Sunday, July 29, 2012

Arrières Pensées

Yves Tanguy, Arrières-pensées (Second Thoughts), 1939
The prep work in the living room is finally done.  The last of the old beige moiré paper has been stripped, loose plaster has been resecured and patched, large missing pieces (behind the baseboards) have been filled in with drywall, the old wallpaper size/paste has been scrubbed down and stabilized with Gardz sealer, cracked have been taped and mudded and nailholes spackled, the silly skinny cornice moulding impinged upon by the ceiling paint has been given a faux natural wood finish courtesy of some brown paint I found in the basement and three or four coats of walnut-tinted shellac, and all four walls have received a coat of wallpaper-compatible primer.  Including the wall above the fireplace, where the wet places used to be.  The holes and flaws in the door frames are filled with wood filler and wiped smooth with alcohol on fine steel wool to avoid raising dust.  The door and window frames need a few coats of shellac, but otherwise, everything is prepared and ready for wallpaper.

But I'm not jumping up raring to hang it.  It may have something to do with a dream I had recently . . .

    I was in a house, and it was my house, though it looked nothing like it.  I was in a large room, beautifully wallpapered, and  the papering job was mine.

        The predominant color was a kind of deep warm rose-pink, with subtle pattern of more orangey-reds, with accents of darker and lighter colors running through it.  The effect was very rich, and though the paper wasn't any of my William Morris patterns, I knew it was very expensive, like something you would get from Bradbury & Company.  The most striking thing was a border about five inches high that ran horizontally around the room about four feet above the floor.  This wasn't applied over the other paper; no, it was integral with it.  The paper came in five foot widths, and I'd hung it as directed, horizontally, so the border showed as it ought, with the upper width overlapping the lower.

        I stood there admiring the effect, when all of a sudden the upper five-foot strip began to come loose from the wall, just to the left of the doorway.  Oh-oh!  I'd better go get some paste and stick it back up, fast.  But I wasn't sure where the paste was, because now it seemed that I wasn't in my own house, but this was a room I was living in in a house owned by somebody else, maybe my older sister, and I didn't want to go upstairs and bug her.

        My bed was opposite the door, I was tired, and I thought maybe I could leave this till morning.  But as soon as I sat down on my bed, more of the top width of wallpaper started peeling off.  No!  I ran over and literally caught it in my arms as it came loose from the wall.  I saw that underneath it the other, coordinating paper was also railroaded, and it went from baseboard to ceiling.  And as I stood there struggling, it, too, began to cascade down.

        All around the room the beautiful expensive paper was coming off the walls, and rippling down wrinkled and ruined, so it couldn't be put back up and reused.  What did I expect, I told myself.  This was a basement room, so maybe it was damp.  But I thought I'd taken that into consideration when I'd done the papering!

        Then I looked up, and saw that I'd also papered the ceiling in the deep rose-pink paper, complete with an ornamental border with special motifs in the corners.  And this, too, began to peel off and hang down.

        I was distraught!  All that work!  All that money!  The job was ruined and I was ruined!  What could I do?

And the only thing that saved me from utter nightmare misery was making myself wake up enough to remember that the only room I have wallpapered so far is the stairhall, and it's in William Morris "Blackthorn" and it's only on the bottom of the walls and it's adhering very nicely, thank you very much.

 At the time this seemed like only a frivolous dream, and I was more frivolous still for writing it down.  But maybe not.  Maybe it's me trying to come to terms with what I'm going to do with the red on red "Owen Jones" wallpaper I bought for the living room, if I don't get lucrative work soon and have to put the house on the market in the foreseeable future.  The price of the paper has nearly doubled since I laid in my supply three years ago.  And what about all the blankstock I've bought, too?  Maybe it might be better just to paint the living room walls and those in the dining room as well and get the trim back up, then wait and see what happens to me financially before I blow the expensive Morris paper on it.  Because if I hang it and have to move, sure as shooting the realtor will tell me I should take it back down in order to sell the house.  Or the new owner will take it down and all my effort will be wasted.

I don't know.  I have to consider that not using what I've got would mean blowing money on more paint, with no guarantee that I'd want to use the papers I have in my next house, if any.  And if I'm renting or boarding with somebody, how could I?

No decisions yet.  I still have a lot of work to do on the screen door and on the floor in the 1st floor hall.  I'll see what my local DIY friends think.  And if any of my DIY cyber friends want to weigh in, please do.


Shasha Kidd said...

If I thought I had to sell my house, I would probably just paint the room and save the paper to install after I figured out the job situation.

It's interesting that the wallpaper prices have more than doubled in the last three years. I've been tempted by many of the beautiful Bradbury reproduction papers, but their current prices are too rich for my depleted budget, which is why I decided to stencil by hand.

I have found some decent "arts & crafts" style papers that were quite a bit more affordable. They're not as nice, but they'd do for the price.

Kate H. said...

It's absurd, isn't it? These papers were about $33 a roll when I first picked them out in 2003, were up to $45 when I got them three years ago, and now they run $77 to $85 a roll. I wonder what's going on. New government rules and regulations? Could be.

Another factor for me to think about is that the papers I have are perfect for this house. They may not work someplace else. Or maybe they will.