magazines.

    It would truly be ashamed to lose this pricey history buy destroying or covering up....

    I say live with it awhile work around it like a back drop and let this wall tell you what it wants to be?

    Could you not see N iron white bed, or any aged colour filled with mis-matched pillows on a white quilt looking all romantice in a Ralph Lauren prairie style? Or just a Farmhouse feel to all whites.

    Hope to see you over at my place, and you could even have a shelving unit butted up to this wall filled with linens, pillows, quilts, and knits....its would create a stronger buy for your visitors, they would buy thinking when they got home it's going to feel just like this wall in there home. right in front of the shelving unit up to the wall maybe even made from old 2x4's painted white and aged you could place an angled twin iron bed close to the wall filled with more beauty layered will filled pieces that inspire this kind of beauty in ones home, unique to its own.

    Tank you for this share, I now want to find a wall like this.


  10. When we remodeled we found several small things down in the floors and walls. A plastic bird whistle and small toys lost apparently by some long ago child. Our house was built sometime in the late 1800s and was brought in to its current lot from somewhere else. Additions were made over the years and we too have changed it. Its good to know the history. We have kept everything, its part of the heart of the house.

  11. Collage it and incorporate the old pattern.

  12. How exciting to find this! I always loved unearthing long forgotten treasures in our cottage back home. It would be a shame to cover it all (though preserved) as it is part of the cottages/shops past so I would want to show off a small part of it with a frame, window or even peep hole door but as it is far removed from your exquisite works a large piece exposed may distract. I look forward to seeing what you decide when I next visit your shop.

  13. is there enough paper to perhaps scrape off and put into a frame?

  14. Hi Christine,
    The shop is looking wonderful. Can't wait to see it again.
    Thanks for inviting suggestions for dealing with your wallpaper.
    I think it might be interesting to lightly whitewash the walls, leaving just a whisper of the past remaining.
    This conversation reminds me of a book called "The Yellow Wallpaper", by Frances Perkins Gilmore. The early feminist story (late 1800's), takes place in a summer house in New England. The wallpaper is a central element in the very strange, quite shocking story. I think you would like it!
    A publishing company in New York asked me to design a collage cover for a new edition. Sadly it was not used. But I'll send you an email with the image. It's torn paper with Victorian clip art.
    John and I look forward to seeing you in May on our holiday.

  15. Dear Christine,
    I hope you left the wallpaper up. I have been to many historic places. Many times they make a stencil of what is there, and then paint the design on to fill in the empty spaces. Since so much is missing, one could copy it as just a border along the top.
    Margot~~~A fellow Mermaid.
    I agree with one reader, that white iron furniture would look good there.

    1. Hi Margot,
      Yes, I have decided to leave that portion of the wall with the wallpaper untouched. I am pleased with how it works as a backdrop; at the moment I have a rather large cupboard in front of it, but that will change as I get new pieces in the shop. It certainly makes me think a lot more about what to display against it, as opposed to just having plain white walls as before.