We tried to pack as much family time into the first half of Saturday as we could, before the kids left (again). We got up early and hit the farmer’s market, we came back home and had pancakes (and bacon! for when you love someone enough to feed them PIG FAT!), and then after we’d finished tidying up and making sure the kids were packed, we were sort of just hanging around.
The way our house is set up, the dining room is between the kitchen and the staircase/family room. That is to say, we walk through it about a billion times a day. At some point on Saturday, I grabbed a corner of the wallpaper in there and gave it a tug. You know, just to see how hard it would be to pull it off. It peeled back pretty easily, so I called to Otto, “Hey, I just figured out what we can do while the kids are gone! We can finally redo the walls in here!”
Otto came into the dining room to discuss this plan with me, and then things get a little fuzzy in my memory, but the next thing I knew, Otto and I were ripping paper off the wall while Monkey stomped it all down in a trash bag.
Some might say this was not an ideal bonding activity before seeing the children off, but those people have never seen an eight-year-old fashion a lightsaber out of a roll of wallpaper. Just sayin’.
Let me just explain something to you about our dining room. We knew, when we moved in, that we’d want to take down that wallpaper. Maybe next year, we told each other, because we’d had to do so many other things right when we’d moved in, and we just weren’t up to it. Well, it’s now next year and I’ve had nearly an entire year to nurture and grow my hatred of what was perpetrated on those walls.
Imagine a room with a chair rail, where the top part of the wall is a textured brown and the bottom party is burgundy. The paint on the bottom is slopped all over the trim, but it’s the top—oh, the humanity!—that’s really the crime. It’s ugly wallpaper, covered by OTHER ugly wallpaper which is starting to curl, covered by PAINT. Further imagine that the paint sports several stains of dubious origin. Wonder how the stains got there, but then STOP WONDERING because you probably don’t want to know. Aaaaaaaaaand you’ve just imagined our dining room! ISN’T IT GREAT?
Well, we knew the painted brown wallpaper was on top of another layer of wallpaper. And because that first layer came off so easily—we pulled it all down it about half an hour—we knew the hard part would be the second layer. Why, I got a corner of it and pulled and it actually ripped up a huge swath of the wallboard, at which point I completely FREAKED OUT and started saying things like “We’re going to texture this wall, anyway, right? Right?? Say it’s okay!”
Anyway, we cleaned up and later the kids left and then Otto and I were sitting around wondering what to do with ourselves. And then because we’re red-blooded Americans we did the only logical thing to do when we found ourselves suddenly childless and with a whole day to ourselves in a big empty house: We went to Lowe’s.
(Before we left, Otto said “Hey, they sent me this coupon for $10 off of $50. Do you think we’ll spend that much?” And that should’ve been my first clue that we were deluded about this project, because I’m fairly certain we have NEVER gotten out of Lowe’s for less than $100.)
So here’s the thing: A while back, Otto and I went to eat at a restaurant where the walls have a heavily-textured Venetian plaster finish. “THIS is what we should do in the dining room!” I’d said to him. The texture was interesting and the color was actually very close to what I was envisioning, anyway—sort of a mottled earthy orange clay kind of thing, which I figured would tonally tie into the next room’s copper wall, too. At the time, when I suggested it to Otto, he agreed that would be great. And part of the reason we both agreed it would be great was specifically because we knew the condition of the walls in the dining room might be less than stellar after we peeled all the paper.
On the drive over to Lowe’s we started talking about texturing, and it soon became clear that I wanted to texture the hell out of the walls, and Otto had rethought things and decided we should go with a faux finish because that room is high-traffic and ACTUAL texture can be broken off by, say, small careening children. I had to admit that he had a point, but it meant that I needed to stop ripping down chunks of of the wall board. Well, fine, I could manage that. And anyway, we were going to look at paint colors.
We were more or less agreed: Something terra cotta-y for the top, and something like a navy blue for the bottom. And then we walked up to the Great Big Wall Of Paint Chips and my brain started to ooze out my ears.
There is no Navy Blue in Valspar paint, in case you were wondering. There is South Marine Blue and Twilight On The North Sea and The Admiral’s Underpants and Long Night of Despair and Baritone Ennui and other things like that, but nothing called Navy. And they are ALL DIFFERENT, and after you look at a few of them you can start to see that yes, this one has a greenish tint, and this one is more purple, and this one just has such a stupid name no self-respecting person would ever purchase it. Otto kept grabbing the chips for things that were really BLUE, and I mean like ROYAL blue rather than navy, and I kept going for things that were more gray. After carrying around two chips for a while, I talked him into the one we ended up buying, which is called (this is the real name, by the way) Fairmont Penthouse Mosaic Blue, because we are FANCY. (Also, I had to look it up online to get the color name right, and some website has it listed amongst its TEALS and I just died. It’s NAVY BLUE.)
Then we went over to the Big Wall Of Faux Finishes to try to figure out what to use, because there’s something called Venetian Plaster that involves making lots an lots of X-shapes with your paintbrush until you die of carpal tunnel, and several other things, and finally we decided on something that’s actually some sort of Faux Stone Somethingorother, which is fine, but then we had to choose COLORS, only now we needed colored GLAZE instead of colored PAINT, and by this time I had a fistful of orangey colors and was whimpering audibly as we tried to select.
Otto was all about the copper-toned colors, like La Porsche Copper and Ye Olde Mexican Hovel, whereas I was more drawn to things like Cheap Clay Planter and Earthy Hippy Dippy, and we couldn’t agree. So we decided to skip the paint for a while, because we have plenty of work to do before we get to that, anyway.
So we moved on and bought a wallpaper scoring tool and a gigantic drum of wallpaper paste remover and some wallpaper scraping thingies and some other things we needed, and $200 later we were back home again.
Sunday after church we decided to really get to work. So I set about scoring and spraying and the real fun began. Oh, hey. GUESS WHAT! Remember how we’d already taken down a (painted) layer of paper and we were now working to remove the paper underneath? Guess what’s underneath THAT layer! If you guessed ANOTHER LAYER OF PAINTED WALLPAPER, you win a prize! Your prize is that you get to come over here to the house and SHOOT ME IN THE HEAD, because honestly, will I NEVER learn??
After about three hours of scoring, spraying, scraping, and swearing (the four essential Ss in wallpaper removal!), Otto suggested we simply tear out the walls and install all new drywall. And he wasn’t kidding. I’m afraid I had to slice his jugular with my scraper, and I will miss him, but the good news is that the blood all over the floor made me more convinced that the walls need to have some red/pink tone to them….
My dreams of a Tuscan dining room are fast fading. Now I am merely hoping for a room that still has walls when we’re done. Of course, if that happens, then I have to pick a paint color for them. Do you think I should go with Roasted Pumpkin Innards or Arizona Roadkill? I can’t decide.