Sunday, June 13, 2010

Back To Wallpaper

I have always wanted to wallpaper a wall, but fear of messing up kept me from venturing into the unknown. Better and easier to hire a professional was always the mantra - until I decided on a lazy summer Saturday that playing it safe is boring. There are so many things we never try for fear of messing up, but Back to A asks simply, "So what?" Mess up. Create a gigantic, fantastic mess. Have fun, take risks, try the things you have always wanted to try. Why not? The accent walls featured on DecorPad (see below) have had me drooling for a long time - I wanted one of my own!

I went with Harold and girlfriend Kristin Klonoski, the fabulous designer of custom clothing line Astrophel and Stella, to Janovic Plaza on 67th and Lexington Avenue. Kristin's zodiac sign is also Cancer, and her line is named after Sir Philip Sidney's romantic sonnet sequence. In Latin, stella means 'star,' while the Greek 'aster' and 'phil' combined mean star lover. I studied the sonnets in a Renaissance class I took at Columbia, and I was immediately captivated by Astrophel's unrequited love for Stella - the sonnets are full of yearning and anguish, but are also witty and sexy and eloquent - they are the first of their kind in English literature. Sidney boldly revolutionized the Petrachan sonnet form by releasing the need for rhyme. I'm not a fan of poetry that rhymes - I think expression is compromised when words are restricted by rules. Here's a poem I wrote a couple weeks ago after Kristin's line inspired me to read the sonnets again. We Cancer Moon children are suckers for poetry and fabric and creating messes. . . and digressing. Back to Wallpaper!

There are countless books in the basement featuring nearly every wallpaper imaginable, but I love that Janovic also has a host of rolls that you can buy immediately. Ordering is boring.

We rolled out my favorites, and ultimately decided the black was too hectic, the yellow might be too much yellow in my apartment, and the white, while very subtle, might be absolutely beautiful. We purchased a few rolls (it's $40 bucks and two rolls will easily cover a long, 10 feet high wall), and then a couple paint brushes, a tub of glue (the one pictured below is the best - it's $20 and dries clear so you can  get it on the front of the paper and it won't show) and that plastic thing next to it (it's $2 and should be $2 million for the difference it makes when you're smoothing the wallpaper over the wall - don't forget it).

Here is a fairly decent instructional video on how to do wallpaper:

We measured the wall, then laid down the first strip. As per the video we applied the glue to the wall directly. Unsurprisingly, Harold gave me one of his "This is going to end badly" looks. Ah, Harold, ye of little faith.

Applying glue to the walls directly is a TERRIBLE idea. The wallpaper bubbled alarmingly, so we took it off, scraped the glue off the wall, and then applied it directly to the wallpaper. It went up like butter and that plastic scrape thing was a godsend - it smoothed everything out. That first strip was a landmark at Back to A.

The subsequent strips are a bit trickier because you have to match the pattern. It's not hard - if you match a flower or a pattern at one point, the rest fall into place. What's hugely irritating about this, however, is that you end up having to waste a lot of paper because you have to start the next strip where the pattern matches. I have a ton of oddly shaped pieces of this wallpaper now, but I'm going to hold on to them - they'll be great as drawer liners or some future project I cook up. Design Sponge is a great source for DIY projects - I added it to my Aspiration Roll today - and this idea might be worth exploring - wallpapering filing cabinets - genius!

Kristin grew up watching her mother make changes around the house (her mother's favorite color is yellow, too) and was especially good at lining up the paper. Like I mentioned, the glue is awesome because even if it smears out of the cracks onto the front, there is zero stain. The wallpaper is still wet so you can keep shifting and adjusting the strip on the wall until you get it right. It was a surprisingly forgiving process.

But it does take forever. Kristin left hours later, but I continued well into the night - once I get a bee in my bonnet I simply will not stop. In the picture below you will see that extra paper that gets wasted because you have to line up the pattern to match - oh, and I advise getting an X-acto knife so you can easily cut the excess in a straight line. It's indispensable when it comes to cutting out little squares so the electricity sockets and light switches remain exposed.

Finally, I had my beautiful accent wall - it's the first thing you see when you come into my apartment and the mirrored console looks so much chicer now. I'm glad I went with the subtle white - it's shimmery and soft and I could look at it for hours - it's also a nice, feminine contrast to the geometric strips in the living room rug.

If you want wallpaper installed professionally, you can contact Haus Interior here and they will refer you to the AMAZING Jordan - his team just put up wallpaper in my bedroom (a future post - I'll show it to you when the bedroom is fully complete) and I won't lie, mine looks great but there are a couple bubbles here and there - Jordan's work is flawless.

But walking into your home and being greeted by a wall you papered yourself is priceless. Gracie's had the Yellow Star Tiger Lily for sale today - I rarely buy flowers and when I do I always get my favorite, gardenias - but there's something about a tiger lily that just matched my mood today - the emblem of summer and abundance, the holy flower of the Assyrians. Princess Tiger Lily. . .

The Indian princess Peter Pan saved.

It's Sunday - I firmly believe that everyone should create an accent wall today - boys, you too - take out the glue and the scissors, make a mess, go back to Neverland. Life is one long art project.


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