Living in Paradise

Wallpaper Woes

Wallpaper Woes

I have a long history with wallpaper. None of it good.

So, when my man and I were looking to buy a condo we could remodel for future use, I ignored the beautiful view of the Intercoastal Waterway and focused instead on the walls. The condo was 26 years old and so was the wallpaper.

“Look at this view,” my man enthused.

“Look at this wallpaper,” I responded. It had big bold putrid prints, and it was everywhere.

We had just been through a remodeling project in our current residence. Removing the bathroom wallpaper that had lizards and flowers that looked like they were from the movie The Little Shop of Horrors cost as much as my new undercounter microwave.

That’s because we made the mistake of asking the painters to get rid of the offending wall covering and then paying them by the hour. It was a nightmare project.

Now, as my man stood entranced by the bright blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico, I could only imagine how much time and money would be involved in the removal of the ugly aqua patterns in the bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchen. Thank heavens the living room had been spared this creative touch.

I still remember, when back in the 1960s and wallpaper was in style, removing the hideous wall coverings in my tiny kitchen on Indianapolis’ northside. It was a three-weekend project, despite my best efforts and some goo I applied to “loosen” paper that had cemented itself to the wall over a couple of decades.

I talked a friend into hanging blue and lime green vinyl wallpaper as a replacement. My husband at the time wanted nothing to do with it. I later learned why. The lime green might have been okay but the blue flowers were almost scary. What was I thinking when I selected that particular print?

They say that color can affect your mood. Maybe that’s why my husband and I were divorced within a year of the application of this new wallpaper. Apparently, he got mad every time he walked into the kitchen.

After he left, I replaced it with a peaceful pale yellow – and life was much better.

I tried again in the late 80s to hang some lovely dark green wallpaper in my bathroom. The printer who insisted he was a pro at such installations spent two days putting it up. When it dried completely there were little lines of exposed wall between each sheet. He was sorry there was nothing he could do to fix it. So was I.

Why anyone would want to install wallpaper is a puzzle to me. Styles change; colors are also transient. In South Florida you might get by with a seagrass look. But even palm leaves against a white backdrop get old, leaving your house dated in short order.

While I was still pondering who we would get to remove the ghastly wallpaper and the swags over the windows in this new condo, I received an email from one of my favorite retailers: Annie Selke. They specialize in rugs, but this particularly message had to do with creating a “home office oasis” that makes “working from home a little more fun.”

Their recommended trick was to plaster some exotic design on the wall behind your desk. A link to the wallpaper section revealed brightly colored patterns and options.

Not only was I not impressed; I was horrified. The “rhythmic and lyrical paisleys, floral and foliage” pictured in a bedroom would surely give you nightmares. The “happy fish multi” wallpaper would leave your brain swimming. In truth, their suggestions looked a lot like the 20-year-old wallpaper I couldn’t wait to remove from the condo we were considering buying.

“No!” I shrieked and hit delete. Others may choose wallpaper; I’m sticking to paint.

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