Building A Case Against Our Built-Ins (Dining Room)

In the ongoing project of refinishing our floors, there are certain things that we had to decide whether or not they needed to go. One major decision of something to keep or not were these built-ins.

Now one may look at them and go, “oh, but those look ok”, “ooo, window seat!” or “shelves are always useful…why get rid of them?”.

But no.

Let’s take a closer look.

For starters, like much of the house they were dated.

Not in an early 1900’s way, but in a 1960’s or, if you’re lucky, 90’s way.

Which makes sense, as the 2nd owners bought the place in the 60’s, and the third owners in the 90’s. We’re the fourth. Amazing how few owners.

what needs fixed in dining room restoration

See the scalloped shell design around the radiator covers? The scalloped top at the ceiling? Courtesy of 1960’s owner. We found this to be definitely true as we examined them and saw the age of the wood and the wallpaper design behind it.

what needs fixed in dining room restoration

I especially…appreciate…their efforts to work the bench around the baseboards:

what needs fixed in dining room restoration

Then came the 90’s owner. And oh how the 90’s owner loved white paint, and lots of it. We have found in many places of the home, not just these shelves, that this owner’s use of thick, drippy paint is a great example of “overkill”.

When 90’s owner came in, they built shelving on either side of the window on top of the 60’s radiator covers. Not a bad idea, but oh-so-badly executed.

Besides the cheap quality of the wood for the shelves (many pieces of which still had the stickers on them from the big box store they came from), the person made them with the main purpose of fitting their flat screen tv.

From what we found, anything in the way of their goal to get their TV mounted was bulldozed…such as by the drilling and bolting into the 100+ year old hardwood floor a cast iron pipe for the tv mount.

what needs fixed in dining room restoration

It seems like time was also of the essence to get that TV up ASAP, as they painted (in excess) over the wallpaper on the wall and let it drip down onto the 100+ year-old baseboards.

what needs fixed in dining room restoration
what needs fixed in dining room restoration

It’s been pretty easy to find where in the house 90’s owner has struck.

Despite 90’s owners determination to ruin original pieces and the amount of work it’s going to take to mend them, we’re going forward with tearing the shelves and covers down and refinishing the floors under them. This wall was not originally a built-in, and we have no need of one either (saves us having to rebuild one from scratch too). So continuing in our efforts to bring this house back to it’s roots, get ready to say bye-bye to the shelves!

p.s. – Anyone else have a good story of what they’ve found past owners have done in their home?

Update: See the demolition of the built-ins here!

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