Sunday, May 4, 2008

Interior Design Archaeology

It's Sunday and that normally means a trip in the Way Back Machine. But I'm too lazy to walk downstairs and paw through the storage tubs full of unorganized photos. I decided instead that we would go on an adventure.

Subtitle: Living in The Chicken Coop

We did a quick tour of my daughter's new apartment, making notes on what type of chemicals we'd need for our cleaning spree. Her new place is the top two floors of an old home in the historic district of Bloomington. The top floor is home to a large bedroom, a half bath with a stackable washer/dryer and a small bedroom that my daughter wants to convert into a Kimora Lee Simmons fabulosity closet. I'm all on board for that project. In my mind I'm already thrifting for crystal chandeliers, a chaise and a dressing table that would do my southern grandmother proud.

The first order of business with a new apartment is to buy flowers.


I felt bad because this caused her new boyfriend some distress. He wanted to be the first one to bring flowers to her place. Sorry!

The room was larger than I expected, much larger than the bedroom my daughter occupied in her younger days. It has a high pitched ceiling because it's in what would have been the third floor attic of the house. The view from the window is terrific because it looks out over the neighborhood, pitched higher than the other rooftops.


Because the entire room will be used as a closet my daughter couldn't decide how she would use the actual closet in the room. She's only done a quick tour and never opened the closet doors before. The first thing we noticed was an odd smell, very faint but very distinctive. I'd spent plenty of time at my uncle's farm when I was a kid and I know the smell of chicken feed when I encounter it. The room smelled like CHICKEN FEED!!!

This sent my daughter into a spiral of renter's remorse.

"Mom, I can't live in a chicken coop!!"

"It will be fine," I offered. It's best in these situations to attack her neuroses head on. "This place has been closed up for awhile, we'll open the windows, clean the carpet, scrub everything down and it will be fine."

Our attention had been momentarily diverted by chicken feed smells but now we turned to face the closet. We both stood like deer in the headlights. What's that???

Why it's a veritable archaeological find. It's authentic cowboy wallpaper!


At this moment I'm feeling like Howard Carter discovering Troy. This is big. Real, authentic cowboy wallpaper in my daughter's closet. Maybe I can get one of the design shows on TV to cover this discovery.

Just the sight of this paper brings back a flood of memories. My two uncles shared a bedroom in a similar attic bedroom and the walls were papered with cowboy wallpaper. Their beds were set against the far wall and my grandmother had gotten them some wonderful wagon wheel headboards. Oh the memories!


It didn't take a scientist to determine that the chicken feed culprit was the wallpaper itself. Time and age have mellowed it out and the paper has developed an odor.

My daughter swears that she'll have her boyfriend cover it with a fresh coat of white paint. How sacreligious is that? I'm lobbying heavily against such an action and have decided that my readers should have a vote, that way I'll have some ammunition for my argument.

By the way, the Poll Daddy site asked me if I wanted to block readers from voting twice. HA! I'm from Chicago and the motto there is "Vote Twice - Vote Often"!

NOTE: My daughter and I discussed my blog and she's all on board. She doesn't read it and that's a good thing. I don't think I need my family reading this stuff, they already think I'm wierd. She made me promise I'd write a story about her "Chicken Coop Apartment".


PamKittyMorning said...

That is just funny. My daughter wants blog time as well. She rarely pops into read anything, mostly to see what people are saying about her or her rabbit.

And thanks for finally getting that witch doctor song out of my head. I'm not sure that this song is an improvement thought.

GemStateMom said...

ahhhhh...I can't vote. Definitely don't paint it. But Polyurethane? I dunno.

There actually is one other option:
Carefully steam it, peel it from the walls, and send some pieces to me...who is totally into 1800's - early 1900's wallpapers and have been scouring the internet for finds! LOL

Seriously, I wouldn't paint it. The poly idea might work, but you'd have to wear a mask. All those strong vapors in such a small space is a sure recipe to kill brain a huge 'huffing' closet!

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

I answered five because I think it should be carefully cut away and the wallboard should be replaced and the wallpapered cut away portion of the wall can be preserved or cut into small pieces useful for backing bookshelves and such. All of this qualifies as your wishing that this commenter would get a life!

That paper really is terrific, but I suppose that there's no way to make it work in a fabulosity closet. How unfortunate!

It's your daughter's loss if she doesn't read your blog. She'd find that you are not only weird, but also one of the most talented bloggers in Blogdom. Do you keep them laughing all the time the way you do with us?

Lil_Birdie said...

Call me the antigue killer but
I don't think I could walk around with smell-O-birdie on my clothes.
A couple of coats of good primer should take care of the stench .
Maybe some photos to document the process and rember everything but the smell would be nice . So glad I don't have to make that choice because that wallpaper is really cute .

Suzanne said...

Pam - Gee, if I knew all it took to get you to comment was to declare you "The Crappy Commenter", I would have done it long ago.

Paula - I'm going to try steaming. Isn't there also some type of liquid you can spray on the wallpaper? I think I read somewhere about using diluted fabric softener. If I'm successfull I'll certainly send you a piece! OK - no urethane. My daughter would have a difficult time explaining to the paramedics why her mom was "huffing" in a closet!

Vee- Now that's a very clever solution to the problem. I consistently like the way you think. It really is a fantastic paper. I'm pitching the fact that the color scheme in the paper will match the leopard pattern rug she wants.

Thank you so much for the compliment. I was planning to do an entire post on the subject but the bottom line is this - I guess it's funny at the beginning, but my family has been exposed to me for 20+ years and it just ain't funny anymore. That's why I started blogging, to find a new audience and give my family a break!!

Lil Birdie - I don't think we're going to have to take any drastic steps. Airing out the apartment seems to be working. Now whether she'll keep it or not depends on her design scheme.

Thanks everyone for reading. I really appreciate that you take time out of your day for my nonsense!

Janet said...

Love your nonsense and now I have Rowdy Yates on my mind. He sure grew up well didn't he?

Janet@ Housepeepers

Thirkellgirl said...

I saw a cute vintage-looking small "crystal" chandelier light fixture at Walmart, of all places. I think it was intended for a little girl's room, but it was amazingly cute and *cheap. It's worth taking a look!

Love the way the wallpaper *looks but I'd have that scraped off in a heartbeat. Take photos for posterity and then exterminate it, lol.

diane said...

Since I can't get through one month without having to remove wallpaper, I need to jump in and add my 2 cents. The odor is from the paste. From the looks of the age of this paper, I would say it's either wheat or clay based paste.
You should be able to remove a lot of the paper by dry scrapping, since this paper is so old, thusly saving some mementos. After that, fill a spray tank, (garden variety) with very hot water and DIF, spray walls down throughly and let soak in. This process goes a lot easier if you let the water do it's job. In other words, spray and let it soak in, scrap off the areas that are more forgiving and leave the stubborn areas to be resprayed. After you get all the paper off, scrub walls with a 3M green pad and rinse with clean with a rag.
If you do decide to remove the paper this way, you throw an awful lot of water around and the walls and the drop cloth used will have to be allowed to dry. (I would put a box fan at the closet door for a day.) Before you paint, use a primer-sealer, not just a primer. Prep-Rite pro block by sherwin williams would be a good choice not only for the closet walls but would come in handy for priming the trim in the apartment which could very likely be oil-based paint that can't receive a latex paint without the proper prep coat.

On another note, if you do have the need to clear coat walls for some reason,(see voting survey,lol) there are many products out there besides polyurethane. Valspar, at Lowes, sells a clear protector sealer in 3 different sheens.

In the last 15 years of removing wallpaper, 11 layers on one wall is still my record but two months ago removing an innocent 5 inch border in a dining room actually brought me to tears,lol.

Rue said...

I've got one year to wait, but as soon as my son's gone, I'm getting one of those kimora closets too!

rue :)