Archive for June, 2013
Send out the ravens! (yes, that’s a Game of Thrones reference). Wallpaper stripping has commenced.
I was actually really excited to tackle the half bathroom’s wallpaper removal project, because I am a strange breed of human and that’s my idea of a good time. And since we have five rooms full of wallpaper (the foyer, the half bathroom, the kitchen, the dining room, and the master bathroom), I decided that I would try a different removal method for each one and report back with the pros/cons about each approach as I went, all in the hopes of sussing out which ones bite the big one and which ones seem to work the best. I’m telling you guys, I’m like one of those people who works in “risk management” and gets their kicks watching paint dry. So hold onto your hats, it’s about to get crazy up in here.
My first step was to clear things out (the soap pump, mirror above the sink, toilet paper, etc). Just so I don’t have any accessories in the way of the serious peelage that I was about to dive into.
Then I removed the wall plates to free up some edges of the paper and hopefully make the removal process easier (there are two light switches and an outlet). I couldn’t help but marvel at the dedication that was once put into this wallpaper job – the outlets were papered and the flowers even matched up.
Next I boiled a pot of water on the stove, since the method I’m trying this time is intensely simple, but I’ve also heard that it works like gangbusters. Get ready for my method guys. Here it comes. Oh my gosh, it’s…. boiling water sprayed on the wall. That’s it. No scoring, no steamer, no spackle knife, no application with a weed sprayer, no fabric softener. While I’ve also heard awesome things about those methods, the simple boiling water applied with a spray bottle approach seemed like a good place to start. If it stunk, it was the smallest room (and if it straight up didn’t work I could abandon that method and move onto something else).
And speaking of moving onto something else, this approach almost went off the rails immediately? Why? Well, I had this vat of boiling water on the stove and I was holding my spray bottle thinking “how am I going to fill this without dripping hot water all over myself?” – seriously I stood there a solid minute wondering how I was going to avoid giving myself third degree burns filling the bottle. I stared at my ladle and thought “no way, that’s going to drip out all over my hands” and then finally slipped the empty capless spray bottle itself into the boiling water and used the ladle to hold it under the water. I heard that comforting glug-glug-glug sound as it filled itself up, which was music to my apparently burn-a-phobic mind. Then I used the same ladle that I had used to submerge it so it would fill itself up to fish out the bottle without touching the boiling water itself.
I used one of those silicone pot holder things to hold the bottle as it came out and then attempted to secure the top of the spray bottle and that’s when I realized – DUH! – that the bottle had warped from the boiling water…
Guys, what was I thinking? I have no idea. I blame it on wallpaper-stripping-excitement. I was as wired as a kid hopped up on four boxes of Nerds. But I realized that the spray bottle still sprayed even without a perfectly shaped bottom or a perfectly attached nozzle, and in a very “the show must go on” moment I walked into the bathroom and just started spraying. Worked just fine.
What I learned:
- Spraying the entire room with boiling water and then attempting to peel the paper is a lot less effective than saturating small sections at a time (ex: half of one wall) and then peeling while the paper is still wet and loose. When I attempted to spray the whole room first (even a small room like a bathroom) by the time I got back to the first part I sprayed it was starting to dry and re-attaching itself to the wall. It came off much easier when I moved in smaller sections.
- Constantly spraying that bottle does get a little old (your wrist/forearm gets a little Jillian Michaels-ish workout) but it wasn’t bad enough that I cried or anything. I’ve heard that filling one of those plastic weed-spray containers from Home Depot gives your arm a huge break, so that might be helpful in a larger room, but I had such little wiggle room in the bathroom (there was a chair in there with me sometimes so I could reach a few high parts) that a big gallon sprayer would have cramped the room even more.
- I needed to use a silicone pot holder to hold the bottle the entire time I was spraying since the bottle itself was still really hot, but the super hot water really seemed to get the paper off the wall well, so it was worth it to bring the heat, so to speak.
- Almost all of the front of the wallpaper came off in the first round of spraying and peeling, which took about 1.5 hours. Then I re-sprayed the entire wall again since the backing/glue was still there in most places, and that came off in a second round of peeling, which took about 1.5 hours. So all told, it was about a three hour project from start to finish.
But when I was done I had a garbage bag full of wallpaper and white walls!
Glorious, glorious, de-flowered white walls.
Which was definitely a welcome sight after seeing this for the last few weeks…
And now I can make loud proclamations, like “hear ye, hear ye, my house has four different types of wallpaper instead of five!” Not that I’m anti-wallpaper (I actually linked to a few options in this post that I’d love to see in here someday). Oh and I saved a small flowery wallpaper remnant from my removal process because I think it would be fun to frame little squares of each one of them somewhere – just for the memories. So… one room (and one wallpaper method removal) down, four to go…
Psst- OK, who’s watching Whodunnit? We saw the first episode last night and we’re hooked.
As exciting as it has been to move into this new house, it was certainly sad to say goodbye to our old house and leave behind all of the parts (and projects!) that we couldn’t take with us. The penny tile backsplash. The deck. The fireplace. Wait, scratch that last one.
Let’s zoom in a bit closer on that little item sitting on the mantel. Well, what do we have here?
That, my friends, is an amazing miniature replica of our fireplace. Miniature as in completely portable and yes-it-totally-came-with-us-to-the-new-house. It’s the creation of Lisa Harrold, a recent fine arts graduate in the UK who specializes in miniatures. She emailed us to say that as a fun exercise to keep her skills fresh, she decided to recreate our fireplace – only smaller. Much smaller.
Since it wasn’t of much use to her after it was done, she asked if she could send it to us as a housewarming gift, and once we convinced her to let us pay her for it and the shipping, it immediately became one of our favorite accessories in our new house. It doesn’t have a final resting spot quite yet (it’s a bit too big/delicate for Clara’s dollhouse) although it might end up on the living room built-ins. These photos are more just my (failed) attempt to photograph the amazing detail that Lisa put into it. They don’t come close to doing it justice.
If the darn thing weren’t so awesome, I’d totally film a monster movie where Burger destroys it Godzilla style. Although that would also require Burger working on his destructive monster face. Right now he’s mainly giving me “confused” and “when can I eat the treat you hid behind this tiny fireplace?”
Yep, still just wants that treat. Guess the mini-fireplace is safe from annihilation for now.
Thanks again to Lisa for the awesome and meaningful mini fireplace. We’re so touched to have such a tangible memento of the love that we put into that house, and we thought sharing the goods might even inspire someone else out there to take something they love with them (Sherry wants to buy them as gifts for everyone we know). We may just have to dig up something from our first house that we can hire her to miniaturize. Sherry thinks the laundry nook would be cute. Or maybe we should go with the living room fireplace, to keep with the theme. You know we love a collection…