Hi, I am Dianne Schaefer. Part of the experience I bring to 4 Buyers Real Estate is from the years when I owned an antique house near Boston. If you have questions about old houses, I may have the answer. You can send me questions, anytime at [email protected] .

A number of years ago we purchased a big Victorian house. We were charmed by the beautiful woodwork, and learned that a lumber merchant had built the house. Every room was a different wood. This led us us to overlook some of the more serious issues, but we were young, and naïve.

We began with a seemingly simple task of removing the dark green wallpaper that covered the entire downstairs, a job that did not require special expertise, just a steamer and lot of family to help. Of course as with anything in an old house it was not as simple as it looked. The walls were all made of horsehair plaster. Horsehair plaster was used in houses of this period (1890’s) as hors hair was plentiful. The horsehairs held the plaster together when it was pressed onto wooden lath behind it. The lath is narrow strips of wood about ½ inch apart, the plaster was pressed through this, and that is what held it. Age makes the plaster starts to break off and pull away from the lath, making big bumps in the plaster that are difficult to repair. We decided to keep the old walls, bumps and all, after all, it was almost 100 years old.

Removing the wallpaper, repairing the walls, and painting the walls – not to mention washing the windows made an amazing transformation, using only sweat equity and the cost of paint.

The lesson for buyers: Do not overlook houses with unattractive wall paper, it could be a hidden gem.