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#ROW80 Update and Home Improvement Adventures

Okay I freely admit I haven’t been writing.  Well I did yesterday.  759 words.  I’m inching back into the book, filling in some final holes before moving forward in chronological order after jumping around all over the place.

What I HAVE been doing is finally getting around to doing the embossed wallpaper backsplash in my kitchen.  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for about 4 years and just never got around to.  Since, in all likelihood, we’ll be in this house until next year (unlike our realtor, I don’t have high hopes for Friday’s open house), I’ve been working on doing several of the projects I put off.  Like framing out the bathroom mirror and making a new window treatment, which I did a few weeks ago.

So I went from this:

New window treatment

To this:

I am very very pleased with how it came out.  The whole thing cost me about $70 and took me 3 days (3 or 4 hours of actual work and a lot of waiting on crap to dry).   So in case you wanted to know

How to make an embossed wallpaper backsplash

  1. Pick out your wallpaper.  There are lots of options in the embossed world.  I went with a faux tin look because that’s what I wanted to simulate.  I got a roll on ebay for $35 shipped.  It is REALLY long, so I’ve got oodles left for a future project.
  2. Pick your paint color.  I went with a pewter shade from Lowes’ Earth Elements line.  The metallic paints are a two step process with a base coat and then the metallic coat, and they are NOT cheap.  A quart of each came out to $35.
  3. You’re also going to need freezer paper, an Xacto knife, a good paint brush, clear caulk (for the seam between the counter and the wall), and good masking tape (I am told Frog Tape beats out the blue stuff…I’ll try that next time).
  4. Before you do anything with the wallpaper itself, you want to make a template out of freezer paper.  That’s that big wad of white you see on the counters in the before pictures.  There is no conceivable way you can get the wallpaper cut properly to fit your space without making creases all over the place.  So you start with the template.  I worked in 3-4 foot sections and taped them together as I got them cut to fit the wall with my Xacto knife.  I found it helpful to put bits of tape on the back to stick it to the wall while I worked, pressing into corners and such before I cut.  Be sure to REMOVE the outlet covers and cut holes for any plugs or light switches.
  5. Once you have your template, you’re going to find a clean stretch of floor and roll out the paper.  Be sure your template is facing the correct direction!  The paper will be pattern side down, so you’ll be flipping the template from the way you had it on the wall.
  6. Carefully cut your wallpaper to the template (you might want to affix the template to the wallpaper with tape while you cut so it doesn’t move on you) using a straight edge and being sure not to cut your floor.  Pay attention to your pattern regarding where you start and end each piece and give a little tiny bit of extra at the ends that will be going into corners.  You’re going to overlap so you don’t have a gap.  Get all your pieces ready to go at once.
  7. Now my paper was pre-pasted so I followed the instructions that came with it, which involved, piece by piece, immersing the paper for 15 seconds, then folding it pasted side to pasted side, sort of in half but not actually creasing.  This is called “booking” (no idea why).  It apparently has something to do with getting the glue ready.  You’re going to let it hang out booking for 5-10 minutes before carefully adhering to the wall in the correct spot.  You’ll want to smooth out any bubbles with a sponge and wipe away any excess paste.
  8. Repeat with all pieces.  If you can work in one big long piece per wall, do so.  I had a space about ten feet long for mine and it worked out fine.  Have to be very careful not to rip though.
  9. Allow the wallpaper to dry overnight before painting or trimming excess.
  10. Now if you have a steady hand and can actually paint without making a mess if you don’t tape off, then skip this step.  It usually doesn’t work.  Otherwise, tape everything off carefully to try to avoid making a mess of your surrounding surfaces.
  11. Then do your paint treatment.  Mine involved just painting on the basecoat, letting it dry for at least 4 hours, then adding on the metallic coat, which I had to brush on in a vertical direction (according to the instructions).  I had to come back the next day after that was dry to do some touch ups.
  12. Once that’s dry, CAREFULLY remove the tape (you will probably want to use your Xacto knife again to cut between the tape and the paper) so you don’t rip anything off.
  13. Then you get to clean up your edges, repainting any cabinets or walls that the tape failed to protect (which mine totally failed at).
  14. Once you have THAT finished, you’ll want to run a fresh bead of caulk between the counter and the wall, wiping away excess.  Let dry, then done!
  15. The paint itself is totally sufficient protection in the event of splashes and spills.  Just wipe it down like you would a regular wall.

17 thoughts on “#ROW80 Update and Home Improvement Adventures

  1. Oooooh, that looks amazing, Kait! I love the tin print! And now I’m wondering if that’s something my landlord would let me do to spruce up our new kitchen a little….It looks great and really just makes the kitchen pop more. Good luck with the open house coming up! You’ll have to let us know how many people comment on the awesome backsplash. ; )

  2. That looks great! Very nice job. It’s nice to work hard and see that progress – with your WIP and home improvement projects. Best wishes the rest of the week with ROW80.

  3. Nice job, Kait.

    The cupboard doors on both sides of the sink don’t line up properly. One door sits a bit higher than the other. It’s really easy to fix. There’s a small adjusting screw on the door hinges. If you need help with it, just pop into the kitchen department at Home Depot and one of their associates should be able to show you how to fix it. There should be a brand name stamped on the hinge – you might want to take that with you.

    1. Yeah honey these are vintage 70s hinges that have no adjustment. I’m well aware my doors don’t line up. The cabinets are homemade by someone without much woodworking skill and the doors are made such that they cannot accept a different kind of hinge. We’re not going to be in the house long enough to justify the expense of custom made doors. I already looked into it. We are actually very handy people and have attempted to relevel them repeatedly. Not much you can do when the doors just aren’t right. Plus we don’t HAVE a Home Depot.

  4. That upgrade with the wallpaper is amazing. Wouldn’t have believed it was wallpaper – for starters. Like the lamps over the sink, too. Do you hire out? (kidding).
    Maybe I’ll get motivated to paint the kitchen…after nano…after Christmas… yeah, a New Year’s paint fest. I can at least get the supplies together now. 🙂
    ~Kate

  5. Beautiful Kate and though this might not have anything to do with your ROW 80 Goals you can chalk it up to one of your life goals accomplished! Yippee!

  6. Wow! Awesome job, Kait. We have the kitchen on tap for a redo next year, from fifty plus year old decor to um, anything newer. The embossing looks fantastic and I know MJ (wife) is going to ooo and ahh over this. Passing the link on.

    Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  7. Looks like you did a good job. I really enjoy decorating. The baby rooms we did were so much fun to do, I wish I could do more in the flat. We are in a similar situation to you. We are hoping to be out of the flat we rent by the end of Q1 next year, and so instead of investing in a place that when we leave, we have to remove everything (flooring wallpapers and all) we are saving to be able to decorate the way we want in the house we hope to get.

    I am certainly going to give the embossed wallpaper a go. Thanks for the hand breakdown process. It sounds like something even I can do. 🙂

  8. Looks like you did a good job. I really enjoy decorating. The baby rooms we did were so much fun to do, I wish I could do more in the flat. We are in a similar situation to you. We are hoping to be out of the flat we rent by the end of Q1 next year, and so instead of investing in a place that when we leave, we have to remove everything (flooring wallpapers and all) we are saving to be able to decorate the way we want in the house we hope to get.

    I am certainly going to give the embossed wallpaper a go. Thanks for the handy breakdown process. It sounds like something even I can do. 🙂

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