The Naval Academy
It began as a simple wallpapering and painting combination job.
(Don’t they all start that way?)
A lovely golden and navy heron print would grace the walls above wainscoting in a bathroom. A small bathroom, I might add. Then, a coat of Sherwin Williams’ Color of the Month “Naval” would coat the back of a couple of living room bookshelves. Easy enough, except for three details:
We worked our way around the room, unrolling and measuring and chopping and Exacto Knifeing the while. The unbelievably stiff wallpaper put up a good fight, but so did we. My assistant frowned at my every move, but my limitless optimism kept us at a steady pace. We came to the wall with the light fixture and the window; I knew we needed a break.
Two more coats on the bookshelves and the tape was ready to be pulled back. With a color like Naval—and other dark colors—the surface will likely need more than the usual two coats. The bookshelves certainly looked grand. What wasn’t grand was the latex paint ballooning as it peeled away along with the tape. With the paint still wet, you have a better chance of fixing this issue after working on something else first. Heading back to the bathroom, we attacked the window and light fixture wall.
The best way to wallpaper around a light fixture is to first switch off the breaker. For the non-technical individuals among us, you can go ahead and treat this step the way you would a speed limit sign when you're late for a dental appointment. No matter what though, it's imperative that you remove the light fixture. Cut one long incision running from just above the screw hole all the way to just past where the mirror begins. That way, you can ease one side of the lights in and then the other. Make sure the wallpaper is cut and ready to go on the wall directly before you create this incision. My assistant held up the light fixture virtually the whole time (she’s incredibly muscled and never once complained).
Lesson one of wallpapering? NEVER do it alone. Unless you have to, and even then, don’t.
With that wall finished, we moved onto the next and completed the job. At this point, you’re thinking, “Ah she’s over the hump! Time for a peaceful ending.” But no, friends, the fun had only just begun.
Lesson 2 of wallpapering? Putting the light fixture back up is NEVER as easy as removing it.
The screw was an 1/8th inch too short to screw the fixture back on. Of course. Moving back to the bookshelves, we touched up the ballooning sections, allowed those to dry, then reinstalled the shelves. Voila! The seriousness of the dark blue matched beautifully with the toasted marshmallow-colored sofa and the lighter curtains. And with the books and other décor replaced on the shelves, the room livened considerably.
After over a million (or so it seemed) attempts, the too-short screw accepted its place in the world and the bathroom. The light fixture and mirror were in place, and didn’t the bathroom look radiant? The setting sun glinted off the gold lacing the wallpaper design and lent the navy blue background a warm glow.
So what’d we learn?
1. Always bring a wallpapering buddy/light fixture lifter.
2. Nothing is that simple! Nothing.
3. Keep a bag of wallpapering tools handy: Exacto Knife, straightedge, wooden roller (for smoothing out bubbles), sponge/cloth, etc.
Another day, another paint-splattered, adhesive-spread success.
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