Killer Wallpaper: When Good Walls Go Bad

As a home stager, my heart sinks when I walk into a home plastered in dated wallpaper. I know I’m going to be having “the talk” with the seller, who is obviously not on board or else it wouldn’t still be here. I’ll usually hear one of the following, and have to respond accordingly:

“My painter said he can make the seams disappear when painting over it.”

Painting over wallpaper is evil. A buyer with a good eye will detect it and run screaming from your house. If they don’t and over time it begins to pull from the wall, they’ll be cursing you from afar, and who needs that!

“It’s not that bad!”

Unless it’s black and red flocked, no, it’s not that bad. It’s still going to be an issue with buyers.

“It was very expensive!”

Consider how many days it has graced your home, divide that number of days into the price, and if you’re at $1.77/day, you’ve gotten your money’s worth.

“My friends think it looks nice!”

Are any of them out front with a contract to buy your home?

“But, I love it!”

This home is no longer your sanctuary, but a very expensive product that you’re trying to get top dollar for. There’s nothing to prevent you from putting it up in your next home.

“I don’t have the money to remove it!”

If it costs you $500 to remove it and you make $2,000 more as a result, that’s a pretty good return on investment. Rent a steamer or call a painter who won’t try to talk you into painting over it.

“I’m selling for a lower price; the buyer can remove it!”

Whoever gets the hassle, gets the money. If you remove it, you can price the home higher. If you leave it for the buyer to remove, they’ll want the home at a lower price, to offset the “hassle factor.” Thing is, buyers don’t think in terms of $500, they think in terms of $5,000. They’ll overprice any project by at least three times the actual cost, because they’re factoring in the “hassle factor.” A buyer will spend more for a home that is move-in ready, which makes you more competitive with other homes they’re considering.

“It came off in tiny strips when I tried to remove it from the hall bath; I don’t want to deal with it!”

That’s exactly what a buyer will think when they see it, and they’re looking at three other good houses that won’t have this issue.

“I heard that wallpaper is coming back.”

Said only by people who don’t want to strip it!

In all fairness, not all wallpaper is the kiss of death: neutral can still work; expensive and/or current color schemes can help an uncreative buyer feel like her decorating choices are made for her; a timeless style such as toile can create an elegant powder room; and I’ve seen perfectly gorgeous dining room wallpaper.

Versatility is the key.

There’s no furniture in a powder room, and the furniture brought into a dining room is often all wood. It’s easier to coordinate with existing wallpaper in these spaces. A master bedroom is another story. The buyer’s bedding probably won’t work with the wallpaper. The same with a family room and the buyer’s upholstered furniture.

With wallpaper, whatever is current today will be dated tomorrow. If decorating for personal taste today, and you’re prepared to remove it prior to selling, do yourself a favor and install it correctly so that removal is easy.

As with any type of personalized décor, I always recommend keeping an eye toward the future when doing anything that “stays” with the house. If you want a dark turquoise bedroom, just be prepared to go lighter and more neutral when you sell. Otherwise, consider bringing in your bold color with your décor, and leaving the walls neutral.

If you’d like a neutral point of view on your ideas before committing, give me a call for a design consultation. It’ll be fun!

You might also like: Unique Way to Visualize Color Before Painting

Copyright © 2022 by Cynthia Gentry Black, Home Staging by Cynthia, LLC in Kansas City.
All rights reserved. No portion may be shared, reused or republished in any format without express written consent of the author.

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