Squeezing Every Spare Inch

This week, I had a close call. We “almost” ran out of paper. To be more accurate, we DID run out of paper.

But, by saving scraps, splicing, plotting – and a little sweating – I managed to finish the room.

(Disclaimer here – the family had measured and ordered the paper on their own, before I ever saw the job. If I had done the measuring, I would have suggested buying an extra double roll.)

It was a typical small bathroom in a cute mid-century (1954) ranch style home. They had chosen a delightful Cole & Son paper in a sort of trapazoid / diamond pattern.

As I got further into the job, I started feeling there wasn’t going to be enough paper. I plotted the pattern match, counted strips, and realized that I was running out of paper. I would be short one 4′ length, plus one 1′ long strip needed to fill the space over the door.

The plotting began in earnest. Because walls are never straight, normally you don’t wrap a strip of wallpaper around an outside corner. Indeed, this corner bowed out a little at the top. But if I wanted to get maximum use out of the strip, I HAD to wrap it around the corner.

To solve the problem of the paper twisting and warping due to the bowed corner edge, I cut a slit that went from the ceiling down about 6″, to below the level of the bowed corner. This allowed the right edge of the paper to hang straight, so the next strip would abutt it correctly with no gapping or overlapping.

But, this strip was the length of the space over the shower, but it fell short of the length of the wall it was now wrapped around to. I needed about 10″ more paper, and it had to match the pattern, too.

I never throw any paper away until I have finished a job. I solved the problem of this short strip by taking a piece I had on my discard-later pile. It had come from over the window, and I had split the strip in two, using the left side over the window, and saving the right side “just in case.”

Well, it happened to be just long enough, and to contain just the right pattern match, to fit the short area on the new wall. Since the pattern was an angular geometric, it was a simple matter of splicing in along the jagged edges of the diamond pattern. This disguised the splice much better than if I had cut it straight across.

Now, what to do about the the missing short strip over the door? I had one strip the proper length, but needed a piece the same length, but about 10″ wide.

What I did was, the next strip to be hung, which would abutt the one I had wrapped around the corner, would hang over the space heater built into the wall. The space heater was a little taller than the length needed to finish the area over the door.

So I pasted the strip, placed it on the wall, and carefully cut away the paper that was hanging over the space heater. This piece would normally be discarded, but I knew it was just what I needed to finish the room.

I made sure to not let any dust, rust, or grit from the hole where the space heater was in the wall get onto the back of the paper – grit causes bumps under the paper, and dirt and rust can bleed through, staining the new paper. I folded (booked) the piece pasted-side-to-pasted-side to keep it wet, and set it aside while I hung the next two strips.

When I finally got to the final strip over the door, the right edge of the strip that had come from the space heater area matched perfectly with the left edge of the strip over the door.

Room finished – and not a scrap to spare! I’m serious – there was only about 9″ left on the last roll of wallpaper, and that didn’t include even one full pattern repeat.

The homeowners were very pleased, and I was quite proud.

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