The nicotine layer has been scraped away - and restorers working at the Crown Bar in Belfast are discovering the beautiful colours beneath.
A small army of conservators has been working hard to restore the National Trust-owned Victorian pub to its former glory, and the work is expected to be complete by the end of October.
Project manager Claire McGill, a freelance conservator, says the £500,000 restoration scheme was long overdue.
The popular bar is the only National Trust-owned pub in Northern Ireland and has been described as the best preserved Victorian pub in the UK.
Not only was one of its snugs reproduced for the classic film Odd Man Out but its interior was described by John Betjeman as a "many coloured cavern".
But the gorgeous glass, ceramic and woodwork which lined that cavern has suffered a lethal combination of cigarette smoke, graffiti, wear and around 20 bomb attacks in the area.
Ms McGill said a team of ceramic conservators has been hard at work, cleaning, regrouting and replacing original tiles.
"Those are original tiles made by Craven and Dunnill and fortunately the company is still in business. When we needed some reproduction tiles, they came to Belfast and produced tiles needed for the spaces," she said.
The team has also worked on the tiles along the front of the long bar, as well as the cracked flooring, and is restoring the gents toilets to their former glory. There was a catalogue of horrors to be found under the seats in the snugs. "We had two girls who worked for two weeks on cushions on the floors with steam cleaners," Ms McGill said.
Glass conservators Pat Jackson removed more than 100 mirrored glass pieces from the snugs and restored them in their studio - to be reinstalled this month.
Ms McGill said booths, ceiling and tiles have all been given a new lease of life and pub goers will see the bar in a new light.
"We cleaned the ceiling, removed the nicotine and came up with a beautiful rich red colour," she said.
And she asked the public to play their part after local conservator Fergus Purdy restored the woodwork to its original graffiti-free condition.
"The graffiti has been extensive and recent. There has been a lot of money spent on removing it and we would ask the public to refrain from putting their mark on the snugs," she said.