The Story of Wallpaper

When we moved into this house (16 years ago) there was wallpaper in every room except the living room. I removed it myself in our master bedroom in 2000, during the Elian Gonzalez episode. This was also when I began to discover the public radio station we’re members of, KPCC. I remember this because I had the radio on while I steamed and scraped two layers of 40-year-old wallpaper for three days, and all they talked about all day, every day was poor little Elian. It started with Larry Mantel on Air Talk, continued with Juan Williams on Talk of the Nation, with Kitty Felde picking it up on Talk of the City, which ended just in time for Marketplace to look at the business angle of the story, only to hand it off to All Things Considered who drove it into the night.

Sam's new bedroom. Why have just one layer of wallpaper when you can just as easily have two or three?

I decided I had enough of wallpaper removal, so a  few years later when we repainted the kids’ rooms, we had the painter remove it. There were three layers of wallpaper in both rooms – AND the bathroom, which we were redoing at the same time. What a nightmare that turned out to be! I’m still glad our painter came back to work for us after that.

A year of two later we did the hallway (only one wallpaper layer), dining room (one layer only one wall above the chair rail), and living room (no wallpaper, phew!). To paint in this house is to first remove wallpaper.

All of this is the reason we haven’t repainted the family room and kitchen – where even the ceiling is wallpapered. Anyone who has been in my house and wondered why the kitchen and family room haven’t been updated, that’s why.

 The same painter has done all these jobs. He has also painted the outside of the house, and repainted the trim a couple of years ago. We got his name from a friend who has had him do, I think, three different houses. We’ve recommended him to three or four different friends who were all very happy with his work and his pricing. Anyone in LA who wants to know can contact me directly and I’ll give you his number.

Another wall of paper gone.


2 comments so far

  1. juliekornblum on

    Great to hear from you!

    Yes, I think the combined effect has something to do with it. The wallpaper and painting were labor intensive jobs we would have remembered vividly anyway. But that work isn’t extremely engaging mentally. The sensationalism of the news stories as backdrop to the laborious – however, mundane – tasks is what I think cements it in our memories. Had it been a regular day with it’s smorgasbord of “little” stories, I would never have remembered what was on the radio during that job.

  2. Deborah on

    Interesting about the wallpaper removal and your strong memory of the Elian Gonzalez episode. I have a similar strong association between the John Kennedy Jr. plane crash and painting Olivia’s room. Somehow the memory of each is more vivid because of the combined effect. ???

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