Layers

We are redoing the new (to us) home that we moved into just over a month ago. We've traded easy-going, sandy-floored beach digs for 1930's Cape Cod holiday-away. Our old house was shingled in thick layers of weathered, silver cedar; this house is painted in a slightly jarring pastel. And I like it.

Have you ever stripped wallpaper? I hadn't before this month. I am currently tackling the dining room which, until very recently, was adorned in stripey strawberry paper.

Under the stripes we find yellow paint. Cheery, in a way. Then comes the realization that the yellow was painted over the loveliest gray and white wallpaper - presumably dating back to the house's original construction in the 1930's. We peer at it up close, noses to the wall, because it's so faint now, hiding behind the yellow and a bit damp from all of the steaming. We wish we could strip away the strawberries and the yellow cheer and salvage the elegant old paper. Alas.I'm contemplative while steaming and scraping and stripping the layers away. What went on in this dining room during the gray paper days? Who put this wallpaper up, and how long did they live here? Who painted over it with the cheery yellow?