It seems wrong, somehow, to follow up the “I cannot take it anymore and I must vent or kill someone and venting seems less problematic” post with a story about my bathroom. But it’s all I’ve got.
[Except this: Thank you. Not even so much for the comments—though some of those were incredibly kind and I do appreciate all of you pretty people—but for just reading. I had no idea until I wrote about it just how badly I needed a bit of primal scream therapy or its blog equivalent.]
And now let us turn to even more important matters, like why I am afraid of wallpaper.
Once upon a time, many many years ago, my ex and I bought this house and declared that we would never move again. HAHAHAHA. We set about doing all of the things you typically do when you’ve taken up residence in a house that wasn’t custom built just for you; I painted Monkey’s room, we had a mudroom and a new garage added, we put down some new carpeting. You know how it goes.
The interesting thing about this house is that the previous owners were extremely renovation-minded, but they only lived here for a year before being transferred back to wherever they’d come from. Chicago, I think. Anyway, I guess the house was sort of a dump when they bought it. And so it was plain to see where their work had been done.
For example: The kitchen has beautiful tile on the floor, but wallpaper that appears to have been applied during the Carter administration. By toddlers. Drunken toddlers. The previous owners just didn’t get around to working on that, I suppose. And I have often turned to the walls in the kitchen and thought about redoing them, but then I curl up in a ball in the corner and rock until I regain my wits. This is because I’ve already done the Wallpaper Dance.
The children’s bathroom was redone by the former owners. The floor is freshly tiled and the walls are painted a cheerful yellow, adorned with festive frogs. (Do not ask me how I know the frogs are festive. They just are.) The master bathroom, however, was a carnival of horror when we bought the house. Tucked away in the far corner, perhaps we weren’t supposed to notice the shiny, shiny wallpaper and yellowed vinyl. But I did notice it, and I vowed to take care of it right away.
So we hadn’t been here very long when I started pulling down the wallpaper. And I pulled. And I pulled. And I discovered that there were FOUR LAYERS of paper on the bathroom walls, and the walls were riddled with holes, and of course the walls hadn’t been taped or prepped before the papering, so as I worked my way down to the last layer, I was pulling off as much wallboard as paper.
Eventually I had the walls scraped clean. I then patched the holes, and sanded, and applied sizing, and bought new wallpaper, and I was ready to paper.
Except that I wasn’t, because I decided that we should replace the flooring before I papered. Which seemed reasonable.
After over four years of naked walls, I finally spent $40 on some self-adhesive vinyl tiles and spent a day redoing the floor in there. It looks like crap. By the time I did it, the walls and floor had some water damage from a problem with the shower, and I still couldn’t paper.
Two years later, the water damage still hasn’t been fixed, the paper hasn’t been put up, and I wonder if I can plead insanity on those vinyl tiles.
I shower in that bathroom every morning, and none of it has bothered me enough to do a damn thing about it.
But—here’s the funny thing—this realtor friend of mine seems to think no one will want to buy my house with the crooked cheap vinyl tiles and mildewed naked walls. Crazy, huh? I mean, really, I think she’s just not appreciating my design style. (“Please describe your design sensibility.” “I think you could call it… modern apathy.”)
And I would sort of like to be able to sell my house next year, because it’s not going to fit on my roof rack, I’m pretty sure. Also, the wallpaper in the kitchen is slowly driving me insane.
So! What to do? I called up my favorite contractor to ask him to come take a look. I didn’t know if he would be able to cut me as good of a deal as he did when installing the sump pump, but I was hoping that I would again be able to flash the necessary sign to get a break on his work. I was in luck, actually, because right now the correct sign is “willing to pay for this before Christmas when everyone else is not at all interested in having contracting work done right now.” He can fix all the water damage, lay a tile floor, install a new shower door, and put up the wallpaper for a very reasonable fee, all things considered. So I’ve got my estimate, and now all I have to do is pick out the materials. And give him a pound of flesh.
Here’s the thing: I’m irritated with myself, now, that pretty soon my bathroom is going to be gorgeous and I’ll be sitting here with the knowledge that I could’ve done the work 6 years ago and actually ENJOYED it for a while. Instead, I’ll end up making it nice just in time to sign it over to someone else. And that just seems sort of silly.
I sure hope they like the new wallpaper.