It’s a terrible experience to dread going into your own bathroom. Your bathroom should be your sanctuary.
But, my husband, son, and I had been living in this rental house for 4 years and I was fed up with the situation in there. The bathroom of horrors, as I liked to call it, had been wallpapered in the past by prior tenants. At least, that’s what the landlord told us when he showed us the place 4 years before. It was ugly. It was blue and pink flowers, and the paper was so old, it was actually looking yellowish in places. It surely didn’t look like this.
I told my landlord we’d need something done about that before we moved in, but all he did was paint over the offensive stuff. Yes, it was covered up, but the paint job was so bad that you could see the brush marks. Furthermore, after living here a few years, the wallpaper started peeling at the edges. So, I knew something had to be done.
I hated pressuring my landlord to have something done about it because, not only was he my aunt’s brother, but we were paying peanuts for the rent. We’d never find cheaper rent anywhere for a comfortable little house beside a river trail. Anyway, he was sick and I hated burdening him further. I endeavored to take on this task “some day”.
My husband and I were both working full-time and it was difficult to get started on any project with our schedule. But, as luck would have it, I was surplussed at my job and decided to take time away from working. Most people would not be happy with losing their job, but I had been considering leaving work for awhile so I could spend time with my little boy while he was still young.
Now, I could finally focus on doing some things around the house. The bathroom was top of my list. The first thing I had to do was remove that revolting wallpaper. I have never in my life taken on this sort of a task, but I didn’t think it would be a big job. My bathroom is a tiny thing, and there is this faux tile going up half the wall, then a thin chrome border, and finally the wallpaper was on the upper half of the wall. I thought surely I could knock that out in an afternoon.
I looked up ways to do this and found suggestions to use fabric softener on the walls to help loosen it up. One afternoon, I got a spray bottle filled with a 50/50 solution of fabric softener and water. I went to work. I’d spray some on the wall, wait about 15 minutes, then start stripping it away. While I stripped on one part of the wall, I’d have another part of the wall sprayed and softening up. First lesson: Nothing is as easy as the internet makes it seem. The wallpaper was coming off, sure, but I found that there was actually two layers. Some places were easier going than others. It was quite a mess.
My little “afternoon job” turned into a 3 day event. But, I finally peeled it all away. Second lesson: Sometimes there is a reason people put wallpaper up in the first place. Once it was all stripped away, I saw all the imperfections. There was a spot on the wall where I imagine a medicine cabinet must have been before. The texture on the wall there was different. Above the shower, there were places that the wall was damaged and I was surprised that there was even a small hole under that wallpaper. I could see that priming and painting would have to wait until these issues were addressed.
I ended up having to do some drywall repair above the shower, but that wasn’t the biggest concern. That darned big spot where the mystery cabinet had been before! I had trouble finding anything on the internet to help with this, but that is probably because I’m such a novice. It was hard to even know how to search for such a thing. I couldn’t think of keywords to describe the predicament.
But, I did finally find a blog where somebody seemed to have the same issue I did. Yes! I was happy to see a fellow DIYer who had triumphed over a texture issue like this.
First, I had to even up the edges. See, the paint was thicker around the spot where the cabinet had been, so I sanded as much as I could to try to knock that down. Then, I followed the guidance of my “savior”, a company blogger, who told me to use ORANGE PEEL SPRAY to texture my wall. I got this orange peel in the spray cans at my local Lowe’s and went to work spraying it all over my walls.
THIRD LESSON: NEVER BUY ORANGE PEEL SPRAY!
To say it was a mess is really undermining the enormity of this disaster. It was like little uneven nasty bumps everywhere. It was a nightmare. The really bad thing is, while I was doing it, I kept thinking, “This doesn’t look all that great.” But, I kept going. I kept thinking that if I just got it on, it would be okay. It wasn’t. I just sat down in the floor and cried, it was so awful. It wasn’t like we could afford to hire a professional.
And, my husband didn’t make matters any better.
When he came home from work, he stared at the walls, wide-eyed, and asked, “Can we just put the wallpaper back??”
I’d gone this far and I wasn’t going to let something like this stop me. I waited until it was all dry before doing anything else. Okay, if I’m truthful, I had lost some steam with that setback so I waited a few days simply because I needed a mental break. But, I really couldn’t live with seeing it every time I went in that room, so I did finally get back in there and sanded every bit of that awful orange peel spray off. It was way more time-consuming taking it off than it was putting it on, but I kept reminding myself how horrible it would be to have it on the walls forever.
I got even more determined to keep sanding. Once it was off, I still had that spot on the wall where the cabinet had been to deal with, but I finally smartened up. I saw a bloggers video where a lady used drywall mud and a roller to LIGHTLY texture the walls. I did that, waited until it dried, and did it again. Oh, yes, I finally had the texture I wanted!
The walls were practically smooth with just a faint dimpled look. I was so happy, I just wanted to sit in there and stare at the walls like an idiot. I couldn’t believe I had gotten myself out of that orange peel spray mess. Once everything was dried up properly, I primed the walls then painted them sky blue.
I refreshed the white paint on the faux tile part of the wall, and I polished up the chrome border before putting it back on the wall. (I had removed it to work on the wall.)
My husband and son said they loved it, but I think they were just happy I was done and would stop acting so neurotic about the whole project. I am just happy that I can stop cringing every time a guest asks to use my bathroom. I finally have a bathroom to be proud of!