Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A case of flagrant wallpaper abuse

Many years ago my parents lived briefly in a house that contained three of the most hideous rooms I've seen before or since. In a remarkable sin of omission no one took any photos of these rooms before the family fled. So, a propos of absolutely nothing today (perhaps this is my effort to reclaim Wednesday for words), I present three reasons why wallpaper should be a controlled substance:

1. Ahoy, me hearties! This room predated today's pirate craze by at least 20 years. It was a large room of indefinite purpose -- on the same level with the garage and the powder room (coming up next) and nothing else. Family room? Office? Spare bedroom? It was a mystery. Also mysterious was the wallpaper, a blue-and-white pattern of foot-long clipper ships sailing the open seas. The vessels covered every inch of wall and carried right on over onto the matching curtains too. And on the floor, a nice blue shag carpet, of course.

2. Pledge your allegiance. Despite its small size, this half-bath again featured wallpaper with a ridiculously oversize pattern--one that celebrated the greatest hits of American patriotic music by reproducing its most garish sheet music covers, accented with brass trumpets and stern-looking eagles. The fixtures were a brilliant shade of royal blue. (Have you ever seen a royal-blue toilet? I hadn't.)

3. The woodland baby bathroom suite. In the basement, adjacent to an honest-to-god knotty pine-walled rec room with burnt orange shag carpet (and to think, that one didn't even make this top 3 ugly rooms list), was the WBBS. The nearest bedroom was two flights of stairs away from this large, nonsensical bathroom. It had dark wood trim throughout, a sauna, a huge vanity with double sinks and an imposing wooden chair, a big whirlpool tub set two steps up from the floor, and separate shower stall. Oh, and beige carpeting (squick) throughout, including on the steps surrounding the tub. Tying all this together, and inspiring the name, was the wallpaper. It featured nearly life-size, realistically rendered illustrations of baby woodland animals--rabbits, squirrels, and other Bambi contemporaries. Very much like these wallies, but monochromatic. So if, say, you decided to take a soak in the tub, you might be eyeball-to-eyeball with a chipmunk or a raccoon. Relaxing, no?

And you? Wallpaper horror stories? Let's hear them.

10 comments:

Lara said...

i've been lucky enough to avoid awful wallpaper thus far in my life. there was one house, however, when my ex-fiance and i were house-hunting - i walked into the bathroom, and the tiles in the shower scared me so much that i literally almost fell on the floor. it looked like someone had eaten the partridge family bus and then thrown it up all over the shower stall. ACK!

Angela said...

My eyes are burning as I visualize those rooms, it's really too bad those home reno shows weren't around during that time. The horror...the horror...

a. beaverhausen said...

I'm not a big wallpaper fan. When we moved to this house we had to steam rice paper from the walls of two different rooms. Tedious! I'm thinking of papering my back bathroom in old New Yorker covers. What do you think?

mothergoosemouse said...

The WBBS...I'm still transfixed by the description. If only I could see it in person.

Heather said...

We had some ugly wallpaper. Some in our house, some in my grandparents' house.

I've never seen a royal blue toilet, but I have seen a baby blue toilet. It's in my bathroom, next to the baby blue bathtub and the baby blue sink. We're so lucky. We just need to win the lottery so we can remodel...ah, maybe when the kids are older.

mamatulip said...

My grandparents' condo had wallpaper that could make a grown man weep -- really, really brightly coloured and gaudy wallpaper in bathrooms and velvet wallpaper in the hall.

Yes, VELVET. There were velvet parts. There were also shiny, almost metallic looking parts. I used to touch it all the time when I was a kid.

My mother-in-law moved into a house that had a big beach mural in the family room: a white sandy beach, the ocean, a few big beach umbrellas and a couple of seagulls, which really brought the whole feel down a few notches. I mean, what beach mural has shit hawks in it?

Julie Pippert said...

Oooh wallpaper...don't like it. And those sound special.

Wallpaper is the first thing to go when I move in someplace.

Our kitchen in this house---rather small, divided space---had red and white checked paper (I kid not) that was shaded to make it sort of 3-D. I think it was intended as country but it was a real trip. We couldn't eat in there without feeling nauseated. That came down FAST!

Krista said...

wow, that's absolutely crazy. the bathroom takes the cake though in my opinion. carpet in the bathroom always makes me cringe.
maybe the house was supposed to be a show model for something "new and modern" that flopped and they never bothered to change it! ;)
(BlogHerAds brought me here)

Krista said...

oh, and I forgot to add that when we moved in '92 I inherited a tiny bathroom (think just enough room to open the door) that had mauve and gold shiny big artist brushstroke abstract wallpaper. Since it was still the early 90's we replaced it with wallpaper, but at least it was white with a small repeating sunflower design that wasn't overpowering. I still kinda like it. :)

Margaret said...

We had the metallic w/ velvet walpaper in our bathrooms growing up.

And in our formal dining room? It was a GIANT mural of a beach scene - that lovely shade of green ever so popular in the 70's was the most dominant color.

And the bar area right off the formal dining was the velvet/metallic wallpaper.

btw, the master bath and bar area were in that same shade of green. The guest bath? That was in lovely different shades of blue.