When we purchased our first home a few years ago, we had no idea the amount of cosmetic work it was going to take to remove the 1970s vibe that defined the entire inside of it. However, even though the house was outdated aesthetically, we fell in love with the feel of it, and started our massive effort to remove the multiple layers of wallpaper that plastered virtually every inch of wallspace in the house shortly after we moved in.
It took a little over two years, but throughout 2008 and 2010, we removed all of it. Some rooms that had more than one layer of wallpaper (only one layer can be removed at a time), took multiple weeks of scraping, and the one room that had been wallpapered then painted over took more than a month to get rid of.
One of the rooms I am most proud of and spend the most time in is my kitchen. Before we began work on it, it was not a functional or warm space to work in, which made me incredibly motivated to improve it as much as possible. Although we never gutted it, we did make every possible cosmetic change we could with the space and existing dimensions the room presented, while staying within our budget.
This is a picture of our kitchen right after we bought the house. As you can see, it was yellow, grimy and dated.
After stripping, sanding and priming the walls, we applied pale blue, stark white and dark chocolate tones on the wall. We cleaned and repainted the grimy cabinets, and updated the hardware on them. The old formica was updated with a new countertop, and we bought a new dishwasher to replace the old one.
The first few months we lived here, there was virtually no counter space next to the stove. I remember chopping food next to the sink, then balancing it on a cutting board as I walked across the kitchen, then balancing it on another pot while I cooked. Not fun.
So we moved the refrigerator out of the space and bought a wooden chopping block to take its place. This is now a fully functional workspace, and I love the pot rack that Jeff hanged from the wall, as well as the magnetic strip for knives and three spice racks nearby for ease of use.
We unfortunately had to put that refrigerator someplace and it now sits in this nook, in front of the window. I especially love the arch leading into the nook.
Double wallpaper fiasco! 70s wallpaper on top of 60s wallpaper! This took me two straight days of maniacal scraping with a combination of stripping chemicals and elbow grease—it was like removing stubborn gum from a sidewalk. 40+ year-old wallpaper on plaster walls = severe adhesion issues.
Ready for sanding and priming!
Painting is done. Finally.
Since 2010, we’ve made other improvements as we’ve had the time and money, like laying a dark chocolate wood floor over the grimy vinyl floor, installing crown molding, updating the cabinet hardware, painting the insides of the cabinets rocket red and replacing the sink with a new one, with new faucet fixtures.
I am amazed at how sanding and color can impact a space, giving it an entirely new look and feel. Although doing everything ourselves was rewarding, I doubt we will ever choose to do it again in another house. Actually, we will never move into another house with wallpaper plastered all over it. Never, ever!