F unny thing, the relationship we have with our parents.
It changes over time, ever evolving, sometimes cringe-worthy and often remarkably beautiful. Like wallpaper, which is having a second coming of sorts.
No, not your grandma’s wallpaper. Removable, peel-and-stick wallpaper. The kind you can order on Overstock.com that requires nothing but a Pinterest account to install.
I can still hear the judgment in my mom’s voice as I call and tell her I want to cover my refrigerator with the stuff — “Well ... that would make a statement,” she said. I might as well have told her I wanted to bring back low-rise Abercrombie jeans and studded belts.
But the wallpaper would be at the center of our next sauvignon-blanc-induced, mother-daughter-DIY extravaganza. And I like to think part of her was excited to partake.
My mom, Ann, and I have always been close, but in recent years we’ve stumbled into our ultimate niche as adult friends living in opposite parts of the country. There’s an unspoken understanding that when I visit California — or she visits Chicago — we’ll be tackling some sort of home renovation/organization project.
Maybe it started when my parents sold my childhood home in 2015, something I threw a high school era tantrum about. Moving meant decluttering, and it seemed that every time I went home, mom had something that needed to be done. She’d give me the “new tour” — explaining, room by room, how they’d installed new carpet and “staged” the place for showing. I was heartbroken but managed to fake enthusiasm.
Last summer, while my unsuspecting boyfriend went to a Cubs game, Mom and I purchased wine, walked to Sherwin-Williams and painted our entire bathroom a rich Steely Gray. That woman has a way with the corner brush.
Last fall, we challenged each other to a 30-day purge. On day one, you toss or donate one item. Day two, two items. And so on. We’d text each other photos, joking about how long it took me to give up the knockoff Ralph Lauren hat I’d purchased on our Guatemala trip. She sent me a photo of some old sewing junk. Some of those pins probably held pattern to fabric for the prom dresses she’d made — the ones I begged her to sew shorter and tighter.
In January, we wallpapered my fridge.
Ask my boyfriend, and he’ll say the kitchen in our one-bedroom apartment wasn’t in need of an upgrade. I would have told you it looked like a hospital cafeteria. White walls, white tile, white cabinets, white appliances. So. Much. White.
The wallpaper route seemed vibrant, unique and — most important in a rental — temporary.
Removable wallpaper comes in long rolls (roughly 2 feet wide by 20 feet long seems to be about standard). (Mine came from WallPops! (www.wallpops.com;) it’s the Arrowhead Deep Blue design.) After you pour a glass of vino and thoroughly clean your surface, go to town. Measure and cut what you need, peel it off, apply it to your surface as straight as possible, then push any bubbles to the paper’s edge with a spatula.
If you’ve chosen a pattern that requires matching up, I recommend buying two rolls, just in case. The few pieces we got crooked and had to unpeel (and restick) were a piece of cake — no residue and just as adhesive the second time around.
Minus our confusion over removing the fridge handle and a scissor incident involving a nonvisible (thank God) part of the door, the afternoon was a roaring success.
There are countless cheap home upgrades you can tackle in a day. But there’s something special about, after all these years, still wanting mom’s help.
I’ve always joked that mine is a “corporate banking hippie” — a measure twice, cut once kind of woman who mostly manages to stay Zen. Just the type of partner a Pinterest project requires.