A weekend or so ago we started deconstructing the living room, getting ready to remove wallpaper so we can smooth out the walls and give it a fresh coat of paint. Easy peasy, right? I even started picking out paint samples!
At first we grabbed any and all paint sample cards that looked moderately decent to us. I like green, it’s my favorite color, and I like the tone that the original wallpaper gives off. To that end, I wanted to find something in green that was calm and soothing, but was neither too bright nor dark for the room in the house that gets the most light. Here are the paint chips at night, with our corner light on…
See how different those colors looks? And some of them turn invisible!
JUST kidding! I took down the ones we DEFINITELY didn’t want to go for. Eventually I narrowed it down to two colors, and thought about doing a dark grey or even charcoal for the trim. You may catch the samples I splashed on the walls (and a tiny bit on the floor – sorry carpet!) in the next few pictures.
Taking down wallpaper is quite simple in theory; you wet it down thoroughly, loosen it from the wall to release the glue, and pull it all off! This is going to be easy, especially since the wallpaper is already coming down. The rest of it just needs a little encouragement, and down it will come!
My dear husband and I were young and naïve.
Almost as soon as we started scraping, we realized that the paper was a bit more tenacious than we had hoped. Still, we scraped on, pulling up bits at a time. It acted like a bad sticker stuck to something. You know, how you can pull up a sticker, and the top comes off but the sticky back stays stuck? That was our whole wall. The places we managed to get all of the wallpaper off revealed quite an interesting history of this wall.
We expected to see an extra layer of wallpaper underneath, no biggie. What we didn’t expect was it to also be painted here and there, and for that paint to come up with the wallpaper, whatever layer we ended up pulling up. We didn’t expect to see concrete patching the wall in places. We didn’t expect to see large holes in the wall appear as we pulled up paper. We didn’t expect a THIRD layer of wallpaper. We didn’t expect plaster patches that went OVER TOP of that first (last? Whatever. Third. You know what I mean.) layer of paper.
Still, we scraped on and on, and things seemed to get worse and worse. Let me show you what I mean…
See? The wallpaper that we’ve dealt with all these years is quite nice. It’s a pretty blue, a bit iridescent in places, floral. Nice. Except when it falls down. The white stuff you see is the plaster, but it’s got specks of stuff in it, from being patched and heaven knows what else. The brown circle with the arrow pointing to it is encircling the middle layer of wallpaper. It was a strange brown color with tiny flowers. Bleh. Now the stuff between the plaster and brick SHOULD include wooden boards. Instead it’s this plaster mixed with some sort of material, like hair, grass, lint or something. Its stuck to the walls in order to provide a bit of insulation and gives the nice layer of plaster something to hold on to. Unfortunately when it’s old and uncovered, it becomes very crumbly and really worthless. This stuff was revealed not when we pulled down wallpaper, but previously when the roof leaked and the plaster became wet.
Finally we had to stop. It was late and the weekend was ending. With so much of the wall left to scrape, we felt quite defeated. It was time to throw in the towel, and ask the father-in-law what he thought our next step should be.
His answer I’ll tell you all about next time.
Thanks for reading!
- Wallpaper. Bane of our existence (4050hemlock.wordpress.com)
- Wallpaper Galore! (createyourselfahome.wordpress.com)
- The Living Room (sheridanigans.wordpress.com)