Big and BOLD Flower Power in a Powder Room

February 13, 2016
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My previous post shows the serene dining room I did for this young family a month ago. Today they switched up the mood, using this totally HUGE watercolory floral in their powder room. I always say, you can get away with a lot of drama in a small room like a powder room.

The last photo shows the true colors of the paper. The teal and tan colors look super with the granite countertop of the vanity, and the colors coordinate very nicely with the soft aqua grasscloth in the dining room, and the artwork and other furnishings throughout the rest of the house.

This wallpaper pattern is in the Cary Lind line by York Wallcoverings, and was a delight to work with. It was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Aqua & Gold Grasscloth in a Bellaire Dining Room

February 12, 2016
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I hung this grasscloth a month or so ago, and was back today to do another room. Finally, I get a chance to see the room all finished and dressed. The homeowner does her own decorating, and I have to tell ya, she sure has the knack!

This natural fiber product 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. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

I See Spots!

February 11, 2016
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In it’s 10 years of life, this under-the-stairs powder room had had many incarnations. At one time it was painted Blah Builder’s Beige. Then it was a very dark red, and then an Only-a-Family-With-Kids-Will-Understand Bright Orange. Finally, to make the house attractive for the real estate market, someone slapped on a coat of medium-toned tan. It was boring, dark, claustrophobic, and unimaginative.

The new homeowners, a young married couple, had brighter visions. She wanted something bright, open, fun, but still sophisticated.

Searching on-line, the homeowner found a leopard print by Spoonflower, a company that I like, but that has a good number of caveats to be aware of. Their papers are thin and not very durable, so won’t hold up well in a powder room where they might be splashed with water or soap. Their papers expand when wet and shrink when dry, so are overlapped at the seams. This eliminates gapped seams, but leaves you with vertical ridges the height of the wall, along every seam. Coupled with their atypical and complicated measuring and packaging systems, which even professionals like me have a hard time deciphering. Cute patterns, but it’s a baffling and uncertain product.

I was thrilled that the homeowner listened to my comments, and took my suggestions to contact my wallpaper source (below). She ended up with a product that had all the visual appeal, but none of the fragility, nor the overlapped seams or complicated math with resulting huge waste factor.

We vacillated on whether or not to put paper on the ceiling (the sloped part below the stairs). The slope is “kinda” part of the walls, but also “kinda” part of the ceiling. I think the homeowner’s choice to paper the ceiling was right. Additionally, it works because the pattern is non-directional, and there are no major elements that would be eye-jarring if they got cut off at the ceiling (like cutting off the head of a man or horse in a scenic pattern).

Even though the pattern was forgiving, the room was difficult to paper. Part of that was the ceiling, because you cannot match a wallpaper pattern on more than one junction (corner). After that, pattern mis-matches occur in just about every junction. And this room had a whole bunch of junctions. That meant that I had a whole bunch of corners that had dots getting cut off abruptly, where they met the adjoining wall. To minimize the look of this, I trimmed in the corner along the blank white areas, but used my scissors to cut around the areas where a “dot” crossed the junction point. This eliminated an abrupt cut-off dot, and let your eye see only intact dots.

The other challenging factor in this powder room was the rounded corners. There were only two of them, one vertical and one horizontal, but they added about two hours total to my working time.

Walls are never straight, and corners are never straight, and these rounded corners take the prize in un-plumb and un-straight. It’s not that the framers and drywallers are doing anything especially wrong; it’s just that it’s difficult to keep these elements perfectly true to plumb / level.

Unfortunately, wallpaper does not cloak the wall like paint does. Wallpaper comes in strips that are straight. In a room with straight corners, you simply cut the paper and start the new wall with a new strip of wallpaper. But you can’t do that with these new-fangled rounded corners. So, when I wrapped around a rounded corner with a strip of wallpaper, it was straight on the left side, but when it worked its way around the rounded corner, it became warped and wrinkled and twisted on its right edge. If you could have put that left edge against a metal straightedge, it would have looked something like a boomerang – bent to the left at the top, bent to the right in the middle, and then bent back to the left again at the bottom. And all this results in wrinkles.

I spent about 30 minutes working wrinkles out of the right edge of this strip of wallpaper. So there were no eye-offending wrinkles. But the right edge was not straight. You could not notice – until I went to hang the next strip of wallpaper against this very crooked strip of paper. It met at the top, overlapped at the middle, and then gapped at the bottom.

I wrestled with this for another 20 minutes, and got the seams at eye-level to butt together nicely. But as the seam moved down the wall, it began to overlap. I could not get rid of that wrinkle and its resulting overlap without cutting a “relief cut” (similar in sewing terms to a “dart”) into the paper. That would be too noticeable. So, I overlapped the strip to the point where there were no more wrinkles or stress points. Then I took a new, sharp razor blade and cut along the overlapped seam, then removed the cut-away portion, so the two edges would fold (splice) together and butt perfectly together.

I guess I could have avoided this if I had just let the seam overlap a little. The bottom 2′ of wall, next to the pedestal sink, it would not have been very noticeable. But I hate overlapped (“wired”) seams, and didn’t want these people to have any in their powder room.

The other thing about rounded corners not being straight is that the paper will not cling to the rounded edge tightly. So, besides throwing the subsequent edge off-plumb, those danged bull-nosed edges will often result in gaps and air pockets and untight areas on top of the corner / edge itself. This room had some of these near the bottom 2′ of the wall along the rounded corner (not pictured).

Again, most people do not notice what I notice. The overall finished look is a beautifully updated room that is light and bright and fun, and will transform once again, when the new light fixture and hand-towel holder are in place.

Oh, and I almost forgot – the homeowner’s original selection of wallpaper by the boutique company Spoonflower, with it’s warts and whatnots, would have cost $900+. The choice she ended up with, from a time-tested and trusted company, Thibaut, cost $400+.

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. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

I LOVE It When The Sink is GONE!

February 10, 2016
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Handy Hubby removed the pedestal sink from this powder room. This will make my job sooo much easier, and save maybe a full hour of work. It also means that there will be not cut edge of wallpaper at the top of the sink, so no chance of splashed water getting under the wallpaper and causing it to curl up.

Sleek, Upscale, French, Elegance, Shimmer – All This In One Tiny Room!

February 9, 2016
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Please pardon the crummy pictures, due to poor lighting, a cheap camera, and why the heck did I move after I clicked the button?! Anyway, you get the idea.

This young family lives in a home in Bellaire (Houston) that is large and open and somewhat contemporary, yet has formal elements, like intricate moldings – plus a whole lot of WHITE. They wanted something to warm up the space, while being sleek and French-chic. This pattern is not by Candice Olson, but it could be – it has sass, glamor, glimmer, movement, and style, plus it coordinates nicely with the marble countertop in this under-the-stairs powder room. It added just the touch the homeowners were looking for.

This is a thick vinyl in a dark color on a white paper backing. I colored the edges of the paper with grey pastel chalk, but the third photo shows that you can still “kind of” see the seams. This is typical, and not a defect. Depending on where you’re standing and where the light is coming from, most of the seams are invisible. When the paper is good and dry, the seams will be even less noticeable.  And, really, it’s the kind of thing that I see, but homeowners don’t even know what I’m talking about.  :)  The dark lines in the top photo are shadows from the lighting.

A wallpaper facelift is addictive … When I left, the homeowners were saying, “We’ll have you back soon, to do something with the living room!”

This wallpaper pattern is by York Wallcoverings, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. Tell her what you are yearning for, and she knows exactly where to find it. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Faux Brick, Faux Mortar, Faux Level Ceiling

February 8, 2016
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Virtually no room or home has perfectly plumb walls, nor perfectly level ceilings and floors. Even if the wallpaper is hung perfectly plumb, if the walls or ceiling are out of kilter, it will look like the wallpaper is askew, with the design being closer to the ceiling at one end of the wall, and dropping farther away from the ceiling at the other end. So, to disguise this, I will often put an element at the top of the wall that you will not notice if it’s growing shorter or taller – for instance, a partial brick, and your eye won’t notice if it’s 3 1/2″ high at one end of the wall and 4 1/8″ high at the other.

But in this room, I wanted to have a line of mortar at the top of the wall, so it would look like a real brick wall. The ceiling line was straight along the right half of the wall, as you see in the photo, but got off-level on the left half. That meant that the bricks started falling down the wall, and the bottoms of bricks from the row above them started showing at the ceiling line.

To disguise this, I took scraps of unused wallpaper and cut thin strips of the mortar design. Then I appliquéd these over the bottoms of the bricks that I didn’t want to show at the ceiling line. Regular wallpaper paste won’t stick to this textured vinyl product, so I had to use an adhesive specially formulated to adhere to vinyl.

The finished result looked great. No dark bottoms of bricks showed along the top of the wall, and you really couldn’t notice that the mortar along the ceiling on the left half of the room was wider than the mortar on the right half.

This wallpaper is by Sunworthy, and I hung it on an accent wall in a bedroom of a teenaged boy.

Final Pics of the Stoney Brook Custom Made Block Wallpaper

February 6, 2016
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More of the Custom-Made Paper – Sink / Countertop Shot

February 5, 2016

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Robert Miller asked for more photos, so here you go…

Custom-Made Wallpaper in Blocks

February 4, 2016
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Photos: Before, During, Done, and a Close-Up.

This is in a home office in a 1957 house in River Oaks (Houston). The home has traditional elegant features, and also very contemporary features and accessories, making for an interesting mix. The homeowner was looking for something different for his office (formerly everything (walls, moldings, ceiling) was painted brown). He had a few ideas that we discussed, and then I suggested this pieced paper by Stoney Brook Wallcoverings http://www.stoneybrookpaper.com/. He loved the concept immediately.

This paper is custom-made to suit the homeowner’s color choices, and also to fit the dimensions of the wall space. I had to measure meticulously, and then calculate how many blocks of which dimensions would be needed to cover the walls, while keeping a homogeneous look around all the walls with varying dimensions. A die was custom-made to dimensions that would give the best use of material, and then 300 sheets of paper, each being 14″ x 26″ were stamped out.

My job is then to trim each sheet to an appropriate height, so that all blocks tiered on the walls are equal in size. I also plotted the layout so that the blocks on each wall are centered in the middle of the wall. Then, of course, the blocks are pasted and applied to the wall, in a staggered, brick-like pattern. Unlike many of the Stoney Brook products, this one is not overlapped, but butted at the seams.

There is a lot of math involved, and careful measuring and potting before cutting. All that is taking a lot of time. Actually putting the paper on the wall is going fairly quickly.

I am very pleased with this product. Unlike many non-woven wallpaper substrates which are stiff and thick and contrary, this one is thin and malleable, making it easy to maneuver into place, and it hugs the wall nicely.

Stoney Brook is a pieced wallcovering (torn or blocks) similar to the more trendy product made by Vahallan, but much lower in price, more easily accessible, and much more customer-friendly. IMO

Beautiful Hand-Painted Mural by Zuber

February 3, 2016
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This week, I am working in a circa 1957 half-modern, half-elegant home in River Oaks. In the entry and hallway is this hand-painted mural, original to the home. It is by the French company Zuber, and was custom made to fit the individual walls, and quite pricy.

The details are fantastic, and the colors are still vivid. It is true honor to be able to see this wonderful, classic, work of art.


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