This particular story began about three weeks ago, but I couldn't begin to chronicle it until I'd rested a bit…wait a minute, I just slept five hours on the couch waiting for a timer to ring so I could put another coat of paint on the ceiling before the tile guys arrive at 8:30 a.m.
Anyway, this story begins, as most home improvement stories begin, with a simple desire to receive more enjoyment from a room. The room in question is my kitchen, which has way too many things wrong with it to fix all at once. However, I decided to make an investment in new tile (installed by others) and freshly painted walls (prepared and painted by me).
It's important to note that at some stage early in the planning process, I failed to secure the cooperation of my husband for this project. I must have forgotten to say "Simon Says" or something, because it quickly became apparent that he had no interest in the kitchen or its relative beauty, and was intent upon not helping me with it in any significant way.
So I began stripping off the dorky flowered wallpaper and border in the kitchen, which went extraordinarily well! That is until I realized that the paper wallpaper backing that had been left behind would have to be removed, too. Some of it came right off with a little picking and peeling. The rest was tenacious to an extent that I would never have imagined. In fact, if I had imagined, it, I might have foregone the entire project then and there.
I went online to research the best methods of wallpaper removal from sheetrock. The most traditional thing to do involved scoring the wallpaper with tiny holes, then spraying a wallpaper remover gel on it, after which the paper would just let go and you could scrape it off with a plastic scraper. Okay, no.
The next thing I thought of was a steamer. I had rented one years before when I redid our bedroom and removed multiple layers of wallpaper. Luckily a friend offered to lend me her steamer and save me the rental fees. I unpacked and filled the steamer, waited forever for it to heat up, then began steaming and scraping the wallpaper. It proved very ineffective, and I ended up gouging the sheetrock with almost every scrape.
Someone online had the idea of just spraying plain water on the wallpaper backing, then scraping. We had a winner! That turned out to be the absolute best way to loosen the wallpaper for scraping. After a while I discovered that sanding the damp paper with a drywall sanding block worked even better than scraping and did absolutely no damage to the sheetrock. Now keep in mind that this process involves a tremendous amount of elbow grease, so it's really only possible to do about a square yard at a time before you have to stop and rest (there are frequent naps involved as well).
I was about 1/3 of the way through the wallpaper removal process when my husband informed me that he had talked to our tile guy and told him he could come the next day. Needless to say I freaked out and told the guy not to come. It sounds so quaint and amusing now, but at the time I had expected to have all the wallpaper removed and the walls (and ceiling) spackled, primed and painted before the tile went in.
Let's skip ahead to last weekend. After redoubling my wallpaper scraping efforts, I eventually got to the point where the only wallpaper remaining is behind the refrigerator and in one little alcove by the door. I was resigned to the idea that I would have to paint - carefully – after the tile was installed. That left two tasks to be accomplished before the tile crew arrived on Monday (keep in mind that they're contractors, so of course they're really coming on Tuesday).
We had, in a moment of temporary insanity, agreed to move the stove and refrigerator ourselves. I purchased some scrap carpet to cushion the hardwood floors and we decided we should move the stove first, since it would end up further into the living room. We managed to scoot it out about a foot, only to discover that it is firmly hardwired somehow. Maybe all stoves are like that, I don't know. As a special bonus, the power cable was not plugged into an outlet as you might expect. Instead, the cord goes down below the floor level – an arrangement that would probably make the fire marshal blanch in terror and flee the property.
We decided to leave the stove for the time being and appeal to the tile crew to help us. ("We are yuppies with no practical skills. How much can we pay you to do this useful task for us?") I vacuumed underneath and discovered that every toy mouse I have ever purchased for the cats had made its way under the stove to be preserved among the dust bunnies until now. Believe me, the cats had a par-tay last night.
That left the refrigerator. We tipped it onto a dolly, which promptly made the door open, raining bottles of 7-Up and Honey Brown all over the floor. I fetched some duct tape and taped the doors shut and we continued, but not for long. As soon as we got to the doorway we could see that the handles made the fridge too wide to fit through the door. I fetched a screwdriver and began removing them, but the screw heads on the lower handle were stripped. On to Plan B: removing the doors. I won't bore you with the details (I know, you're already bored – sorry), but we finally got the doors off, put the refrigerator in the living room, put the doors back on (almost correctly) and then tried to plug it in. Turns out, we have no grounded outlets in the living room.
By now the level of quarreling had reached personal levels that had nothing to do with the task at hand ("Why don't you go brush your teeth or use some mouthwash or something?!") I fetched an extension cord from the garage and rigged it from the kitchen to the living room for the fridge. I dismissed the hubby so I wouldn't have to look at him anymore, and proceeded to festoon the kitchen with dropcloths so I could paint the ceiling.
And that's how I ended up sleeping a few hours on the couch last night between paint coats. I still can't tell whether it looks good or not, but I've rinsed all the painting equipment, so it'll have to do for now.