Back in the year 2000, my wife, Christine, was pregnant with a boy who would grow up to enjoy video games and Star Wars.

We didn’t know that at the time, though we should have been able to guess based on his old man.

What we did know was that our one-bedroom apartment in Rockland was not going to cut it for a growing family.

We began house-shopping, which was dangerous because we were in our 20s and not terribly bright, nor flush with capital. However, this was back when a three-bedroom home could be purchased in Rockland, Maine for under $100,000.

We said three things to ourselves that showed our youth and vigor: 1) We don’t want a new house, we want a house with character. 2) We don’t like the wallpaper, but that’s just cosmetic. 3) This is our “starter” house.

That baby is now 19 and has a 15-year-old sister, and we’re still just getting started apparently, because we’re in the same house.

Our home is a late Victorian, dating back to about 1897. The wallpaper was truly hideous in some places. On the stairs it was sky blue eagles in wreaths on a field of white. It created a bizarrely kaleidoscopic patriotic vibe as you made your way to the second floor.

For what seemed like years we attacked the wallpaper in room after room with all weapons available. We soaked, peeled it, scraped, steamed it. Under one layer was another layer. Beneath little 18th century couples picnicking on a field of pink you found a base of vase-water green covered in maroon flowers. It was like an archeological dig, like the layers of time scraped away in James A.

Michener’s “The Source” (I think; it was too long to read).

Your reward for digging under? Cracked, pitted, bone-white horse-hair plaster clinging to lathes that last saw the sun during the William McKinley administration.

It’s impossible to overstate the amount of work involved. It was endless. Remember though, this is just cosmetic.

In some parts of the house, we simply covered it all over with new sheetrock, which involved a lot of finding studs. There’s nothing like the creepy feeling of drilling a screw into a wall and finding nothing but swirling plaster. Then there was taping and mudding, fine white powder coating everything.

It was a time of tools by every sink and on every surface, garbage bags full of old wallpaper in every room, a time of buckets and shop vacs.

The only thing worse than removing wallpaper is putting it up. Especially in a room built before they apparently invented right angles. These old houses are not plumb, as they say. The wallpaper patterns hid some of the leaning, off-center areas.

Fortunately Christine’s parents are hardened veterans in home improvement. They performed amazing feats of math to make our new yellow wallpaper fit the many corners of the living room. And once it was up, you could see any place you did not sand down the bumps in the plaster well enough.

But it was nice, and it increased the value of our great investment.

Unfortunately, you can’t have nice things and children. When my daughter was three, I heard my wife scream like out of a horror movie and came rushing downstairs to see my little girl peeling away pieces of golden wallpaper. Another weekend was sacrificed to put up a beautiful piece of white wainscoting that now looks much better than the peeled paper ever did. Add to that a Kathy Florance-original painting of, you guessed it, a house, and you have a thing of beauty.

The worst project was the long sweaty hours my brother-in-law and I spent putting up paintable wallpaper in my daughter’s room the summer before she was born. We got a whole wall just perfect and then, all of the sudden, all of the paper began to bubble. I was sure I would have to do it again and was having something of a nervous breakdown. My wife took me by the arm, dragged me down to the couch and turned on one of my favorite Harryhausen movies, and told me to just breathe. A few hours later, I went back upstairs to survey the damage and like magic, the wall was fine. The paper had dried and tightened up. I think it may have been a miracle.

So think when you buy about the work you want to do. Of course, being handy can save you a lot of money, and with YouTube instructions, a lot of work can be done using nothing more than sweat equity, a few helpful relatives and about a dozen trips to the hardware store.

All in all, I stand by my belief in homes with character. I love our home’s molding, the beveled glass in the front door, the little fancy features people used to care about in the old days. If I were rich, I would love to have a large, many-gabled, shingle-roofed Victorian with a tower and a few ghosts, the perfect place to write.

And Midcoast Maine is just the place for such a writer’s hideaway.