It was the weekend after Thanksgiving. My husband was in the back working and I was sitting on the couch watching tv. In the corner of my eye was the wood paneling. That wood paneling, behind the bookcases, surrounding the fireplace and most certainly covering two windows. And it was eating me alive. I could think of nothing else. What do the windows look like? Are they broken? Is there glass there? From outside you can see them, painted over. These windows are a classic feature, traditional and must be restored.
So I started picking at it. Innocently I grabbed a blade and thought, I'll just cut out a peep hole, look inside with a flashlight, just to see. It was a small peep hole, about 4x6 and when I looked inside, motherload! Glass! unbroken! I figured, this isn't so bad. Surely, they must have put the paneling up because they were insane and didn't like natural light. I will remove this and surprise my husband with my do-it-yourself enthusiasm.
So I took my blade and made a neat incision along the length of the bookcases and across the mantel. Hmm, what's this? The wood on the mantel is soft and kind of popping up. Scrape. Scrape. Oh god, termite tunnels.
Need I say more?
I popped off all the upper paneling and discovered the windows were the least of my problems. Yes all molding had been removed to accommodate the paneling, but our molding isn't fancy and can be replicated easily (I'm pretty sure). And I can get paint off of glass, once it warms up outside. But above the mantel, sigh, it all came crumbling down. Dry rot. A lot of it. And some ants. And a breeze. And evidence that termites have come and gone. (And I mean gone because we have termite blasted this house).
This is about when my husband walks in and says, oh jeez, what have you done?
In the end, all dry rot seems to be located above the fireplace. One of our guys (he's actually my dad's guy and childhood friend who promises never to steer us wrong) says it's not so bad. We should remove all dry rot and probably the plaster all along that wall and then reframe, drywall etc. I'll take this opportunity to add some sconces and maybe redesign the mantel and bookshelves. The damage was probably caused by a leak in the roof some time ago that has since been repaired.
In the meantime, I thought it best to winterize the area, then walk away, slowly.