Keeping Splatters Off Baseboards

December 6, 2016

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While I am priming the walls, a dropcloth (blue) protects the floors from splatters or drips. But I like to make sure that no drips or speckles get onto the baseboards, either. So I use use push pins to tack paper dropcloths (white) along the top of the baseboards to catch any splatters that might fall.

Removing Pedestal Sink Tears Sheetrock

December 4, 2016

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These homeowners wanted the new wallpaper to fall seamlessly behind their powder room sink, so there would be no cut edge that could wick up splashed water, which could cause curling. So they had a plumber remove the sink. This also makes it immensely easier for me to hang the paper, because I don’t have to cut around the sink or pipes.

But since the sink was caulked to the wall, when it was pulled away from the wall, some of the drywall also pulled away, leaving torn areas. These torn areas are bad because they cause uneven areas under the wallpaper, and also because the moisture from the wallpaper paste will cause the compromised areas in the drywall to bubble.

So I sealed the torn areas with Gardz, a penetrating sealer by Zinsser, which is formulated to soak into porous surfaces, then dries hard, sealing them and preventing moisture from passing through, and thereby preventing bubbling.

The next step was to skim-float over the torn areas, let dry, and then sand smooth, to even out the surface. A final coat of Gardz sealed the patched area.

Crooked Walls = Wrinkly Paper

December 3, 2016
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Walls in homes are usually never perfectly plumb, just as ceilings and floors are never perfectly level. Not a problem if you’re painting. But if you are hanging wallpaper, that wallpaper wants to hang straight, and so it wants a straight wall to hang on to.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if a wall is crooked, bowed, or off-plumb, wallpaper will have difficulty hanging butted up against it.

In this case, I had turned a strip of wallpaper around an outside corner – very tricky for several reasons, and more so because virtually no outside corner is perfectly plumb, which compounds the trickiness. If you wrap wallpaper around a wall / corner that is not plumb / straight, the far edge of the wallpaper will likewise become bowed or un-straight. So when you go to butt the next strip of wallpaper against this one, one straight edge will not be able to find another straight edge to “marry with,” and the strips will want to gap or overlap. Not good.

So what I did was, once I got around the outside corner, I made sure that the far edge of the strip of wallpaper was plumb and straight. I used a 6′ magnesium straightedge and a 4′ level as guides.

But making the far edge of the wallpaper strip comply to plumb caused the body, or central area, of the wallpaper strip to become wrinkled due to excess material. Thankfully, this was a forgiving pattern.

What I did was, I cut along some lines of the wallpaper design motif. This created some relief, so I could ease out the wrinkles and smooth the paper against the wall. Voilà! The wrinkles and stress on the paper are gone; cuts, splices, and overlaps are invisible, and the the far edge of the paper is straight and ready to butt against the next strip of wallpaper.

Big Pattern and Wide Movement Work Nicely in a Large Powder Room

December 2, 2016
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This powder room in the West University area of Houston had its large size and a very attractive marble-topped sink console going for it, but not much else, because the boring tan walls were simply – blah. The homeowner loved this classic one-color chintz floral pattern, and, even though she worried that it might “make the room looks smaller,” she took the leap to have it hung in the powder room.

When she saw the finished room, one of the first things she said was, “It makes the room look bigger!” And she is right. Any kind of pattern, but particularly something with movement (swirls) in it like this one, will make the walls appear to recede, and so the room looks larger.

This wallpaper is by Anderson Prints, and is in the EcoChic line. The interior designer is Pamela O’Brien, of Pamela Hope Designs, a Houston based company that has won acclaim for its design style, which is crisp, clean, uncluttered, warm, and livable for modern families. Pamela and her assistant Danna are a joy to work with, too.

More Durable Alternative to Grasscloth

December 1, 2016
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This couple wanted a textured paper, rather than a busy pattern, for their powder room in a newish home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. After spending several months looking at options, and also seeking my input, they decided on this. The design is meant to look like grasscloth, but to me, it has much more of a sleek, modern look, all of which is enhanced by the slivery grey color.

What is extra nice about this selection is that it is a scrim (fabric) backed vinyl material, and will hold up to water splashes and dings quite nicely; real grasscloth, and even paper wallpaper products, cannot say the same. Because it is meant to mimic grasscloth, there is no pattern to be matched, and so the seams are more visible than with other patterns. But this product did not have the paneling and shading problems that plague real grasscloth, so the seams really are barely noticeable.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, from the Texture Resource line, pattern # 5834, and was bought at a below-retail 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.

Circles, Spots, and Dots

November 30, 2016
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These owners of a newish townhouse in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston wanted an accent wall covered with something to bring personality to their third floor TV room, without adding too much distracting color or pattern, and without overwhelming the large flat screen TV. After looking at maybe a zillion choices, they came back to one of their first loves, this fun ball design.

The builder had not textured the wall, so all the only prep that was needed was a primer. I centered the balls in the middle of the wall so they would look even around the TV set. I used plastic strips to keep paste off the ceiling and the walls that were not being papered.

This wallpaper I by Wallquest, and is in their Ecochic line. It is a thin paper (not a vinyl) and will hold up nicely.

Wallpaper Repairs

November 26, 2016
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Some people get upset when there is a fair amount of wallpaper left over after the room is finished. This Clear Lake (Houston) couple felt the same, 15 years ago when I papered their kitchen and powder room. Well, come 2016, and the 40-year-old pipes in their ’70’s era home began to fail. Bottom line – they had to have the whole house completely re-piped. And to do that, the plumbers had to cut holes here and there in the drywall. When the drywall gets messed up, so does the wallpaper. Good thing they had extra wallpaper on hand!

The plumbers did a good job of patching the Sheetrock and then floating over the joints where the new patched-in drywall met the old. But there were still some areas that I needed to refloat and / or sand smooth, and then prime, before the wallpaper could be replaced.

The 2nd and 3rd photos show the soffit or fur down over the kitchen cabinets, first with the plumbers’ patch, and then with my new wallpaper repair.

The powder room had a swirly pattern, and had four walls that needed wallpaper repairs. In this room, as shown in the 5th photo, I appliquéd the new paper over the existing paper. Cutting along the design helps disguise the patch by eliminating visual breaks.

There is even a little paper still left over, in case another calamity strikes and more wallpaper repairs are needed. 🙂

Sweet Fairy Tale for a Baby Girl’s Bathroom

November 26, 2016
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This mother is crazy about her just-learning-to-walk daughter, and wanted to do something special for the little girl’s room, starting with the bathroom.

Originally, the mother was pretty sure she wanted pink and white stripes. On our initial consultation, I assured her that stripes are classic and safe. Then I encouraged her to explore more options – there is a whole world out there of wallpaper patterns suitable for children, from sweet little girls to raucous boys to patterns that will remain appropriate from toddlerhood through the teen years.

I am glad that she took my advice. And she is, too. In fact, she is positively thrilled with the soft color and sweet charm of this storybook wallpaper pattern. Look closely, and you will love it, too!

This wallpaper is in the Jane Churchill line, by Cowtan & Tout, a British company. The design features Winnie the Pooh and friends, and is called “One Hundred Acre Wood.” It comes in several colors, it is positively adorable, and, in fact, I have another client who is planning to use this same paper and colorway in a few weeks.

This wallpaper pattern is printed on what we call a British “pulp paper” stock, and will stay nice and tight to the wall, even under humid conditions. There is no vinyl coating, though, as with many American alternatives, so staining is a possablity. To prevent this, the homeowners must be careful not to touch the paper with their hands or splash water onto the paper while using the sink.

I hung this cute story book toile pattern in pink-on-white in a little girls’ bathroom in a newish home in River Oaks. This wallpaper is by Cowtan & Tout, 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.

Unusual Mounting Bracket for a Bathroom Mirror

November 24, 2016

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It’s best to take accessories off the wall before installing the wallpaper, so that the wallpaper can go behind them, and leave a smooth, uniform look. “Accessories” can mean anything from light switch plate covers to towel bars to light fixtures to artwork to, as in this case, mirrors.

This mirror (not shown) was supported by a bracket that held it a few inches away from the wall, and allowed it to swivel up and down. I had not seen one like this before, so it was interesting to me to figure out how it worked and how to get the mirror off the wall – and then back onto the wall, after the wallpaper was up.

This mirror was affixed with “female” mounting receptacles that fit over the “male” rods protruding from the bracket on the wall. Then there was a largish hex-shaped set screw that fit into the top and joined the rod and the receptacle together and held them tight – with the help of an allen wrench. Now the apparatus is ready to support a heavy, framed mirror.

Peel & Stick “Temporary” Wallpaper – Horrible Stuff

November 23, 2016

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Boy, oh boy, did I hate seeing this featured in Better Homes & Gardens magazine. Interior designer and television star Genevieve Gorder has many fans, and so does BH&G magazine! When people read something in print, they tend to believe it. I hope that people do NOT read this article and make a mad dash to buy this new product… peel & stick, so-called “temporary” wallpaper.

In my experience, it’s horrible. You know how difficult it is to put Contact paper on a surface without getting wrinkles or bubbles. But Contact paper is only about 18″ wide, and only as long as your shelf. Imagine trying to manipulate that Contact paper in a wider strip, and one that reaches from floor to ceiling! And if you try to pull it up to reposition it or smooth out a wrinkle, it will pull the paint off the wall below, creating an uneven surface and leaving paint on the back of the paper, so you have areas that now will not stick to the wall.

And the claim of “temporary” is misleading, too. In my experience, the stuff bonds tightly to the wall, and gets tighter over time. Removing it is likely to cause damage to the paint and even the underlying drywall.

I won’t hang peel & stick, and many of my friends won’t, either.

When shopping, please do your research before making a final decision.