Cole & Son Woods in a Powder Room

November 13, 2018


This powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military area of Houston was originally papered in a darkish jungle/ethnic/animal-themed wallpaper. It was a good look, but the new homeowners wanted something brighter and fresher. Plus, the original paper had been hung over the textured walls, and the bumps were showing through.

It would have taken me two long days to strip the original paper, smooth the walls, and hang the paper. So the homeowner tackled the removal of the original paper (following instructions on my blog (see page on the right side) plus info she found on the internet), which saved her the price of a day’s labor. It also made my job a bit easier.

But this job still required a lot of prep, which took a lot of time. The homeowners were out of town (they let me into the house via remote access), and it was nice because I could work in peace and quiet, and I could stay as late as I needed.

I skimmed on smoothing compound, waited while it dried, sanded smooth, wiped off the dust, primed, and then finally hung the paper.

The pedestal sink was tricky to get around, as they always are. And the bull-nosed / rounded edges of two outside corners in the room were a challenge. Additional hurdles were crooked walls, un-plumb walls, and a ridged non-woven wallpaper material that would not bend or yield to crooked, un-plumb walls. 🙂 The pattern itself was a bit forgiving of these imperfections, and I used a few tricks to make things look straight and true.

This wallpaper design is quite popular, and I have hung it a bunch of times. It is called “Woods,” and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is printed on a non-woven substrate, and is designed to be a paste-the-wall installation – but I find that paste-the-paper is a superior method.

Best of all, the homeowner loved what the pattern and light color did for the room. The powder room is instantly brightened, and the images of tree trunks give the room a whole lot of dimension and draw you in, as if you were actually walking in a forest.

The strong diagonal repetitiveness of the tree branches usually bothers me a bit. But in this room, with each wall holding only two or three strips, the pattern is dispersed nicely and the diagonal effect is minimized. So, what you see is the forest, and not so much the trees. 🙂

It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

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Adding Another Space – Yaay! … Another Homeowner Bitten by the Wallpar Bug

November 11, 2018


These homeowners were so thrilled with the two accent walls I did for them in their Montrose (Houston) townhome last week, that they had me come back today and use left overs to paper this art alcove.

Even though the project involved only two 5′ strips, it took me several hours … note the perfect symmetry and balance of the pattern, both side-to-side and top-to-bottom.

It all serves as a beautiful background for the art painting and silver service. And, since it’s the same pattern and color as used in two other areas of the house, it ties the various rooms in the home together.

This classic trellis pattern is by Thibaut Designs is well over a hundred years old.

Books and Bricks

November 9, 2018


This room in a 1920’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is to become something of a “man cave,” hence the dark wood floors and the rich, cobalt blue of the bookcases. The bookcases needed a little more personality, so the interior designer found this beautiful faux brick wallpaper pattern – amazingly in the exact perfect blue hue to match the paint.

The paper is by Wallquest, one of my favorite brands, and was lovely to work with. It’s one of the most realistic faux brick patterns I’ve come across, and does not have the repetitiveness that many patterns so.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. Stacie specializes in new construction and whole-house renovations, mostly in the Heights neighborhoods. I can’t say enough good things about her designs and about working with her. https://www.cokinosdesign.com/

“It Makes My Heart Happy To Walk In Here”

November 7, 2018


“It makes my heart happy to walk in here. I’ve had neutral pallets for so long, I was ready for something cheerful and colorful and happy.” That’s what the mom of this 11-day-old baby girl said when she saw the transformation of her infant’s nursery. Originally all the walls had been painted a soft pink. Three walls are still pink, but the fourth accent wall is abuzz with color and critters.

This cute pattern by Anthropologie (sorry, I musta forgotten to take a photo of the label) has colorful flowers in shades of salmon pink, and foliage in shades of green – but is also dotted with butterflies, grasshoppers, and other whimsical cuties. The mom noted how the design makes the room look larger.

This wallpaper is sold by Anthropologie, and is made by York Wall, in their Sure Strip line. It is pre-pasted (water-activated), is thin and pliable and hugs the wall nicely, and is on a non-woven substrate which is designed to strip off the wall easily and with little-to-no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate. Sure Strip is one of my favorite products to hang. Most of what York makes is mighty nice, too.

Originally this family was prepared to wait a few months for my next opening (I stay pretty booked with work), but I had a last-minute schedule change and was able to get their job worked in with – literally – only about 10 hours’ notice. Happy baby girl!

Finished Area From A Few Days Ago

November 5, 2018


The brand is Thibaut.

It’s Hard to Conceive That This Painter Went Home Feeling Proud of His Work

November 4, 2018


Every bit of molding in this house had bizarre globs of paint like you see in the top two photos (and much worse). In addition, there were plenty of splatters of paint on the homeowners’ brand new dark hardwood floors.

Schumacher Acanthus Stripe in a Bellaire Powder Room

November 4, 2018


Here is an acanthus-themed wallpaper pattern worked into a stripe, superimposed onto grasscloth. The manufacturer is Schumacher, and I hung it in a powder room and an adjoining shower vestibule in a home in Bellaire. I’ve worked for this family several times over the last 20 years.

Usually, I have problems of sundry description with the Schumacher brand products; this time, there were no major issues.

Warming Up a Contemporary Space

November 3, 2018


The owners of this newish contemporary-styled townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston wanted to put some impact into their entry by using wallpaper on the first wall you see when you walk in – the sloped wall in the top photo. They have some antique furniture and a special piece of art that sit in front of this wall, so chose this very classic trellis pattern in a warm cream-on-brown colorway.

They were initially considering putting paper on the backs of bookshelves in the upstairs living room, but as I walked up the stairs and saw this one recessed wall directly in view, I suggested this as a better spot for a wallpaper treatment.

The home owers quickly agreed, and decided to use the same pattern here.

The manufacturer of this very old and historic design is Thibaut.

Need a Little Reading Material in the Bathroom? ??

November 2, 2018


What fun wallpaper! This is very similar to grasscloth. But, instead of using natural grasses and reeds, this material is made of strips cut from magazine pages, rolled and folded into long narrow strips, and then sewed onto a paper backing. In some of the columns, you can actually read the words!

There is a similar product made from old newspapers – appropriately named “Yesterday’s News.”

I hung this in a powder room in a new, contemporary home in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner, Cristin Wells, is an interior designer http://www.wellsdesignedhome.com/ who recently moved here from Chicago (not far from my hometown of St. Louis!), and brings her sophisticated playfulness here to the Bayou City.

This product is similar to grasscloth in that the seams are very visible. So I engineered the room to have seams fall evenly spaced on each wall, which we call balancing, and which gives a pleasing effect.

In addition, the material can be shaded, or paneled, which means there can be a noticeable color difference between strips, even if they come off the same bolt. In the third photo, you see how I have rolled the paper out on the floor, to check for shading / paneling, so the homeowner will be aware of this issue, and so I can plot how and where to use the various strips.

Indeed, before consulting with me, the homeowner initially purchased two bolts of paper; when I measured the space I told her that she needed five more. The additional bolts arrived in a different run. Run and batch and dye lot numbers are important – all bolts from the same run or batch were printed at the same time with the same batch of ink, and will generally be pretty much the same shade. Papers from a different run will be a slightly different shade, and will be very noticeable if placed next to one another on the same wall. This is true even with this recycled magazine page material – see the third photo – although instead of printing with ink, the ladies who manufacture this stuff (usually in China or somewhere in Asia) are grabbing handfuls of magazine pages. As you can see, color variations are still quite possible / probable.

In addition to the 10′ high ceilings, the room had a few features that made the install tricky. One was a deeper than usual vanity, which was difficult and somewhat dangerous to reach over to access the wall. This was also a “floating” vanity, which hung suspended on the wall with a short space underneath it that wanted to be covered with wallpaper. Contorting myself under a 30″ deep vanity into a 5″ high space to stick a couple of strips of paper to a rear wall that no one would ever see questioned my sense of reason – but I could not imagine leaving the wall unpapered, so I “got ‘er done!” Sorry, no photo.

Being a contemporary styled home, the window was recessed with a 1/2″ return,. This meant that I had to bring the paper to the edge of the window, and then wrap a mere 1/2″ around an outside corner. The paper was thick and didn’t want to make this turn, and, when it did, it didn’t want to stay stuck – it kept trying to lift up. Wetting the paper helped soften it so it was more agreeable to making these turns, and in some areas I also used a razor blade to make light horizontal slits in the material, right on the edge of the corner, to reduce tension and allow it to turn more easily. Sorry, no photo.

Speaking of making cuts … This stuff was thick and hard to cut, so it took a lot of pressure and several swipes to make many of the cuts, even with a brand new razor blade. When I trimmed the material horizontally at the ceiling and floor, the strings that held the folded magazine pages to the backing were cut also, and they came loose. That meant that there was nothing holding the folded magazine pages to the paper.

It turns out that each of those horizontal strips of folded magazine pages contained about 6 layers of paper, each folded accordion-style. Threads were sewn on to hold them to the backing. But once the threads were cut, the accordion-folded papers unfurled, spread apart, and pushed away from the backing. So when you looked at the ceiling or floor lines, you saw a puffy ridge running the width of the strip.

What I ended up doing was to go up to the ceiling and then down to the floor edges, gently pry apart the fanned layers, and use wallpaper paste to adhere them to one another. I had to get sufficient paste behind each of the six layers, for the entire 3′ width of each strip, press them back together, hold them until the adhesive tacked up – all without getting any paste on the paper or on the ceiling.

All of the above added a lot of time to this job, and I didn’t leave until 9:30 p.m. But the room looked great when I was finished. From its initial uninspired dull grey paint job to the colorful and quite unexpected recycled magazine pages covering the walls, this powder room has experienced a major transformation.

The wallpaper is by Seabrook, which has been purchased by York. Both are wonderful brands.

Updating a ’60’s Dining Room – But Staying True to Mid Century Modern

November 1, 2018

I love all things vintage, and have a keen fondness for old wallpaper in particular. So it really hurt to strip off this beautiful (albeit kitschy) mural – the original installed on one wall of a dining room in this 1960 home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The new homeowners, a young couple, had a more modern vision for the look of their home. This very whimsical “Franz” design feels both modern and mid-century at the same time. And, it perfectly mirrors the thin linear gold lines of the chandelier.

The wallpaper is by a company I had not heard of before – Half Full. It is based in California, and their products are reasonably priced. Unlike many “boutique” manufactures, the company was able to provide sensible product information over the phone, and I was pleased with the quality of their wallpaper.

The surface was printed with a clay-coated ink, and the substrate felt like a pulp material. Installation instructions called for a typical vinyl adhesive, and standard booking times. The material – particularly the edges – did tend to dry out a little too quickly, but a little additional pasting helped with that. There was no detectable shrinkage. I do wish they had printed this black design on a dark substrate, because, even though I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, the white paper backing did show through at the seams just a smidgeon.