As my wife and I are nearing completion of a master bedroom and bathroom update, which has included a complete remodel and reconfiguration of the bathroom, I have thought back on the various home repair/renovation/remodeling projects we have undertaken over the past 17 years we have lived in our home.
We (the two of us and our three children) moved into our house in Brentwood in the summer of 2001. We are in one of the older houses (by Brentwood standards) in the area, built in the 1980s. We began updating and changing things to our liking and taste as soon as we closed, and it has been a work in progress ever since.
It began when we started pulling down all the existing wallpaper except what was in the dining room, which remains there today (which, I am told by my spouse, will come down soon). There was plenty of it throughout the house.
Let me go on record as saying this: if you are thinking about hanging wallpaper anywhere in your home, no matter at what stage of life you might find yourself, STOP.
I don’t care if wallpaper is “back” (and we would all be better off if it would stay away). I don’t care what it looks like. I don’t care if you think it will be the final touch in your nursery that will make it complete for your new little bundle of joy.
Do not do it. Stop right now.
Because here’s the thing. There will come a time when that wallpaper is no longer fashionable. You will wake up one day and look at that tired, outdated wallpaper and tell your spouse, if you have one, that it simply must come down.
And whether you choose to rip it down yourself, hire it done or accomplish its removal by some combination thereof, it is without a doubt the most god-awful home maintenance project you could ever hope to undertake. If you are married, it will be one of the biggest challenges your marriage will ever encounter, especially if you try to pull it down yourselves as a joint project for the two of you.
There will be tears. There will be selective memories about who had the idea to pull it down in the first place (or worse, who might have years ago suggested putting up the wallpaper now being taken down). There will be differences of opinion about living with a partially covered wall.
There will be drywall dust, as well as drywall that will come down with the wallpaper, giving rise to more repair work. There will be nasty, sticky old glue on your hands. The wallpaper will come down in tiny, disgusting pieces that will make you want to chuck it all and burn the house to the ground.
At some point, you are likely to decide it’s not worth it and you’ll decide to “mud over it,” then paint. And if and when you do that, you will see little remnants of that wallpaper through the paint for the rest of your days in your house.
Maybe your guests and/or future potential buyers of your home won’t see it (you hope), but you will. You’ll squint your eyes at it and wonder what you were ever thinking.
I know from whence I speak and I will be happy to elaborate if you want to give me a call. For the sake of your sanity, your marriage and your family, stop with the wallpaper. If you have already purchased it, see if you can take it back. If not, give it to some poor schmuck who thinks he/she simply cannot live without putting up that wallpaper. Because you, dear reader, are smarter than that.
If you are old enough that you think the wallpaper will outlive you, think again, and then think of your descendants who will have to deal with it. Only if you already have ill feelings toward them and want to get back at them for something, should you go through with hanging that wallpaper that you think will survive you.
You would do better to take your revenge now than to risk having them eventually speaking ill of the dead, which they most assuredly will be doing if they have to be ripping down your wallpaper after you are gone. I certainly would.
Other home projects we have endured include getting rid of old linoleum and carpet and putting down hardwoods, replacing the old kitchen countertops with the solid surface ones and gutting another bathroom.
Although professionally done, those ventures had their own stresses and inconveniences, to be sure, such as moving out of the house for days at a time, or doing without a kitchen or bathroom for a while. With the current bathroom redo, I’m not keeping track, but I’m wondering if this time next year we might still be waiting for delivery of the vanity to replace the one that was delivered but with cracked marble, or the shelves to replace the ones that fell like dominoes when we placed something on the top one.
But none of this compares to the stress of pulling down wallpaper and dealing with the aftermath.
If the wallpaper is already there and you must take it down, or, like us, you bought an existing home that has it, my advice is to either hire someone to remove it and leave town, or do it as a solo job.
If you are the one selected to do it, send your spouse away for the time it will take. Because doing it together is not advised, no matter how strong you believe your marriage is.
If you are not paying someone else to do it, face it like the man (or woman) you are, and when it is done and your spouse is back home, sign an agreement that says you will never, under any circumstances, again have wallpaper in your home.
Trust me on this. For better or worse and all that – but not for wallpaper.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.