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When Trim + Wallpaper Don’t Play Nice

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At the time that the wallpaper was hung in the laundry room, we were starting with an empty box. There was a washer and dryer, but we hadn’t yet decided on cabinets, and we definitely didn’t have baseboards. (Btw, baseboards! When will this to-do ever be off our list?) But now that the cabinets have been installed, it was time – once again! – to take out the nail gun, white paint and miter saw to trim along the floorboards. The thing we weren’t expecting? It turned into a challenge. Despite the fact that two of the walls were almost completely rebuilt, drywall is rarely, if ever, straight, but those gaps and cracks can (typically) easily be filled with a line of caulk; it’s the secret glue that holds old homes together.

That is, when you don’t have to smear caulk over wallpaper:

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All this to say, after installing our baseboards, I pretended not to care that there were small gaps along the wallpaper, but because our paper has a large, somewhat sparse pattern, the gap was more visible than any other paper we’ve installed! I promised Scott that the gaps would grow on me (said no one ever), and the idea of getting out my caulk gun without a way to paint over the fresh line with wall color was reason enough to let it be. Of course he quickly called my bluff, and he challenged me to make it look good and seamless, knowing I would be much happier to finish the job well. So, grumble grumble, here’s what I did. (And PS, he was right.)

I ran a line of delicate painter’s tape along the top of the baseboards, making sure to conceal the wallpaper completely:

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From here, I was able to caulk as usual, although I did my best to use it sparingly. After running a bead of caulk with my caulk gun, I ran my index finger over it to smooth it out. We’ve been using this DAP caulk for the last few years, and it’s my favorite one to work with (let’s just say we’ve been though plenty of trial and error). Tip: If you dip your finger in a bowl of water before smoothing, the caulk will stick to the trim – not you. 

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The caulk is usually dry enough to paint over in 2-3 hours, but I followed up with paint after about 1 hour to prevent the caulk from drying completely. The last thing I’d want is to have a strong seal on the painter’s tape! To prevent puncturing my nice caulk line, I used a gentle hand with my paintbrush.

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Finally, I waited another 30 minutes so that the paint was dry to the touch. I was done with the tedious part, but it was time to peel back the tape. To prevent my fresh (and still damp) caulk + paint job from pulling up with the tape, I wanted to score a nice line where the tape met with the trim. With a new, sharp blade resting against the top lip of the baseboards, I lightly ran my knife across the length of trim. From there, I was able to peel back the tape without also pulling up the caulk and paint with it! On an important side note, I made the mistake of pulling against one of the wallpaper seams, and a tiny section of paper pulled back with my tape. Luckily, I caught it early and was able to pat it back into place with a dab of wood glue – crisis averted. Phew.

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The entire point of moving quickly (meaning, quicker than the recommended dry times for caulk and paint) was to prevent the tape from getting trapped behind a perfect line of painted goo. When I use painter’s tape for any other job on the home – whether it’s walls or furniture – I almost always pull up the tape while the paint is still slightly damp to the touch. I find it’s a much safer bet to keep a crisp line.

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The devil is in the details, that’s for sure. It’s what takes a room from good to great! We’re still working on the cabinet fillers, and at the eleventh hour, we also constructed a simple box frame for behind the floating upper cabinet above the washer and dryer. (Extra security!) And for even more instant gratification, we added knobs to the doors, so slowly but surely, we’re getting there, laundry room!

PS! We were asked to be guests on the Million Dollar Decorating podcast this month, and you can catch the whole episode right here

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  • Courtney @ Foxwood Forest7.15.16 - 8:29 AM

    You did a great job! You’re so right about the details. They can seem so small and insignificant (or a lot of work for such a small project) but they make ALL the difference in helping a room feel complete.ReplyCancel

  • Avery7.15.16 - 9:15 AM

    That rug–swoon! <3ReplyCancel

  • michelle7.15.16 - 11:30 AM

    Yeah that would drive me bonkers…looks good!ReplyCancel

  • Jaime Ballard7.15.16 - 12:15 PM

    Ugh….I feel your pain!! We rent and they never caulked any of the baseboards or crown molding!! It drives me BANANAS!!! The walls are a honey-tan color (yuck) and the base boards and molding, while beautiful, are WOOD IN TWO DIFFERENT COLORED STAINS which is also different from the color of wood windows!! Ack!!! SO MANY DIFFERENT SHADES OF BROWN!!! :( Our landlord, as it turns out, is my mother (haha!!) so I give her grief about it (in good fun) and tell her that I plan to find away to fix it when we have the money…

    Your caulking job with the wallpaper makes such a difference! Great job!! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.15.16 - 1:09 PM

      Oh, man! So frustrating. That’s one of those things that would drive me nuts, haha!ReplyCancel

  • Shelly7.15.16 - 3:33 PM

    Ha! When I read the title of this post and saw your picture, I thought it was going to be how the baseboards cut your pattern off so it’s all birds bottoms in the air:) Looks amazing, nice job and great tips!ReplyCancel

  • Lindsey7.15.16 - 8:23 PM

    No shoe or quarter round? I feel like it really finishes up a baseboard over hardwood…thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.16.16 - 9:07 AM

      We won’t be putting that in here since the flooring was freshly installed and went wall to wall nicely. In other rooms, we HAD to use it because some of the gaps were so big!ReplyCancel

  • Jane7.19.16 - 9:42 PM

    I have been looking at your website for inspirations and love your style. We are currently renovating our attic and I’m so lost as to what paint color I should paint the walls. I would like a cozy feel to it.ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.20.16 - 9:31 AM

      Hi, Jane! I suppose it would depend on how much light your attic receives. If it doesn’t receive a lot of light, you don’t want to choose a color that’s too soft, or it won’t receive the light it needs to ‘shine’! I’d recommend pinning some of your favorite cozy rooms/colors on Pinterest, and then bringing home a handful of paint chips to hang on your attic walls. Pull down the colors you immediately don’t like, and watch the other colors throughout the day until you narrow in on something. We also like to get sample jars of strong contenders that we can put on posterboard and move around the room!ReplyCancel

      • Jane7.20.16 - 9:47 AM

        Thanks for your reply! One more question, we have a big slope in the attic. I should treat the room the same as you suggested?ReplyCancel

  • Kim7.20.16 - 10:13 AM

    Do you mean a slope in the ceiling? But if so, yes, I would treat the room the same. Be sure to put your paint samples on the slope so you can see how it reflects light!ReplyCancel

    • Jane7.20.16 - 4:12 PM

      Yes, I did mean the slope in the ceiling. Most cozy atric I clicked on Pinterest had white paint colors with different undertones. Would you for for a different paint color all together instead of white? I’m thinking about painting the trims and the walls the same color. Thanks again for your quick reply!ReplyCancel

      • Kim7.20.16 - 4:18 PM

        Hi Jane! It’s so hard to tell without me knowing how many windows or how much light your attic has, which is why I strongly suggest bringing in paint chips. For example, if your inspiration photo has the same amount of windows as yours, definitely give white a try after you look at a bunch of white samples! You can always add coziness and warmth with pillows, blankets, rugs and curtains (basically, any textile!). I do love your idea of painting the trim and walls the same color. It’s such a chic look.ReplyCancel

  • Sybil Strawser8.21.16 - 11:08 AM

    So much good information on your blog. Love the ostriches!! Hoping to add wallpaper someday and this info will certainly come in handy. Just LOVE your baseboards. Hope to install something similar when we put new floors in our 1968 home.ReplyCancel

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