Like a habit we can’t kick, every time we walk past the guest room, we have to open the door and stare at the wallpaper. It’s just so pretty! And shiny!
We only wanted to do one accent wall, as it was a way for us to create a zone for seating, a small light and perhaps a tiny table. This isn’t the first time we’ve done wallpaper in one of our homes, but it was the first time we’ve hung it using a traditional pasting method (our first foray came pre-pasted). We were a little nervous before jumping in, and although there’s always a bit of panic when the first strip goes up, it’s really not bad at all – in fact, let’s wallpaper everything! (Okay, maybe not everything. But most things?)
Keeping with a traveled, city-esque theme – this’ll be a cozy crash pad for out-of-towners, after all! – we picked up a roll of Cities Toile from Hygge & West. The quality is outstanding (bonus: it’s screen printed in Chicago!), and we still cannot get over how perfectly gold the metallics are, how smooth and matte the black runs and, well, we just love it!
WHAT WE USED:
Paint roller + tray
Wallcovering paste (1 quart per roll)
Bucket of water
Wide putty knife
Knife with new blade
WHAT WE DID. We did prep the walls first with a wallpaper specific primer, which claims to block mildew and allow for easy removal down the road – if and when. The room was cleared as a place to stage our paper, and after going over a tutorial from This Old House and the FAQs from Hygge & West, we felt ready to dive in!
ONE) After cutting a strip that was about 6″ longer than the length of our wall, we used a paint roller to apply the paste, making sure to get the edges, top and bottom. TWO) With the paste applied evenly, we booked the paper together and allowed it to relax for 5 minutes. It was time to put up the first strip!
THREE) We brought the paper up to the top left corner, and I used a paper smoother starting at the top and middle, while slowly and (very, very) carefully pushing out towards the sides to release air pockets. Scott helped by guiding the bulk of the paper down with me, and FOUR) we followed that up with a sponge and fresh water to wipe away excess paste. As air bubbles reappeared (because that will happen), I used the smoothing tool again and again until we were in the clear.
FIVE) Using the putty knife as my guide, I cut along the top, sides and baseboard to cut off the excess paper. As much research as I did beforehand, I couldn’t quite figure out if it was best to do this at the very end or strip-by-strip, but we opted for strip-by-strip. It made things much easier to move on to the next one!
Some takeaways that we experienced:
- A damp sponge will do you better than one that’s been completely soaked, as we found that if our sponge was too wet, air pockets will begin their takeover. But if you get a small bubble or two? Don’t sweat it! The paper always looks much better dry than wet, and some of the tinier pockets will even fade away.
- For lining up your seams: The wallpaper primer helps to buy you more time, and the paper does give a little stretch to help you pull those seams together. (Just no overlapping!)
- Whether you’re laying your wallpaper on a floor or table to paste, remember to wipe the excess paste from your floor (or table) before measuring, cutting and pasting the next strip.
- And if you royally screw up? Peel that paper back and start again from the top. You have time to smooth the paper once it goes up, so move at a pace that’s slow enough for your nerves, but efficient, too.
We completed our accent wall in about an hour and a half start to finish, but of course I realize that we were completing a simple square, with no need to go around corners, doors or windows. We did, however, have an electrical outlet installed before starting (there was only one outlet in the room prior!), so we needed to cut that out.
Speaking of which, we never in our lives thought we’d on purpose buy a black outlet and plate, but here we are:
This paper is so good! The black and gold is so stunning in person, and just like our dining room light, I feel as though photos can never do it justice. It doesn’t help that the room is empty – or that we haven’t yet completed our big headboard to balance out this wall – but the paper, while dark, feels so fun and fresh.
The thermostat wire has been tucked up alongside the closet, but it – along with the gas line – will be completely hidden once we add curtain panels. That is, after we add proper shelving and storage.
We only wish that a Sears Tower would’ve been added to the tally of cities (can you pick them all out?), but it’s such a dramatic-yet-light-hearted touch to the room our friends and family will be staying in! Up next? Headboard. Closet. Window shades and shelving and a rug and bed linens and art (and, and)!
It’s been a bit of a funny week, as I’ve been out of town for the first half traveling to gorgeous Kohler, Wisconsin! (Every year, Scott and I make a promise that we’ll leave the city for the weekend and take a drive north to see the changing leaves, and although he wasn’t able to make it – boo! – those leaves are no joke. So colorful!) I was invited to check out the insane Kohler factory and showroom, but it was much more than that – I enjoyed late nights with new friends, toured their amazing campus-of-sorts and spent the days imagining bathrooms without duct tape on tiles. (We may or may not have duct tape on our tiles; that is all.)
Long story short, my love of pedestal sinks and apron sinks and all things brassy and shiny has grown tenfold – as if that was even possible in the first place. And did you know you can go on a factory tour, too? And then we can talk about our love of sinks and tubs and faucets and motors and all things powder coated together?
Gah, it was amazing.
But! That post title wasn’t meant to be misleading. Today, let’s talk about the guest room! It’s a long, skinny room on the first floor off of the dining room:
It’s been re-shaped and re-configured over the years, no doubt, and duct work has been boxed out with poorly done drywall. A closet was added (we’re wondering if this was ever really intended to be a room at all?), and although it’s on the small side, it’s nothing some reconfiguring and new shelving won’t solve.
But as the guest room, we have no plans to change up all those funny (and mostly sloped) angles. We had no desire to touch those baseboards, and we wanted to see how far paint would go! As it was, the ceiling was never fully painted, and old tape, tacks and staples were stuck in the walls. I took these photos before we really got into the spackling, which involved long nights and weekends over drinks, a big bucket of joint compound and a lot of power sanding.
And our attempt to fix a moldy, wonky window sill (the mold issue was a quick fix by our contractor that has since been resolved – phew!) with a little bit of new trim, of course, turned into a full blown let’s-see-if-we-can-take-apart-this-whole-f*@ing-window ordeal. On the plus side – and during the process – we realized that there were entire sections around the window with no insulation, so we were able to remedy that as well!
Let’s just say that painting, prepping and some-new-trimming turned into an entire week’s worth of work, but you guys. What a difference – surprise, surprise – paint makes! We wanted something very clean and bright, as that one window allows a flood of natural light, and we landed on White Pistachio by Valspar. We tried out Valspar Optimus in an eggshell finish, which is one sheen higher than we would normally use, however, it felt appropriate for a guest room – you know, with well-traveled luggage. It’s a super soft green-gray that changes with the light like a chameleon, and it’s just so, so pretty.
For the windows, we ended up opting out of a sill due to the tight quarters, but we were able to successfully use pine to replace the casing and trim to frame it. The door got an instant facelift with trim as well, and everything was painted Ultra Pure White semi-gloss (Behr) to match the rest of our home.
On the back wall, we used wallpaper primer because – wallpaper! As mentioned here, we picked up a roll of Cities Toile in black and gold, and I hate to be a tease, but we just finished installing it and, my goodness. Photos to come soon, but just know, swoon.
The closet doors were removed completely (we’ll be adding curtains, as the doors prevented full use of the storage space), and although there’s an immobile gas line in the way, we were able to conceal it with the same paint as the rest of the room. The thermostat wire will get tucked up along the length of the closet casing, which, while unavoidable, is no big deal.
Because the room is so small, and because the paint color we chose was so light, we painted the ceilings, too! Every drywall surface with the exception of the wallpaper accent was painted in White Pistachio, and the natural light plays with it so well. It’s even a little tough to tell that the ceiling is the same color as it reflects the daylight differently, and it just works. We also replaced the heating vent with something that would properly blow the forced air into the room (how novel!), added a dimmer switch, and that fixture will absolutely be replaced.
We have a really funky headboard that’ll get a coat of paint in the coming weeks (you can see it in the very first photo), and we’ve slowly been accumulating a few items that are necessities in a guest room (well, some are just for fun!). We’ve asked past guests what makes a guest room comfortable and happy for them – blinds, a spot for luggage, a small desk and warm sheets – and we’re taking it all to heart.
Our goal is to complete the room fully by the end of the month. There, I said it!
Factory photos via Kohler, taken during our stay.
Remember when we were all, we’re thinking of hanging a pair of these 14″ West Elm lights above our accidental dining table? Or maybe just one of these 16″ Rejuvenation lights? You all chimed in with your input, and you nudged us in the same direction as our guts, the former. We had actually already ordered the WE globe lights, but then our gut had second thoughts, and so they remained in the box because we just could not decide.
And then on the last day we were in Portland, we stopped into Rejuvenation on our way to the airport (with just 15 minutes to browse). Our mission was to check out the latter light – the Sfera – in person to see if we loved it in real life as much as did online. And would the 2″ size difference matter all that much?
A helpful employee pointed us in the right direction, and to be honest, we were underwhelmed. The white finish felt cold, and we weren’t convinced that the larger size was necessary. And so just as we were about to leave and make our mad dash to the airport, I pointed out the gorgeous Hood light to Scott, and the same employee told us that oh yes! The Hood! It comes in all these finishes you see here. (She points to a wall of metal finishes.) As you can imagine, we both ogled the “old brass” at which point, Helpful Lady says ah! The old brass! I just added an old brass Hood to our clearance this morning – a customer return. Oh, and our clearance is 50% off right now!
Well, you can imagine the happy ending to this story, because we came home with the Hood light!
Okay, technically, we had them ship it to us because we were on our way to San Francisco, but what are the chances? Not only did they have the fixture in clearance, they had the 14″ opal globe we liked, too! At first, my only concern was that the overall 38″ length wouldn’t be tall enough for our almost 10′ ceilings, but for $175 (normally $450 – what!) we took a chance. There was definitely an adrenaline rush coursing through my veins (that’s normal, right?), as we had to make a decision right that second and a plane to catch in an hour.
To show off the entire fixture, I needed to use my wide angle lens (above), which I really don’t think does this light any justice! It appears smaller in these photos, and although it’s technically not as low as a chandelier should be, we think it works. In person, it carries much more weight in the space; it’s thick and large and really, really hefty. Because our dining room is only 15′ wide, and because the fixture has more presence than a single down rod, it feels so good in the space. Plus, look at how pretty it pairs with our brassy curtain rod!
The light was put on a dimmer (we put all our lights on dimmers – worth it), and it gives the softest glow in the evening. And while we definitely toyed with the idea of hanging two pendants, we’ve no regrets on taking that spur-of-the-moment chance. We’re kicking ourselves for not catching the name of Helpful Lady (we were literally running to the car after our purchase), but HL, if you’re reading this, you’re awesome.
PS… We also finally added sills to the two dining room windows! They still needed to be painted when I took these photos, but hallelujah! Trim!
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