The Dining Room Becomes A Music Studio: Wallpaper Removal

Last night, Nathan and I dug into our first remodeling project on the new house.  Since I’ll begin giving all my cello and piano lessons from home in mid-August, transforming this room is top priority.  After a long day, we were finally both home around 8:30 pm.  Hudson went down for the night.  Nathan and I quickly ate leftovers from the cookout we had over the weekend.  By quickly, I mean no-time-to-warm-them-in-the-microwave and just-sit-on-the-kitchen-counter-while-you-eat.  Needless to say, we weren’t all that thrilled about beginning our project so late.  We had to get it done last night because we’re having carpet laid today, and the piano is being delivered tomorrow.  Stressful is our style.

Removing Wallpaper

Here’s the before picture of the room, minus the cat-stained blue shag carpet we already tore out.  I’m sure you’re sad you missed seeing that.  By far, this is the yuckiest room in the house.  But, by far, this is a way easier remodel than our old house.  That was remodeling.  This is just peeling wallpaper, putting in a light fixture, taking out old trim, putting up board and batten, putting up new trim, having carpet laid, changing out the cream outlets/switches for white, and painting.  No big deal.

Removing Wallpaper

Here we are in the process of peeling off the wallpaper.  As you can see, the top layer of paper came off super easily.  I’ve peeled a lot of wallpaper and it never came off in big sheets like this.  The backing and glue were still on the wall after the top layer of paper was peeled off.

To remove the backing and glue, we tried using a clothes steamer, but that didn’t get it wet enough.  After that, we tried rubbing a mixture of water and dish soap into the backing with a towel, and it started to peel off, but in teeny-tiny bits.  Then, my genius husband brought in a grout sponge, and we rubbed the water/soap mixture into the paper backing with that.  It was magic.  I would wash a wall thoroughly, then Nathan would come behind a couple minutes later, and the backing would peel off in huge sheets.  This little sponge made all the difference-you can find one here for $1.97.

After the backing was removed, there was still the issue of the glue.  Again, with a towel, it was hard work, but removing it with the sponge was so easy!  I would wipe down a section, leave it for a minute while I wiped down another section, then come back and wipe the first section again.  That’s all it took!  From start to finish, this project took less than two hours, including sanding the walls where the chair-rail had been, and cleaning everything up.

Removing Wallpaper

 This is what the room looks like right now.  I can’t wait for the carpet layers to come today and cover up that nasty vinyl tile flooring!

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How-To: Have An Organized Move

In the less than four years we’ve been married, Nathan and I have moved five times.  We’re basically pros at it now.  The last time, all our stuff was moved out of the old places (house and apartment) and into the new within four hours (in a torrential six-inches-of-rain-in-four-hours downpour, complete with flooded and closed roads, mind you) and unpacked within three days.  Here’s our list of tips and tricks, which we learned the hard way, just so you could read our list and make your first move go smoothly.

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Oh look, if you follow my tips, you’ll be smiling fondly at your spouse, skinny, have really great hair, and a nice plant.

1) Get mostly small boxes.  1’x2′ is best for most items.  The first time we moved, we went to the UPS store and bought the biggest boxes they sold.  They were almost as tall as us, and it seemed fantastic because we only had to move eight boxes.  It was all great and wonderful until we actually had to MOVE those 985 pound boxes.

2) Be picky about what boxes you get.  We have found that produce departments and liquor stores typically have stiff, sturdy boxes meant for heavy items.  Have fun explaining to your friends that you didn’t really drink 28 cases of Jack Daniels.

3) Put everything in a box.  Everything.  Even that random lamp, or your stand mixer, or the basket that you think you could just pick up.  Everything’s easier to move if it’s in a box.  You’ll be able to stack things more easily in your moving truck, and it makes it easier for all those friends who are spending their Saturday handling every single thing you own.

4) Exception: don’t put your clothes in a box.  Trash bags are your friends when it comes to clothes.  Keep your clothes on the hangers, put them in trash bags with the tops of the hangers sticking out, and cinch the trash bag’s tie around the hangers.  When you take them out, your hangers should all be going the correct direction, instead of being tangled up.  It will only take a couple minutes to hang the clothes in the new closet.

On our first move, I took all the clothes off of the hangers, folded them and put them in boxes, and then put the hangers into boxes.  Not only did this take forever on the front side of the move, but I then spent hours untangling the hangers and hanging our clothes in the new closets.

5) Sort through your closets and cabinets before you start packing.  In the weeks before you move, go through everything you own.  Don’t wait until you start packing, as it will feel overwhelming.  I get pretty ruthless here.  If I haven’t used it recently, it’s likely that I’m not ever going to.  I start by bringing our excess stuff to a consignment store, and whatever they won’t take, I donate to Goodwill.  Some other stuff is just trash, especially from our office area.  I stay on top of the paper piles, but when we move, I always have a giant pile of old receipts, expired coupons, etc.

6) Don’t try to unpack during the actual move.  Instead of parking myself in the kitchen and starting to unpack (which is what I want to do), I’ve found that it’s most helpful if I stand in the doorway and just tell people where to bring boxes.  I usually have the boxes labeled with the room, but things seem to go way faster when I direct people.  We also tape a sign to the door of each room, identifying it as “Master Bedroom”, or “Hudson’s Room”, or “Office”, and so on.  We wait to actually unpack boxes until all of our helpers have gone home.  That way, we know where our stuff is, and it’s organized in a way that makes sense to us.

Hope this helps!  Do you have any tips or tricks to add to the list?

Back to Blogging

Anyone out there?

(Dusts off keyboard)

I’m alive! I really didn’t intend to take a 15-month blogging break (are blogs even cool anymore?), but life happened, and now I’m back.

Oh, and I completed a pretty big project while I was away.  Yep, I grew this guy:

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Meet Hudson Paul, who was born March 30th, and has been growing like a weed ever since.  Being pregnant wasn’t my favorite thing ever- I mean, who really likes throwing up from weeks 5-36, sleeping sitting up because of heartburn, and having strong contractions every 10 minutes for 48 hours before labor really progressed?  But, I can honestly say that every day of little Hudson’s 3-month life has brought me more delight than I could ever imagine.  I love being his mom.

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Last August, Nathan got a job in the town I was already working in, which is over an hour away from our sweet farmhouse.  We tried commuting together for all of 4 days, then threw in the towel and rented a little apartment in our new town.  We put our house on the market this spring, and our first home is now being loved by a new little family.  The house is on our way to Nathan’s parents, so we get to frequently drive past at a normal speed slowly and see what they’ve been up to.  The house looks great!  It makes me so happy to know that the house that we poured our blood, sweat and tears into (lots of tears!), is still getting tons of TLC.

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Watson.  This little dude was an awesome pet and member of the family.  The three of us had so much fun together.  In September, he ran out into the road and was hit by a car.  He didn’t make it, and we still miss him.

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Last weekend, we moved into a spacious two-story in a quiet neighborhood with a beautiful back yard and lots of potential.   We are thrilled to have our own home again!  The couple we bought the house from built it in 1967, raised their three kids here, and now are in assisted living.  They took good care of the house, so everything is functional and livable.  However, they loved wallpaper- lots and lots of wallpaper.  The light fixtures, linoleum and shag carpets scream 70’s.

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Camping on the porch.

So, that’s where things are around here. I hope you’re ready to see this dated home transformed into an awesome space for our family!