I blame The Nester.

It’s her fault I haven’t been able to feel my arms for the past two weeks.

Nesting Place coverAnd while I’m at it, I might as well blame Lisa-Jo Baker for the raving review she wrote about The Nester’s new book, The Nesting Place, since it’s the book’s fault that my arms are so sore.

Remember how I told you I was going to read it?

Well, I did, and it changed the course of my July.  (And the look of our current rental home.)

If I hadn’t read it, I definitely wouldn’t have spent the past two weeks scraping off wallpaper, spackling, sanding, priming, and eventually painting our entry way, dining room, kitchen and half bath.

But I’m so glad I did.

Apparently, Myquillyn Smith (aka “The Nester“) has the power to persuade me to do crazy things.

Like write 31 blog posts in 31 days.  (Which happens to be far less labor intensive than the remodeling project, in case you were wondering.)

But her book did more than inspire me.  It gave me that boost of motivation that bumped me from the “Nope; I Don’t Have It In Me” Camp, to the “Oh, Fine. I’ll Do It” side of the fence.

Why?  Because as The Nester reminded me, home is meant to be enjoyed.

Even if it’s a rental.  Even if it’s your tenth rental in ten years, as this one happens to be.

So, I bit the bullet, and guess what? The grueling hours spent scraping and spraying and steaming and scraping more wallpaper made me think more about about salvation and sanctification.

You see, our walls had three different types of wallpaper.  The first, a navy blue checked paper, came off with a mediocre level of sweat and tears.

CAM02027(Okay, I could barely lift my arms high enough to reach my laptop keyboard after the first day of spraying vinegar and scraping.  With my last ounce of energy I managed to type “wallpaper steamer rental” into the search bar before collapsing into bed.)

(The next morning I almost cried trying to lift my arms high enough to reach the steering wheel so I could drive to the rental place to get the steamer.)

(In case you were wondering, I survived.)


I could totally relate to the chapter in Melanie Shankle’s book, The Antelope in the Living Room, when she writes about painting their “back house.”  As she points out, at least our arms are more toned now than they’ve ever been before.

But back to my revelation about how wallpaper relates to salvation.


So, the first type (the navy blue) was average in its difficulty level.  Then there was the tannish brown with navy paisleys.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Almost as impossible as trying to get a sugar-buzzed toddler down for a nap.

It put up a seriously good fight.

(I might’ve wished once or twice during this phase that I’d never read The Nesting Place.)

Even with the steamer, the wallpaper came off in beautiful, long sheets, like this:



By the time we finished peeling paper from the two entryways, the dining room and the kitchen, I was ready to forget about the half bath.  Then I figured I’d regret it later if the rest of the main floor was freshly painted and that was the only room left in the house with any hint of wallpaper.  So, I decided to go for it.


And it was so easy.  Peeled right off.  That’s when I started thinking about how walls with wallpaper are like people.

(Stick with me.)
You see, every single one of us has a heart that is completely covered in sin.

Like a wall covered in wallpaper.

(Raise your hand if you think wallpaper is sin.)

(I’m kidding.  If you have wallpaper in your house, I’m sure it’s lovely.)

Back to our hearts.  They’re covered in sin, and they need to be changed.

But we can’t just paint over the wallpaper.

We can’t just add something that looks nicer on top of the layer of sin.

We need the paper to be removed.

And try as hard as we might, those stubborn sheets of sin will. not. come off.

Not even with a steamer.

We need someone else to do it for us.  A Professional Sin Remover.

If you look in the Yellow Pages, you’ll only find One person qualified for the job.


If you want your heart cleansed, if you want to be free from the grip of sin, He’s the only One who can do the job.

He strips the ugly wallpaper from our hearts through His sacrifice on the cross, and He takes it upon Himself.

Some of us might put up more of a fight than others.  Like the brown wallpaper in my dining room.

Others might be more readily receptive, like the paper in my half bath, already dried and starting to loosen at the corners.

But only He can pull it off.

He takes away the sin until the bare drywall is exposed.  Then He covers us with a fresh coat of His blood,

and we are clean.

To quote The Nester’s motto, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

And the same applies to you.

You don’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

If you’re waiting until you’re “good enough” to have your heart remodeled, you’ll never be changed.

You don’t have to be perfect for Jesus to make you beautiful.

But through trusting in His sacrifice, He can make you both perfect (in the next life), and beautiful in His sight.



As a reward for reading this far, some before and after pictures:

Back Entryway Before:


Back Entryway After:


Dining Area Before:


Dining Area After:


And isn’t this the coolest carving of Africa?  Two guys from our church recently brought this back for us from Uganda:


I put an empty frame around it ..


.. and now it has a new home:


Oh, and I can’t forget about this map decal  ..

Map decal

Then, in a totally uncharacteristic move, I bought a can of black chalkboard paint.  I thought I was being bold.  Daring.  Creative.

Let’s just say .. the black wall and me?  It wasn’t exactly love at first sight. 

But we’re growing accustomed to one another, now that we’ve spent the past several days looking at each other multiple times a day.


Chalkboard 2


The half bath has not been overly friendly.  This is what she looked like before:



And after:




Apparently she’s still trying to find her identity.  Personally, I hope she finds it soon.  I have a hunch that she doesn’t like to be in the spotlight, so I’ve decreased the wattage, and so far she seems softer and more pleasant.

And that’s it.

That’s me blaming The Nester for making my arms sore.  And for writing such a thought-provoking and challenging book.  And for helping me turn this rental into a home that I enjoy even more than I did before.

If nothing else, the cobwebs have been cleared from the ceilings, my arms are toned enough for the next several months, and our outlet covers have never been cleaner.





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15 thoughts on “the wallpaper diaries

  1. You make me laugh Kate. I tremble to think about the painted over wallpaper in my front hall. We’ve lived here 14 years and I haven’t dared to tackle it. If I read the book and it gives me the courage perhaps you should come help me.
    I think, sometimes, the beauty is in the imperfections…at least, I hope so.

    • Karen, my sister and her husband took down wallpaper in SEVEN rooms of their house. When I told her my plan, she was like, “I’m sorry, but I am NOT helping!” 😉 Now I understand why! 😉 And I totally agree about beauty being in the imperfections .. Well said.

  2. Kate, have so been there with the wallpaper. We steamed off several layers from every room in our house, when we bought it. Did I mention we did it in the heat of August? With no AC? Yeah, wallpaper is of the devil :)) But love the analogies you drew out from this experience! The funny part about all this is there is such a sense of accomplishment when we do the hard work – both in renovating our homes & our hearts. It’s knowing we did the hard thing & that which was pleasing to God that brings such joy. There truly is beauty in imperfection, probably because we know the back story. Hmm, was going to take this book on vacation with me in 2 weeks ….. 🙂 Still will! Blessings!

  3. Ha! Love that we both posted our DIY stories today 🙂 That Nester..she’ll get ya every time. It looks gorgeous, girl – and that application you tucked in the middle? That was a sweet treat to my heart today.

  4. Having battled through my share of wallpaper removal {it truly is from the devil}, I feel your pain. But oh how wonderful your little world looks now! I love your analogy. I will be thinking of it as I paint trim this afternoon – and for the next umpteen days while we finish this remodel. Thank you, Kate!

  5. So worth it!! I’ve never had to strip wallpaper (thank goodness), but each time I paint, I think to myself that never again will be too soon. But I am always so much happier with my home once the job is done. Great job! I love the chalkboard wall.

  6. Much to my husband’s dismay, because he knew he’d be pulled in to “my” project, I finally went after the floor to ceiling wallpaper in our half bath. I can NOT imagine how you mustered up the resolve to continue on in more than one room. Wow! The results are the reward. Much like letting the wallpaper in our souls be stripped off in your analogy. And I LOVE the frame around the Africa carving – just right!

  7. I am reading this book and I am living with unfinished drywall that i have been putting off for about 20 months and now all of a sudden I have this NEED to finish it and paint and and and, unfortunately, I pulled out my back which has rendered me pretty much useless but OH THE PLANS floating about in my head!! Suddenly my whole “i wont live here forever so why invest” attitude has turned into “Girl, you are worth loving the space you live and work in!!”
    I love how you used wallpaper and sin together, really hits home with the doing it right and not covering things up. Thanks for sharing. Sorry about your arm pain but at least your house looks GREAT!! Just don’t tell the landlord or they will up your rent! 😉

  8. […] I’ll admit, The Nesting Place was not the typical book I would pick up to read. Then I read Lisa-Jo Baker’s raving review of this new book by The Nester, and ended up requesting it from my library. The result was that I read it and spent two full weeks of my summer stripping wallpaper from the walls in my rental house, sanding, priming and painting. And you know what? Everyday I’m glad I read the book. I learned a lot about myself, and now the walls in my house are so much brighter. […]

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