Wallflowers

Are you ready for another house project update? I feel like I devote so much of my free time to the house that it just deserves a little blog attention.

All things considered, we were pretty lucky when we moved into our home. The sellers modernized a lot of the space, and we were pretty happy with most of their choices. We painted a few rooms in the beginning to match our own aesthetics, but were spared some of the more dated design choices, namely wall to wall carpets and wallpaper.

We have some wallpaper in the basement, but the living spaces were mostly paint with one teeny, annoying exception. The bathroom had a wallpaper runner around the top. Now, our upstairs bathroom is amazing. It’s the most modern room in the whole house, and we hope to get the rest of the house there someday. Our downstairs bathroom is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The sellers did some work to spruce it up, but it turns out it was down very hastily (most likely in an effort to get it on the market quickly). They reglazed the tub, but the glaze is already peeling off. Yuck. They installed one of those plastic shower inserts, but the caulking on it looks like a rushed home job, and it’s crumbling off. Double yuck. Those things are gross for sure (I should mention that these are gross to look at, but not unhygenic), but there’s not much we can do about it right now as bathroom work is pretty expensive, and we’ve got a knot to tie!

So, we’re trying to work with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is … retro? I don’t know what it is, but I know it’s a lot of seafoam green tile. Floor and walls. There are very few colors that complement it, so I’ve gone with basic white in all my accessories, and that seems to portray the green in its best light. Unfortunately the sellers felt like lavender with a floral border was a better choice because those were the untiled portions of the walls I inherited.

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Saturday, I aimed to change that. I did some googling and watched a few YouTube videos before heading out to Home Depot for some supplies.

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I came back with a wallpaper scoring tool, wallpaper removal spray, TSP wall wash and a giant sponge. I already had a putty knife, drop cloth and bucket, and that was all I needed. Luckily, there wasn’t much wallpaper to contend with, so the process went pretty smoothly.

Step one was the remove everything in the bathroom and lay drop cloths all over the fixtures and floors.

Step two was to score the wallpaper all over. You can do this with a regular scoring knife, but I was scared to cut into the walls, and the tool was only $8, which I think was a good buy.

Step three was to spray the walls with the remover gel. I really went to town with this stuff. I planned on washing and painting the walls afterwards anyway, so I wasn’t worried about drips. They sold a larger bottle of the remover to be mixed with water and applied with a sponge, but I found the spray bottle to be an easier solution especially for a small space.

Step four was just to wait for 15-20 minutes while the spray did its thing.

Step five was to start peeling. I tried to pull up seams using the putty knife and my fingers and quickly learned that peeling slowly and always keeping my fingers as close to the wall as possible made for much larger strips removed at a time.

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Step six was spraying the leftover glue/backing with the same remover spray and scraping away with the putty knife until the walls were mostly clean.

I should have worn gloves and a mask from the start. The wallpaper was applied very poorly, and condensation must have gotten trapped between paper and wall over the years because there was some light mold on both the paper and the walls. Yuck. Note to DIY-ers: maybe leave the bathroom wallpapering to a professional.

From there I mixed my TSP solution following the directions on the box. I accidentally inhaled some of the powder and choked for a few minutes after which I decided I should probably wear gloves to apply this stuff.  I used my new giant sponge and wiped down all the walls to remove any lingering glue, gel or mold (the box said this would clean surface mold which I believe this was). I waited until the walls were totally dry (15-20 minutes) to begin sanding.

The walls needed to be sanded because the painted parts were much thicker than the parts behind the wallpaper. I sanded until I had a fairly even surface to work on then washed the walls again with warm water. After waiting for them to fully dry again, it was time to paint.

This was a bear of a job despite its small size because there were so many nooks and crannies that I ended up painting entirely by brush rather than roller. I think the smarter thing to do would have been to remove all the fixtures, but I didn’t want to make this a huge project as its really just meant to be a temporary solution while we save up to redo the whole bathroom.

Also, it should be noted, that I made the stupid decision not to tape and to “just be careful” while painting the first coat and got paint EVERYWHERE. After a long cleanup of our nice medicine cabinets, I sucked it up and just taped like I should have from the start, and it was so much easier.

Visually, it makes a big impact for me. Everything just looks so much cleaner, and even the green looks less dated. The project was more demanding than I anticipated, but I love the end result.

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sorry for the awkward angles. it’s a small room, and the border was along the tip-top. just trust that it looks oh-so-much better 🙂

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