What can you do if your bathroom has a masculine feel and is about 20 years out of date? Well, in my mind, you redo it! And that’s exactly what my friend Katie decided she wanted to do with her en suite bathroom. She already had a color scheme in mind for her master bedroom—a beautiful combination of gray and white. Based on those color choices, she decided to go with a blue-gray and white in the master bath. The original décor in the bathroom presented a little more of an undertaking than normal because it had three big walls of….wait for it…wait for it…striped wallpaper! Dum, dum, dum. (The dum, dum, dum was supposed to give you an ominous sense of dread with the thought of having to strip three large walls of wallpaper before the new paint could go up!)

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When Katie was trying to decide what to do in her master bath remodel, she asked if I thought new wallpaper might be an option. I proceeded to give her, what I believe is sage advice: wallpaper and steamy rooms don’t always mix well. Besides that, if you think you may want a change in the future, wallpaper can be a beast to take down.

Based on the fact that she clearly was interested in something more than just plain old paint on the walls, I suggested a faux finish on an accent wall. I sent her several different photos that she shared with her hubby. They decided this was the path they wanted to venture down. Yay! I love a good faux finish. They decided they really liked the linen look, which is really trendy right now. I tried some different techniques to achieve this look, and we landed on one that we liked.

Fast forward to day one of the bathroom renovation. Armed with spray bottles filled with wallpaper remover, scoring tools and scrapers, we set to work. (It’s really important to have the proper tools to make this part of the job as easy as possible.) If you don’t want to go the chemical route, there are other options out there such as using fabric softener diluted with water in a spray bottle. This, by the way, my girlfriend swears works really well and makes your room smell great! You can also use a vinegar and water mixture…if you can stand the smell of vinegar that is! Another option is the wallpaper removal steamer, which is a tool you rent to use. I warn you to exercise caution here. I watched my parents nearly set fire to the house using one that caught fire because it overheated during the removal process!

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Making decent time (about four hours after starting), we got all the wallpaper down. If you’ve ever removed wallpaper, you know what a messy job it is. It and its backer paper were everywhere! Check out these photos and you’ll see what I mean!

During this process, Katie asked me, “Why would anyone ever want to put wallpaper up, if this is the mess you get when you take it down?” Good question, Katie. This is one reason I have never been much of a fan of the stuff. Not to mention it can be equally tricky to get it on the walls in a good secure way that looks professional and finished when it’s complete. I told her that the beauty of a faux finish is if you get bored in a couple of years, just whip out your paintbrush and your faux look is gone in the flash of a brush!

Moving on…after sanding down the walls and wiping them off well to get all the residual wallpaper gunk off, we got a couple of walls painted and everything cleaned up and that, my friends, was the end of day one. It was a long day but very satisfying to know that all the old stuff was off and some of the new paint was on.

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On day two, we went in and finished the base coat on all the walls and were ready to give the faux finish a try. If you’ve ever done a faux finish, you know it’s all about layering and trying things, and when you land on the look you like, you repeat the process. What I hadn’t taken into account was how textured her walls were. Textured walls don’t work well for a linen-look faux finish. That’s okay though, we played around a bit with some different tools and all at once, there it was…the look she loved. We repeated the process on the accent wall and, as you can see from the pictures, the look was gorgeous! She and hubby love their new master bath, which now has a fresh and updated look.

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From Beast to Beauty!

Here was our process:

  1. Score old wallpaper to be removed. (You can’t score too much!)
    1. Spray liberally with wallpaper removal liquid. (This will take much repetition; make sure you leave it on the wallpaper and let it soak in before you begin trying to remove.)
  2. Using the scraper tool, scrape and pull off the old wallpaper.
  3. Wipe down walls to remove the remaining residue.
  4. Sand out any imperfections in the wall.
  5. Let walls dry completely before you begin painting. (If you skip this step, you can end up with diluted and streaky paint.)
  6. Paint all your walls.  Base Paint Brand:   Behr Norwegian, flat.
  7. For the faux finish we used a semi-gloss paint mixed in with a paint glaze (one part paint to four parts glaze in this case). Behr Norwester semi-gloss.   Glaze Brand: Martha Stewart.  Metallic Silver:  Martha Stewart.
  8. Brush a small area with the glaze/paint mixture.
  9. Wipe away some of this mixture with a clean rag.
  10. Comb over area with faux finish comb—we used Martha Stewart’s brand available at the Home Depot—or other tool. (Have fun trying different items; there are no wrong answers!)
  11. Experiment until you get a look you love! (If you want to add more of your dark color, let the wall dry and add the paint with a dry brush.)
  12. Repeat the process until the full faux area is complete.
  13. Stand back and enjoy your results!

So what did we learn from this blog? Well, we learned that Michele hates wallpaper in almost every instance. We learned that wallpaper removal is a messy, messy business. We learned some little tricks to make the removal process as easy as possible. We learned that a linen-look faux finish and textured walls don’t mix. We learned that creating the faux look that you love takes a little creativity and patience. And, finally, we learned that updating your bathroom and bringing it out of the 1990s isn’t that difficult and is actually quite fun and satisfying.

Note to wallpaper lovers: I certainly don’t want to offend those of you who are great at hanging wallpaper and love using it. My experience may be a bit skewed due to a very rough eight-hour day filled with five people trying to remove wallpaper from my daughter’s bedroom wall so we could repaint and update it. To say I developed a dislike for the whole wallpaper experience is an understatement.

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that wallpaper and borders in steamy rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens have a tendency to come loose, and you may find yourself constantly trying to keep it adhered properly to the wall. In all other spaces of your home, if you like it, use it!

Don’t forget to share your project ideas on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheRedesignHabit or send it into me at Ask Michele on our website at www.TheRedesignHabit.com.

Now what will you do next to love where you live?