Keeping the Diamond at the Top

April 25, 2015

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You will hardly ever find a room that has absolutely perfectly plumb corners and walls, and level ceilings and floors. And besides, wallpaper stretches when it gets wet with paste, and twists and grows. So it is very common for motifs in wallpaper to appear as if they are moving up or down the wall. In other words, because you cannot count on a ceiling to be level, instead of putting a motif (like the diamond here) at the top of the wall, it’s better to let a little bit of the filler design land at the top. That way, your eye won’t notice if it’s a quarter of an inch from the crown molding, or a half an inch.

In this powder room, despite my best efforts, the diamond eventually worked its way up until it was being cut off by the crown molding. To fool the eye into thinking the ceiling was level, I moved the diamonds down. To do this, I cut the diamonds off of the wallpaper. After the strip of wallpaper was in place on the wall, I replaced the diamonds and pasted them on top of the wallpaper, positioning them so their tips were just below the crown molding.

You can see that the diagonal lines are not lined up perfectly. But this is much less noticeable than if the tops of the diamonds had gotten cut off.

What’s interesting is, I did this for the west end of the room, and part of the south end. But as I made my way around to the final corner of the room, by golly – the crown molding moved back to its original height, and the diamonds moved back down below it, right to where I had plotted for them to be in the first place. :)

Splintery Edges

April 24, 2015

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See the little shreds of paper coming off the edges of these rolls of wallpaper? The cutting blades at the factory are dull perhaps, or maybe they just forgot to tidy up their work. Either way, these little splinters can prevent the seams from meeting up nicely, so they should be removed. All it takes is a little brushing with a toothbrush, or running a sanding block along the edges of each strip.

Simple and easy. BUT – time consuming. I could get a couple of strips up on the wall, but instead am dicking around cleaning up these miniscule bits that the manufacturer should have not had in the first place. Harrumph!

Gotta Love Those In-Home Elevators!

April 23, 2015

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The house where I’m working this week has an elevator. Boy, is that ever handy, when I’m hauling a 50lb bucket of wallpaper paste – all the way from the first floor to the third floor.

Another Shot of Yesterday’s Trellis in an Entry

April 23, 2015

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Ahhh… A little daylight makes a difference.

You Can’t Go Wrong With a Classic Trellis

April 22, 2015

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People love this classic trellis pattern. And I have to admit, it looks might handsome in the entry of this newly-built home in the Galleria area.

The d├ęcor and furnishings in this home are very traditional. But a timeless trellis pattern like this works well in contemporary settings, too. You can Search here and find where I’ve hung the hot pink color way – in girls’ rooms, to be sure. I have hung this a number of times, and have another couple wanting it for an upcoming job.

Tidy Workmen – For a Change

April 22, 2015

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I am wallpapering in a newly-built house that is still having some tweaking going on. Today the doorbell guys came to install new equipment.

I was mighty surprised – happily so – when I saw how this worker carefully protected the client’s hardwood floors before setting down his tools. He also put booties over his shoes, before entering the house.

Keeping Stripes Straight in a Corner

April 19, 2015

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One of the challenges of hanging wallpaper is keeping the pattern straight/plumb/level/all that jazz – especially factoring in Houston’s gumbo soil and shifting foundations. With a striped pattern, even a little variance is noticeable. Often, it’s not so important that the stripes hang true to plumb, but that they hang perpendicular to the corners and moldings in the room.

In the first photo, the corner is a little off-plumb (which is common). If the pattern had ended with the brown field in the corner, all would have been fine. But since the dark line fell in the corner, some of the “balls” in the pattern fell on the right of the corner, and some fell on the left, and that was obvious to the eye.

To disguise this, I cut my next strip and included the entire dark stripe along its left edge. Then I pasted this edge over the stripe in the corner (second photo), tweeking it a little, making sure that the stripes were on the left of the corner and the “balls” were on the right, and nothing was cut off.

Having the stripes absolutely plumb in the corner was not as important as how the stripes fell against the door molding to the right. Here, it had to be straight and parallel (but not necessarily plumb). You can see how I am using a ruler to be sure the length of the stripe is equidistant from the top of the door molding to the bottom.

Whew! Mission accomplished!

But all is not done … We still have the rest of the room to hang. And, as you can see, right above this door molding, the stripe looks like it is going off-plumb. Actually, it is an optical illusion, caused by the un-level-ness of the crown molding. It may be the trim carpenter’s fault, or the framer’s fault, or the Sheetrocker’s, or just blame it on the shifting gumbo soil under Houston. But, still, your eye sees this.

So, instead of butting my next strip of wallpaper against the piece in the photo, which would have committed each strip to being equally off-plumb, I cut the left edge of the strip along the striped design, and then overlapped the stripe of the new strip over the stripe on the existing strip, but, again, tweeking it just a little to make it look perpendicular to the crown molding.

This trick is blessedly easy to do with stripes, not just on headers (the short strips over doors and windows) but also, when necessary, and with a little more finesse, on full-length drops.

To reiterate: Keeping strips parallel with moldings or other key visual elements in a room, is more important than having them hang true to plumb.

It just sometimes takes a little work to reach that goal.

Another Boring Powder Room Springs to Life

April 18, 2015

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This large powder room in the home of a young family in West University Place (Houston) had been painted dark green. Before that, it was papered in a dark red print wallpaper. While I do like dark powder rooms, without any pattern on the walls, the painted room lacked personality and was claustrophobic.

With help from interior designer Sylvia Walker at Studio Bella, the homeowner chose this white-on-silver medallion pattern. It sure changed the room … The lighter color and simple pattern visually expanded the room, while adding personality and an inviting feel.

In the sink photo, I want to point out that the wallpaper pattern is perfectly centered, although the angle of the shot makes it look off a hair. The sink was recessed in an area flanked by obtuse angles, and it was extremely difficult to paper. The obtuse angle corners were neither plumb nor perpendicular, making it impossible to get an accurate measurement, and the “wiggling walls” meant that paper wrapping around the corners would twist off-plumb and also would likely have wrinkles and an uneven edge, meaning that the next strip of wallpaper would meet in some areas but gap in others.

And, to cap it off, pedestal sinks are bugger bears anyway, trying to keep the paper from tearing, while you work it around curved surfaces, and then maneuvering it under the sink and cut around the water lines and drain pipe. To complicate things more, this sink didn’t fit into the unusual corner space, so had been shored up with boards on either side.

I was very pleased, though, as I managed to get the seams to meet nicely – no gaps or overlaps, and, given enough time (like, about an hour), the paper worked nicely around and under the sink. I even put wallpaper on the boards next to the sink, which helped them fade into the background.

This wallpaper is by Thibaut, and was exceptionally nice to work with. It was malleable when I needed it to be, yet held it’s shape and didn’t shrink. Paste wiped off the surface nicely, and the metallic silver color is attractive, and the slightly raised white ink lends just a tad of texture.

Time for an Update

April 17, 2015

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The top of this dining room in Barker’s Landing (Memorial & Hwy 6) was papered 15 or 20 years ago in a soft pink “satin look” paper-backed pre-pasted solid vinyl wallpaper, and the bottom was painted a soft pink. Well, that was well and good back in the ’80’s, but the room needed an update. Besides, I really try to steer people away from those paper-backed solid vinyl papers, because, especially in humid rooms like bathrooms, they tend to curl at the seams.

As you can see, the new pattern is similar, but much more up to date and livable, in tan and cream, with a thin navy and a thinner red stripe. The bottom of the wall will be painted a deep blue, to coordinate with the blue stripe, and to complement the homeowner’s collection of Flow Blue Oriental dinnerware.

This is a paper, not a vinyl, so it will lie nice and flat against the wall for years to come. Even the last corner worked out nicely (last photo), as you can hardly see that the striped pattern is off, but only by a tad. (The dark stripe is a little wider in the corner than it is on the straight walls.)

This pattern is by Ronald Redding, by York Wallcoverings, 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. Dorota also coordinated the paint color with the wallpaper. The homeowner said, “Dorota is everything you said she was! She made it so easy to find a paper we loved, and she helped us with paint color selections, too.”

Coordinating the Last Two Corners And the Kill Point

April 16, 2015

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When wallpapering a room, the pattern in the last corner virtually never matches. It’s just physiology and geometry. We call that last corner the “kill point,” and try to put it in an inconspicuous place, like behind a door, or in a short strip over a door. But in this room, the kill point was very obvious – a 5′ high strip next to the toilet. To make matters worse, the walls were crooked, when throws the pattern off-plumb and exacerbates the mis-match.

In the middle of a wall, a mis-match on this geometric pattern would be very obvious. But in a corner, not so much, because it’s fairly busy and the corner disguises the break. However, the strong horizontal line looks much better if it’s maintained from wall to wall.

But what to do if the wall is crooked and causes your wallpaper design to start running uphill? That’s the problem I faced after turning the corner on the right. So what I did was, instead of smoothing that next piece into place and trimming it at the ceiling and floor, I positioned it temporarily, and then placed the second strip, which met the corner on the left, also leaving it loose. Then I was able to play with both strips, to line up the horizontal lines, (which were off by about 1/4″ – 3/8″).

To twist the wallpaper into line, I wrapped the lower section of the right hand strip a littler further onto the wall on the right than it was at the top. This caused a slight pattern mis-match, but it was minor and low to the floor, so not a biggie. Same thing in the left corner.

But wait – there’s more! Look at the photo with the toilet. If you look closely, you will see that one of the diagonal lines in the wallpaper is narrower than the others. What I did was, I cut along the white stripe and then twisted the paper to line up as I wanted it to to match the pattern, overlapping the white stripe over the wallpaper below it. Because no vertical lines are dissected, you don’t notice the slight pattern mis-match.

I tossed in the final photo so you could see how the finished room looks. This was hung in a powder room in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. 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.


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