Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wallpaper and paint

The house was built in 1947, the time just after the war when people built basic homes with little of the 1920s charm that the majority of homes in our neighborhood featured.  As a result, we didn't have any guilt when thinking about what to keep and what to change in the renovation process.

Next door was our home's architectural double, but it was easy to see that our neighbor's house (and its yard) had been well-maintained and cared for, in sharp contrast to ours.  The advantage for both houses is that they each sit on a 1.5 lot, meaning that we have a large yard (and plenty of room for expansion) compared with typical homes in our neighborhood.

One of my immediate priorities, after functioning appliances, was removal of the wallpaper in the bathroom.  Its whimsical 40s-style design, featuring shampoo bottles, combs, toothbrushes, and other bathroom essentials; and including catchy little grooming phrases such as, "Prevent the wrinkles or your true love might crinkle," and "If you want the girls to rave please don't forget to shave," was one of the few charming aspects of the house, but it was dingy and peeling.  It had to go.

I tried using a wallpaper scoring tool to remove the paper.  It didn't work.  The drywall clung to that paper like they were one and the same.  I used Dif solution for my next attempt.  With both of these products, I would get small pieces at a time, but it would have taken many hours to get all the wallpaper down in that tiny bathroom.  My coworker recommended a palm sander.  It was messy and noisy, but it got the job done.  The wallpaper was out and the painting could begin.

One of the bedrooms also had wallpaper covering the walls.  Removing this room's wallpaper was a different challenge.  We learned the hard way that the wallpaper was applied to bare drywall, without any paint or primer.  Not good.  Trying to remove this wallpaper without destroying the drywall proved unsuccessful for us amateurs.  We ended up replacing the drywall in order to remove the wallpaper.  After these challenges with removing wallpaper, I don't think I will choose to decorate with wallpaper, at least not for a long time.

The paint color that the previous owner chose for the living room and hallway was a dull gray that reminded us of cold, dark Minnesota winters.  We had to make a change.  We opted for a bold, bright, Spanish-style orange that has earned us many compliments over the years.  The color still brings a smile to my face when I see it, though I must confess I was skeptical about using such a bold color at first.  I'm glad I relented.  When you live in Minnesota, you need to maximize sunshine, or even the illusion of sunshine, in order to cope with the long winters.

Free time was minimal during these early days of updating, correcting and improving the little white house, but we enjoyed spending time getting our new space to suit our tastes.  Little did we know how much more it would take before all the projects would be crossed off our to-do list.

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