I can’t stop thinking about my walls lately. This past week I was hired to work for a major client on an advertising campaign here in Europe, so I had to do a lot of shooting using my home as a studio space. It was SO much fun and worked out beautifully, mostly because I made some nice backdrops for the walls, etc. but I kept feeling really discouraged with my ugly raufasertapete walls. I know you have heard me complain about this before, but in Germany nearly every rental property is coated with raufaser – it’s this super dated and tacky wood chip wallpaper that, while it may have been popular during the Bauhaus period, I vote we move on and have smooth, normal walls in rentals. That way, it’s easier to paint or paper over them and apply things like decals and washi tape (particularly fun in children’s rooms). Smooth walls are also so easy to clean and maintain. Plus, raufasertapete tears super easy. Here is what it looks like.
Raufasertapete makes me cringe for so many reasons, but mostly cosmetic ones. But there are also the problems you run into painting it. You have to apply 3-4 coats, sometimes more depending on how deep the color is, because it just soaks in your paint color like a sponge and a lot of times, the color isn’t so even when you are finished which is particularly noticeable if you’ve used a really dark shade, like charcoal. If you want to clean raufasertapete you can spot clean it, which takes a long time, or you can paint over it which is what nearly everyone does – paint over dirt, stains, smudges, candle smoke, etc. I don’t want to sound snobby but paint over dirt? No thanks.
While I singlehandedly cannot change what people want to put in rental property here, I keep thinking about what I can change in my own rental home without getting in hot water. We are looking to buy a home now, but the house hunt will take years and I’m all for future thinking but you also have to love where you live today and for me, the one big thing that makes me love my home less is the raufasertapete everywhere. Thankfully, the landlord didn’t put it on the ceiling in the four rooms in front of the house, but in the hallway, kitchen, guest room, master bed, both baths and my husband’s office, she put it on the ceiling too – which just makes it look like those equally bad “popcorn” ceilings in American. Thankfully, my ceilings are SOARING so you don’t really notice it at all but still. Such a shame to see this cheap paper in a gorgeous period home built in 1900. Why do people devalue their property and take out the charm just because it’s a rental property?
So I’m thinking a lot about ways to camouflage it, especially since more and more magazines want to hire me to style for them and shoot in my studio, and because I’m shooting my next book partly in this space, so what can I do? I cannot learn to live with it. I tried for 3 years and I cannot change the fact that I think it’s the ugliest stuff on the earth. Sure, it’s white and you don’t “see” it unless you are photographing against it – but when you style shots you mostly are styling against a wall if you are showing art or photos or shelving, etc., so the wood chip ‘bumps’ are super visible and even appear grayish and cast odd shadows and some days, it even goes a bit yellow in the sunlight.
I thought to use wallpaper, though my landlord says I cannot paint or wallpaper my walls, but I think that is very unfair given what we pay for our apartment so I’m thinking to speak to her again. I want to do remove the raufasertapete and hire someone to smooth out the walls and then paint them in muted Farrow & Ball colors (nothing dark, I really dislike dark walls). I wonder what she’ll think of that? I’m a little afraid to ask! And I would only do it if I didn’t have to return everything back to the way it was when we rented it – meaning, install the raufasertapete all over again. No way, I would never do that, the smooth walls are so much more beautiful and easier to wipe clean and only make the property more valuable and gorgeous.
I was also thinking to spare the expense and headaches and leave the walls as they are and just hang murals like the ones shown in this post from Anthropologie, or buy wood panels and create some wood backgrounds behind my bed or sofa, for instance… Or mount some plywood on the wall above my sofa and wallpaper it, or or OR! I just keep thinking, what can I do!?
I think, aside from learning German, raufasertapete is the most challenging thing for me since I moved here – thankfully I love German but not the wood chip paper. Our last apartment had it too. I just don’t get it. And I just don’t want it!
Any opinions to share?