click to enlarge Cecilia, age 6, and Leo, age 3, have enjoyed helping with wallpaper removal. - PHOTO BY LANA SHOVLIN
PHOTO by lana shovlin
Cecilia, age 6, and Leo, age 3, have enjoyed helping with wallpaper removal.
Like most people, my husband and I look forward to springtime as an opportunity to freshen things up in and around our house. As the weather warms up and the sunny days grow longer, we love turning up the radio (he enjoys cleaning to Fleetwood Mac), opening up the windows and clearing out the clutter. 

On any given Saturday, from the end of March to the early days of summer, you'll most likely find us going through closets and bagging up clothes that no longer fit, wiping down baseboards, washing windows, dusting blinds and window ledges and flipping our mattresses. If we aren't working inside the house, chances are we're outside sweeping patios, raking flower beds, filling bird feeders and pruning back our overgrown rose bushes. 

Usually, the entire process leaves us feeling completely re-energized and has a profound effect on our physical and mental well-being, but this year, no matter how much cleaning and purging we did, I still felt like some rooms in our home were drab and dingy. Looking around and taking stock of all the things we had done, I realized that the rooms that bothered me most were the foyer and the bathroom, and I didn't think it was any coincidence that those are the two rooms in our house that were wallpapered. 

Three years ago, when we first moved in, we made plans to take the paper down, but with small children and busy schedules, it was hard for us to find time to tackle the project. Then, before we knew it, years had passed, the wallpaper was still hanging around and the thought of removing it felt overwhelming. Even though we agreed that we definitely wanted it gone, both of us know how much of a drudgery removing wallpaper can be, and because of that, we would make up any excuse to delay the project.  

Then, one morning this spring, I was standing in our bathroom staring up at the tiny, weird, topiary bushes that covered our walls and decided I couldn't take it any longer.  Walking downstairs, I announced to my husband that I was going to immediately start taking down the paper. In a world where everyone on HGTV is trying to convince us that wallpaper is making a comeback, I've spent the last few afternoons standing on a stepladder, armed with a putty knife in one hand and an adhesive remover-soaked sponge in the other, doing my best to remove the ancient wallpaper from our lives.

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I'll gently tug the corner piece of wallpaper and an entire panel will effortlessly peel off of the wall in one satisfying swoosh. Other times, it takes a little elbow grease and a whole lot of patience to scrape and tear away the tiniest bits of paper, leaving me wondering if wallpaper glue is actually just Super Glue on steroids. 

Lucky for me, though, putting the project off appears to have worked out in my favor. My children have been fascinated with the entire process, and listening to their oohs and aahs each time they come into a room (almost) makes all of the messy work worth it. They are eager to help any way they can, and even though their hands are small, they definitely make for lighter work.  

Lana Shovlin is a freelance writer and mother to three amazing kids. She plans to spend the next couple of date nights with her husband picking out paint swatches.

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