Evil Wallpaper and the Bathroom of Shame

Wallpaper.  Just the word makes me cringe.  Why anyone would pick the ugliest pattern in existence, have it printed on vinyl and then glue it to a perfectly good wall is beyond me.  I’m also still trying to figure out why I coerced myself into purchasing a home that had even a single wall covered in the stuff.  I’m even more confused as to how I ended up with a home that had 2 bathrooms, the master bed room and the dining room all wallpapered.  The dining room had 2 layers, just for good measure.  Yippy.

That being said, the wall paper, while ugly, was not in bad condition.  While I always planned on removing it in each of the aforementioned rooms, I had no plans to do it as soon as we moved into the house.  DH had a different idea.  Have you ever heard the saying “Silence is golden, unless you have children a husband, and then silence is suspicious?”  Yep.  It is true.  He disappeared while I was in the kitchen one day.  It took me a minute to notice I had been abandoned, but it must have been urgent because he doesn’t trust me being alone in the kitchen often (cuts, burns, broken glass, I’m a klutz).

Just sayin....
Just sayin….

I’m standing in the kitchen being wary of the lack of sound when, out of the silence, I hear a loud tear, almost a ripping sound (not a bodily function kind), coming from the bathroom.  I panic.  I know that sound, even though I have never heard it before, my deductive senses tell me it can only be one thing…my DH ripping off a sheet of wallpaper.  He must have been really bored sitting there. I can only imagine he saw one small edge where 2 sheets of wallpaper met and, with giddy energy, decided to destroy that hideous wall covering in one fell swoop.

He failed to inspect the wallpaper prior to fervent unplanned removal and he started a war in our house.  A war between me and the wallpaper.  A war I was not ready to fight.  A war I almost lost on numerous occasions.

When he emerged from the bathroom, he was laughing.  He knew what was going to happen.  I could not stand to see the wall with one sheet of wallpaper removed, a glaring hole in the pattern of the wallpaper, a massive inconsistency causing my epic need for all things to be correct, organized and clean to come forward with the force of a derecho.  The rest of the wallpaper now had to be removed.  As in, right now.  It was a battle from the start.  I did not really do much research, and I remember very little about the actual wallpaper removal from that bathroom, only that it was horrible and time consuming.  I can only compare it to how women describe child birth.  It is painful, but your body learns to forget the pain.  I do remember that I tried chemical removers (didn’t work), hot water and fabric softener in a spray bottle (Didn’t work) and when all else failed, sandpaper.

The wallpapered powder room.  And those beautiful curtains!
The wallpapered powder room. And those beautiful curtains!



No more wallpaper.....but TONS of glue
No more wallpaper…..but TONS of glue

I just want to be clear, it is not the actual wallpaper that was the issue.  If you look at the picture above, you can see a piece of the wallpaper hanging off the wall behind the toilet.  This “wallpaper” was actually extremely heavy vinyl sheeting that was glued to the walls. It was very easy to pull down because it didn’t tear.  The problem with this type of wallpaper is that it requires a different type of glue than paper wallpaper and that glue is like cement.  When I mentioned chemical removers and fabric softener with water, I was trying to re hydrate the glue so it could be scraped off.  I don’t know what chemist created this glue, but I have some choice words I would like to say to them.

In the end, I could not get all the glue off.  Oh, and I couldn’t get the wallpaper out from behind the toilet, so while DH was at work one day, I taught myself how to disassemble a toilet tank and removed it, giving me access to remove the paper.  That area of the wall was particularly saturated with glue.

I struggled with the glue and gouged the wall in quite a few places.  Drywall compound became my best friend, and that 3″ scraper was the BEST $4 I spent, hands down.  So after I got *most* of the glue off, I spackled, sanded and then it was time to paint!  Somehow I convinced DH to do the cut in on the paint.  I probably got away with that because I reminded him that he was the reason we were doing this.  Either way, it worked.  wpid-20140418_200628.jpg

It felt so rewarding to see the paint going up on the walls, but remember what I said about the glue behind the toilet?  Yeah, it was a pain, and since I was sooooo impatient to get paint on the walls, I broke the cardinal rule of painting, and painted what I could, and then went back and finished painting behind the toilet after I tackled the glue a bit more.

Stupid glue.
Stupid glue.

Would you believe me when I said that, despite the headache of doing this, it made me want to remove ALL the wallpaper in the house sooner rather than later as originally planned?  It is weird how things work out that way.  This was the beginning of one of my biggest mistakes in home renovation – starting multiple projects and not completing them.

Once we finished painting the bathroom, DH and I agreed that the builders grade vanity was just not working for us, so we decided to purchase a new vanity and sink for the powder room as well.  We didn’t take into account when we bought the new vanity that the water lines would come out of the wall on the right side of the sink…where the drawers were. Thus began the long and arduous process of removing the guts of the vanity and rebuilding it so it would work.  “Why not just take it back and shop for a new one?” you ask?  Because we only had 18″ from wall to door frame for the depth of the vanity, and I will save you a google search – they are not easy to find.


It was painful, but here is the semi finished product.  I am planning on building a pipe shelf to put over the toilet which will hold the hand towel, and adding crown moulding (don’t get me started on that), but for the time being, my antique star and our funky octopus will be just fine.




That stuff no one likes about buying a house.

Buying a house is a great investment.  I can say that now because going through the process of buying a house taught me about closing costs and equity and PMI and all those terms that grown ups like to throw around but never explain.  I mean, I remember saying “I want to buy a house” but not even knowing what all went into a mortgage payment.  I didn’t know I could lump my homeowners insurance into my mortgage payment (which is SWEET because that is one less bill I have to think about).  I didn’t know that PMI (google it) will never go away on our our loan, but it is ALL tax deductible (There is a spot for it when you file, I just learned that).

On top of all the crazy home owner terms that I learned, I also learned some really NOT fun stuff.  Like OWNING a home costs WAAAAAAAAY more than BUYING a home.  For all of my friends who have never owned a home, people are NOT being facetious when they say having a home is expensive.  Ever had to buy a kitchen faucet because the existing one wouldn’t work to hook up your rolling dishwasher that you had to buy because hand washing dishes for 2 weeks was unbearable? I did.

When you are fixing up a home, a lot of things can snowball.  I wanted a dishwasher (The kitchen is wired for one, but they never put one in). That sounds simple and all, but think about this…..we were already struggling with space in the kitchen.  I know, that sounds silly because we have a pretty good sized kitchen, but in our last house, we had cabinets that went all the way to the ceiling, and we had an island, and a pot rack.  Now we have no island, and the cabinets don’t go to the ceiling, and no pot rack.

Here’s the old kitchen:

Old house kitchen...that I actually miss. Blue counters and all.
Old house kitchen…that I actually miss. Blue counters and all.

It doesn’t sound too bad, but when you get used to it, you get spoiled.

Adding a dishwasher eliminates a large base cabinet in a kitchen.  Loss of space.  And then there is the labor involved in removing said cabinet, and then hooking up the the water line, because, you know, the dishwasher needs water.  So now you have plumbing to deal with.  Oh, and don’t forget about electrical and getting that hooked up.  And the fact that a good dishwasher is going to run you about $600 minimum.

Craigslist rolling dishwasher, $200.  New kitchen faucet to hook up dishwasher, $70. Not having to wash dishes by hand and not having to pay someone to hook up a dishwasher, priceless.   Only downside…3 hour running time and massive rolling dishwasher in the corner of the kitchen.

That being said, these are decisions I have never had to make before, and when you are responsible for thing like that, you truly start to realize just how much money you will be putting into a house.

We chose a house that needed a lot of work, and we knew that.  But no matter what, there will ALWAYS be cost that you cannot plan for.  Example, we have been in this house for less than one year, and check out this list of not fun things we have had to spend money on:

1) New Roof.


We were lucky that the seller contributed the majority of the cost to replace the roof (and add gutters I might add) but they wanted to put on a cheap roof.  So we paid to upgrade to better shingles and bigger gutters. One positive of having to deal with this now is that we will NEVER have to replace the roof again while we live here.

2) Water Heater. Let me show you what happens when you do not maintain an electric water heater and it gets corroded:

Scary morning.
Scary morning.

When we did the inspection on the new house, I’m sure you already know what the first thing I wanted to see was…the water heater.  Sure enough, we found a dinky little 30 gallon fat boy water heater UNDER the house and horribly corroded.  We ended up having a new 40 gallon installed in the garage. Needless to say I now have a horrible fear of a house fire.

3) HVAC.  Google how much it cost to replace a heat pump, air handler unit and duct work for a house. I dare you.  We have some VERY good friends that saved us when our heat pump started to crash, but this could have easily put us in the poor house.

*****4) Porch Supports.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sweet wraparound farmers porch like we do, but with that porch comes maintenance, which is money.  Because the house had no gutters on it for 20 years, the water damage to the porch was horrendous.  I knew the supports needed to be repaired, but I wasn’t prepared for this picture in a text message from the contractor that was fixing them:


We ended up having to replace the footers and bottom portion of 6 of the posts.  I felt much better when it was done, and a strange feeling of excitement.  It was something that we, as homeowners, had facilitated, and you couldn’t see it.  It wasn’t like a new roof.  But I knew it was fixed, and right and I was proud.

Most homeowners don’t have to deal with this much stuff their first year in.  I will admit, it was very overwhelming, but worth it.  We now have a new roof, new HVAC, new water heater, new porch supports, new kitchen faucet (new toilets, new vanity in downstairs bathroom) and now we won’t have to deal with any of that stuff again any time soon!

My piece of advice to people who are going to buy a home is this: If you are buying a house that is over 15 years old, get the home warranty.  It is worth it.  But don’t expect it to pay for everything, and be prepared to start shoveling money in a hiding spot because unexpected problems WILL arise.  Don’t be surprised by them, take them in stride, and be PROUD when you fix them.

That being said, I am still not looking forward to adding 5 and 6 to that list: Windows and a complete home re-pipe.

I love being a homeowner.