Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"The Inside Story"


Fifty years ago today I hung wallpaper for the first time. The previous day Mom and I had washed the woodwork and then painted it. We still had the wainscoting in the kitchen then, so that took several hours.
What was so memorable about my first papering experience was that Mom had me paper the ceiling. There I was up on a plank supported by two stepladders while she instructed me in what to do. Only when it was done did I learn that Mom had never papered a ceiling! I felt pretty proud of myself. We got the ceiling and two walls done that day then finished up the next day. If I remember right, the paper was a design of green ivy on pink and white and the woodwork was light green.
I'm reminded of this topic by my diary, of course, but also by something my nephew, Andrew, posted on Facebook a few days ago: Dear current and future homeowners- I am laying down the law, do not install wallpaper for any reason in your home. It does not look good, it will not be "in style" in a few years and it is terrible to remove. There are a few exceptions to this rule but please send your application for exception to the wallpaper ruling... to me and I will review it for possible approval. Thank you, All homeowners who hate wallpaper. (I tried to tell him that according to "Sarah's House" on HGTV, wallpaper is already back in style.)
Flash forward twenty years and I was a very experienced paper hanger. There was the house my cousin and his wife had moved out of, but because of a deal they had with the owner, my Mom and Aunt and I papered three rooms in one day. I remember the last room only got done with the help of a little wine. My aunt had to go to town to get some more wallpaper paste and I told her to bring me back some Rose` since there wasn't going to be any other remuneration for my efforts.
When Kari, Preston and I moved to "The Little House", I papered every room except the living room which had been paneled. I also papered a couple of rooms for Pam Lillie with her help. I don't think she had ever papered before.
It was while helping Jan Behlers paper her upstairs bedroom that we decided with our talents and experience, we could go into business together. We had a lot of fun coming up with a name for our enterprise - finally settling on, "The Inside Story". We thought that was so clever and would get people's attention when we ran our ad for papering and painting. We did get several jobs that summer, and boy, did we ever learn a lot! For instance - walls in an old house are never plumb. And what to do when you have just enough wallpaper to finish the job and one of your strips tears in two.
As a rule, whenever we put new wallpaper over old, we only removed the old paper that was loose, or easy to scrape off. There was one job, though, where we had to get all the old paper off because the homeowner wanted the room painted. I could agree with Andrew then. What a job! I wish I had known then the trick of using fabric softener mixed with water and squirted on with a spray bottle to wet the paper before scraping.
I know my papering days are over, but I have done a bit of painting since retiring. Getting up and down off a ladder is harder than it used to be. But I'll never regret learning to paper when I was sixteen. It resulted in some memorable and good times with family and friends as well as earning me some extra money.

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