Day 15: The Laundry Room | No. 1

Today marks the half way point of the 31 Days of William Morris. I would love to have at least one big project done before the end of it to feel like I really did something great. My two dream projects are the laundry room and the boys bedroom. The laundry room has the most labor intensive tasks, but it’s also the cheapest to accomplish. The laundry room/pantry/guest bathroom is also the only pocket of our home that is exactly as we found it on move-in day over 7 years ago.

That’s not true. Instead of the shelf we had another thick rod the previous owners used to hang their laundry before and after ironing. They installed that rod in the late 70s. Before that, the back wall was a large window. We may one day bring back the window, but not any time soon. We’re sticking with practical, and practical means having shelves in the laundry room.The shelf was from our closet system in our first home. We needed a place to store our laundry soap and this is what we did on the fly thinking we would tackle the room as we remodeled the kitchen.

Thanks to the wallpaper, that didn’t happen.

The wallpaper. That awful, disgusting, floral wallpaper.

It was everywhere. All over the kitchen, all over the laundry room. We started in the kitchen during the remodel. We tried natural recipes, gel removers (using  a tiger tooth both times), a steamer, and at least one other spray. It worked in some places, but in others the paper separated like two-ply toilet paper, leaving behind paper thin brown paper. We tried scraping it, but our walls are plaster; they started to crumble. We reached a breaking point when the we realized the time lost in patching cost more than the price of tearing it all down and replacing it with drywall. So, that’s what we did in the kitchen.

We were so over it that we let the laundry room go. We didn’t have the energy to tackle that wallpaper, or the money to replace the walls.

We walked into the laundry room on Sunday with a spring in our step. We were so excited to revisit the agony of seven years ago. And, honestly, what’s a weekend that doesn’t test your desire to stay married? Not a very exciting one, I say!

We pulled out the washer and dryer and put everything we kept in the laundry room on the kitchen counters and dining room table. While I went through the contents of the laundry room and got rid of what I could (a lot), my husband started scraping.

After a few hours, he knew it wasn’t going to be any better than the kitchen debacle of 2006.

Same backing sticking to the wall…

same chucks of plaster coming down with the wallpaper. Shaina had a similar problem in her bathroom, and because she was dealing with a simple border in a room they rarely used, she and her partner put up oil based primer and painted over it with good results. We couldn’t do that in here, so we cut bait early on and went with our back up plan. (Is it possible we gave up early before we tried that new XYZ product that never fails? Yes. We’re okay with that.)

We covered it with beadboard.

We were able to finish all the walls except this small bit behind the washer and another small patch of wall perpendicular to this one.

This is what the laundry room looked like a 8:00pm. We worked from 8:00am to 8:00pm and we are about 25% done. Forget Viagra, I should be selling Adderall. Maybe then we’d work faster.

It’s not ideal–we’re now over budget, for starters–but I think once we finish it and install the shelves it will look nice. I hope so. I’m not a huge fan of beadboard when it’s not original to the home, but a few homes in our 1950s neighborhood have original beadboard and batten board, so it’s not going to look crazy. We aren’t installing an arched front door imported from Tuscany, for example.

I imagine I’ll be in here all week and most of next weekend. I hope you’re in the mood for lots of posts stuffed with disgusting pictures that only serve to make you feel better about yourself. I’ve got plenty coming right up.

New here? For the next 31 days I’m living according to the famous William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” You can learn more about the project here, and catch sneak peeks of my projects by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (I’m @pancakesfries).

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Be strong, brave pilgrim!

    Just looking at those photos of scraped wallpaper makes me break out in a cold sweat, babble incoherently, and maybe shed a tear or two. What a job! But it’s looking great already–the pain and suffering may be too fresh, so you may not see it–but trust us. It’s there! :)

  2. Susan G says

    “And, honestly, what’s a weekend that doesn’t test your desire to stay married?”

    Best home improvement line ever! we have beadboard in our bathrooms and kitchen and on the porch ceiling – all original or close. (Our home was built in the 30’s). I do like it and it looks great in your laundry room. Of course, I don’t have a laundry room (just a laundry closet) and would take one in a heartbeat – even with that wallpaper all over it!

  3. says

    I see I’m not the first, but I have to let you know that: “And, honestly, what’s a weekend that doesn’t test your desire to stay married? Not a very exciting one, I say!” is a philosophy that I need to share with my husband. Forgive me, though, if he blocks your site from our Google search.

  4. says

    “I hope you’re in the mood for lots of posts stuffed with disgusting pictures that only serve to make you feel better about yourself.” – yes, I AM in the mood. I need lots of those right now.

    “And, honestly, what’s a weekend that doesn’t test your desire to stay married?” – Eeeexactly!

    I like the beadboard save – it sucks that it put you over budget but it looks so clean and crisp in there now, which is just the right mood-setting for a laundry room if you ask me.

  5. says

    Jules – I so hear your pain! My hallway,with the addition of 1800’s horsehair plaster, was your laundry room! Awesome! I was stuck – I wanted to do bead board, but there was concern that the adhesive (Liquid Nails) would react badly with the walls. So finally, we did the unspeakable; we painted over the wallpaper. And ya know? It’s not perfect, but I’m the only one who seems to notice. The hall is brighter and cleaner and I don’t hate walking through it anymore (which is a good thing cause it connects our upstairs and downstairs). All this to say it may not be “true” to your house, but really it’s about being true to your functions. And by functions I mean usefulness and happiness (William Morris paraphrase.) So make that laundry room a place of beauty for you – be happy in a space that allows you to make a warm, fluffy, good-smelling home for your family!
    Can’t wait to see more! And my hubby is virtually high-fiving your hubs!

  6. Jasi says

    Bead board is great IF you caulk the hell out of it. I mean really, really caulk the corners and trim it out. It’s cost effective and lovely but can easily look slap-dash if you don’t finish. It’s not expensive and doesn’t have to be time consuming. I suggest one person apply the beaded caulk and the other sweep with latex gloved finger over the corners. You might be able to do it in record time. Good luck!

  7. Jennifer says

    Oh you big cheater!! We had the same exact problem, except it was about half the house covered in wallpaper. Same issues you mentioned: brown paper layer underneath, plaster walls, trying everything in the book to get it off. Ugh. Do you have wallpaper on your ceilings? Because I do! And it’s painted over. I tried very hard in the dining room to get it off, but barely scratched the surface. A few coats of Kilz and many gray hairs later… I would really love to know who thought that was anything close to a good idea.

    PS – I think the beadboard looks fantastic. I love it.

  8. Kendra says

    We had the same issue in a few rooms. In what is now Addi’s room, 2 walls were plaster and 2 were paneling. We took the easy way out and textured the walls using joint compound and then painted them. I used the same technique in the bathroom. It isn’t perfect and not my first choice of styles, BUT it was very cost effective and really doesn’t look awful. Sometimes you just have to do the best you can with what you have.

  9. says

    The back bedroom in my house is the only room ever wallpapered, then painted, then wallpapered again, then painted three more times. I thought I’d be able to get the paper off since it had already bubbled in some places. After one day of scraping I realized that I would do more damage to the (already damaged and patched in places) plaster. Instead, I plan on covering the entire room with paintable wallpaper (Anaglypta Supaglypta) made from recycled paper pulp. The texture of the wallpaper will distract from the bumpy plaster patches and previous wallpaper seams. I decided the $200 cost of the wallpaper is worth it in the face of many weekends of scraping, patching, and sanding.

    I really am going to finish that room this year… hopefully.

  10. Denise says

    This is completely off-topic, but I have that same little corner sink in a bathroom off of my laundry room as well. Mine is 1950’s pink, however. Not that I want to add any projects to your list, but if you plan to make any changes in there, I’d love to see them. By the way, the beadboard was a great choice for your laundry room!

  11. Janine says

    HEYO. I am 100% in favour of your solution and I think you’re being too critical of your beadboard. LOVE YOUR BEADBOARD. EMBRACE IT. To cover up the impossible to remove wallpaper with beadboard is 100% legit, cost effective, attractive, in style right now, and is even environmentally friendly. After all, your walls are FINE. They’re standing up perfectly well, and they’re in good condition except for the nutso wallpaper, so just beadboard those motherhonkers and blog the cr@p out of it when the shelves are up. Otherwise, you’d be tearing down walls and sending them to the landfill just to pretty up a room that is not particularly in need of pretty, it just needs to be NOT UGLY and functional. I’m stoked about your beadboard walls. If I were to visit your laundry room I’d be like “hot d@mn lookit that beadboard, it is some kind of fancy”.


    Get down with your bad self. The swearing is totally up to you, though, I can see why maybe that’s not your style.

    …’s definitely my style, though.

  12. says

    I think the beadboard looks fantastic!!!!! It will light and as perfect a space as one can make that they have to do laundry in. I love this series by the way!

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