Monday, July 16, 2007

Wall Paper: Eco-Friendly Ideals Verses Time-Friendly Realities!

We are aging in place - our brand new kitchen is now 21 years old. And so is its wallpaper, and it shows. We realized we'd been ignoring the need to address this for about 5 years, so this summer we got on it. The first question was what material? Wallpaper has become a misnomer: the industry has morphed into producing wall VINYL, and after watching the documentary Blue Vinyl, the thought of putting a petroleum product on my wall really distressed me. (Of course the present wallpaper hasn't bothered me, but now I know better, right?)
So I took my idealism to Lowe's, which had no such thing in stock. A more upscale store had books of gorgeous handmade papers of jute, sisal, bamboo, and grasscloth. They are very expensive, of mysterious origin, and highly impractical for a kitchen since if they get wet, they stain. On the third outing - [three outings for a household decision involving both of us is probably a relationship record to date, and not the way either of us likes spending time] - we went to a store that had an immense stock, including the natural materials. They still thought we were nuts for wanting anything but vinyl for the kitchen.
We looked through about 25 wallPAPER books. In the end, we wearied of the whole process. I knew there were other materials available, having poked around online, but neither of us was willing to buy wallpaper sight unseen.
We found a gorgeous grassweave for the powder room - at $100 a roll. We found upscale, attractive vinyl for 1/3 of that, for the kitchen. It was a compromise between principle and reality, in the end. We looked for a less pricey powder room choice, and but ultimately we decided to go with the gorgeous stuff because 1) we were tired of shopping and our time is valuable, 2) we loved it, and the high price reflects high quality natural materials, and 3) once we pay the bill, we will never think about this again, but will enjoy the grassweave every time we see it.

Bummer about the kitchen vinyl paper though! There's a market there for someone who can figure out how to use natural materials that have the cleanability quality of vinyl. Maybe some sort of eco-friendly sealant? It's too late now here, but anyone have any solutions for this problem, other than painting instead?

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