Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The ModLodge: Failure

Multiple failures, actually.

Don't worry, everything is going to be okay and I'll explain how we got there, but [SPOILER ALERT] there will be no wallpaper.

I'll let that sink in. Yeah.

First, a quick summary of the window refinishing that derailed the wallpaper project. After the last blog update, I went forward applying the wood stain. Then, three coats of semi-gloss polyurethane. Allowing for dry times, the whole process took two days. 

The test patch suggested that the stain was going to be too dark. The completed full effect confirmed that, yes, it is totally the wrong shade for the room. I hoped it was the kind of thing no one would notice. Then Maria showed up to clean and, after scanning the room to be polite and seem interested in my handy work that I wouldn't shut up about, she asked, "Why doesn't the window match the rest of the room?"

So, there you have it. On the one hand, it's an irreversible change to the house that is by far the largest financial investment of my life. On the other hand, whatever.

Now I could get back to the wallpaper project, which meant prepping the wall surface. I'd read a few How-To articles on hanging grasscloth and each stressed the importance of setting up your walls for success.

By the way, I couldn't find one blurb about this process that wasn't excessively dramatic. One was titled, "How I Hung Grasscloth and Lived To Tell About It." Another called, "Tips For Hanging Grasscloth," stated no less than 6 times that it was a better idea to call professionals. I found this really irritating and it only made me more determined to get it right so I could type up my own How-To and call it something like, "How To Hang Grasscloth, Or Don't: It's Not That Hard and Nobody Cares So Just Get Over Yourself."

The other outcome, of course, would be that I'd end up covered in paste, lying on the floor and staring at the one strip I'd managed to hang, crookedly, after seven hours of grueling attempts. "Ah," I'd think. "Now I get it."

Fueled by my desire to prove strangers wrong, I was going to do everything to perfection, which meant very careful prepping.  In case you're actually here to learn something, let me tell you what that entails:

1. Remove nails, hooks, and screws. Then patch up the holes with spackle, allow it to dry, and sand down the excess. I love this step. It makes you feel like a skilled contractor while completing a task that is nearly impossible to screw up.

2. Sand the walls using very fine sandpaper or a sanding block. I went with 180 grit. This step is pretty satisfying, too. It removes little imperfections, like dust that got trapped in wet paint. Or, in this case, human hair of a previous homeowner.

3. Wash the walls with a little soapy water, twice. The first time removes all the dust from the sandpapering. The second catches anything you missed. Let the walls dry overnight.

4. Apply primer. Wallpaper doesn't adhere to the wall so much as it adheres to the paint on the wall. So it's best to give it something new and solid to cling to.

Taking it one step further, I opted to tint the primer to match the color of the paper. As you can see from holding up the paper to the light, there are weaker spots where you can see the paper backing under the woven grass.

White primer would risk making this more obvious, while a close color match would better disguise these gaps.

Rolling the primer onto my meticulously prepped walls, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere. Furthermore, after my uncomfortable sojourn into the world of wood finish, it was also nice to be back to the familiar realm of painting.

It only took a few hours to cover the walls. Then, I stepped back to admire the change and get a preview of how the room would feel with the same color paper.


I'd been striving for "bold and beautiful." I wound up with "church basement multi-purpose room." Where did I go wrong?

Since the primer needed to set for 24 hours before next steps, I had some time to think on it. Every time I left the room and came back to it, I felt an overwhelming sense of nope.

Some of you may be thinking, "But this isn't the wallpaper. It's just the primer." Yes, you're right. And the primer isn't nearly as nice as the paper, with its texture, iridescence, and variance in tones.

Still, it is basically what the color would be. And it proves what I have always suspected about color choices in my house. With all of the woodwork, I have to play it safe or risk looking outdated.

I always like to sleep on decisions. The next morning, with sunlight coming in, bringing with it a fresh perspective, the room looked just as hideous. I still maintain that the wallpaper is stunning. I still stand behind my vision for the finished room. It all works... in someone else's home. But, sadly, not in mine. Be it ever so humble.

Very well. I'd just paint over this teal monstrosity. But what color? No longer interested in risk taking, I stuck with the same swatch as the living room and kitchen --White Clay-- and the hallways --Sandstone Cove.

Rounding out the trio, I picked up a gallon of Castle Path and set to work undoing everything I'd done the day before.

It wouldn't have been my first choice to go from white to grayish by adding in an unnecessary intermediate coat of hard-to-cover-up dark teal. But at this point I'm just trying to make the most of it. And at least the walls themselves are, after all my hard work, flawless.

All in all, a very roundabout process to get to what is not that much different. Here's a better look at the new paint and window trim, compared to how it all began.


Pay no mind to the furniture arrangement or decor. It's all still a work in progress. I mean, I haven't even gotten started telling you about my adventures in baseboarding.

Setting aside all of the missteps and the stupid MacGuffin wallpaper, I like where we've ended up. The wood trim is, in and of itself, a really pretty shade.

New paint and refinished window
The new paint is calm and much much cleaner than the glossy, spotty, hairy paint job we inherited when we bought the house.

Maybe there can be another attempt at wallpaper in the future. I'm still compelled to succeed at the task and rub it in the nay-saying bloggers' dumb faces. In the meantime, I've got two rolls of expensive, teal grasscloth wallpaper from The Orient up for grabs if anyone wants em.