Home renovations, are like opening time capsules.

If you are renovating, or even just doing a quick fix or decorating, you are likely to find something behind the old work. Depending on how old your house is, this can be exciting, and nostalgic, or sometimes dangerous.

You are probably wondering, what could be dangerous about a house renovation, other than the obvious of walls falling.

We just purchased a home built in 1972. It is in a subdivision of other houses that look similar, and that were all built at the same time. Each house had the same floor tiles put in, and over the years, new owners have redecorated or done some quick fixes, by putting new floor covering over the original.

We decided we wanted to tile the floor in the kitchen and hallway, and decided it was time to roll up the sleeves and spend a few days taking up the old layers of floor. It was just getting to high, as there was sub floor (plywood) in between each layer.


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My son and his girlfriend, rented a machine to help with this, but at the end of the day, they were down on their knees chipping up the last layer, which was the original peel and stick tiles from 1972. Once we got this floor up, we found all kinds of drawings done by kids. Just like a time capsule. They were everywhere, perfectly preserved under all these layers of floor. We were excited to see these drawings, and the kids had put their ages and date they did the drawings. This part was exciting and neat to see.

But the dangerous part of this operation, is that we never thought to check what the building materials were in 1972. As it turns out, that original layer of peel and stick or glue tiles had asbestos in them. It was legal at the time, and was a good fire retardant.

Although we were wearing dust masks, we should have really been wearing protective suits! After research of the product, we found out it was trace amounts, but still, that is why they are not removed anymore, but a sub floor is screwed down over top of them and a new floor added. The problem was this had been done 3 times, we had to strip some layers!.

So, do your research before ripping out older building materials. But after we prepared ourselves with protective wear, we continued on with our home renovations, and part of that was stripping wallpaper.

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In each room, as the wallpaper came away from the wall (a steamer really helps here!) we were uncovering messages from various owners over the years. Poems, dates, hearts.. all painted on the walls under the wallpaper. We actually looked forward to getting more wallpaper off the wall, so we could see what was written in paint. This gave us the motivation to keep going!

We had wondered what dates some of these rooms were decorated, and just as my son was asking about the last bedroom (all wallpapered) I uncovered a message painted in the same color as the trim paint, that said I was here and painted this message in 2001. So that was the most modern room and that wallpaper came off easier. (They started making it more user friendly for removal by then)

So, we added our own message. Not that anyone will ever see it, as we were painting the room, but we did.

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But at the end of the day, one of the best time capsules I found was in the kitchen. Not only had there been messages on the original wood floor, but we removed the old kitchen cabinets, to reveal mail, postcards and food products from 37 years ago! Old bills, pictures, and the best was a cake decorating set, still in its original box. Obviously put on the top of these cabinets and totally forgotten as it was boxed in with a valance.

We have kept many of these things, don't have the heart to throw them out. Wonder if I should research the old owners and ask if they want their hydro bill from 1973? Or that postcard from their grandma in Europe?

Home renovations, you just don't know what you are likely to uncover. So, be prepared with research and arm yourself with protective gear, but be on the look out for time capsules. You just might uncover some hidden treasures!

Create Your Own Story in a Time Capsulee

I think this is a really fun idea when renovating.  You can take pictures of before and after and anything you found or what was going on at the time, such as with newspaper articles and such.  

Place them in a capsule and then put behind a wall or years later when someone else wants to tear the wall down.