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We’ve been dreading this for a long time, but there’s no putting it off forever. It’s time to take down the wallpaper in our water closet.

old owner's stuff

old owner's stuff

This wallpaper is in much better shape than the wallpaper in the powder room, so at first I didn’t even notice it. B saw that the paper was starting to separate at the seams, and from then on we knew we’d have a choice: either paint over it (as the previous owners had done, or do the work to take it down.


We decided to take it down. The right thing to do, even if it is a pain in the rear. The trouble is, this room has high ceilings and is a good bit larger than our tiny powder room, so right off the bat it was going to be more work. But this wallpaper was also not installed correctly, so it does not. want. to. come. down. At all. We’re basically having to chisel it off…

And I’m not going to lie, it’s slow work and not fun in the least bit. But it’s one of those things where once you get going there’s no turning back. Decision made!

We’ve been working steady on it off and on today and a bit throughout the week, so this is how far we’ve gotten:

wall on the right

wall on the left

The frustrating thing is that since the wallpaper has been painted over, it won’t come off easily. We basically chisel it off, and then have to go back over the area again (read: twice as much work) to remove the paper backing and glue that doesn’t come off with the first part of the paper:

The trick? Good old-fashioned H2O. Spray water onto the wall using a water bottle and let it sit for about 1.5 minutes, and the paper backing will peel right off. So at least that part is relatively quick. (FYI: They do make a few products specifically designed to “loosen” to glue bond of wallpaper so that it will come off in big strips. We tried them. They didn’t work AT ALL. Not even the tiniest bit. We figure this failure is because the painter did such a good job painting over the wallpaper. The stuff can’t get through the paint to loosen the glue. It’s literally worthless. And there’s a warning label on it that the state of California says it causes cancer. I don’t know what it is about California that makes it the only state in the union to acknowledge this, but it was enough for me to stop using it and opt for the water, especially since it was doing nothing to help loosen the paper from the wall. Cancer and wallpaper still on the walls? No thanks.)

So all this week I’ve been depressed over how incredibly slow this process is going and how I don’t want to do it and how the more I do it the more I can’t stand wallpaper and basically being melodramatic about it. (We weren’t nearly as far along then as we are in the above photos, which 60% of happened today.) Then on Thursday night, as I sat eating dinner and flipping through the latest Pottery Barn catalog, I had an epiphany. What’s a way that we could cut the amount of work this is going to be by half and add charm to the space? One word folks: beadboard.

As soon as I said it aloud to B, we both knew this was the way to go. Cheap and easy to install, it’ll brighten up the small room and tie in with the beadboard-backed built-in shelving we’re already planning to add over the tub:

Via Pinterest

Oh yes, the problem has been solved. Well, not solved exactly, but lightened a little. So we did some price and measurement shopping this morning, and figure that we have to remove the wallpaper from the top halves of each wall, and we can leave it on the bottom. It’ll be covered up completely by the beadboard and trim. Huzzah!

So here’s what we have left to do:

  1. Continue to chip away at the wallpaper until it’s all gone.
  2. Remove the paper backing and glue from the walls, patch any “oops” spots we made in the drywall, and sand the entire wall smooth. Fun times.
  3. Purchase the beadboard, construction-grade backing glue, panel nails, trim, caulk, and baseboard.
  4. Prime the top half of the walls, and paint. (We’re going with a gray color, though we haven’t picked out the exact one yet.) Paint the beadboard and all the trim.
  5. Install the beadboard, which looks pretty easy based on the couple videos I’ve watched online. The best one I found is via Lowe’s YouTube channel, which has excellent instructional videos.
  6. Caulk up any visible nail holes and seams.
  7. Step back and enjoy the finished product.

Of course, this still leaves the main part of the bathroom, which THANK GOD doesn’t have wallpaper in it. We’ll just have to patch those walls where needed, and then paint, beginning with the ceiling and trim. Other improvements, like the bookshelf over the tub and tile, will happen later.

It’s going to be a long process, but we’ve started it, and onward we’ll go!