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Hanging wallpaper with Michelle Flynn

Hanging wallpaper is super easy if you’ve got confidence and patience. Just ask Michelle Flynn, who recently wallpapered the master bedroom of her mum Yvonne’s home in Tauranga. 

Although she can now sit back and admire a job well done, she admits she felt a little pressure when she first took on the job. Before retiring, Yvonne ran a wallpapering and decorating business for many years, which she operated while raising her four kids.

“Mum’s incredible, and I really wanted to do a good job for her,” says Michelle.

Michelle was pregnant with her eldest child when Yvonne taught her how to wallpaper, and she knew her mum had high standards. 

High performance definitely runs in the family – Michelle is mum to wellness entrepreneur and former Black Stick Gemma McCaw.

With a sporting and wallpapering legacy to live up to, Michelle – an intermediate teacher by day – decided to brush up on her DIY skills, seeking a little guidance from Resene Eco.Decorator Steve Flett. 

“Steve was great and he showed me a few new tricks,” says Michelle. “I found out wallpapering is much easier than it used to be.”

Yvonne looks on as Michelle strips off all the old wallpaper.
Resene Eco.Decorator Steve treated the mould with Resene Moss & Mould Killer.

Strip and prep

Before they rolled out the wallpaper, Michelle and Steve tackled the prep work. The first step was removing the old wallpaper. To do this, you need to scour your walls with warm soapy water or a wallpaper stripper using a flat-bladed scraper tool.

Removing the wallpaper in her mum’s room revealed there was black mould on one wall of the room where there had previously been a leak, so the wall was treated with Resene Moss & Mould Killer. To give Michelle a hand, Steve also sanded the walls down, dusted off the sanding dust and sealed them with Resene Waterborne Sureseal before painting the ceiling with Resene Ceiling Paint and the windowsills and door architraves with Resene Lustacryl.

Once everything was prepped, Steve applied wallpaper size, a decorator’s secret weapon that makes wallpaper easier to apply and manoeuvre on the wall.

Pattern power

Resene ColorShops have a plethora of beautiful wallpaper designs to suit every personality and mood. Michelle worked with local Resene Color Expert Michelle Aschoff to pick out the perfect patterns for her mum’s room. After exploring the options, they chose a textured neutral wallpaper for the side walls – Resene Wallpaper Collection 47588 – and a feature wall in Resene Wallpaper Collection 47406, a pattern with flower power that Michelle knew her garden-loving mum would appreciate.

Roll with it

The two chosen wallpaper designs are paste-the-wall styles, which are one of the latest innovations in wallpaper. Steve showed Michelle how to use this newer style.

“It has changed quite a bit in the past few years. I remember you used to have to assemble a trestle table and cut each piece of wallpaper to size. You then had to paste the wallpaper and paste the wall,” says Michelle. “Now you just paste the wall and hold the roll as you go so it’s much quicker.”

Piece of advice

Michelle’s top tip is to ensure you place the first piece of wallpaper as straight as possible. In the past, she had used a plumb bob to mark out a straight line in pencil, but this time Steve used his laser level to make sure the first piece was applied straight. 

“If that first piece is slightly on an angle, by the time you reach the corner, the bottom of the wallpaper will be half an inch out from the wall,” explains Michelle.

To lay the wallpaper, apply a generous amount of wallpaper adhesive to the wall using a brush, then as you unroll the wallpaper down the wall, make sure it lines up with your straight-line marker. Use a rubber roller or wallpaper brush to push the wallpaper against the wall and remove any bubbles.

Once you’ve reached the bottom of the wall, cut any excess paper off on the top and bottom using a straight-edge tool and a scalpel.

Get jiggy with it

Matching the pattern on the next piece of wallpaper might seem tricky, but Michelle says the key is to be patient and feel confident jiggling the paper around until the pattern marries up.

“The thing to remember is that it’s not super glue. You’ve got lots of time to move the wallpaper around, and if you need to you can actually lift the wallpaper off and try again.” 

Smooth out any bubbles in the wall with your hand and a rubber roller as you go.

Wallpaper adhesive is not super glue so you’ve got lots of time to move the wallpaper around once it's on the wall.
After Steve started her off, Michelle hung her first strip and worked to match up the pattern of Resene Wallpaper Collection 47406 with the second strip.

Switched on cutouts

Wallpapering is often about problem-solving, as no room is the same. In Michelle’s case, she had to wallpaper around light switches and under a window pelmet. 

To wallpaper around the light switch, Michelle held the wallpaper over the switch and made a small X-shaped incision from corner to corner of the switch plate, then unscrewed the plate from the wall. She then fed the switch plate through the incision, flattened the wallpaper beneath it and screwed the cover plate back into place. 

“You always cut less as you don’t want a gap,” says Michelle. “When you get to tricky things like that, you just have to step back and think about the best approach. Once I made a plan it was easy.”

It’s a win for Flynn

Michelle’s mum Yvonne was chuffed when she was shown the finished room.

“She said to me, ‘I love my room’, so that was really pleasing. Another benefit has been that since we removed the mould it’s also helped with her asthma and she’s breathing much better.” 

Michelle said her daughter Gemma was also pleased to see Yvonne so happy.

“Gemma is really close to her nana, and she doesn’t get to see her as often as she’d like,” says Michelle. “She said to me she cried after watching the video, and I told her I felt the same way. I’m just so happy to see Mum’s face light up. It was really special.”

Top tip: 

Always order more wallpaper than you need. Wallpaper patterns are regularly updated and if you need to repair or re-wallpaper an area in the future you may not be able to get the same paper. Use any leftover wallpaper offcuts to cover books, wrap around furniture or lamps, or even as drawer liners.

Michelle wallpapered Yvonne’s bedroom 10 years ago, but it needed a refresh and had some black mould growing on the walls from a leak. She used Resene Wallpaper Collection 47588 with a feature wall in Resene Wallpaper Collection 47406.

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