Removing wallpaper is not something I care to ever do again, thank you very much. In theory I had a desire to do it, but after a bit of time with the task I knew that I was in for something pretty unsavory. I tried several techniques to remove the wallpaper: vinegar, some incredibly UNpleasant “eco-friendly” orange spray stuff, even ripping it off by hand. What ultimately got the job done was renting a steamer from the home store and using that with a scorer and scraper.
I had a vision in my head that I just needed to find the magic seam or corner of the paper. I just needed to pry that bit loose and then the paper would fall gracefully down in one big and tidy roll. Obviously it did not work out that way.
The steaming began on Saturday morning. One of W’s Godmother’s (one of my best friends) offered to help me with the room (which turned out to be such a lifesaver as she was able to stay with W when Mother and I needed to take Charlie dog to the vet). We worked in the room for hours and hours and HOURS and maybe only got about 60% of the paper off the wall.
The next day I asked Mom to hang with W and I spent the entire Sunday finishing the job. What is ridiculous is that I cried through the last half hour of paper removal because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to put primer or paint on the walls for a week and I really was looking forward to that. And I cried because it was a meticulous task. The kind of task where you just stare at the same point on a wall for ages mindlessly scraping.
I had just lost a dear friend. He was sick and there was nothing I could have done to fix or cure him. But I could scrape the walls. I could poke holes in paper and steam through layers of glue and demand that this ugly, ugly wallpaper let go and surrender to my power. I took the blade of the scraper and tried to get every tiny speck of paper and glue off of the walls.
When it took a long time I took it personally. Which really is to say that I don’t like it when things get out of control. I don’t like it when dogs that seem perfectly find suddenly slow down and then a week later are dead from cancer. I don’t like it that this is the 2nd dog I have loved with my whole heart that this has happened to. I don’t like not being able to fix it. And now I just wanted the fucking wallpaper to come down so I could make something better.
What was even harder was how ugly the walls under the paper turned out to be. The wallpaper looked like dirty fake marble stuff you would line your shelves or pantry with. I didn’t expect the walls underneath to be amazing, but I wasn’t expecting them to be painted almost the same depressing light brown as the paper. I didn’t expect to see so many lines of spackle. (which really is not that big a deal, and if anything makes it easy for me to just sort of re-spackle)
But when you clean a dirty counter top you get a clean counter top. I wanted to take down the awful wallpaper and have just a moment of, “ah!” Instead I had…”oh”.
It’s down now. It was hard, it was messy, it was therapeutic and made me cry for reasons related to the task and reasons unrelated. It is a huge thing crossed off the list. Now everything to do in W’s room is good. Painting, while a chore, will hopefully make things look and feel fresh.
Flip through the photos to see the reveal of the “neutral” paint color that I purchased: