Wallpapering 101

The most important thing to remember is that there's no right or wrong when it comes to decorating.

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If a large border is placed just above the countertop, it can look way too high for the commode, so allow the border to be cut through the middle to show part of it around the sink area. All of it will show at the commode. (SHNS photo courtesy Home & Garden Television)

Having wallpapered dozens of rooms and removed just as much paper, I’ve dealt with dream projects and nightmares alike. One early project was a bathroom in which the builder’s daughter had installed the original wallpaper, but she hadn’t prepared the walls correctly. Instead of priming the walls and rolling on a wallpaper sizing, she simply adhered the paper to the fresh drywall.

Well, with blood boiling, I did the unthinkable. That’s right, I sanded down the rough edges I’d created and oil-base-primed over the wallpaper. I know I should get 40 lashes for it, but it was the drywall or me. And being just a bit smarter than the drywall, I won.

Once the room was habitable again (oil-base primer doesn’t exactly smell like roses), I was all ready to roll on the sizing and start the installation of the wall coverings except for one thing: I couldn’t decide where to put the two colors of wallpaper. In the wallpaper book, the darker color was above a chair rail and the lighter color below. I thought I wanted it to be the opposite way, but what if I was wrong? If it was the other way in the wallpaper book, was that the right way? I've been an interior designer for nearly 25 years and I still worry that my decisions might be "wrong."

After taking the plunge and sticking with my instincts, the next nightmare struck as I was adding a border at chair-rail height. What’s the correct height for a border in a bathroom? If it’s placed just above the countertop, a large border can look way too high for the commode. If the top of the border is lined up with the top of the backsplash on the counter, the border can be hidden behind the commode, with none of the pattern showing up around the sink area. What a dilemma. In the end, I made the executive decision to allow the border to be cut through the middle to show part of it around the sink area and all of it at the commode.

I agonized over that decision, too, asking everyone I knew to step into the bathroom with me, and in the end the decorating police never showed up to arrest me for doing something decoratively wrong, or for priming over the paper. Isn’t it awful the pressure we put on ourselves to do the right thing when in decorating there is no right or wrong?

The next time you’re faced with a nightmare of a dilemma during a wallpapering project, just keep in mind that the decorating police aren’t going to come knocking.

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service

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