I love my house. I really do. It is an older house, which means I will have plenty of opportunity to practice various home improvement skills. Which is a scary proposition, because I have very little in the way of innate home improvement skill. But I have tried, with varying levels of success. Instead of telling you all about how I tried to repair some cracks in the wall and instead learned that I am really horrible at sanding (there is a large piece of furniture in front of that area of my office now), I thought I would share a success story. And my success is also the hardest home improvement project I have done thus far, which I thought would be rather simple when we started but was in for a series of unpleasant surprises. In the interest of full disclosure, Kyle at Rather Be Shopping is giving away a brand new cordless drill if you share your story – and we need a drill. Ours died – it refuses to hold a charge for more than 8 seconds – and I have a number of things that need pilot holes drilled in them so I can hang them up. I often enter writing project competitions just because I like to answer people’s questions, but today, seriously… I want a drill. A lot.
The first project I ever did in this house was before we ever moved in – I repainted about 6 rooms in our ten room house. When we bought the house, most of the rooms were generally painted in colors we didn’t really like (my idea of our living room and office was not quite baby pink), and I didn’t think it would be a huge job to change that before we moved in. But there were two areas that would take a little more effort to alter because they had wallpaper – my son’s future room and the entryway. The entryway wallpaper isn’t exactly my taste, but it is innocuous enough and since it goes up the stairway, it two stories high in some places. Not being experienced in the ways of using scaffolding on a stairway, I decided it could just stay until I could hire someone to deal with it. But in my son’s room, the wallpaper had to go. Little blue flowers, that were already peeling off anyway, was not going to cut it. And the wallpaper was only on two of the four walls, and as I said, was already starting to peel off. How hard could it be to remove two walls of wallpaper, anyway?
Famous last words.
We took a trip to Home Depot, bought a lot of paint, primer, and wallpaper remover as well as scrapers. We got some advice on how to remove the wallpaper, and off we went. When we started, I was cheerful. The wallpaper truly did just peel right off the wall without us doing anything! Except it left behind this brown paper, for that surely wasn’t drywall…
The brown paper was the wallpaper backing and it truly was not my friend.
I soaked and scraped the backing, and in some areas it came off pretty well, and in some areas it seemed to come off a centimeter at a time. And this was still the first wall. It took a lot longer than expected, but it did eventually, over the course of the next week, come off. But again, this was just the first wall. For wall number two was just waiting with more fun surprises.
On wall number two, when we scraped off backing – it still wasn’t drywall we were seeing. It was more wallpaper. Even uglier wallpaper, in bad condition of course, and probably on the wall since 1970. And that wallpaper was stuck on like it had been cemented into the wall itself. Honestly, if I had more home improvement knowhow, I probably would have torn down all the drywall on that wall and put up new versus scraping off that old wallpaper. But we have no skill, so scrape we did. A month of going over to the house every night for a few hours, and we finally had all the wallpaper scraped off and the rooms all painted. I will never put up wallpaper in my house. I can’t even stand to think about it now.
A cute little side benefit to scraping off all that wallpaper though instead of tearing down the wallpaper is we found doodles from the early 70s on the wall that the little girl who was in that room originally drew. Pictures, stories about her family and friends, her obsession with the Partridge Family… it was all there. It was like a glimpse back in time to the mind of a preteen girl. And maybe that is why only that wall was originally wallpapered over…
Succeed we did though, and the room is all repainted a calming shade of blue with white trim, and happily contains my 3 year old son. And, as long as we own the house, will never have wallpaper again. Not even a border.