“Restoring Grandma’s Hideous 1970s Wallpaper”

“Restoring Grandma’s Hideous 1970s Wallpaper”

Restoring Grandma’s Hideous 1970s Wallpaper

Assessing the Damage

When I first walked into Grandma’s living room and saw the wallpaper, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The walls were covered in a garish floral print in various shades of brown. It was like stepping back in time to the 1970s. The wallpaper was peeling in areas and had faded unevenly over the decades, making it look even more dated and worn out. Clearly this needed some attention if I wanted to help modernize Grandma’s home.

I took some time to assess the condition of the wallpaper throughout the entire room. Some sections were in decent shape, while others were extremely damaged with tears, peeling edges, and bubbling in the paper. The areas around the windows and edges of the room had suffered the most deterioration over the years.

In addition to the physical condition, I also noted the types of materials used in the wallpaper. It appeared to be a traditional paper wallcovering rather than vinyl or another material. This would impact the removal methods and my options for repairing the existing paper or replacing it.

Based on my initial assessment, a complete redo was in order. But before removing anything, some prep work would be required.

Preparing for Wallpaper Removal

With standard paper wallpaper like Grandma’s, the removal process can create a big mess. Tiny pieces of paper have a tendency to stick everywhere! So I knew some heavy prep was in order before starting demo.

Here are the steps I took to prepare for removal:

  • Cleared the room of all furniture so there would be ample space to work. I relocated everything to the center of the room and covered it with drop cloths.

  • Packed up any small décor items or valuables to protect them from damage.

  • Laid down tarps and plastic sheeting along the perimeter of the room to protect the flooring and baseboards.

  • Donned proper safety gear like gloves, goggles, and a dust mask to avoid inhaling paper particles.

  • Patched any holes or imperfections in the walls that were previously hidden by wallpaper. This step would make patching easier later.

  • Set up ladders, a wallpaper steamer, cutting tools, spray bottles, and anything else I’d need for removal.

  • Turned up the heat. Warmer temperatures would help soften the adhesive.

With all my prep work complete, I was ready to start tackling the outdated wallpaper!

Removing the Existing Wallpaper

I discovered that the best way to remove old wallpaper is through a combination of steaming, scoring, and water. Here is the systematic process I used to remove Grandma’s dated floral print:


  • Using a wallpaper steamer, I steamed each section for around 30 seconds to a minute. The steam softens the paper and adhesive.

  • I worked in manageable sections starting in the least visible corner and around edges.

  • For areas with bubbling or loose seams, I carefully lifted the seam with a putty knife. Steam helped lift up curled edges.


  • Next, I used a scoring tool to scratch the paper surface. This breaks the top layer so water can penetrate.

  • I scored horizontally and vertically about 6 inches apart over the entire section.

  • Scoring needs to be deep enough to go through the top layer, but not so deep that it damages the drywall underneath.

Adding Water

  • With the scored surface prepped, I misted the walls with water using a garden sprayer.

  • Getting the paper saturated is key. I reapplied more water and steamed as needed until saturated.

  • Once saturated, I let the moisture sit for about 15 minutes so it could fully penetrate the layers. This helps breakdown the adhesive.

Peeling Away Wallpaper

  • Finally, it was time to start peeling! Using a stiff putty knife, I gently scraped sideways to lift up an edge.

  • With the edge lifted, I slowly and carefully peeled the paper away at a 45 degree angle.

  • I worked in small sections to control the amount being removed at once.

  • As I peeled off pieces, I immediately threw them in a trash bag to contain the mess.

  • For stubborn areas, I re-steamed and soaked until the paper peeled off easily.

With some patience and persistence, I was able to remove all of the dated floral wallpaper. Now I could focus on restoring the walls underneath!

Fixing Damaged Areas and Preparing Walls for New Wallpaper

Once the wallpaper was removed, some wall damage and imperfections were revealed. Here are the steps I took to repair the walls and get them ready for new wallpaper:

Cleaning and Sanding

  • I washed down the walls with TSP cleaner using a sponge to remove any remaining adhesive.

  • For rough patches, I sanded carefully to smooth them out. I had to be gentle to avoid damaging the drywall.

  • I wiped away any wallpaper remnants and dust using tack cloths.

Filling Holes and Patching Imperfections

  • Next I went over the walls and filled any holes, nicks, or gouges with joint compound.

  • I applied joint compound using a putty knife, let dry, then sanded smooth.

  • For large damaged sections, I cut out the damaged drywall and replaced with new drywall patches.

Priming the Walls

  • Once all repairs were made and smoothed out, I applied a coat of wallpaper primer using a paint roller.

  • The primer created a fresh surface for the new wallpaper to adhere to.

  • For the smoothest finish, I sanded the primed walls lightly and wiped clean.

With the walls prepped and primed, I could finally start applying new wallpaper and give Grandma’s living room a fresh updated look! The restoration process took time and elbow grease, but the end results were worth it.

Choosing New Wallpaper and Hanging Tips

Now for the fun part – selecting stylish new wallpaper for Grandma’s living room! Here are some tips on how I chose the perfect pattern:

Considering Grandma’s Style

  • I looked for patterns and colors that would fit Grandma’s taste. Florals are still her favorite, but I searched for more modern prints.

  • I stayed away from busy patterns and super bold colors to keep it sophisticated.

  • I selected a few pattern options and had Grandma weigh in on the final decision.

Measuring the Room

  • To determine how much wallpaper to purchase, I measured the room’s walls, windows, and doors.

  • I used a laser measuring tool for maximum accuracy in square footage.

  • I added an extra 10% to my square footage calculation to be safe.

Buying Coordinating Wallpaper

  • For a cohesive look, I opted for wallpaper that coordinated with Grandma’s new living room furniture.

  • The pattern I chose had a modern floral trellis design with muted blues and greens that tied in beautifully.

  • I ordered a few extra rolls in case of any mistakes or future repairs needed.

Hanging Tips

  • To ensure the new wallpaper looked perfect on the walls, I followed some best practices when hanging:

  • I lined up pattern repeats and used a level to keep the paper even.

  • Around windows, I trimmed the wallpaper and secured edges with ** painter’s tape**.

  • For clean cuts, I used a sharp breakaway utility knife and metal ruler.

  • I used a smoother to remove air bubbles as I went for an immaculate finish.

With some stellar wallpaper hanging techniques, Grandma’s new living room makeover turned out beautifully! She was thrilled with how modern and stylish it looked.

Maintaining Wallpaper Over Time

While new wallpaper looks amazing, it does require some regular maintenance to keep it looking fresh over the years:

Preventing Moisture Damage

  • Left unchecked, moisture from steam, leaks, or condensation can damage wallpaper adhesive.

  • I installed proper bathroom and kitchen ventilation to reduce excess moisture.

  • If any leaks occur, I address immediately by finding and stopping the source of the leak.

Gentle Cleaning

  • For routine cleaning, I use a soft cloth or sponge with mild soap and warm water.

  • Harsh cleaners could discolor or deteriorate the wallpaper.

  • I avoid scrubbing too vigorously and take care around seams.

Sun Protection

  • To protect wallpaper from sun damage, I hung light blocking curtains on windows.

  • Constant sun exposure could cause the colors to fade over time.

  • For an extra safeguard, I used a sunscreen spray made for wallpaper.

Repairing Damage

  • For minor damage like tears or lifted edges, I can do small wallpaper repairs with adhesive and patches.

  • For more extensive damage, I may need to hire a professional wallpaper hanger to redo sections.

With the right maintenance and care, Grandma’s new wallpaper should stay in great shape for years to come and avoid the damage her old 70’s print endured! Appreciating the restoration work that went into updating her space will help keep it looking fabulous.