Transformation: Potomac Suite
The bedroom suite we worked on last was the Potomac Suite. I had left it for last of the three that we were going to renovated, thinking it was going to be the easiest since the main room has very little wallpaper. Looks can definitely be deceiving.
This was known as the Garden Suite. At one time the ceiling was pink and matching flamingo pink curtains. The walls white and a wallpaper trim of greenery and flowers on the ceiling and the walls, highlighting the crown molding. The curtains and tablecloths in the room were trimmed in the matching garland of flowers.
The ceiling had faded in color so much that it wasn’t until I stripped off the wallpaper that I really confirmed that it had indeed been painted. And there has been a leak above one of the windows–long ago dried up– that needed some serious repair work.
The closet, sitting room, and bathroom of the suite had the same wallpaper. The sitting was set up in a strange way that didn’t really take advantage of the space.
I was able to quickly remove the trim in the front room– it came off easily in strips. The ink and glue from the wallpaper paste left a greenish residue on the wall and ceilings that was washed off. However, once the paper was removed from the area around a crack in the ceiling from a long-dried leak, the plaster came off in chunks and handfuls. I was also able to see just how faded the ceiling was; I really think that it was once as pink as the flamingo curtains!
While I washed the ceiling and the walls, Will removed all the crumbling plaster work around and above the window. He replastered it, taking several days to build up the surface again. It took massive amounts of Plaster of Paris, Spackle, and joint compound to repair the ceiling and wall. It was days of application, drying, sanding, wiping down, and repeat. At one point, during a final sand, Will emerged from the room entirely white: he was covered head to toe in plaster dust. Unfortunately I didn’t think to get a photo– I was too concerned with getting him into the shower asap so none of the dust (or as little as possible) was tracked throughout the house.
Hoping that was going to be hardest part of the room, I turned to the closet and sitting area of the suite to remove the wallpaper. I thought that with which the ease that the trim in the sleeping area came off, the removal of this paper would be a breeze as well. Instead, several more days were spent tearing small, insignificant pieces off.
I used several different things to try to help remove the paper, and ultimately the best was soaking the paper constantly in hot, soapy water. I had previously scored it and would spray it with fabric softener of WP Chomp. Then, I would resoak the area in hot, soapy water sprayed on with a water bottle and set to carefully ripping off the biggest segment of paper I could. As you can see from the photo above, these segments were not very large at all.
Meantime, Will was ripping out the bathroom. Another toilet removed and the built-in cabinet destroyed. We then tore out the old stained linoleum flooring. He made some repairs to the flange for the loo, as it seemed to have leaked at some point in the 30 years. I got the paint brush out and gladly painted the ceiling. We love the Valspar Color Changing Ceiling Paint. It goes on a pale shade of lavender but dries brilliant white. Now, when painting over a slightly pink ceiling, the first coat of color-changing may seem silly, but it is so handy when doing a second coat. You know where you been! You can see spots that you missed. It really makes painting ceilings–one of the worst things to paint in my opinion– much easier.
After the ceiling was done, I painted primer on the walls and trim. The walls sucked up that primer so fast that each place of the wall were I started was dry before I finished the other side of it. Then came time for the actual paint. Will was a bit dubious of the my choice but I had told him from the beginning, I wanted this room to be a deep navy or dark blue. I opted for the sleeping area to be Benjamin Moore’s Britannia Blue and for the closet, sitting area, and bathroom, I went with BM’s Mineral Alloy, as it was ever so much more light reflecting and those areas do not have a lot of natural light.
With one coat the rooms were completely transformed. They seemed brighter and bigger. The trim and crown molding seemed to pop more. The room just seemed more settled and peaceful.
In the bathroom, we replaced the floor with grey tiles and added a new new toilet and vanity. I scrubbed the bathtub tiles and sliding doors so hard I thought I might have removed a some of the surface!
We hung lots of maps and art that highlighted the Potomac River, which has a significant role in history in this area but as well as for Washington, D.C., a city that we love.
In the dressing area, we hung our Barbados map and a print of the George Washington house in Barbados, the only country our first president visited. He was there as a teenager, accompanying his half-brother to the island as part of a medical treatment. While on Barbados, young George first heard the phrase “Taxation without Representation”, as the planters there were in a tax fight with the mother country, England. He saw working garrisons for the first time and he contracted small pox, which give him immunity and allowing him to survive the spread of the disease that was running rampant in the army during the American Revolution.
The end results of all of this work? Amazing. The Potomac Suite is my second favorite room. I am thrilled at its transformation.