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The Living Without Series

This is a series of posts that I wrote back in 2006 on living with less stuff. Check them out: liv011Living #2liv031liv04

Coal Creek Farm on Facebook

The Chicken Doctor


The Architect


Wallpaper, how I loathe thee.

In response to my last post Country Folk asked me this question;

We’re considering buying a home with wallpaper we don’t like. The home is perfect but for the wallpaper. Which is in every room. All three bedrooms, the parlor, the living room, and the dining room. How much of a pain is it to remove it?

My answer is;

Well, it’s kind of a pain. Especially when you are a project starter and not a project finisher. I am a project starter. I would do well on a demolition crew because I like to tear things down and then leave. Thank you for having me, it was fun to make a huge mess, see ya.

Then the trouble begins. I get tired of the project, very tired and bored and isn’t there something better I should be doing like eating? I start to whine and cry and get mopey and pretend like I don’t know what I’m doing and complain and sigh a whole bunch until Clay asks, “Is there something I can do to help?” That’s when I point to the project that I started and say, “Look what you made me do!” Then he looks at me and decides which approach will cause him the least amount of grief.

1. Hire someone to finish it. But, then he will have to shell out money and that would cause his wife to feel guilty and he would make her feel guilty and so that’s no good.

2. Offer to finish the project. This is ultimately the best decision and most of the time reinvigorates his wife to participate in helping him, but also causes his wife to critique his every move, therefore; beginning the battle of Who’s Technique Is Correct. Which means words like; doofus, idiot, dork wad, beef brain, nimrod, moron, butt, pain, git and retard will be used in describing the other person, quite possibly for the next several days. So this is not the best choice if we want to remain good examples of decent human beings in front of our children.

3. Ignore the whole thing. This is the approach we have taken with many of our home improvement projects. We pretend that the project never happened, never started, we can’t see it and we don’t talk about it. La la la la. Happy happy joy joy. Then someone, like my sister or mother or even better, one of my kids’ friends, will walk in our home and say, “Oh! Are you refinishing the walls?” Then the veil is torn and we can’t breath, we feel exposed, dirty and ashamed. Oh dear, oh dear what have we done? So, we quickly gather up the tools that have been heaped in the corner for the last four months and miraculously finish the project in twenty minutes. Then we look around and say stupid things like, “Wow! That wasn’t so bad, maybe we should renovate the kitchen? It shouldn’t take us more than a weekend.”

Okay, I realize that didn’t answer your question. So, here’s the nuts and bolts of it. I really think it depends on the wallpaper, paste and what type of surface the paper was adhered to.
I’ve torn wallpaper off of walls in two of my houses. Some came off like it was never put on in the first place and some came off in tiny shreds that made me want to scream. The paper I’m working on now is a combination of both situations. The top layer, the decorative part, came off in big sheets, but all the adhesive backing remained. That’s what I’m scraping off the walls.
I’ve used everything; DIF, a rotary tiger-shark tooth- thingy, soapy water, and hot water. Right now I think hot water is doing the best job. I put hot-hot-hot water in a spray bottle, spritz the wall until the paper is completely saturated, wait a couple minutes and then scrape. I’ll still need to go back and scrub some of the adhesive residue off the walls before I paint and we are hiring a guy to come patch the walls where the termites had a feast.
Now, with that said, my Mom has painted right over here wallpaper and it looks good. She suggested this over and over to me, but like any belligerent child I did exactly the opposite.
My kitchen is wallpapered with cherries, apples and peaches. I was just getting to the point where I thought I could live with it when one of my nephews walked up to the wall gave it a scratch and said, “Is this scratch and sniff wallpaper? Mmm, I wish we had scratch and sniff wallpaper.” I think he actually thought he was smelling cherries coming out of the vinyl or he’s just dumb, hard to tell with Rechelle’s kids sometimes….oooh, did I say that out loud?
Do I think taking off the wallpaper is worth the trouble? Absolutely. I love a smooth wall.
Will I ever use wallpaper? No. I wallpapered our first house and loved the pattern for about three days, then had to live with it for three years. I fear wallpaper is too trendy for me. It looks so beautiful,timeless, classy and then after you wake up it looks like a dude wearing a mullet. It’s much easier and cheaper to repaint over the 90’s jewel tones and the 80’s mauve than to scrape off paper.
Or, you could do what my college friend Katie’s grandma does and put another layer of paper up every winter because you think it helps insulate the house. No matter that her once 2000 square foot home has slowly diminished to a cozy, but warm 900 square feet.
That’s my answer. Maybe sometime before I die I’ll post before-during-after pictures of the dining room. Hahahahah, oh, hahahaha, I just said that like I was going to run down and finish scraping the paper off. That’s rich.
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