By 2011, the children’s bathroom had become boring. I’d wanted an ocean-themed bathroom when we’d moved into the house in 2004, but the existing wallpaper seemed too busy to accommodate that. I stowed my beautiful ocean fish shower curtain away and purchased a boring, beige shower curtain with subtle seahorses instead. By 2011, I turned to the idea of renovating the bathroom for health reasons. I’d been struggling with lymphedema in my left leg, and had come a long way with treatment. However, sometimes my left arm would become swollen with fluid, and I thought maybe scraping wallpaper off the wall might help. I was also ready to get into gear after a few years of relative immobility. Usually, my husband handles the DIY aspects of life, but I wanted a project to call my own. I was ready to remove the wallpaper and paint the bathroom.
I looked at the fish shower curtain for inspiration for my project. I was inspired to do an accent wall, even though that may seem unusual in such a small bathroom. A friend suggested that if I had to have an accent wall, to choose any wall except the wall behind the sink. I chose to make the wall behind the door my accent wall. I chose a warm sea green and a warm yellow as my colors, with yellow being the accent choice. Now, all I had to do was scrape the wallpaper off!
I tried a commercially prepared wallpaper remover, but wasn’t having much luck with the extremely thick layers of ’70s era wallpaper. Unfortunately, I found three layers of wallpaper hidden under the existing wallpaper, plus a painted over layer hiding goodness knows how much more wallpaper. I used warm water and vinegar in an empty spray bottle and a paint scraper to get rid of all that wallpaper. The vinegar and wet, vintage wallpaper did make quite an interesting odor. The motion of scraping did help the swelling in my arms. After a week of hard work, I made the decision to stop at the painted layer and simply paint over it.
The painting was fun and went without a hitch. A step ladder came in handy. However, when I looked at the completed job, I felt something was missing. I had an artist friend, Doug Storm, and asked if he would paint fish on the walls, making the bathroom more special for the children. Being a Disney fan, he chose famous Disney fish. Flounder from “The Little Mermaid,” the goldfish from “Pinocchio,” and Don Knotts
as a fish from “The Incredible Mr. Limpit” were chosen (although I’m not sure if Mr. Limpit is a Disney fish!) When the murals were completed, I felt like my vision had come to life. My bathroom was really
“under the sea” and I couldn’t have been happier!