Silk Wallpaper – Sealed, Trimmed, Railroaded, No VOC’s

October 24, 2014

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Digital Image Today’s wallpaper install was a little atypical. The interior designer had found some silk fabric that the he and the homeowner (a soon-to-be-first-time-mother!) loved. It was to go in the bathroom adjoining the new nursery. The designer had the fabric mounted on a 36″ wide non-woven backing, which is a common contemporary substrate for wallpaper. He went a step further and had the material sealed, to make it more durable and to prevent stains. Good move, especially in a child’s bathroom!

The designer had ordered enough square footage of the material to cover the one wall the homeowners wanted papered. However, the material was 36″ wide, and the wall was 48″ wide, so I needed two 9′ strips to cover the wall. So, while there was enough square footage, there was not enough running length to provide two 9′ strips.

I played with it a while and figured that there was enough to cover the wall if I ran the paper horizontally (called “railroading”) instead of hanging it vertically. This meant two horizontal seams instead of one vertical seam, and it meant that the “clouds” would be positioned sideways. I discussed this with the homeowner, and she was fine with it – the most important thing was to get the beautiful fabric and color up on the wall…and before the baby came!

The backing was uneven in width, plus, some of the silk had gotten wrinkled at the edges where it was attached to the backing. So the goods had to be hand-trimmed to cut off the selvedge edge and the wrinkles, and to straighten out the edges and get them parallel. That’s what I’m doing in Photo 1.

In addition, the wall was a little less than 9′ high. So, with 36″ wide material, I had to be careful how much I trimmed off each edge, so I would end up with three strips of paper that, stacked one atop the other, would be wide enough to cover that wall. Plus, because the seams would be very visible, the panels needed to be similar enough in width to look uniform on the wall.

I ended up trimming two strips to 34.5″ wide, and left the final one untrimmed on the bottom edge, so I could trim it precisely against the baseboard once it was in place.

In the second photo, you see the paper running horizontally, as it butts up against the doorway, waiting for the last piece to be positioned below it. The third shot shows the finished wall. You can see that this “water-stained” pattern has no design to match, so all of the seams carry a mis-match. Photo 4 is a close-up of the mis-match. From a distance, you don’t notice it much, and it’s considered part of the hand-crafted appeal of this product.

Another interesting thing is that, the edges that I cut by hand didn’t come together on the wall as nicely as most wallpapers do. I only had two seams, but I wasn’t 100% in love with the way the first seam looked, so, even though I know that most papers pull closer to the wall and look much better when they dry, I wanted the second seam to look better while I was still there.

So I did what we call a double cut – which is a fancy paperhanger’s term for a splice. I overlapped the seam area about a half of an inch, taking care to keep the proportions as close to 34.5″ wide as possible (who’s gonna notice a half an inch, or even an inch, difference in width?!), protected the bottom strip of silk paper with waxed paper to prevent paste from staining it, put padding beneath the area to protect the wall from being cut into, and then used a straight edge and a new, sharp razor blade to cut through both layers of paper (but not through the padding).

Once the excess paper on either side of the splice, and the padding beneath it, were removed, the seam was nice and flat and perfectly butted. The pattern mis-match was still there, but that’s just the nature of the beast.

As you can see, the finished wall looks great!

Oh, also, like many first-time parents, the homeowners were concerned with fumes and chemicals getting into the baby’s room. I made sure to keep the door between the bathroom and the nursery closed, and I used a primer that, although it has a little scent, contains no VOC’s or harmful fumes.

Popular Pattern

October 23, 2014

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Boy, people sure love this design. I have hung it in several colors, in a good number of homes. Today I put this in an under-the-stairs powder room in West University Place.

The young homeowners have a fairly traditional house, and are trying to “contemporary-ize” it up a little. I think this wallpaper does the trick!

This wallpaper was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Grateful and Full

October 21, 2014

Digital ImageEvery once in a while, a customer feeds me lunch. It sure makes you feel good, when someone does something unexpected like that.

Powder Room Medallion, Grey & Silver

October 19, 2014

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Digital ImageHere is a silvery motif on a dark grey background, that I hung in a powder room in a new home in Bellaire. It’s hard to get good photos, especially in such a small room but you get the idea. (You shoulda seen me jimmying the ladder around the toilet, vanity, door, chandelier, over and over again, to get in and out of the room, and up to the top of the walls!)

A very unique feature in this room is the domed ceiling, with arches on every wall. The last photo is a shot of the ceiling, at one of the corners.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Paint Splatters on Floor

October 13, 2014

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In that same new construction home, I was preparing to prime the walls in the dining room, and while putting dropcloths down, I noticed these little splatters of paint, on the brand new floors, all along the base of the wall, in every room. Whoops! Looks like the painters forgot to use a dropcloth!

My wallpaper primer is white, and I wanted to be sure I was not blamed for this, so I grabbed the job foreman and made sure she knew the speckles were there before I started.

Got a Girl Who Loves PINK?!!

October 13, 2014

Pink Bedroom
I don’t have info on this paper, but it looks like one of the very expensive hand-painted murals on silk that cost several thousand dollars per panel. Just beautiful! (Although I might choose a more tone-down color!)

Note the zig-zag wallpaper in the entry and under the fer down.

Here’s How That Dining Room Turned Out

October 12, 2014

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The wallpaper had a slight texture to it, making it feel something like velvet. There was a little sparkle, too, when the light hit it just right.

Trading a 9′ Mis-Match for a 1’er

October 11, 2014

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When wallpapering a room, the last corner always ends in a pattern mis-match. So usually I minimize it by hiding it behind door, or the like. But in this dining room in a new home in Bellaire, all four corners were fully visible. If I had ended the pattern in the same corner I started in (first photo – one wall is done, the white wall is primed and waiting for paper), the result would have been a mis-match that ran from floor to ceiling – a full 9’!

Putting the mis-match over a door or window usually is too noticeable. But that’s what I did today, and it turned out to be barely noticeable. In the second photo, the two walls will be papered moving from left to right, to meet with the start point over the window. You can see where the paper coming from the right has stopped over the window. This is where I will place my mis-match.

Because the pattern is fairly busy, and because the colors are muted, and because it’s high up over a window, and because the lighting in the room is fairly dim, all those factors worked out to a good spot to place the mis-match.

Thick, Stiff Non-Woven = Noticeable Seams

October 10, 2014

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: These new-fangled non-woven materials are often so thick and stiff that the seams almost always show much more than on thinner paper products. From some angles, you don’t see the seams at all, but from other view points, they are quite obvious.

That’s just the nature of the beast.

The big selling point of this non-woven material, if you are wondering, is that, when it’s time to redecorate, it will usually peel off the wall easily, in one piece, and with little or no damage to the wall.

Me, I’d rather put a little effort into stripping a wallpaper that looks good, than living in a room with vertical lines every 27.”

Keep the Site Clean – OR ELSE!

October 9, 2014

Digital ImageI don’t often work in new construction homes where other workmen are still working (too much dust, noise, confusion, theft, messing up my beautiful new wallpaper, etc.). But this week does find me wallpapering in a home where workmen are doing final touches before the family (just had their first baby!) moves in.

This builder must be a step above – I have seen signs before saying “No Zapatos” (“No Shoes”) in order to protect the new floors. But this is the first time I’ve seen this one. I love it!!

Keeping trash in it’s place is really important, because you’d be surprised at the damage caused by debris and grit on floors, in bath tubs, on countertops, etc. Damp rags, chemicals, food, and the like can all cause damage, too.


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