Color Variations in Grasscloth

September 27, 2016

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Grasscloth is one of my least favorite wallcovering options. I just cannot abide the shading and paneling and color variations that are inherent to this product. (Do a Search on those terms here to see photos and learn more.)

Look at the left side of this photo. Can you see the darker area on the far left? The color changes quite abruptly from off-white to almost tan. This is not a defect. This is how grasscloth is.

If you go with real grasscloth, be prepared to live with such color variations.

Note: There are many faux products available that are essentially free of these problems. Do a Search here for more info.

New Wallpaper Toys – Errr… Tools

September 25, 2016

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I came back from the wallpaper hangers’ convention this year with a few new tools. These come from a colleague who imports well-engineered tools from Japan, and who also has had a few items custom-made for our industry. Here are some of them.

I love the scissors. They are sharp, tight, accurate, and come apart for cleaning. And I really love the smoothing brush. It’s softer than the one I have been using, but still short-napped and assertive.

The blue tape was conceived and developed by my paperhanger friend. It’s used for keeping paste off the ceiling and off the face of wallpaper when doing certain operations, such as a double cut.

Imported tools are pricy, but well worth the investment.

Wild Teal Leaf Pattern

September 23, 2016
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Teal is a popular color right now. This homeowner went back and forth on a few options for this accent wall in her living room in an older bungalow in the Woodland Heights (Houston). I love her final decision – and she did, too!

In the first photo, I have rolled the wallpaper out on the floor, to find the pattern match and to see how the overall pattern plays out across a large space.

This pattern is by Hygge & West, an on-line company. It adds a bold block of color to the living room, but, since there is not a lot of contrast, the pattern does not come across as busy. There is a flat screen TV that will be mounted on the wall, and the dark color of the wallpaper will help the TV “disappear.”

Shiny Faux Tortoise in a Powder Room

September 22, 2016
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To be honest, this painted dark brown powder room in a newish Bellaire home was so blah that I didn’t even take “before” photos. And I wasn’t really crazy about the new wallpaper selection. But when it started going up, I found myself loving it … The lighter color, along with the mottled design and the silver mylar shimmer, have mightily transformed the room.

A few words about the wallpaper. It is by Thibaut Designs, and is called “Faux Tortoise.” It is a thick, stiff vinyl, which probably has some Mylar content to support the shimmery pearlized effect, and is on a non-woven or Osnaburg backing. On a flat wall, this paper would have been fine to hang. But in this chopped-up powder room, let’s just say that I did not enjoy myself today.

The instructions say the material is “scrubbable” and can be cleaned with a scrub brush and soap. Well, it does stand up nicely to water. But I found that it could be marred easily, even with a fingernail.

Because there is no pattern, and because it’s a thick, stiff material, all the seams show. I “balanced” the width and placement of the strips, meaning that I trimmed the material so that all the strips on any given wall would be the same width. The finished effect was that it looked like sheets of metal applied to the walls.

The wallpaper was thick and stiff and very difficult to cut and manipulate. It did not turn inside corners well, and it would not turn outside corners at all. I had one wall with three outside corners on it, and I probably spent two hours on just that one wall. The whole room, all eight single rolls of it, took me six or more hours, most of it wrestling unhappily with the stiff Mylar material.

When it was all said and done, the finished room looked wonderful, and the homeowners loved it.

I, on the other hand, would be happy if I never saw this product again. 🙂

Grasscloth on Bookshelves – a Popular Concept

September 21, 2016
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Grasscloth adds a warm touch to the backs of bookshelves, texture without a lot of pattern, so it does not upstage the items displayed on the shelves. This is a light, neutral-colored option by Phillip Jeffries.

If I had hung this the normal way, with the reeds running horizontally, I would have had to place a seam smack down the center of the shelves. The homeowner agreed with me, that it would look better to run the reeds vertically, and eliminate that seam.

When she came home, she kept exclaiming, “I can’t believe how that little bit of texture and color really changes the whole room!”

Treasure Trove of Vintage Wallpaper

September 20, 2016

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I did a bid at a new construction home in the Woodland Heights today, and right next door was a 1930 bungalow that was being renovated. I love old houses, so I walked in to see what they were doing, and discovered piles of old wallpaper that had been ripped off the ship-lapped wooden walls. Ah HA! More for my collection of vintage papers!

There were several patterns of wallpaper, and two or three selections of ceiling paper – the more plain paper, usually white with silver speckles. All of it was applied the old-fashioned way, on top of “cheesecloth” that had been tacked to the shiplap.

I find this interesting, because the colorful blue and yellow patterns are clearly from the ’60’s, and drywall came into common use in the ’40’s. There was drywall in the house, but I guess it was installed way later in the structure’s life. 🙂

I love the texture and feel of the old papers, and it always amazes me that the colors hold up perfectly without fading, over all these years.

Crafty Kill Point

September 15, 2016
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The “kill point” is the place in a room where the last strip of wallpaper meets up with the first strip. The pattern in this last corner virtually never matches. Usually, as in this photo, it’s place over a door where it will be inconspicuous.

I didn’t want there to be an abrupt stoppage of the design, even if it was only 6″ high, up and above the furtherest corner over the door. So I took trimmers and scissors and cut along elements of the design motif, engineering so they would meet up and, from the floor, look as if they were uninterrupted lines. Unless you look really closely, you would never know that the pattern does not match in this corner.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Downing Gate” and is by Thibaut Designs.

It’s Nice to Hang Paper When the Toilet and Sink Are Not There

September 14, 2016

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If the toilet and sink are not in the room, it’s so much easier to work around plumbing pipes and to get the wallpaper adhered to the wall neatly and without a lot of relief cuts. This is especially true of paste-the-wall papers, because it’s often impossible to get paste on the wall behind a toilet.

From Country Child’s Room to Cozy Guest Room

September 12, 2016
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With it’s bold brown color, contrasting horizontal band, and stenciled pattern, the original treatment of this room had taken a lot of planning and careful execution. To me, it had a country look, but I am told that the room sported a “cars & trucks” theme, and was used by a little boy. See first photo.

The new homeowners plan to use the room as a guest bedroom, though, and wanted something more grown up and more soothing. This neutral-toned Chinoiserie (Oriental-themed) toile (two-color pen-and-ink type drawing of daily life scenics) perfectly transformed the room.

The walls had a fairly heavy texture, which I skim-floated the first day, then sanded smooth and primed the second day. I love the second photo, with the new paper juxtaposed against the freshly-prepped walls.

The second-to-last photo shows my kill point, where the last strip meets up to the first strip, which virtually always ends in a mis-match. I pulled a few tricks out of my hat, and I think I disguised this mis-matched corner nicely.

This wallpaper is on a non-woven substrate, and is by Brewster. It was more pliable than many non-wovens, and was pretty nice to work with. The seams were practically invisible, and even going around corners and windows, the paper performed well. It was bought below retail price from Sherwin-Williams, at the Durham & Washington store, in Houston.

Another Serene and Pleasing Faux Grass

September 11, 2016
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Originally, the walls were textured and painted a bold gold (top photo). This homeowner was considering grasscloth for their master bathroom. I told her that grasscloth has problems with color variations – called paneling and shading – and that, because the pattern cannot be matched, all the seams would show, and that it stains when splashed with water or toiletries. I was pleased when she took my suggestion to contact my favorite wallpaper source (see below) and chose a faux grass product.

This manufacturer offers several imitation grasscloth options. I’ve hung many of their Bankun Raffia woven version, but this is the first time I’ve hung this more grass-like offering. This design has a pattern match (reeeallly hard to see, but I got it figured out and got ‘er done!), and that used up a little more paper, but it meant that there was no disruption of the pattern at the seams, which made the seams pretty invisible.

The material is embossed with a textured finish, so it looks and feels like real grasscloth. But because the wallcovering is vinyl, it is very water- and stain-resistant, and because it has a scrim (woven fabric) backing, it is very durable, and it will also be (relatively) easy to remove when they are ready to redecorate.

The homeowner loved the finished room. Originally, she had wanted something that was very plain, and I suggested that a very finely woven product would look like, well, like nothing, once it was up on the wall, and she would be just as well off painting the room. So, again, she took my suggestion and selected this, which has a little more texture. Well, in the time between selecting and finally getting the paper up on the wall, she got to worrying that the pattern might be too strong or overwhelming.

Happily, once the wallpaper started going up, it was very clear that the pattern was quite tranquil and serene, with just enough pattern to engage the senses, but still sit calmly in the background.

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 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.