The Young Duchess Room Renovation Progress

We're renovating, exploring style and design with a dash of cocktail making and cooking thrown in. 

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We’ve been quiet for the past few weeks so I thought a little update was much needed. This post is for all the fellow renovators out there! We’ve been working on getting the Young Duchess Room together for our reveal in a few weeks. We’ll take you through our renovation process for this particular room. The whole process has taken about five weeks. Unlike TV renovations, this is real and doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes we bump into unexpected things or a project we didn’t think would take us as long ends up kicking our ass, taking 10 times longer than expected. This is the fastest we’ve renovated a space and pulled it together to be photographed. Some other rooms have been painted however I’m realizing this part of the project is half the time required. Decorating and accessorizing or styling a room is huge too. I didn’t quite realize it until I was half way through sewing drapes, but we’ll save that for another post.

First, we removed two layers of wall paper. This went faster than expected. The painful irony. We were expecting this to be horrible but it wasn’t that bad. Our friends helped. We drank our way through this and watched TV shows on the iPad. Friday night cocktails while removing wallpaper? Yupp.

After the old wall paper was gone we discovered two old windows that had been plastered over. This got us thinking, was this the smoking room? We have a picture of the the smoking room and billiards room from the 1880s, and we were trying to match up windows and door ways. After muling over this with our friends, we think it might be in the other half of the house. But I’m not 100% convinced.

We assessed the damage to the walls and had to secure the paster in some areas. This room is connected to the part of the house that was removed in the 1930s. There is not a straight line in the room and lots of cracking as a result! The cracks were old and had been there many years. Hopefully we won’t see the cracks reappear – although hairlines are common when the weather changes. The cracks above the door were pretty extreme but you can’t even see them now! It’s pretty amazing how much plaster can do! Sanding takes forev-ah and is so dirty. The fine dust makes it’s way through the rest of the house so I give up on dusting for a week, but I still find the fine white dust weeks later.


Hints of cracking under two layers of wallpaper. 


Washers used to secure cracked plaster


We removed the loose plaster and secured the cracked plaster. 


Lots of patching and sanding. 


Do you love our crooked corner? Above the door looks much better. 

We primed the walls, painted the radiators black with a paint sprayer, and then painted the room. I feel like I owe y’all some kind of confessional video on why I decided to go with black as the room color. All the concerns you’d have about painting a room black, such as it’s going to be dark, the ceilings will look low, it’s too dark or depressing. I’ve considered it all and still went for it. The main reason: I used this very feminine wall paper from Ellie Cashman on the back wall, and that’s the star of the room. You walk in and WOW that wall paper looks amazing. Pair that up with a beautiful bed, and done. This room has a few things going for it that made it easier to paint three walls black (the fourth wall has the wall paper). There are three large windows, and there are three doors that are painted white. Already, the black paint is limited since the doors and window casings are painted white. I also knew I was keeping our large armoire in a specific corner, and it would cover a large wall of black. The best feature is this room is really large, so the black color didn’t close the room in. There is plenty of space to move around and all the natural light makes the room feel spacious as well. All in all, the black was a perfect subtle backdrop for furniture and complimented the wallpaper. I also kept the window treatments and bedding light and airy.


More sanding!


Sanding the ceilings are really messy, eye protection is styling and necessary. 


Check out the two windows that used to be there! Interesting…


You get an idea of how much light is in the room, and the door and window placement. 


Radiator painting prep. I wanted these to blend into the wall paper, not distract. 

Overall the wall paper was really easy to hang. The way it’s delivered is on a roll and you cut off each strip. Each strip is numbered and the paper is nice and thick. Probably one of the easiest papers I’ve ever worked with. I love wall paper – if you want a way to make a room striking – wall paper does the trick. Ellie Cashman is the designer if you want to check out her site!


We love a paint sprayer!!!


This takes about 15 minutes. The sprayer makes for a fast job and gets in all the cracks. 


What kicked our ass? The doors. We removed and stripped all the paint off of three doors. I seriously didn’t think it would take as long as it did. We’ve not done this before but knew we had to get a handle on it since there are 13 doors on the second floor alone. This room has three doors: room, bathroom, closet. Our friends at Life With No Fixed Address were staying with us and started to help when we tried the stripper technique. We always love making our friends strip with us. What did we learn? The stripper was just too slow. Then we moved to the heat gun and our back porch became a make shift door stripping area. This worked pretty fast, but still a slow go. It takes about 5 hours a door to strip it. Many of you might be wondering why not have them dip n’ stripped? There are services that do that but at $165 a door (or more cause ours are tall), it wasn’t in the budget. Plus we have 13 doors, and would spend well over $2K on door stripping. I’d rather buy a nice piece of furniture or go antiquing. Every renovator has their things they spend on and things they won’t. Taking the time is worth it in the end, the doors looks great.


We always use a pop up table when hanging wallpaper. A clean work surface is important. 



Off black paint with crisp white trim. 

Sugar is our assistant and is clearly bored! 



The first pass at the doors with paint stripper. Not a fan cause it takes too long. 


Our back porch turned into a door workshop. Will is finished stripping, and now sanding and filing the damaged areas. 


Primer for knots. Gotta make sure there is no show through on the white paint. 

That’s it for now! Our next post will show the room decorated with Pottery Barn furniture and have all the details ironed out! Thanks for following along. Check out the #PBandStonyFord hash tag to see updates at Instagram.

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Sample of the wallpaper we removed from 1937. Love this flower print. 

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  1. Heike says:

    Hello there –
    Your duchess renovation looks like so much work and great effort. Only I liked the old wallpapers a lot. Why not reuse them, maybe in parts and other parts just cream white? Combined with uni bed sheets, maybe different furniture – what a unique jewel! Don’t you want to keep some of the old treasures you have there?

    • The old wall paper was unsave-able. It was torn in many places and falling down. Not to mention the cigarette smoke smell. We did save some small pieces that we plan on framing and hanging around the house! 🙂

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