In the fourth of the 13-part Southern Romance Project house renovation series, Phantom Screens CEO Esther de Wolde and home improvement expert Danny Lipford begin demolition work on the house by removing the plaster walls and wood lath.

Southern Romance Project:

Esther de Wolde: I’m Esther de Wolde, and I’m CEO of Phantom Screens. You may well be wondering, “What in the world is a Canadian doing in Alabama anyways?”

I had my dream: to take a neglected Southern home and restore it to its former glory. To make a long story short, I reached out to my friend and corporate spokesperson, Danny Lipford, to see if I could make this dream come true.

So here’s my story, the story of my Southern romance.

OK, we bought a house in Alabama. We’ve gone through all the process with the historical architecture board to get the proper approval. We’ve got the building permit from the city. Had to mow the yard a few times. And now we’re finally at the point where we can begin the restoration process, which unfortunately starts with demolition.

Danny Lipford: Because of the electrical…

Esther de Wolde: Yeah.

Danny Lipford: …and because of all the cracks, and because of everything you’d have to go through, you really have to remove all of these walls—just the plaster.

Esther de Wolde: They’ve got to go?

You know it’s great working with Danny—obviously a professional contractor and all—but there are times where I’m thinking he just doesn’t get me.

That’s like the authenticity.

Danny Lipford: Not really. I mean we’ve tried, we’ve thought about it—it won’t work. No, I mean I’ve done…I’ve had houses like this myself that I didn’t want to do. And, but when you start looking at electrical costing six or seven thousand dollars more, and your air conditioning costing fifteen hundred dollar more, and having furr downs—it just—you’ll be glad you do.

Esther de Wolde: All right.

Mark Bufkin: OK. Ms. Esther the first thing we’re going to do, we’re going to take all this—take all the trim off so we can save it. And then get this wall busted out since it leads into the bathroom.

My name’s Mark Bufkin, and I work for Danny Lipford of Lipford Construction. And my job title is foreman.

Esther de Wolde: I can’t wait to see what’s behind it. I mean I’ve taken drywall walls apart back home…

Mark Bufkin: Right.

Esther de Wolde: …but I’ve never—

Mark Bufkin: And this is way more involved than drywall.

Esther de Wolde: Yeah?

Mark Bufkin: Oh, yeah.

I mean I’m hands on doing, doing all the laying out—you know—and doing all the building. And all the controlling of the subs that come in, you know, on the job. I’m in control of all that.

You tear the plaster off first, then you start tearing the little slats off. And it will be a dusty mess.

Esther de Wolde: And the plaster, like how’s it going to come down? Sledgehammer?

Danny Lipford: OK. So you ready for this? The ceremonial first swing of the sledgehammer. Now, for most people, it’s an exciting time; but I’ve got a feeling you’re a little apprehensive to tear up this nice, quality wallpaper. What do you think?

Esther de Wolde: I’m very apprehensive—that is a word you could use. It just—we’ll never get it back.

Danny Lipford: No, it’s—you’ll be glad. Just think of a nice wall.

Esther de Wolde: Oh, you’re going to make me do this?

Danny Lipford: And you can put any kind of wallpaper you want. You can buy wallpaper just like that…

Esther de Wolde: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Danny Lipford: …just not as faded and that kind of thing.

Esther de Wolde: Yeah, whatever.

So, all right, so to get you ready, want to make sure—I’ve got you some brand new safety glasses.

Esther de Wolde: Sweet.

Danny Lipford: And some nice, cool little things here, so that you have grips on them…

Esther de Wolde: All right, good.

Danny Lipford: …so that you don’t mess up that.

Esther de Wolde: Oh, man.

Danny Lipford: And I’ll help you, I’ll help you with your mask.

Esther de Wolde: Cool.

Danny Lipford: Here we go. OK. And you have to pinch your nose, pinch your nose a little bit right there.

Esther de Wolde: Don’t quit your day job.

Danny Lipford: OK. There we go. All right. And I found this when we were cleaning up, and it just seemed like the perfect hard hat for you, wouldn’t you think?

Esther de Wolde: Nice, it’s a beauty.

Danny Lipford: So, there you go.

Esther de Wolde: Oh, thank you!

Danny Lipford: OK. Perfect. All right, so…

Esther de Wolde: Something about this feels wrong.

Danny Lipford: No, you look great, you look great.

Esther de Wolde: All right.

Danny Lipford: Real spiffy. So keep in mind that there’s plaster and there’s wood lath.

Esther de Wolde: This is going to bounce back and hit me!

Danny Lipford: It probably will.

Esther de Wolde: In more ways than one! OK, I can’t concentrate with this thing.

Danny Lipford: OK.

Esther de Wolde: All right.

Danny Lipford: There you go. Hey, good.

Esther de Wolde: Oh, man!

Danny Lipford: Go some more, hit it some more. Go to the side of it.

Esther de Wolde: All right.

Danny Lipford: You know when you’re coming down here, like you are, I always think of about some Southern things I want to share with you. So, you know, I’ll think of things from time to time. But I have one here that I picked this morning from my kumquat tree. So have you ever had a kumquat?

Esther de Wolde: No I haven’t. I’ve been called it, but I haven’t had one.

Danny Lipford: Well, this is the only citrus fruit that you can eat the entire thing because the peeling is kind of a sugary in the inside—sweet. So it’s that type of… Try.

Esther de Wolde: Really?

Danny Lipford: See.

Esther de Wolde: That is so good, I want to slap my momma. Sort of, kind of good.

Tell us now about what you know about two, five, seven Rapier?

Old Woman: I was born there. I was born and raised there.

Esther de Wolde: Thanks so much for watching. If you’d like to know more about the project, please visit us at Or follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and my blog.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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