The Joys Of Removing 130 Years Of Wallpaper

And we're away! The wallpaper is being ripped from our master bedroom walls and hurled to the floor with glee even as I type, following which it will be scrunched up, stuffed into bin bags, smuggled outside and wedged into our overflowing recycling bin (we've never hired a skip). 

First of all though, let's take a look at the before pictures. Less a master bedroom, really, and more a generously-sized second-hand furniture store. At one stage we had two king size beds, three wardrobes, a giant desk, two Ikea Expedit units, a cabinet and a sofa in here and barely even noticed the difference - it's a pretty massive room, and seeing our daughters joyfully chasing each other round and round the rug every night before bedtime went a long way towards reconciling us to living with the room's horrific aesthetics while we worked on the other bedrooms.

I'd squint at this one if I were you:

Moving anti-clockwise round the room - we have a bay window and a separate arched window on the same wall, both north-facing. You can really see the height of the ceilings in this photo:

What, doesn't everyone wake up in the morning to the sight of two imposing wardrobes and matching cabinet? I'm actually not sure that this isn't the worst before photo in the history of the internet. 

The ironic thing is, we've actually got some pretty nice furniture in there - our reclaimed wooden bed and wardrobe, a custom-made wooden desk, the swivel office chair, the Ikea units, the mirrored chest of drawers, the Hannah Nunn fairy lights (I can't wait to give them the peaceful sanctuary they deserve after months of dangling between a hideous red ceiling and an even more hideous red carpet), and the abstract paintings - it's just when you put it all together that it all goes horribly wrong. 

Let's look at a couple of details - loving the poorly installed corner sink. Why, yes, that's an electric cable underneath the bowl, and a double socket casually placed within splashing distance. 

Here's one of the window corners - mustard paintwork, thermal film that we haven't got round to installing properly (it works amazingly well, but doesn't look pretty yet), and ancient curtains. To be fair to the previous owners, someone went to a lot of trouble to co-ordinate the paint and soft-furnishings - and although the colour scheme isn't to my taste, it was probably madly on-trend back in the eighties. 

So, how does the room look now? Ta da!

And again, ta da!

Removing wallpaper from Victorian walls is no joke. You can forget using a kettle, or peeling it off with your fingernails - you need a proper wallpaper steamer, a sharp scraper, and lots of patience. You'll find wallpaper on top of wallpaper, wallpaper on top of new plaster, wallpaper on top of plaster on top of wallpaper (oh yes), wallpaper on top of lime plaster, wallpaper on top of cement - it's a right old palimpsest. Some pieces peel away reasonably easily, others cling tightly to the wall like recalcitrant barnacles and then come away in a shower of ancient plaster, taking half the wall with them. We've got A LOT of work to do. Plasterboarding and skimming is an option, as is replastering straight onto the walls. Really, we should be using lime plaster so the bricks can breathe - ehh, we don't have a damp problem in this room and it's survived decades of dodgy modern plaster work, so I think we might just go down the gypsum route... unless a reader can persuade me otherwise...?