Ugly shouldn't be the way to describe wallpaper
It's a good thing some people have vision. Otherwise, there'd be homes languishing on the market for years.
They're the houses with metallic wallpaper, nasty shag carpeting and painted surfaces in headache-inducing color combinations. And I think I've heard about most of them in the weeks since I asked readers to tell me about the weird, puzzling or flat-out ugly decor elements they found when they bought their homes.
I've been told tales of too many colors, such as the kitchen that Roberta Glaze encountered in her Westfield Center, Ohio, home. Its ill-conceived rainbow included bright pink countertops, turquoise ceramic tile, an avocado refrigerator and a ceiling light wreathed in orange and yellow enameled flowers.
I've heard stories of too few colors - notably, the all-blue bathroom reported by Michelle Snyder of Akron, Ohio. The plumbing fixtures were blue. The walls were blue. The countertops, shower walls and shower curtain were blue. Even the ceiling was blue.
I've heard about decorating decisions that are just plain bewildering, such as the Dutch-style wallpaper that Julie Derby of Akron discovered inside her laundry chute.
But few decorating faux pas were more egregious than what Tim and Charlotte Dular had to contend with when they bought their home in Streetsboro, Ohio, 31 years ago. Its main bathroom and a long living room wall were papered in foil.
Not the foil wallpaper that was so inexplicably popular in the '70s. Regular aluminum foil.
“You could see the serrated edges from where the previous owners literally tore it off the roll,” the Dulars' daughter, Cheryl Adams, said in e-mailing me about the house.
Charlotte Dular pleads innocence in the whole matter.
Her husband chose the house, she said, and she never saw the offending walls until the day they moved in. “When I took a look at this thing, I said, ‘Oh, my. Somebody's creative, and not in the way I wanted,”' she recalled.
“I pity the person who moves in after us and wants to take the paneling down,” Charlotte Dular said.
Becky Adamczyk's wallpaper, on the other hand, isn't unattractive, just intriguing. In fact, it's become sort of entertaining. Guests usually wind up in the powder room, pondering over the design and offering their interpretations.
The teal wallpaper is decorated with bunnies clothed in shades of rose. What's odd is they appear to be acting out some kind of Asian story. There are bunnies in kimonos, bunnies leaping from a box, bunnies perched on what appear to be mandolins and playing cymbals.
She figures the design must represent some folk story or fairy tale; she just doesn't know what it is. “It's just very quirky and different,” Adamczyk said. “It's like, what's the story?”
Kurt and Linda Schloss were more amused than puzzled by one of the elements they found in their Bath Township, Ohio, house - a couple of 6-foot-long torches, wrapped in red velvet and hanging on the wall. In fact, the Schlosses keep the torches in their garage so they can haul them out at Halloween and put them on the front door “for people to laugh at,” Kurt Schloss said.
It's doubtful the previous owners would mind their removal. “They actually had a Post-it note that said, ‘These stay with the house,' ” he said. Evidently, they didn't want the torches following them to their new home.
Schloss said the torches fit in just fine with the decor of the house when he and his wife bought it, a scheme complete with blood-red and zebra carpets - “a Pirates of the Caribbean meets Elvis' bedroom sort of theme,” he said. And since he grew up on the same street, he knows there were plenty of other homeowners who fell victim to that dark and dramatic style of a few decades past.
“Oh yeah, there was a decorator gone bad that circulated around Bath,” he surmised.
Janie Viers was similarly awed by the decor of her Stow, Ohio, home. Among the highlights: painted Roman ruins on the dining room wall; artificial turf on the floor and wall of one bedroom; aqua woodwork in a bathroom outfitted with a blue and gray tiled shower, pink toilet and green floral wallpaper; and black-and-white checked, optical-illusion wallpaper in another bedroom. The checks were but one of a dizzying array of wall designs in the room, which also included stripes, 45-rpm records and sketches of characters from “The Hobbit.”
Viers thought the guest-room decor was the least offensive until her brother spent the weekend. At night, he discovered, the headlights from cars stopping at a nearby intersection would reflect on the solid gold metallic wallpaper, creating a fireworks effect.
The redecorating job was so daunting, Viers said in an e-mail, that she and her husband, Bob, asked the seller to let them start painting before the sale closed. “She said that she hoped we didn't use weird colors since she would have to show the house to other people if the sale, for any reason, didn't work out,” she said. “I bit my lip.”
So many other readers had oddities to report - among them, the carpet squares glued to the stairwell walls in the first house that Akron's Michelle Laughlin owned; the lava rock covering the lower half of the kitchen walls in Stacy Simera's 150-year-old log farmhouse in Mogadore, Ohio, a decor choice she described as unsuitable for children, pets or “people with skin”; the wallpaper adorned with nude figures drying off, which decorated Barbara Ott's basement bathroom in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The wallpaper was accented by a light switch depicting a nude male, Ott wrote, “and guess which body part the switch represented?”
And while it doesn't fall under the category of decor, I found myself laughing out loud when Strasburg, Ohio, resident Jane Delcoma wrote about her husband, Paul, continually turning up the thermostat on the water heater that supplied their first apartment, with no results - until the toilets in the apartment below exploded, spewing steam. The heaters, it turned out, were mismarked.
But my favorite story of all came from Barbara Thomas of Mogadore, Ohio.
When she and her husband, Bill, bought a house 20 years ago, the decor was “the gaudiest, most horrendous ever,” she wrote. The living room, entry, dining room and hall were papered with metallic and lime green paper; the carpet was the same shade of green, as was all the woodwork on the main floor, including the kitchen cabinets; and the windows were hung with matching green drapes with huge yellow flowers. The master bedroom had green felt on the wall and more green drapes, this time with pink flowers.
The Thomases' budget wouldn't allow a complete redecorating, although Bill Thomas did paint the woodwork white. Still, that wasn't enough. So when Barbara Thomas was sitting in the empty living room one day, waiting for a furnace inspector, she sent up a little request. “Oh God,” she prayed, “did I say I could live in this? Help me!”
Ten days later, she got her answer.
“There was a storm and lightning struck the house,” she wrote. “All the ceilings blew down and the wallpaper peeled off in streaks! Insurance covered the damage, and I got a completely redecorated house!”
Who says there's no God?
(c) 2007, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio).
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