Posts Tagged ‘hall’

So, the night we moved in, when faced with THIS in our upstairs hall:

We immediately did this:

As I’ve written about before, removing the wallpaper underlayer and glue was harder than we thought.

A lot harder.

But the upstairs hall is all finished now, and this (before):

is now this (after!)

And this (before):

is now this (after):

We ran into a lot of speed bumps and learned a lot along the way, but for better or worse, it’s pretty much done. The exception would be that we haven’t smoothed the ceilings in here because it adjoins to a place we need scaffolding to do and I didn’t want to stop it halfway across a room (or clean it all twice).

Click the last image to go to a Flickr set with all the pictures of the project so far, including some inspiration pics from (where else?) the Drapers’ house in Mad Men, and Keats House in Hampstead, and many photos of the two billion misfires as we tried to find the right shade of blue for our space. It ended up being “Eminence” by Behr.


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Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve wanted to do a family picture wall in the upstairs hallway. My inspiration comes from some that I’ve seen online, like this one from Design Mom, or this one from Mod Nest.  I decided on plain black frames, with a few white mats in the center, and have been collecting family photos from both sides of our families.

Here’s the wall in question:

And here’s the general layout of the frames, which my mom helped me measure and lay out with while she was visiting a couple weeks ago.

We even finally figured out how to get the paste off the walls so we can prime and paint… smooth sailing, right?

Well, we’re about to buy the sixth — yes SIXTH — trial color for that background wall.

Here’s the original color I was 90% sure would be perfect:

Cincinnatian Hotel Ashley Atrium Blue from Valspar.

I was really excited about this color because it’s on their list of National Trust-approved historic colors, and it’s a very pretty cool grey-blue, which was what I wanted for this hallway. But in person, especially in the shadowy hallway (which gets very little sunlight) it was just too dark, and also too blue somehow — it looked like a cliche baby boy’s room.

Next try:

Lighthouse Shadows by Valspar

This one was too grey and borderline too dark, but I really liked it. Again, if the room had more sun, I might be picking this one for sure. Next up:

Tinsel Beam by Valspar

While this one was only borderline too dark, it was definitely too grey — in a big patch it sort of looked like concrete or the color of prison walls.

In an effort to have it NOT be too dark, and be more blue, we picked a new one that was definitely lighter but in the same family:

Glass Bead by Behr

This was horrible in person – it basically looked way too pale on the wall — it blended in with the white primer, almost… again, I think because of the shadows of the room. But we remembered one other one we’d liked while we were there, so we went back for

Velvet Sky by Behr

This one is almost perfect but, again due to the shadows in the room, looks a little bit purple. Like… noticeably purple. And we’re definitely going for blue, rather than purple. We have one more to try out, the one we ALMOST got when we got Velvet Sky.

Eminence by Behr

This is almost exactly like Velvet Sky but more blue and less purple. I am so ready to have the right color and have this ridiculousness — believe me, I fully realize how ridiculous this all is — over with. Here’s hoping Eminence comes through for us, because I’m so ready to be over this bottleneck in the process and get going with actually hanging the pictures.

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The night we got the keys to this house, we knew we had to come in and DO something. We took a few minutes and plonked down on the living room carpet — looked lovingly around and said a few “Can you believe it?”s, gazed into one another’s eyes, and then immediately went upstairs and started joyously, gleefully, peeling off strips of pink airbrushed glossy wallpaper.

Now I have learned a few things about wallpaper removal in the past two years, and unfortunately most of them involve profanity I can’t type here because my Mom might read it. But here’s the quick and basic version:

1) You peel up a corner and a big old sheet tears off the wall! You are a wallpaper rockstar!

1a) But guess what? That’s just the top layer, a.k.a. the “easy” layer. It is really fun and gratifying when it goes this quickly, but it leaves a huge fluffy paper wasteland behind it. (Please note, sometimes even the easy layer is hard, esp. if the wallpaper in question is not shiny to the touch in the first place. As you can see, I had to find an internet photo of this phenomenon as I have never quite had it myself.) So here’s what that underlayer looks like from far away and then from close up, with dramatic lighting to illustrate:

2) So, if I spray that remaining fluffy beige layer really well with very hot tap water in a spritz bottle, and let it soak in, and use a 7-in-1 tool gently, it comes off! This, of course, takes a lot longer than the “easy” layer but then you’re done!

And all is well … Except that

3) When your “clean” paper-free walls dry, there is still a layer of paste. Paste from Satan. Paste you can’t always see with the naked eye, but then from an angle you suddenly see a filmy layer, complete with the brush strokes of the paperhanger from decades past. This layer, which can RUIN your paint job (and your life) if you let it, is easy to detect by running your hand over the wall, at which point, if you’re like me, you’ll get massively squicked out by the dusty, dry, crackly surface that is anything but smooth.

4) If you leave the paste on and let it dry (ESPECIALLY FOR, SAY,  TWO YEARS), it will start to peel up the paint/sizing that was on the walls behind it. Because (MY THEORY GOES) as the newly rewetted paste dries, it contracts a little bit and pulls up paint flakes from behind it. So instead of this nice smooth post-paste wall:

you get this unpaintable madness:

and then you kind of want to die and put things off for two more years.

Or maybe that’s just me.

So, fast forward through two years and I have been wanting to hang up some family pictures on the long wall in this upstairs hall. We found a wall color that we like, or think we like to the point that we bought a cute sample can. But before we can possibly do the priming or painting, much less the photo-hanging, we have to get that horrible stubborn paint-ruining PASTE off the walls.

My mom is visiting, and she likes to experiment. So here are our results:

  1. Hot water, which got the paper off, does remove a little. It would take about 20 rounds to get all the paste off.
  2. Hot water and some borrowed DIF (by Zinsser) fancy wallpaper removal solution did very for me as well.
  3. Hot water and extensive scrubbing with a plastic scrubby pad for nonstick dishes did a little better than the hot water alone.
  4. Hot water and dish soap did very little. This was super disappointing because A) My mom believes in the power of Dawn dish soap to do almost anything, B) It is cheap and C) it was highly recommended by a famous home improvement expert called The Internet.
  5. Hot water and white vinegar, however, in a 1:1 ratio solution sprayed from a spritzer bottle and then wiped well with a cellulose sponge? For some reason, on the particularly hellish paste of our fiendish upstairs hall, this worked fairly well. And it’s also inexpensive (compared to DIF, anyway!) and relatively innocuous as far as chemical paste-strippers go.

So you have to lay old towels across the bottom of the wall to catch the drips, and your whole house smells like Easter eggs for a little while (it does dissipate), and you have to rinse out your sponge/scrubby almost constantly, and it’s still time-consuming and sticky and imperfect, but for now, it’s the best I’ve got.

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Wallpaper notes I

It seems like wallpaper removal has a few steps, and if you’re lucky the first step is pretty fast —

  1. Pulling down the outer layer — if it’s plasticky or vinyl, this goes pretty fast and each panel comes off in one big sheet. Here is a picture of someone who is not me doing what we’ve been doing.
  2. Wetting the underneath layer and letting that soak in for a little while to dissolve the paste, then scraping off the wet pasty paper with a wide joint knife. So far just hot water in a spray bottle has been working fine. Like I said… lucky. I thought we would need lots of fancy wallpaper-removal products. We still might, in other rooms.
  3. Sanding off the remaining film of dead glue, patching holes, re-sanding, and priming to paint. Tonight we ordered a sander. It seems like $49 worth of sanity.

So far we have Step One done in our huge upper hallway and–notably–the kitchen! I’ve done Step Two on about 1/4 of the wall space in the hall, and it was really quite tolerable. So far the wallpaper phase has not been anywhere near as terrible as I had worried. I know it will probably be harder in the rooms with less vinyl-based, more papery wallcoverings. But hey–for now this is good! It feels like quite the accomplishment to have all the horrid colors removed and just plain old beige fuzzy paper backing showing. 🙂

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