The Powder Room Project: Wallpaper

We could have painted the newly repaired walls above our new paneling, but I felt that instead, the room was demanding wallpaper.  The house, of course was once completely covered in wallpaper- even the ceilings in some rooms!  I am very grateful to a previous owner for stripping it off of most of the rooms- she tells me she round 10 layers!  I have found evidence of it in other rooms- and even though I dread stripping if some day, I am also thankful to get to see what was once chosen for this special home so many, many years ago.


I ordered some wallpaper samples from Aesthetic Interiors, and waited with bated breath for them to arrive.  Sadly, when they finally did I was disappointed.  They just seemed too dark.  I then turned to our local paint and decorating store for ideas:  Here are some of the finalists:


I was ALMOST ready to order the gold floral on the right, but then when I put it up to a facebook poll, the little sample on the top right completely dominated…


Here is is enlarged.  It is “Chenonceau” by Schumacher in charcoal gray.  Once I saw this picture, I knew it was just the show-stopping print that I was hoping to find.  I love how even though it is an old fashioned print, it has a modern feel to it too.  Which, I think, make it perfect for our project.

I had never wall papered before, and it was really stressful for me to think about doing.  This wall paper was NOT inexpensive.  I wasn’t sure how much left over I would have, and I did NOT want to mess this room up.

Luckily, I have a mother-in-law who is very experienced in hanging wallpaper.

We definitely had our shakre of mistakes, but thankfully the pattern is forgiving, and I learned how to patch like a pro.  The good news is that the average joe would never see the mistakes.  The bad news is that I know where they ALL ARE!

Before I post some pictures of the finished product, I will offer some wallpapering advice from me, a wallpapering novice whose first job went kind of ok:

  1. Make sure your walls are smooth.  I did not want to take any chance what soever that this wallpaper would not stick.  So, I put a skim coat of join compound over the textured walls to smooth them out.  It didn’t take very long, and it made a huge difference.IMG_3792
  2. When your walls are clean and smooth, apply wallpaper “sizing.”  It is basically primer.  I have no idea why it is called “sizing.”
  3. Have a buddy- while my mother in law cut, I pasted the walls and she helped me hold the paper while I got it lined up.  Also, when we made mistakes, we told each other that is was “ok” and “no big deal.” (even though we both knew it wasn’t really, but what were we going to do anyways?)
  4. Use picture molding or crown moulding on top!  This way, when we ended and nothing was level, we hid it with salvaged picture rail and no one’s the wiser (except me… who happens to be the worst person to know this information…)

The first couple of sheets going up!!  Isn’t it stunning??


The final corner, when the pattern did not meet up and we couldn’t do anything about it.  This is because we did not draw a plumb line after each corner.  Lesson learned.  It is totally noticeable if you know about it , but otherwise, I think the pattern is busy enough that you your eye wouldn’t be drawn to it if you were just a guest who needed to pee…IMG_3799

This is another look with a sneak peak at the salvaged picture rail we used on top.  IMG_3814

This is me after ~10 hours of wallpapering…so happy it is as beautiful as I’d hoped and dreamed, and so happy that it is done.IMG_3797


The Powder Room Project: The Walls!

The walls in the room-that-was-to-be-the-powder-room were really rough.  On one wall, 127 years of paint were separated from the plaster, due to past years of water damage (the wall was directly below the 2nd floor toilet).  At some point, a previous homeowner had sprayed some pretty good texture on the walls and ceiling as well.  I’m sure it hid a lot, but it wasn’t the look I was going for.

Step 1 was scraping off the loose paint, and then using joint compound to bridge the gap between the paint and raw plaster.  Of course there were also cracks and holes to repair.  To get rid of the texture, I just put a skim coat of joint compound over the walls.  It didn’t take long and really did the job.  The walls were not perfectly smooth, but pretty close.

Step 2 was to finalize what we wanted to do with the walls.  Because they were in rough shape, and because it was such a small, tall room, I wanted to break up the walls with some molding.  The kitchen and butler’s pantry have typical wainscoting 1/3 up the wall, but we wanted to do something a bit different.  I thought about paneling like this:

but I decided that it was too formal for what I wanted the room to look like, and also for our house in general.  We found this really helpful website:

It gave us some great ideas of different styles of paneling, and helped us to settle on this one:

This style is called “Georgian.”  We liked how it is similar to our wainscoting, but is a little dressier, in our opinion.

Lance made the paneling out of MDF board, and we decided to make the panels 5.5″ wide.  We removed the original quarter round, mop board and cap and scraped and sanded it.  We were missing some cap, and were thrilled to find some identical cap at the local salvage shop.

We also removed the trim board that originally hung about 1/2 way up the wall, and cleaned that up as well.  We were missing some of it too, but found just what we needed from a neighbor, who was removing some from his house.  If you are restoring/ renovating an old house, here’s a tip:  GET TO KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORS!!


All of the bits and pieces, ready to be cleaned up and repainted.



This photo shows the damage to the walls that we had to contend with


The paneling went up and looked great.  It was Lance’s first time doing this, so of course it isn’t perfect, but we are ok with that!

Finally, it was time for the fun to start: making things pretty.  I chose the paint color “Alabaster” by Sherwin Williams for the trim.  I had always read about this color being “the perfect white.”  Well, I can tell you that it is true!  It is just such a pretty, creamy, milky white color.  I just love it.


So we have our dreamy paneling up, but 1/3 of the walls stood bare.  Next post:  WALLPAPER

Powder Room Project: The Floor!

My original plan for the floors of the powder room was to do black hexagonal tile.  But, after a little more thought, we decided that we should really try to see what the original floors were like.  I really like the idea of showcasing as much as possible, what original features of the house remain.  After taking up the 1990s linoleum and subfloor, pine plank flooring was revealed.


At the bottom of this this photo- the wider planks for the powder room. The top shows that the floors of the adjoining butler’s pantry are narrower. I wonder why? Maybe it was a way to show that the butler’s pantry was a “fancier” room than the room that is now my powder room?

Here is what the floors looked like once sanded:


There were a few rotten boards to the top left of this picture (which corresponded to the rotten box sill on the exterior that we replaced early on in our ownership). We were able to use planks salvaged from our upstairs bathroom project last year. As you can see, there were also a few damaged spots towards the center of the floor that needed to be replaced. Also, there was some darker areas in the middle of the floor.. possibly water staining?

If we had just put a clear coat of poly over the floors like this, we would have ended up with a very rustic looking finish.  We decided to stain them, to see if we could get a more uniform look.  While I was working one day, Lance picked out the stain and went to work.  You know something is up when you walk through the door and your husband greets you with the words “don’t freak out.”

Here is what the floor looked like:


Eeeek!!! they are SO DARK! WAAAAAY darker than we had discussed.


It turns out, pine can be a bit unpredictable.  In the corner where my husband tested out the stain, it happened to be a patch that took it much lighter, leading him to think it was the one we wanted.

This is the color of the stain compared to the floors


After the initial shock, we started to warm up to the idea of dark, espresso colored floors.  We figured that with a couple coats of high gloss poly, they mighty look really dressy and cool.  Also, we kind of has no other choice, except to cover them up with tile.

The wide planks had really big gaps between them, which gave us a chance to apply a technique to fill them that I was really excited bout.  The exciting them about it to me, is it is so simple and old fashioned:

Here is a video on the process.  Basically, you get some rope, stain it and the stuff it between the joints.

Here is a picture of  Lance in action:

IMG_3692The last thing to do to the floors was poly.  We put two coats of high gloss polyurethane.  Here’s the finished product!


Not what we planned, but sometimes the accidents that happen along the way can end up being the best parts of a project!