Labor of Love

June 15-22, 2009 – Virginia Beach


My parents have lived in their house for 23 years. Twenty-three years ago, they had their house custom built. Every molding, every fixture, carpet and wallpaper was hand-picked by my mom. In the last 10 years, they have slowly, but surely updated and replaced parts of the house. They’ve done the major replacements – roof, windows, and A/C units. The three of us (kids) destroyed their carpet and it was replaced by wood flooring. Like any home, my parents’ house has been a work in progress that is constantly evolving. What still lingered is the wallpaper. The wallpaper was gorgeous and chic… in 1986. Now, it was peeling and outdated. So, my brother Nate and I convinced our parents to let us take down the wallpaper and paint the walls. This
turned out to be a bigger undertaking than either of us anticipated.

To give you an idea of what we were working with, here are some before pictures. Please excuse the mess. My mom and I had already started prepping for the wallpaper removal.

Dining Room




Computer Room

We thought we’d have the job done in less than a week. Supposedly, if we used a wallpaper steamer, the wallpaper would come right off. Riiiiiggghht. Not a chance. It took us 3 days to remove all of the wallpaper and adhesive from the walls. We were treated to 3 days of scraping, spraying and scrubbing. If anyone ever tells you it’s easy to remove wallpaper, I suggest you smack them and call them a “blasphemous liar”.

Here’s some of the work in progress.



This little bit of paper was the last hold-out. It took Nate HOURS balanced on the ladder to scrape that tiny section off.


After the wallpaper removal, came the priming and painting. Nate and I suggested some modern color palettes, but it was vetoed by our parents. Dad wanted everything in Antique White. Mom wanted everything Peach. We compromised by selected warm neutrals with orange/peach undertones. Poor Dad was completely overruled.

The color palette

Because the wallpaper removal put us behind schedule, I ended up working on a large portion of the project by myself. Nate was had to go to his job and I didn’t want my parents to work per se. I put in 12-14 hour days. I have never felt so tired in my life. Alleve, IcyHot patches, Epsom Salt, and Pomegranate Juice were my friends. Despite the physical exhaustion, it was satisfying and fun. I loved my parents’ reactions as the job progressed. They went from being skeptical to just plain excited. My mom, Nate and I had lengthy conversations while Nate and I worked. And there were many instances were Nate and I weren’t sure whether to laugh or cry at the enormity of our task. My only disappointment is that we didn’t finish the job in time for my return to L.A.

Here are some photos of the nearly completed job.




Dining Room



Computer Room



I’m pleased with our handiwork, but you’re probably wondering why we undertook such a big project. Our parents did not put us up to it. They were a bit incredulous when we volunteered. As I have mentioned numerous times before, we are not a demonstrative lot. Hugs and kisses are not part of our family’s emotional lexicon. If you dare say “I love you”, you are met with a look that says “What is wrong with you? “. We’re not unfeeling, just not showy with our emotions.

So, Nate and I did all this because we wanted to show our parents that we cared and because they deserved something like this. We thought our actions would be speak much louder than anything we could say. The job wasn’t perfect and incomplete, but I hope that it spoke volumes to how much we cared. Let’s hope Nate will have the job finished by the time I go back out to visit in September.


3 thoughts on “Labor of Love

  1. So awesome that you did this for your folks, Anne. You are a better daughter than I could ever hope to be. 😉

  2. I'm sure you now have the guns to show how hard you worked on removing the wallpaper, I forgot to ask you to flex at lunch today! Good job on getting rid of the wallpaper, I did that once and it was torture!Looks like you found a good compromise in paint color, not surprising considering your creative talents!

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