M. Giant's
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Thursday, October 08, 2009  

Papered Over

One nice thing about having lived in this house for over sixteen years is that less and less of the stuff I'm fixing is the result of the work of Dr. Jellyfinger, and more and more the work of people I've hired, family members, and myself. All of whom have a much better idea of what we're doing than Dr. Jellyfinger ever did.

During this endless bathroom ceiling replacement project (it's getting there, but I confess that by now I would have fired anyone as slow as I am), something unexpected happened. The new ceiling, which now consists of naked drywall stippled with a wide stripe and multiple spots of unsanded plaster compound, started looking a lot better than the wall right below the window.

Let's rewind. About five and a half years ago, when we were getting the house ready for the adoption home study, we redid our bathroom. We'd torn the horrible wallpaper off the top half of the walls the first summer we moved in (so as to avoid a psychotic break during long periods on the terlet), but there was still wallpaper on the bottom half that needed to go, despite being rather less horrible. This time around, we were going to get rid of the wallpaper entirely, since we both pretty much hate the entire concept of wallpaper. But that would have exposed the even more horrible scraped-up wood paneling underneath that the horrible wallpaper had been stuck to. And under the paneling was rough plaster that looked like a stadium floor after a tractor pull, so leaving that exposed wasn't an option. The only thing that fit into our time budget was new wallpaper. We got something without a pattern -- only color and texture, and not much of that -- and my mom put it up.

Fast-forward five years. Phantom and Excavator have something of a feud in effect with Pipsqueak, a straw-colored indoor/outdoor cat of indeterminate gender who lives next door. The frontier of their ongoing feud is our bathroom window, because Pipsqueak can climb up on the deck bench and make our cats scream at it.

So you can imagine the beating that the wallpaper under the window has taken over the years, as they use their claws to haul themselves on and off the windowsill. But it's accelerated since we adopted Excavator, who seems to be singlehandedly trying to eliminate the phrase "catlike reflexes" from the language.

And we have the birthday party coming up, and when guests arrive, something about a work-in-progress ceiling somehow seems more reputable than a disintegrating stretch of wallpaper. Especially after last week, when, during one of M. Edium's long periods on the terlet, it occurred to him that maybe he should just take hold of one of those little scraps of wall and pull it away, revealing a chunk of that horrible scraped-up wood paneling. So next weekend, any number of people who have never been here will come over, use our bathroom, and mentally describe our otherwise lovely home as "early crack den."

The good news is that now we had an excuse to get rid of the horrible paneling, now that we could see it again. I even picked out some new paneling out at Home Depot:

But how were we going to find time to get new paneling home, let alone installed in the time we had left? I mean, we'd have to disconnect and move both the toilet and the vanity, and worse yet, hook them both back up again. Today, I seriously floated the idea of paneling just the one wall before the party:

While fretting about that, I decided to go down and find my hand-sander, because at least then I could get the ceiling ready to prime and paint, if nothing else. I didn't find the sander, but I found something else: the remainder of one of the rolls of wallpaper we used originally, five years ago. And I thought, "Hmm, I can't wallpaper a room, but I can wallpaper a few square feet of a room." So I finished peeling off the shredded section, cut a new one (with Exie's help, naturally), filled the bottom of the bathtub to dunk it in, and pasted up the new sheet:

It's not perfect, but it'll hold up under casual scrutiny. Oddly, it even makes the rest of the wallpaper look better. And now the ceiling is the worst part of the room again.

Damn, I really need to find that sander now.

posted by M. Giant 5:13 AM 2 comments


I'm a little creeped out by how much that bathroom looks exactly like ours in shape, size, and setup. Only difference is that previous owners installed a pedestal sink, a big shelf over the toilet, and paneling exactly like you're talking about. I feel like I should send you a picture, it's that eerie.

By Blogger dancing_lemur, at October 8, 2009 at 10:24 AM  

Wallpaper in an area with steam seems to have some inherent problems.

Okay, went after the Christmas books project again because it still needs funding.

By Blogger Land of shimp, at October 12, 2009 at 9:50 AM  

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