April 6, 2010

A one armed paper hanger – huh?

The other day I was responding to an email from my friend Joan and this expression came to my fingers out of the blue while describing how busy I have been lately.  “I’m as busy as a one armed paper hanger” was the phrase I used.  My hubby would be proud of me – he is the undisputed KING of clichés and one liners.

As soon as it flew from my fingers I started to wonder from whence it came.  So, off I go to my handy-dandy personal encyclopaedia and dictionary – my pal Google: 

“As you may have gleaned from reading between the lines of that little rant, a "paper hanger" is a contactor, one who specializes in the art of installing wallpaper. "Hanging" wallpaper is a tricky business under the best of circumstances, requiring, at a minimum, steady nerves and both arms, so the vision of a "one-armed paper hanger" is one of frenzied desperation as the "hanger" frantically attempts to slap paste on the wall, apply and align the paper, and smooth out the whole shebang. "Impossible" doesn't begin to cover it.

Of course, wallpaper hanging isn't the only task that becomes infinitely more difficult with only one arm, and "one-armed" has been used to mean "not fully effective" since the 19th century. The earliest use in print of the "one-armed paper hanger" image occurs in the 1908 O. Henry (William Sydney Porter) short story "The Gentle Grafter": "And then I got as busy as a one-armed man with the nettle-rash pasting on wall-paper." That "nettle-rash" is a nice detail, conveying, on top of the poor sap's other problems, an urgent need to scratch a terrible itch.”

from http://www.word-detective.com/080805.html

Well, now you’ve learned something – let’s have a peek at some great wallpapers that need better than a one-armed paper hanger :)


www.kingscourtinteriors.co.nz  farrowball designspongeonline From seabrookwallpaper.com via bhg.com farrowball designspongeonlineBouquet from annafrench.co.uk via bhg.com farrowball designspongeonline  From thibaultdesign.com via bhg.comringwold from swishlist.ca Casa from seabrookwallpaper.com via bhg.com    From seabrookwallpaper.com via bhg.com

I’m loving all these papers, and am now rethinking  my plans for some of the rooms in my home :) – but isn’t that true for any research we do for blog posts?  It’s so very inspirational!


  1. I'm actually working up a proposal and plan, Donna, where we are looking at wallpaper for a powder room. Something different for me because most people do paint, if they are doing anything to the wall {sometimes I come in after they've already painted}. So this should be a fun change!

  2. Nice selection! I have a thing for gray and yellow right now...any advice on where to seek out art deco style wallpaper in Canada? I've been on the hunt and find what's online to be blah. :(

  3. Love the grey & bright green papers in the first picture :-) I'm planning to hang wallpaper on one wall in the dining room. I think I know what paper I'm going to use, but I want to check out a few more options just in case....

    My decorating plans tend to change every time I see a great inspiration picture on my blogging rounds :-)


  4. I love some of these, but I just can't commit to wallpaper. Maybe I'll use it on something other than a wall one of these days. :-)

  5. I agree with Kelly, the wallpapers in the first photo are amazing! They are all very pretty, I wish to do the one wall in our bedroom that the bed is against, just have to see if the hubby will be up for it!!

  6. Beautiful wallpapers Donna and you're right it does make you want to redecorate! Unfortunately almost everything makes me want to redecorate...

  7. When we renovated our bedroom I had a beautiful Candace Olson paper picked out and a deposit down... then changed my mind. Every time I see beautiful papers like what you're sharing today I find myself wondering if I made the wrong choice! Oh well... I can always change my mind again!!


  8. Thanks for posting the link to Matt's campaign on your sidebar :-)



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