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It’s still sinking in: In 2011, I bought a house.  My first house. A beautiful, 1957 tri-level home with lots of windows, an open floor plan and an amazing walk-in closet. But, it’s also a dated home with contact paper-covered cabinets and faded orange carpeting, not to mention a room full of paneling. In other words: In 2012, I’m going to be busy.

Liz Gray House From Road

Luckily, I have help. My boyfriend Josh shares my DIY spirit and love of all things mod. (We’re still figuring out how to get our hybrid corgie-bulldog-mystery puppy, Miles, to help us peel off wallpaper. Bacon grease? )

Josh and Liz at 60s Themed Party

Josh and I at a 1960s-themed party. Guest starring: my bouffant 'do. Photo by Jennifer Harper

Miles With Stick

Miles at play. Sticks > wallpaper.

Each week, I’ll share our progress, from room-by-room moodboards to finished projects to dramatic before-and-afters. I hope you’ll follow along! To keep it all in perspective, I’m making a few more promises, resolution-style. I pledge to…

Make Progress Every Week… I’ll do something to better my house every week, big or small.

But Don’t Expect It to Happen Overnight. As any homeowner probably knows and I’m about to find out…it’s a marathon, not a track meet. ‘Nuff said.

Appreciate the Good… I’ll remember every day, even when I’m covered in bits of popcorn ceiling and shreds of tiny floral wallpaper, what made me want this place. Things like waking up to this every morning:

New House Sunrise

Sunrise from master bedroom

And Tolerate the Bad. There’s plenty of design wrongs to be righted in this house (more on that later) but I can live with all of them…for now.  It will build character, right?

Get Input From You. Yes, you! I’ll need your help along the way to tell me if my color palettes look totally crazy and help me choose which lamp is the right one.  Right off the bat: Any tips on getting rid of those last few boxes?

‘Till next week…

23 Responses

  1. MizzyD says:

    Would love to see some overall "before" pics on the house before you get started. I recently bought my first house (2008) and have been slowly making all the changes. It is quite wonderful (if expensive) to see the vision take shape.

  2. handpapermaker says:

    Wallpaper removal tips:

    My husband and I just spent the week removing wallpaper from a bathroom. It was "supposed" to be sized AND STRIPABLE… though I seriously doubt that. We bought the standard liquid wallpaper spray remover BUT that did not work at all. What worked best was a spray bottle of vinegar and water, 50%-50%. Tarp your floor and then spray and go work on something else. After about 4 sprays and wait sessions, the paper started to bubble. Then we could GENTLY pull and scrape it off with a paint scraper. It tooks us about three days of spray and scraping and the paper was gone. Be sure to wash the walls well with a wet rag to remove any remaining pieces AND glue. Our bathroom is now painted a "almond" color (that looks like a medium toned gold/tan) to go with the existing oak vanity and trim. Our jazzy (maple/black/gold/silver) granite counter and black sink arrives next week. It already looks 100% better. WELL worth the hard work so hang in there.

    • brooklyn heights guy says:

      Sounds like vinegar/water was a great help, and I like that you didn't need to use harsh chemicals. Q: Did the vinegar smell over-power the room? Have others had good luck with vinegar/water?
      We've got hallway wallpaper that is ancient–the glue underneath is clearly visible. I'm interested to make it as quick and painless as possible.

    • Liz_HGTV says:

      Thanks for the tips! We have tried the liquid wallpaper spray in one room but it wasn't that effective, I'll have to try the vinegar/water solution.

    • been there too says:

      Try liquid fabric softner 1 capful to 1 quart water. Stir to mix and sponge onto the wallpaper. If wall paper has a water resistant coating score it with a wire brush before treating or use one of those handy wall paper scorers. Let this solution sit on the paper about 20 minutes and then proceed to scrape off. Wash walls to remove remaining solution. Smells good too!

  3. [...] have a dirty little secret: My closet is a disaster. I recently moved into a new house, so my closet is a mix of half-empty tubs, laundry baskets and out-of-order hangers. Enough is [...]

  4. [...] a brand new relationship: You meet the house, fall for the house and spend hours thinking about how great it is. But a couple of months in, once the boxes are unpacked, you start to notice the little things [...]

  5. mrsH1110 says:

    Im going to LOVE this. My husband and I are first time buyers in the midst of a short sale hoping to be in our new home in the next few months. We are lucky our perspective new home is realitivly new built in the 2000's, while it certianly lacks the charm of your awesome place, I probably wont have to do anything too drastic, just upgrades and design elements.

    Good luck, cant wait to read more about how it turns out.

  6. [...] I galloped from room to room writing down everything I wanted to do, short term and long term, at my new home. (Believe me, there’s lots to be [...]

  7. [...] a fan. In fact, when I  first stepped inside the combination living room/dining room/kitchen of the home I fell in love with, I thought, “This paneling will be the first thing to go.” The living room paneling, [...]

  8. Alex says:

    That reminds me of when we first moved into our current home. It's not as extensive as what you probably did, but we did get to the point where we hired someone who did perth wall removal.

  9. Joanne Palmisano says:

    Liz, So excited for you! Remember our first house (2nd, 3rd and 4th house renovations — all DIY –phew!) Hope you add lots of salvaged and recycled goodies too :)

  10. copy essay says:

    I'll recall consistently, actually when I'm secured in bits of popcorn roof and shreds of small botanical wallpaper, what made me need this spot. Things like awakening this each morning

Liz GrayLiz is a senior editor at HGTV.com and an co-editor-in-chief for Design Happens. She lives in a midcentury tri-level that’s stuck in the ‘70s…for now. When she’s not working on...


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