Sunday, January 16, 2011

"This Old House"

Wallpaper is a home fashion that comes and goes.  Right now I think it is out of favor, which is too bad.  There are some beautiful papers out there that can give a room real warmth and character.  Nevertheless, putting up new wallpaper is not easy, especially if you have to remove the old stuff first.  Some people don't even attempt to do it themselves because of the difficulties they have heard about.   Luckily for me, the times that I have chosen wallpaper for a room, the Big Guy has always been up to the challenge.

I was reading a blog the other day about the horrors of removing old wallpaper from walls.  Anyone who has ever done it knows that it can be tedious at best and impossible at worst.   Although many people don't do it, removing the old paper is really necessary, even if you're just going to paint a room.  Otherwise the wall will be bumpy and a mess.

The saga detailing the other blogger's experience reminded me of the last home we bought in Chicago.  It was an older house that had great bones but it was definitely a fixer-upper decor-wise! 

It wasn't a wreck, but it had been "decorated" in a manner that was more suited to a bordello than a nice family home!  Very dramatic window treatments and wallpapers were in the living room, dining room, bathrooms, and one of the bedrooms.  None of it was to our taste, and it all had to go!  We began doing our re-dos in stages. 

One of the bedrooms had obviously been occupied by a teen aged boy.  It wasn't as bad as the other rooms, but it definitely had it's own problems.  Two walls of the room were covered in an okay wallpaper that was white with evenly spaced dark blue stripes.  The stripes were only about 1/4 in. wide.   There were several pennants from various major league and NFL teams.  Those two walls didn't look bad, it was kind of reminiscent of a baseball uniform.

The other two walls, however, were covered from floor to ceiling with sports posters of various kinds.  Not a wallpaper of posters, you understand, they were the actual individual posters in a kind of collage effect.  It was great if you were a 14 year old sports nut, but not so great for my 22 year old grad student daughter who would call that room home!!    We moved into the  house in early Fall while she was away at school, but she would be home in just a few weeks.  And she wasn't coming alone!  She was bringing her boyfriend whom we had never met!!We had to fix it asap!  We promised her it would be presentable by the time they got home for Thanksgiving.

I really hoped those posters would just peel off easily.  They didn't!  We tried all sorts of  things. Ultimately the Big Guy did practically all the work himself.  It took him days and a huge amount of scraping and steaming and chemicals and more scraping to get them off.  The posters came off in little bits only a couple of inches square.  It was an enormous mess! 

I don't know what kind of adhesive they used to stick those posters to the wall, but getting them off the wall was one of the worst jobs the Big Guy had ever undertaken.  Quite a lot of cussing and yelling went on and he almost threw in the towel several times....but eventually my guy finally managed to get all traces of those posters off the wall.  The walls below ended up in horrid condition (with gouges and lumps and unfinished drywall beneath the posters), but that was a project we could put on hold for a few weeks. 

In the interim, he just painted those two walls and called it done.  When Ratchlet made it home with her beau, she was grateful to no longer have all those athletes surrounding her as she slept, and she wasn't embarrassed to have a guest see her room.  The Big Guy was grateful the job was finished for now and that the former owners lived far, far away; that way he didn't have to track them down and knock some heads together for leaving such a horrible job for us to do!  And me, I knew when we bought "This Old House", that we had a lot of work ahead of us.

Mostly though I was just so grateful that it hadn't been worse; after all, their son could have been older and decorated his room with posters of nudes!


  1. Speaking of nudes: My college roomie and I had a Playboy centerfold hanging in our apartment bathroom. While we were home for Christmas break, our landlord and his wife painted the interior of our apartment. When we walked in our bathroom, out centerfold lovely was rehung back in her spot, sporting a painted on bathing suit! We left her there! What a hoot!

  2. We had to remove the wallpaper in our kitchen and bathroom and it was terrible! It took us forever. My husband finally had to get his sander and sand the walls.


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