An Interior Designer’s Home: Wallpapering the Double Parlour of our Chatham Victorian

We’ve lived in our 120-year-old Victorian home in Chatham for 2 years now and other than painting the doors and putting up a fence for the dogs, we haven’t really done much else.  As an interior designer I think this is normal… it’s like the old saying the cobbler’s kids never have any shoes.  I’m always so busy designing for other people that I don’t want to design for myself.  So, participating in the One Room Challenge has been a great kick in the butt to finally kickstart making this home ours.

Our goal this year is to get the main floor done.  Everything except for the kitchen (which will have to wait since that’s a major budget killer).  Honestly, our kitchen is quite beautiful by most people’s standards.  It has creamy white custom cabinets and solid quartz countertops.  It just isn’t fully our style.  So maybe we’ll update the backsplash sometime to give it a facelift and do some styling and a runner.  Nothing drastic.

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Custom off-white kitchen by interior designer based in Windsor

Right now we’re focused on the double parlour that’s right off the entryway at the front of the house.  We have a $3,000 budget to do the paint, wallpaper, window treatments, lighting and the styling.  That’s a super tight budget for all of that and the vast majority of the budget is going to the star of the show:  the wallpaper.

In case you missed my posts for Week 1 and Week 2 of the challenge, we are stripping all of the boring grey walls from our house (because… mental health ya’ll) and we’re going back to the home’s roots using traditional motifs to offset our more modern furnishings and really bring my signature design style to the space.

The wallpaper we chose incorporated the light aqua colour from our existing rugs, and also brought in the rich jewel tones we love along with the pink from the arched stained glass window:

Area Rug selected by interior decorator Heather Prestanski for her Victorian home in Chatham
Arched stained glass window in pink and aqua is the focal point for the living room in this Chatham Victorian home
Teal chinoiserie wallpaper that interior designer plans to use in her Windsor living room

This week was dedicated to getting the paper up.  After doing the powder room transformation and that paper only taking us a couple hours, we thought this room would be a breeze!  Maybe a day or two.  Boy, were we wrong!

This room was a thing of nightmares when it came to hanging the paper.

Normally we would bring in a pro to hang wallpaper because it’s such a delicate process.  We had a pro lined up, but then COVID lockdowns started and we’re on a timeline here!  We weren’t sure if we’d be able to have someone in or not so we decided to give it a go ourselves.

Risky move given the wallpaper cost more than $1,200 of our $3,000 budget!

But Kyle and I are both great when it comes to attention to detail and we figured if we took our time that it would come out beautifully.

One of the biggest challenges that we had in this room is the 120-year-old plaster.  It’s completely wavy, so keeping the paper straight was definitely a battle.

Kyle making the tricky cuts while installing the teal wallpaper in our Chatham Victorian home

We knew that was going to be a challenge in this room.  If you also have wonky walls, here are some important keys to consider when choosing a wallpaper:

First, avoid geometric patterns at all costs.  Anything with a lot of straight lines and repeats is going to draw attention the waviness of the wall behind as these elements won’t sit perfectly straight as they should.  This could make the room look like one of those funky houses of mirrors at carnivals where everything gets all stretched out of proportion.

Secondly, get a paper that’s matte.  Anything with shine is going to highlight the peaks and valleys of the walls and never look perfect.

Third, use a paste-the-wall application.  The stick on stuff where you peel the back will get wrinkled and nearly impossible to install smoothly.  And the pre-pasted is difficult to deal with because it gets soggy, wet and tears easily.

Fourth, a thicker paper really helps even out the walls because it isn’t going to ripple into the waves in the plaster as much as a thinner paper.

We had checked all the boxes with this paper.  But there were a lot of challenges in this room like all the doors and windows with intricate trim work to go around, rounded corners, nothing being square, and a brick fireplace to score around.

Kyle is smoothing out the wallpaper chosen by interior decorator Heather in their Windsor home

I really love the way that the paper is tempering the bold wall colour!  The chinoiserie colour has added a ton of depth to the room.

Had we just done a dark teal paint against the navy doors it would have felt too oversaturated and kind of modern.

Windsor home interior design with French doors in Dress Blues by Sherwin Williams, walls in Blue Bayberry and ceiling in Pink Booties by Dulux

Now, with the painted trim, the room feels really interesting, cozy, warm, and inviting.  I just love it!

I can’t wait to show you the full room, but for now here’s a sneak peek of how gorgeous the paper looks next to my favourite stained glass window with the painted trim.

Teal wallpaper and stained glass window inside interior designer Heather Prestanski's victorian Windsor home

The paint and wallpaper have been a full-time job for us and, with the studio reopening this week, I’m glad we got it all done quickly.

We still have to hang the draperies (another challenge given the lathe and plaster walls that don’t allow for the plastic anchors… but we’ll worry about that next week).

And we have some lamps and accessories on order too so that we can pull this baby together in a couple of weeks!

Be sure to come back next week to see our progress!