Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wistfully Removing the Wallpaper

I moved to my current home in the Philadelphia Suburbs in 2000. That summer I had wallpaper hung in my dining room, and the matching border in my living room. There was also paper hung in the front hall, upstairs hall, and stairwell. I got a great deal on the paper; I was working at a wallpaper store at the time. The wallpaper hanger was expensive, but he did a flawless job. My beautiful rooms gave me great pleasure-for 3 days.
It started at the top of the stairs, sheets of paper were just peeling right off the wall. Could this be the heat causing this? To my horror, there was nothing wrong with the paper, or the installation of that paper, but with the origninal builder's paint from 1972. I was to find out later, that all of my neighbors had the same thing happen to them. The paper peeled off and took every layer of paint ever on the wall with it, down to the drywall.
So with great sadness, I had the worst taken care of immediately. The hallways and stairwells were stripped and redone. I was in denial about the dining room, as it still looked perfectly sound. Woefully, I watched as every time the heat swelled or grew very cold splits appeared in the seams of the wallpaper. Resentfully, I explained the situation to every visitor in my home that told me to just "Get some seam repair." Having worked in a wallpaper store, I was well aware of the existence and use of seam repair, but seam repair does not hold down 30 years of paint with vinyl wallpaper on top.

Finally the other day, I broke down and started pullling the paper off the wall. It was spontaneous, as most of my projects are. It started with vacuuming the dining room. I reached down and just pulled off a very loose piece. In about an hour, I had most of the facing of the paper off and had scraped off quite a bit of the old paint.

So now I am scraping the rest, which is just the paper backing, and agonizing over my loss. I still LOVE the pattern on that paper. York still makes it, but not in the cheery yellow I had selected. I'm not going to choose another color because A. My living room is bright yellow, and thank goodness, that border is still in tact & B. I bought a lovely yellow, red, and green couch, amazed that I had even found that color combination in a couch.

What's going up now? A mural. I couldn't find any paper I liked nearly half as much as what I had, so I went in a different direction. It's a quaint view of a Tuscan villa. People will probably think it's cheesy. I am afraid that I've run amok with the wallpaper and borders, but that's what happens when you sell wallpaper at 3 different stores in 6 years.

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