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Posts Tagged ‘walls’

2008: We buy a house with jungle print wallpaper and tan fixtures in the upstairs extension master bathroom
2009: We prioritize other rooms because they were more public
2010: We prioritize other rooms because they were original to the house
2011: We prioritize other rooms because they were more fun
2012: We prioritize other things because we had a baby
2013: And another baby
2014: We have two babies, probably not a lot is getting done around here
2015: I mean making additional messes? On purpose?
2016: New roof needed, necessitating a new skylight… which got me thinking about that bathroom…

So, while my husband was in the Mediterranean doing a study abroad class for 3 weeks, and we still had a few weeks of full time childcare after our semester ended but just before the public school year did, it seemed like the time had finally come, so I decided to tackle the jungle bathroom.

My two biggest priorities:

1. Say goodbye to the loud jungle wallpaper on the ceiling and in the skylight and closet and everywhere.

2. Try to make the “sand”-colored toilet, bidet, sink, and tile seem lighter by using a dark wall color.

Now, I know that leaf print / botanical wallpaper is very “pinnable” and cute:

Screen Shot 2017-09-02 at 1.22.38 PM.png

And some people might argue (with good reason) that it is a great style. I usually love florals and leaves in fabrics, clothing, textiles, art, and jewelry design. But even though I love Blanche Devereaux:

blanch+golden+globes

After 8 years of staring at it, I felt sure this stuff had to go:

4

Please note that this wallpaper continued ON TO THE CEILING and was even wrapped up IN TO THE TUBE connecting the skylight to the ceiling.  And the adjoining closet ceiling, too. I mean you have to admire the DETERMINATION involved.

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Peeling begins. The top vinyl layer came off in fairly large chunks, just by picking up a corner and carefully peeling.

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My trusty Wagner steamer helped with removing the under layer — the soft peach paper layer that was actually glued to the walls.

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Sorry about the wide range of light levels — these were taken over the course of several different days.

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Steaming the under layer briefly led to loosening. Notice you can see the leaf print even on the underlayer because it had aged differently where more and less sunlight got through to it.

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Carpet up, more wallpaper peeled… hi there skylight. Note the wallpaper going on into the closet ceiling as well.

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This was while roofers had the skylight covered with plastic before they took it out — it really made the room much darker and made me appreciate that the skylight exists.

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The ceiling was very slow going — I think they must have used some stronger adhesive up here, probably because wallpaper on a bathroom ceiling is a tough job!

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These small areas were hard as the steamer could not fit into them. Hot water in a handheld spray bottle seemed to work.

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Skylight peeling in progress. There was some rubbery glue in here that was VERY hard to get off — I think it may have been contact cement.

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Jesus is that you? (Nope, just skylight replacement day!)

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New skylight in place for the rain.

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Now about the rest of that ceiling… (And yes, we have a crazy old Victorian style toilet with an elevated tank, who knows why? I will say it has never clogged in 9 years due to its enormous flush-power, so maybe that is why.)

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For some reason this back wall was much harder to get right. Slower going than any of the other walls. There truly is a lot of variety in how wallpaper removes, and that is one reason why I will probably never hang it on purpose in any area of my home. It’s just too much of a hassle to get rid of it and make a change.

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Progress!

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Steaming inside the skylight was weird, it sort of formed a little cloud.

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More small areas needing attention.

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I had read that it is good to use tinted primer before a very dark color. Since we were doing the walls in a very dark blue: Valspar Indigo Streamer, I decided to try it out. Lowe’s paint department agreeably added some black pigment to a gallon of Kilz2 primer I purchased.

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It already looked a lot better!

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First sample pot of Indigo Streamer on the walls.

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One coat down, one to go. This was to try to make that “sand” tone tile look lighter… I felt excited it was starting to work as an optical illusion.

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So no, this is not a white sink, but it does look lighter to me.

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Toilet, bidet, sink against the Indigo Streamer walls.

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Rehung some old IKEA curtains over that giant glass window outside the shower for some privacy (there had been vertical blinds but they were very old and not clean enough to save).

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I found this image in a 1935 American Standard plumbing catalog online and loved it — now it’s framed in our bathroom! 🙂

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Trying to choose some vinyl flooring. We went with vinyl because it was cheaper and we have long term plans to properly redo this bathroom with a soaker tub and new fixtures, so we didn’t want to over-invest in it as is.

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Stick on tile floors! We chose a groutable vinyl tile to make it look a little more like ceramic.

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Tile progress.

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Tile through the adjoining closet — this had been plywood for a couple of YEARS since we had pulled up the carpets for hygiene reasons (Carpet in the bathroom, another thing I will never do intentionally after having dealt with it twice in this house)

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Some after pics! I stuck a frame from MirrorMate over the builder mirror to make things look a little more finished. It was a quick and easy install, as promised! I chose a chunky style I liked from their discounted options, and spray-painted it with oil rubbed bronze Rustoleum to match the frames and clock.

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After. It’s still an odd little space (hi, Victorian toilet and bidet!) but at least it’s a lot less junglesome now. All of the trim and the ceiling is painted in Valspar Light Raffia to match the tile and help it read as lighter/whiter.

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Closet ceiling WITHOUT WALLPAPER! Now painted Valspar Light Raffia.

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View from the bathroom into the closet.

I’ll finish with a few before-and-after comparisons just for fun.

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The floor was Armstrong Crescendo peel-and-stick vinyl 12×12 groutable tile in French Gray. It was $1.08 per tile which was convenient, since we were able to overbuy, save the receipt, and then return the tiles we didn’t use. Link to its current listing at Lowes here. We used a grout color called “Mocha” again to avoid bright whites that would make the fixtures look dark.

So that was our rumble in the jungle! I’m so glad it’s over!

(And yes, it took me over a year to get around to posting this! We’re currently working on the downstairs hallway which had pink grasscloth and pale yellow paint on all the built in bookcases… hopefully I can update sooner when that’s complete.)

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When we first walked through our house four years ago, several rooms had wallpaper or paint colors that weren’t to our taste. It’s to be expected, really. And like everyone says, you have to have the vision to see past colors you dislike and look at the bones beneath.

The bones were good.

But the wallpaper? The wallpaper was bad. How bad, you ask?

Initial visit to our house

This bad.

We imagined that the dining room would be one of the first rooms we’d repaint, because it seemed like such an “easy” payoff. Big windows, a neat floorboard pattern, a built-in china cabinet, and a chandelier that, while over-the-top for sure, was original to the house and had a certain ragged glamor to it. Yet we never got around to it.

We had paint chips hanging from a nail on the wall. We even scraped a little of the wallpaper off one weekend, to see how hard it would be. We scraped a patch of the popcorn ceiling and sent it to the lab.

And then we just… stopped. We did other rooms. We worked. We watched lots of Netflix. We had a baby. And still the dining room remained in all its ridiculous glory.

The wallpaper border, when viewed closely, shows a rich variety of wildlife: birds, insects, hermit crabs and a horned tadpolish creature a friend once termed “fetal goats.” Not something you see every day, really.

Closeup of old wallpaper border

Unless you’re us. We saw it EXACTLY every day. For four years. But at long last, after far too long, and due almost entirely to the hard work of my father-in-law who was visiting (and swears he enjoys this stuff), we can finally say that the dining room is quite different now!

Dining Room Before & After

Dining Room Before & After

So the basic steps of the transformation (again, all credit to my in-laws, especially for the hard initial steps of scraping!)

  • Put down plastic and tape it to the baseboards.
  • Put very hot tap water into trigger spray bottles.
  • Spray a 3′ x 3′ patch of popcorn ceiling, move onto a second one, and then move back to scrape the first. (Side note of caution: We had our ceiling texture tested for asbestos and other evil things not long after moving in – don’t skip that step because you do NOT want to be breathing in all that bad stuff if it’s in your ceiling. The $50 the test cost is nothing compared to the chance of possible medical bills and heartbreak years down the line.)
  • Scrape the popcorn texture off with your putty knife lying almost parallel to the ceiling. Be careful not to gouge through because patching is no fun.
  • Patch the inevitable few gouges with joint compound.
  • Sand out the gouges and any weird spots in the ceiling.

If your popcorn texture is like ours, it leaves a chalky residue behind. We tried washing this off, sanding it, scrubbing it, etc. but sometimes it still causes the first coat of primer and paint to peel off.

Dining Room Project

This is not a happy moment. Not at all.

The good news was that when it all came down, it brought the worst of the chalky residue with it, so the next coat stuck. We used high-bonding primer from Lowe’s and Behr Ceiling White paint from HD.

For the wallpaper:
Seriously, wallpaper is different every time we remove it. In this room, here’s what worked.

  • Score the wallpaper with a scoring tool.
  • Put very hot tap water into trigger spray bottles and add a few drops of dish soap (this was the inlaws’ idea, and it seemed to work).
  • Spray the scored paper and let the water really soak in for a while while you keep spraying other parts of the wall.
  • Scrape off the wallpaper — ours was super old and came off in annoyingly tiny bits. But it did, eventually, come off.
  • Scrub the wall well to remove the wallpaper glue residue as much as possible (we used microfiber dishcloths for this, rinsed in hot tap water.)
  • Use joint compound to smooth any gouges or weird spots in the walls — in an old house, there are always weird spots — and sand smooth.

The people before us had painted a pink stripe UNDER the wallpaper border — probably to keep the blue paint from showing through? Who knows. Nothing a little high-hiding primer couldn’t handle!

Dining Room Project

This stuff is very helpful for putting dark colors to rest – we’ve used it in the foyer, too, and it really saved some time when we were painting that burgundy trim white. I’d say one coat of this is equal to 2-3 coats of Kilz2 latex primer, for color hiding at least.

Once the walls were primed it was time to pick a new wall color. With such a big shiny light fixture dominating the room, we wanted something that would blend in to the background and let the woodwork and lighting be the main attention-seekers in the room. We tried a few pale colors:

Dining Room Project

Left to Right these are:
Mild Mint by Behr, Lincoln White Sash by Valspar above Spring Melt by Martha Stewart (color matched to Behre Ultra), Valspar Luna, and Valspar Churchill Hotel Ecru.

They looked different in different parts of the room, and (as always) in daylight vs. lamplight, but we ultimately settled on the color-matched Spring Melt, because it was a nice pale grey/green/blue and we thought it looked kind of timeless and clean and light. Again, it’s a much paler color than we would usually go for, but we wanted the lighting to be the noticeable thing about the room, not the wallcolor.

And so, again, with the amazing help of my in-laws, we finished it up… two coats of paint on the walls, two or three on the trim, and all the cleanup.

But so far we’re feeling pretty good about how it turned out.

Smooth ceiling with the paint finally sticking properly:

Dining Room Project

Walls painted, in lamplight:

Dining Room Project

Walls painted in daylight, and the furniture back in!

Dining Room Project

We still have some finishing touches to do — notably finding some stuff to hang on the walls which look so much EMPTIER without all that busy wallpaper going on. But so far, so good.

Honestly, it will be really nice (kind of weird, but really nice) to be able to have people over and talk about something at dinner that is a topic OTHER than the walls. 🙂

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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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That is pretty much all I have to say about that. After removing wallpaper, the texture behind the wall is often super strange (probably the reason they picked wallpaper in the first place!) and this stuff really, really helps. I found lots of good online help — this site is a nice example with images of how to “skim coat” over a yucky texture before sanding/priming/painting. Lightweight All Purpose Joint Compound is good stuff!

Sanding it does make a huge mess — which can be helped a lot by using a dampened sanding sponge as opposed to, say, a dry power sander like I did last time. 😉 It was quick, though!

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