Tess Tales 5 – The last renovation ever

Here is a shot of my kitchen with both wallpapers -- plaid and vines.

Here is a shot of my kitchen with both wallpapers — plaid and vines.

My kitchen was wallpapered ten years ago. It still looks good but there are some nicks and gashes. I was thinking maybe we should do a light renovation in the kitchen – just the walls. It would start out as a ‘diet’ renovation but we all know about scope creep.

We could switch over to paint or textured wallpaper. After all, this would probably be the last time we renovated.

I stopped dead in my tracks and looked over my shoulder expecting to see my mother. This was such a Tess-ism that I couldn’t believe I actually said it out loud.

After my father died, it was just Mom and me. My brothers had already moved out. We painted and papered and carpeted and did whatever needed to be done. From the time my father died, my mother prefaced every renovation as the last one she would do. The inference was that it would last until she died.

We wallpapered the kitchen in the early sixties. I was still in school and it was the first time we used a prepasted paper. I remember getting up the next morning and running down the steps to see if it fell down. It was pale pink venetian blinds with ivy trailing on it. It was my favorite wallpaper. Mom said it was the last time she would redo the kitchen.

Then we wallpapered in the seventies. It was the era of harvest gold and avocado green. Kitchen wallpaper had kitchen-y stuff printed on it like teakettles and mixing spoons and we painted the living room walls golds and greens. Yuk! All of it! Yuk! Of course Mom thought that was her last renovation project. I was hoping it wasn’t and I was right.

She got tired of that fast and we did it again in the seventies with just a small print with a white background for the kitchen. It was much nicer but not as nice as the pink blinds with ivy. The other rooms were wallpapered with dogwood blossoms that fit the style of the house. That was supposed to be my Mom’s last renovation project.

Doggone it! She did the kitchen again in the early eighties. By now it was a big joke but she said it was unlikely she would do it again after all she was 70 now.

Unfortunately, that one was the last one. I remember it well. It was a soft yellow plaid with flowers. Not too bold but it worked well with a lot of colors.

I still liked the blinds with the ivy best. When I wallpapered my kitchen ten years ago I searched for that ivy wallpaper. It no longer existed anywhere.

Sometimes I wonder if it really is the wallpaper I want or the feelings of nostalgia that come with that time of my life.

29 thoughts on “Tess Tales 5 – The last renovation ever

  1. I do remember wallpapering with my Mom. It was the kind where you put something on the back and then put it on the wall. Then, you pray you lined it up right.
    I’m betting your passion for that wallpaper does have more to do with the nostalgia that it evokes. Happy times … (That’s the reason, after I was married, that I went looking for the home we lived in when I was 8 to 14. It had been recently sold. I was sad I missed out on buying it. So many great memories.)


  2. I find it interesting that so many commenters have wallpaper in their homes. Around here wallpaper dropped out of fashion about 15 years ago and has never come back. In fact, in our small SW the wallpaper books are gone. We’re all about the paint and the glazes and the enhanced trim. Regional differences, I suppose.


    • It’s not all the regional. The big box stores no longer carry it. You can only find it at the specialty paint stores and designers. Typically you would only find it in powder rooms and maybe kitchens and sometimes textured wallpaper without a print. There is a lot of faux finishes here and hand painted things. I happen to like wallpaper in the kitchen. My cabinets are linen white and I wanted something to pop. Most of the house is painted though. I do have a painted red wall going up the staircase with a bottom of stark white trim. I do love color. Not so good at an all neutral house although I admire them in Pottery Barn catalogs!


      • Fascinating. I like wallpaper– well, some of it. I haven’t been in a specialty paint store in a few years. Now I feel like I need to go see what’s up in them. Maybe I’m missing something good.


  3. I helpedy sister repaint our grandparents entire house before she moved in. There was a mauve room, that ended up becoming my room for a few years, after I painted it of course. It looked like someone walked in with a paint bucket and just threw the paint everywhere. Everything from the walls , ceiling, baseboards, to the window blinds, light switch covers , and the light fixture cover was mauve. Felt good to pant over that. Lol. There was the mint green room too. Same thing there. Too funny.


  4. I helped my sister repair our grandparents entire house before she moved in. I remember the mauve room. Where all four walls, the ceiling, the baseboards, the blinds, the light switch cover and the light fixture cover were all mauve. Like someone came in and didn’t paint but just opened the bucket and threw the paint everywhere. There was also a mint Green room with the sale thing. I love my grandparents but boy it felt good to paint over that. Lol.


    • Sounds like a bit much. My first apartment I moved into after some older people died and everything was a steel blue…every single room including the kitchen. I painted that fast!


  5. As usual, your posts are heartwarming and so very special. I love it that your Mom kept saying,”for the last time” and those memories of all the many last times must make you smile. I also love your kitchen “as is.” 🙂


  6. I just had my bedroom painted purple – I don’t think I could ever go with wall paper again! I admire you for doing it so faithfully and it’s no doubt the nostalgia that makes you like it 🙂


  7. I have not been blessed with any talent or desire to paint, wallpaper or do anything remotely domestic. I come by it honestly which is why my mom had an avocado green kitchen from 1974-1999 when she sold the house. Ironically, she had to redecorate the kitchen just to sell the house. Suddenly it was white and gleaming with stainless steel.


      • Are you thinking about moving?

        We chose it by a process of elimination. We knew we wanted to stay in the U.S. We knew we wanted to live where it is warm most of the year. That elimination LOTS of states. We knew we wanted sunny skies and oceans.

        My sister has lived in Orlando for 25 years, so Florida seemed logical. Especially since it has NO STATE INCOME TAX! Woo Hoo!

        We’d been to Anna Maria Island and knew we loved the Gulf Coast. So we rented on AMI for 2 weeks over Christmas. Then signed a 6 month lease so we could look around some more. We looked up and down the Gulf Coast and compared everyplace with AMI.

        AMI won ~ the beaches, the art galleries, the general ambiance, the “small town” feel, the lack of high rises, etc.

        If we were younger, we might have considered St. Pete’s Beach or Clearwater. If my sister didn’t live in Orlando, we might have considered the panhandle. If we were still working, we might have considered Sarasota or Ft. Myers.

        If you want more info, let me know.


  8. My husband and I always joke that if you want a divorce, just try wallpapering together! I liked your kitchen with the wallpaper. It went especially nice with the rattan table and chairs. I look forward to seeing what it looks like when you redo it!


  9. I avoid wallpaper since my sisters and I wallpapered our bedroom with pink wallpaper with gray and white kittens all over it. By the time we redid the room we had names for most of the hundreds of kittens!!!


    • That would do it! I had a wallpapered bedroom but my mother wouldn’t have any of that stuff. As I remember it, I had a strie with a few muted colors in it. Our walls were so bad we couldn’t paint them.


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