Sunday, June 9, 2013

More Wallpaper? The Living Room Saga - Part 1

The first thing I noticed about our living room was the wood floors. When we saw the pictures online, I immediately noticed what looked like wood floors. Unfortunately, those wood floors are in terrible shape, and we were so distracted by everything else in the house that I didn't notice that the living room walls had wallpaper as well, until we returned for another look AFTER putting the offer on the house. Yep, more wallpaper. Paintable wallpaper. You know, the stuff with texture that people put up on walls and then paint whatever color they want.

I have never thought that was a very good idea. It had to look tacky, and if we had kids, how were we going to keep those walls clean, no matter what kind of paint we used? But the previous owners decided at some point that this is how they wanted to cover their living room walls. I was disheartened to discover more wallpaper, but it couldn't be that bad, could it? When we moved into the house, this is what the first floor looked like, minus pictures of the kitchen.

Living room with the fireplace all painted white.

Long view from the living room to the dining room.

The corner cabinet of the dining room.

Close up of the fireplace.
Staircase after the carpeting was removed from the stairs.
One of my first projects after moving into the house was to paint the fireplace and mantle, mostly because doing so made me feel like something was being accomplished in our mess of a house.

This is what our living room looked like for most of the first year.
Otherwise, the living room was ignored for most of the first year we lived in the house. After all, we had bedrooms that needed to be painted, a family room that needed to be made habitable, and many other small projects that needed to be completed. The living room was usable, even with the filthy worn down floors. As we got closer to our son's birth, we decided to see what was underneath the wallpaper. Everything surrounding the stairway and front picture window came off fairly easily, and we also discovered a couple layers of wallpaper, including the wallpaper below:

Beautiful, huh? Wish the rest of the walls looked like this. That would have been spectacular.

We kept tearing off wallpaper, and ended many weekends with the floor covered in debris, like in this next "work-in-progress" picture.

Then we got to the other side of the fireplace and discovered that the wallpaper didn't come off as easily, or at all. The first layer of wallpaper came off, leaving a layer of paper backing and glue which stubbornly stuck to the walls.

Like this

Or this
When our son was born, my dad helped patch and paint the walls to the right of the fireplace. For two years, that is where our progress has remained. Occasionally I have picked at the rest of the wallpaper, seeing if I could find an easy way to get the wallpaper to come off. It hasn't. But after three years the time has come to finish the living room and dining room. I hate looking at the walls. It is frustrating, depressing, and defeating to look at an unfinished project that makes our house look terrible. Today I got serious about it. I soaked the paper backing with water and started scraping and scraping. My hope is to have the wallpaper removed and walls repaired by the end of the week. I want paint on the walls. I want to put up pictures and curtains. I want my living room to feel like home. And as always, I will keep you updated on the progress.

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