The wallpaper is by York and the interior designer is Bobby Van Lenten, of Van Lenten Interiors, Houston.
Where I was hanging wallpaper / grasscloth today, a workman was patching a cut-out in a wall. At first (top photo), I thought, “Geeze, this patch looks like crap, surely he doesn’t think that’s ready to be painted!”
But a little later, he came back and did a little sanding, then refloated the patch, and, I have to say, his work looks fantastic. And he’s not done. He still has to texture the patch – and it’s a skilled craftsman who can match new texture to the texture already on the rest of the wall.
This man used what we call 20-minute mud – joint compound that is formulated to dry in 20 minutes, much more quickly than the regular kind (which is what I use when I’m smoothing textured walls). Since he was working in several areas in the house, he could spend 20 minutes on another project, then come back and fine-tune this patch.
Photo #2: However, look carefully at this strip, at the area under the window molding. See the horizontal strip that is much lighter in color than the rest of the paper?
The grass fibers are sewn on by hand by ladies in open-air factories in China and Japan. It looks like someone grabbed a light reed when she should have grabbed a dark one. The result is a very eye-catching light horizontal line running the width of this strip of wallpaper.
Luckily I noticed this before I had the paper on the wall. I reversed the strip and hung it upside down, to put the flaw toward the bottom of the wall, where it would be hidden by furniture and less visible.
But what’s important is that this is not considered a flaw or defect. It is what the manufacturers call part of the “charm and inherent beauty of the natural product.” In fact, the first paragraph in the instructions that come with most grasscloth products is a disclaimer blurb about how it’s a natural product and will have differences in color, texture, spacing, etc. And how they will not replace the paper or refund your money if you don’t like that look.
So, if you’re considering grasscloth for a room in your home, be sure you understand and can live with the variances in the product.
Added one day later: I posted this photo on the Facebook page of the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers (NGPP), and it received mixed comments. Some people thought it is perfectly OK, another pointed out that dropcloths can be dirtier than a television set, etc.
Here’s my take on it: We all know that the TV monitor is not going to do any damage to the bedspread. In fact, with the exception of priming (which can splatter) or stripping wallpaper (using lots of drippy water), there is little I do that will cause any damage to the client’s home.
Paper and plastic sheeting are expensive and time consuming. And I hate dropcloths, because they get all bunched up and snarled in the legs of the ladder, and most of the time they’re unnecessary anyway, because I leave my shoes at the front door and I keep cushioned booties on the feet of my ladder to avoid scratching floors, and the process of putting paper on a wall doesn’t result in much of anything getting on the floor. But you can bet that I put those dropcloths down before I start working!
You see, it boils down to the client’s perception that you are careful in her home, respectful of her belongings, and taking steps to ensure that everything stays safe and clean.
So, maybe there wasn’t really a need for a dropcloth or sheet under the monitor. But I think the homeowner would have appreciated the TV guys making a little effort to protect her bedspread – or, better yet, put the thing on the floor. With a dropcloth underneath it, of course.
OK, so when you’re a manufacturer and you’re printing off yards and yards of wallpaper, eventually you come to the end of a sheet of paper. That’s what happened here. So the company spliced in a new piece – right in the middle of a double roll bolt of paper.
But I’m MUCH happier when they add several extra yards of paper, to compensate for the messed up paper. If the splice occurs in the middle or toward the end of a strip of paper, you could end up losing a whole lot of paper – and sometimes that can mean you don’t have enough to finish the room.
This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs. Hmmm. Wonder what they thought when I posted a photo on their Facebook page. ;)
This bold pattern went on an accent wall behind the headboard in a master bedroom in a historic home in the Houston Heights. The black & red on metallic silver colors, plus the slight Asian feel, were the perfect compliment to the home owners’ red lacquered Chinese armoire and black folding Oriental screen.
The talented interior designer who helped pull all this together is Dustin Provance, of D for Design. The wallpaper is by Clarence House, and is called “Flowering Quince.”
The contractor is graciously letting me use his 8′ ladder, and I can just barely reach the top of the 14′ high walls, one of which is sloped. (Don’t tell OSHA, but I had to stand on the very top of the ladder a few times!) This saved me from hauling in my 16′ extension ladder, which would be cumbersome to bring up the 51 narrow, switch-backing stairs to get to this room, plus the extension ladder is awkward with wallpaper because it leans against the wall you are trying to cover with wallpaper.
First step in getting the walls smooth – Today I spent 12 hours troweling on mud (joint compound). I went through FIVE boxes of the stuff. Each box weighs more than 50 pounds. And I lugged four of them up the 51 steps from the driveway up to the attic room. (A nice painter carried the fifth one for me :) )
The blotchiness you see is the mud drying. Once it is dry, it will all be white. It will take more than a day to dry, so I will go back later in the week to sand the walls smooth, wipe off dust with a damp sponge, and prime. Then, once the painters and other workers are finished, I’ll hang the wallpaper, a pretty toile pattern.
I encourage my clients to look not just at the wallpaper pattern they like, but also at the photograph of it used in an actual room. Most selection books provide these, and they are invaluable for showing the scale of the design, secondary pattern (do a Search on my blog – upper right), and other important features you would not see in a one-page sample.
But I got a surprise the other day while visiting Dorota (see links at right “Where to Buy Wallpaper”) and she showed me some new wallpaper selection books. Some of the patterns in the room sets (photographs) were way larger than they should have been.
That’s because the room sets are not really photos of actual rooms that have been wallpapered. Instead, the graphics guys use computer tricks to simply plop a photo of the wallpaper pattern into the background of a room setting. Apparently they don’t always bother to adjust the scale, so you can up looking at a pattern that looks like it’s 12″ high, but is really 4″ high. What a shock when that pricy package of wallpaper is delivered to your jobsite and it’s not what you expected!
Another reason to order samples before you buy. And Dorota is really knowledgeable about this, so working with her for your selections is another safeguard to be sure that what you see is what you get.
So I let the paper hang over the edge of the table just a hair, allowing me to roll paste all the way to the edges of the paper. Just in case something slips and a little paste does get on the table, having this strip of blue painter’s tape along the edge keeps the paste from soaking into the wood, and it is easy to wipe paste off the tape.