When my husband and I decided to move to Austin a few years ago we did what most everybody does; we flew down ahead of time and looked for a house. Let’s just get one thing out of the way first: I’m super, duper, incredibly picky about houses. One reason is because we were moving from a place we did not like very much. Especially the area we happened to live (just kidding West Jordan! Not. We lived in the most unfriendly, child-free neighborhood in Utah. And consequently our ward sucked really badly.) Nothing wrong with Utah, exactly, just not my cup of tea. Too many Mormons, I tell everyone. Which makes them look at me funny, because I am one. Anyhoo, living in a place that made me very unhappy made me very wary of choosing a bad neighborhood and ward again. So there’s that.
I also happen to love architecture and houses with a burning hot passion. When my kids are no longer requiring every drop of my energy I will be going back to school to become an architect. Even if that means I have to take lots and lots of math. That’s how much I love it. And it’s also the reason I didn’t study architecture in the first place (math filling me with something between hatred and utter fear), even though I spent hours drawing out house plans starting at about age 12. You didn’t know that, did you? I was always very shy and secretive about it. I didn’t want any one to mock my truest love.
Ok, this post was supposed to be about kitchen wallpaper. I’m getting seriously off-track.
So, we moved to Austin. We did things kind of backwards, though. We decided we wanted to move to Austin and then my husband got a job there. That’s how much we wanted to go there. I know you’re supposed to bloom where you’re planted and all that, but Utah is just not me. And Mister had had it up to here as well. But Austin is perfect for us and we love, love love it and never want to leave.
I like to cook and bake and do it a lot. My last house had a dinky kitchen. I have eight people in my family which means our needs for a house are not the same as a family with four people. We need a lot of house for not a lot of money.
Our very sweet realtor took us to look at just about every five and six bedroom house in Austin. You can guess what happened. Nothing was even close to right. At least not at a price we could afford (and there are no basements here. Too much limestone. So when you look at a house, what you see is what you get, square footage-wise)
So we left Austin after our first trip, jobless and houseless, and went back to Utah. Mister would go down every couple of months to interview for jobs and I’d give him a long list of houses to check out. And on one such trip he found them both–a job and a house. He found the place that would be perfect for us. Well, not perfect. But really good. And at a super great price (yay divorcing couple who wanted to sell it right that second!)
This is how you decide how well your husband knows you: if you will let him buy a house without you seeing it. Mister knows what I like and what I look for in a house. But boy was he nervous to show it to me. He needn’t have worried because I loved it. There are definitely some things I would change (the laundry
tunnel room) and the lack of any place for the kids to put their stuff (I should record one of the fights we get into every time I suggest making the dining room into a mud room) But it’s as close as I’ve ever found to my ideal.
The house was bland as bland could be, decorating-wise, though. And I love me some color and pattern. So I’ve been slowly decorating it to make it how I want. Mister has been a very good sport about the whole thing. Every piece of furniture we have owned up til now has been a compromise, which made neither of us happy in the long run. So it was decided that I should be happy since I spend more time at home. No, that’s not true but that’s kind of how it worked out. Even when I showed up, nervously, with a pink wicker side table for the family room. Mister very graciously said he liked it. I love that guy.
Which brings me to the kitchen. The kitchen is great. Although. It has black appliances which–barf–I hate. But whatever. It’s better than stainless steel which seems cold and sterile and icy and I hate even more (no offense to you stainless steel lovers out there. Again it’s just not me. And having my house be me is a big, big deal.) My kitchen also has dark stained cabinets because that is how things are here in Texas. The whole painted cabinet thing is unheard of here. You get dark cherry or dark oak or dark maple. The end. If I were adventurous and had a couple of weeks to fritter away, I would consider painting them. But my kitchen is huge. There will be no painting. I know my limits.
So I’ve got these dark cabinets (much darker than in these pictures). And a boh-rring beige tile backsplash. And a tile floor which looks like a cross between camouflage and vomit. I would hate it because of it’s ugliness but it’s superb at not showing the dirt and it turns out I love not mopping more than just about anything.
Just so you don’t think it’s normally all clean and tidy, here is the disaster shot taken after Easter dinner:
That’s more like it! By the way, I’m halfway through the installation of cupboard pulls. I have the drawer ones on, but my drill doesn’t have enough guts to get through the thick cabinet doors.
Since the cupboards will be staying the same, it means that I have to change everything else. So I’ve got a couple of ideas for new backsplashes. One idea for the area behind the stove involves these (think “mosaic”):
And for the walls? Why, wallpaper of course! It’s mostly just the soffit area above the cupboards and by the door leading to the garage, so I need to make more of a statement than if I had four big, plain walls. Have you ever looked for wallpaper? I mean, really looked? It’s like finding a needle in a haystack–where most of the hay is tacky and ugly. But there are some gems to be found. Like these from Thibaut:
I opted for some green and blue stripes to tie the kitchen together with the family room (one roll of green stripes alternating with a roll of the same stripes in blue. It’s going to be darling, I swear!) But because the universe likes to make things difficult for me, my walls are very obnoxiously textured. It is the curse of a lot of new construction. If walls are sloppily finished a nice spray of texture will help disguise that fact. Not only does the bumpy, craggy texture make it impossible to wallpaper, it’s a tremendous pain to paint. All those nooks and crannies. Ugh.
Being ever-resourceful I bought a huge bucket of joint compound which is the stuff that walls are made out of (well, the outermost layer of a wall). It’s a thick paste that is applied with a smooth metal blade thingy. If you smooth it over you walls it fills in all the textured bits and leaves you with a pretty smooth finish. It’s an easy technique to master. After the joint compound dries, a primer for new walls has to be applied. It’s just like paint and is easy-peasy to apply. Especially since it doesn’t need to be at all attractive. Slap it on, wait for it to dry and away you go to wallpaper-land.
I did the yucky part, the joint compound last year when I had my decorating epiphany (and after I had a bid of $2000 to prime the walls and then paper them. Cough, choke.)
I am a vigilant deal-seeker so I searched high and low to find the wallpaper as cheaply as possible. I found the green rolls on ebay for cheap, cheap but I had no luck with the blue. And I wasn’t about to pay $75 per roll at the store! Then Mister lost his job last year and all decorating came to a screeching halt. But he’s been employed for a while now and last week he gave me a bunch of birthday money for decorating the house and now we are back in business.
The blue wallpaper has been discontinued. And it’s not the kind of thing you can just pick up anywhere online. All my previous sources had no more in stock. So I prayed to the internet gods and found one very expensive place that said they had it. I gulped and placed my order, sure that they would email me any day to tell me they were mistaken.
But the Man in Brown handed me my parcel of wallpaper rolls yesterday and I nearly did a happy dance on the front porch.
Moral of the story: if you are planning to decorate and you want items that match just so, don’t start buying them one at a time. Because I promise something will be discontinued and you will left in the lurch. Either buy all the matching stuff now, or save your money and buy all the matching stuff later.
(Evidence #2: my cute towel hooks. I bought four at World Market then realized I needed one more. Only it took me six months to get back to the store and pick up an additional one. By that time they were gone. Thankfully I scrounged one up online, It’s not the end of the world. It was only towel hooks, for Pete’s Sake. But it’s still frustrating.)
I realize that I just wrote the blog equivalent of War and Peace. All I really wanted to say is that I’m ecstatic about finally getting the wallpaper I have been wanting for two years.