I have come to the conclusion that most people who own old houses can’t be A type personalities. It would drive them nuts. Take for instance the walls.
Wallpaper in the 20th century has always been a budget friendly way to hide imperfect walls and add decorative impact especially as more and more designs became available at different price points. As styles changed homeowners simply added another layer in another pattern.It was also common for homeowners to simply paint over the existing wall treatment. Unless those before you have dutifully removed each layer of paper the walls you end up with may not look their best. So what do you do? Here are your options:
- You can keep the walls as they are and minimize their defects by painting with a flat paint
- You can simply put another layer of wallpaper to the walls thereby hiding what’s underneath.
- You can strip the layers but this may be a huge task. Test the walls in an inconspicuous place first then make your decision. I have seen the horrific results of a homeowner starting this project then giving up.
What not to do:
- Unless you absolutely have no choice or you are tearing out the walls to insulate (another topic for another time) do not drywall over the existing walls. This will create nice flat walls, yes, but you will find that the drywall will affect the mill work because it will butt up against it. The mill work will be flush to the new walls. I have seen examples of this and it really shows an extremely lazy disregard for doing the job right.
So learn to love your old walls. Think of their bumps, bubbles or ridges as character lines. If you went to Europe and suggested they should improve the look of the walls in their old buildings they would think you are crazy. Why is it that so many North Americans want everything to look new? Europeans have learned to appreciate the age and quality of old buildings, inside and out. Isn’t it time we did the same?