Temporarily 'hiding' wallpaper borders

binsdJune 14, 2010

We will be moving into a 1 yr lease (option to buy) in a couple of weeks. We won't be painting but I really don't like the wallpaper borders in the kitchen, master bath & kids room.

We've thought about asking the owners if we can remove it ourselves but considering that they had the entire interior painted 2 yrs ago & didn't remove the "builder upgrade" wallpaper border, I'm guessing they like it even though it's 10 yrs old.

It won't kill my sensibilities to live with it, LOL, but it's not my cup of tea. Does anyone have any ideas of how to camouflage those borders temporarily (i.e. without painting over it)?


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What about wide crown molding?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 1:21PM
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Crown molding would be permanent, imo.....

I can't see how you could camouflage the borders, there's so much of it....

I find your rooms still look airy and not closed off, despite the borders.

I'm sure someone here must have an easy fix, I can't think of any.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 1:38PM
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Try a trick using fabric and starch to cover them. You will still have a "border" but you get to select what is will be. When it comes time to move it is quick and easy to remove.

Check out decorating websites that cater to those who are renters for 'quick remove' decorating ideas. One I like is www.ApartmentTherapy.com.

Tips for using starch:



    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 1:44PM
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Don't look up!

In all seriousness, the bathroom and bedroom borders are not all that bad, but the kitchen border would drive me crazy! I like the fabric idea, but that would require $$$ and labor with cutting it to the correct width, etc. Could you find another border to cover? Do you think you will be buying the house in the future?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 2:10PM
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I also dislike borders so I feel your pain. I think I would try purchasing a paintable border, if there is such a thing, and painting it as close to the current wall color as you can get. Then instead of using the wallpaper adhesive, I would use bradnails and hang the painted border over the current one. That way when its time to move and you remove the nails, the old border is still intact. I dont think you would notice the nails that high up. If you cant find a paintable border, I would buy a paintable wall paper and cut it to the correct width.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 2:10PM
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For the kitchen, maybe blinds or roman shaded to cover the border near windows. Then covering the rest of the border, a light wooden coat/hat rail attached with very few and narrow nails. Or wide, flat balsa wood tacked up a bit like crown moulding. Or inexpensive Styrofoam-like crown moulding.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 2:34PM
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Just as a note, if you do tack something up with nails of any kind, you will put holes in the walls (probably in the borders). If the homeowners do not want you to remove the borders, they may also be distraught if you put holes in the borders.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 3:32PM
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View it as a rental and work around it. Anything you don't own, you will have issues that you wish you could change. My advice is to simply ask instead of assuming that they won't let you remove it. Be tactful and just ask if you may remove it. Otherwise, just ignore it and work with your furnishings to make it all feel like home for a year.


    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 5:29PM
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Remove the borders and paint over to match the walls without consulting with the owners. It is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 7:14PM
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Ummmm, no way do anything to the property without permission. We let a couple stay in our MA house winter before last, and they only paid for utilities. However, they took advantage of the situation and broke things, moved things, destroyed 2 thermostats, and spilled chemicals upstairs which bled through the plaster and ruined a spot on the ceiling of the living room below. I was thankful that it missed the wool rug and the original treasured art work over the mantle, which was about 15 inches away.

If you have a lease or a contract, I'd be VERY sure to read it and comply with the terms. We were being "nice" to friends and had nothing but a verbal agreement, but it sure did mess up a friendship that they did not respect our property. This last winter when they again needed a place to stay up north, our house was "unavailable."

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 8:17PM
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Thanks for all the feedback & links.

We are not of the mind to change anything without permission in writing. Our current landlady gave us verbal permission to "do whatever you want with the place...I don't care!". We'd vastly improved it (trimming the tree limbs off of her roof where it was causing damage, removing 2 dead trees in the backyard as well as hauling 2 huge "gardener" trailers of dead brush, vines, etc...(the neighbors across the fairway actually came to our backyard on Thanksgiving Day - golf course closed for the holidy - to THANK us!), painting the interior in "designer" colors, replacing the carpet in the nursery & other repairs.

While we had no written or formal agreement, we had thought we might buy the house but after living in it for 10 mos & seeing how much work it would take, landlady's adamant refusal to budge on price (seriously at least 20k over market value in this neighborhood) and general "empty-nester" feel, we didn't think it was the right house or neighborhood to raise our 2 yr olds. I think that REALLY made her angry even though she'd been here in December & ooh'd & aah'd over everything we'd done. Last week? It was a whole different story & amidst all our packing with a double dose of Terrible Two's, I'm trying to repaint the dining room, hallways & kitchen. Ugh. Of course, she's not asking for us to remove the new carpeting or return the Hurricane Ike damaged roof or dead landscaping.

So...we learned a big lesson there.

The house we're moving into this time is in our desired neighborhood so the potential to buy it at the end of our lease is definitely there. We've already asked to do some things to make wheelchair accessibility for DH (all written into contract) with the understanding that we will return it to original state prior to vacating (should we vacate).

I'm just not sure how to approach the subject of the wallpaper border without inadvertently offending the owners. Granted, from what I've seen, they don't have a real sense of style so hopefully they would like what I would do & actually make it more "sellable" (the house sat on the market for over 5 mos which is why we called the realtor to see if they would consider leasing to us). As I've thought about this today, perhaps I should wait & live in the house for a few months before asking to remove the borders. The owners still live in the neighborhood but moved into a larger house; we may have occasion to speak to them on a more casual basis & I might be able to get an idea of their feelings on the wallpaper or WHY the heck they never bothered to take it down when they bought the house.

Going to Apartment Therapy was a great idea! I feel kind of "duh" for not thinking of going there for temporary solutions.

If I utilize any of the ideas, I'll repost!

Thanks for your time in answering my question!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 10:46PM
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Its too bad that you didn't ask before signing the lease. That is the time that the landlords could be insulted and it wouldn't matter. I have rentals. Its helpful to know what renters like or don't like about my place and what I have to do to rent it. If I were the landlord and were asked about the borders by a potential tenant I would get the hint that they were not neutral enough and that it might be difficult to rent with the wall paper borders.

Maybe you could say, I hope this isn't offensive but how would you feel if I take down the wall paper borders? We love your house and that would make it work even better for us. We sure would love to buy your house at the end of our lease.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 7:20AM
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Well, I wish you good luck in getting permission to take down the border. My experience has been that people who don't have a sense of style are the ones least likely to want to change once they have accepted a decorating feature. And the concept of decorating features going in and out of style is completely foreign to them.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 8:24AM
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Perhaps they didn't take it down because taking down wallpaper is a pain in the patooty, and paying someone to do it is expensive. They may hate it just as much as you do, but didn't feel like shelling out to have it removed.

It couldn't hurt to ask (nicely) -- I always find it easier to blame someone else for the suggestion, as in, "oh, my mom came to visit and she said I should ask you if we can take down the wallpaper border in the bedroom because it totally clashes with the comforter she bought us last Christmas" -- if you get a horrified, "how dare you touch my precious wallpaper!" look, you segue right into "But isn't that a silly suggestion - I LOVE your wallpaper border!" OTOH, if you get a look of relief that screams "thank goodness, I never could stand that stuff either" you know you've got the green light to start ripping!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 8:47AM
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I agree, it wouldn't hurt to ask nicely if you can take it down. They might be perfectly alright with it as long as you can match the texture and paint that is already on the wall.

While I'm not crazy about the borders I don't think they are all that bad and I probably wouldn't bother if I was only going to live there a year. But that's me, if they REALLY bother you then ask nicely.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 10:55AM
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It is very unlikely that you will encounter a perfectly painted wall with a well-cut ceiling edge under that border. People often use borders to avoid having to cut in at the ceiling.

I love wallpaper and borders and have lots of it in my home. I have also removed lots of it. If it's well-prepped and sized, it should be easy to remove but you will ALWAYS be able to see where it was, even if there was a perfect paint job underneath the border to begin with. IMO, anything you try to rig to cover it will be just as obvious as the border itself, and if you try to take it down you don't know what you will encounter underneath.

It's only a year....maybe a looong year if you hate the paper, but it's only a year......it's only a year......

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 11:17AM
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Hmmm, your experience with the landlord indicates that she is an on-again off-again disposition. What is okay one time is NOT okay the next. Red flag!!!!!! Is she on medication?

Without a sense of style, I bet she sees the wallpaper border, which seriously lacks creating a horizon line or anything, simply follows the contours of the up/down wall heights, she must see it as a big home improvement worth big bucks. Quite possibly she'd see its removal as decreasing her property value, you know. Do you have a deposit in her control?

Truly be sure to get in writing any permissions to take down something that could be part of the real property.
When we were buying a home from an elderly woman (elderly meaning about 10 years older than me), the attorney told us to deal at arms length with her, so her kids could not claim we were taking advantage of her. Whooo, that was a trip, because it worked the other way totally, but no harm done being careful.

As they say, *CYA*, protect yourself. :)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 1:29PM
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Why don't you ask the realtor to ask, then you don't have to embarrass yourself. :)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 4:54PM
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Here's a possible way to cover the border w/minimal damage.

Staple heavy duty Velcro strips onto border > then also attach Velcro to painted boards cut to fit lengths/angles...and are wide enough to cover everything.

Flexible caulk could be used to make at corners or at butted areas,
Try to get by w/as few staples as possible if and when you have to remove.

Depending, you may also be able to use a lightweight crown attached to wood too.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 1:13PM
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Hi all - thanks again for your ideas.

We're almost moved in and after spending a few afternoons in the house, I'm thinking I can live with the wall paper borders. As I looked at the sunflower border in the kitchen, it turns out that the sunflowers are actually beige, outlined in black with the blue background. It's definitely not my thing but it's ok for a year. My children keep pointing to the moon & stars in their room. Who am I to take away their moon & stars when their current window gives them access to the moon & stars outside but the new one won't? ;)

In all honesty, the fact that I am having to repaint everything we painted here back to a white has been so aggravating considering she gave us verbal carte blanche to do whatever we wanted. Lessons definitely learned: get it in writing!!!! Right now, I have no desire to alter any painting or wall paper at the new place. We'll see after a few months when I know I'll be itching to do something!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 12:45AM
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In the midst of helping my daughter paint her whole house interior, so I understand you backtracking on your idea. lol

    Bookmark   June 22, 2010 at 7:36AM
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