Give Me An Extra Bolt of Wallpaper, And I’ll Give You Perfect Corners

October 17, 2017

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When hanging wallpaper, when you get to a corner, you’re supposed to cut the paper vertically in the corners.  You leave a little bit, like 1/8″ of the paper, wrapped around the corner.  Your next strip is overlapped onto this wee 1/8″ strip.

The bad thing is, by overlapping the two strips, you will have lost some of the pattern – like the 1/8″ mentioned above, running from floor to ceiling.  That is infuriating, but it’s also distracting to the eye, because you will be left with a rather obvious pattern mis-match.

However – I can often make the corners look much better.  If you buy a little extra wallpaper (at least 2 single rolls, which will come packaged as one double-roll bolt), there will be enough to cut the next piece from a whole new strip, and then that strip can be trimmed to match the pattern on the wall as closely to perfect as possible.  See photo.

Note: This does not mean that every corner is going to be absolutely “perfect.” Unplumb walls, bowed walls, paper expansion, to name a few factors, will all come in to play there. The goal is to get them as close to perfect as possible, and if not, then to at least look perfect.

 

 

 

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Silvery Grasscloth Accent Wall in a Powder Room

October 15, 2017

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The décor in this home in Bellaire is a sort of modern rustic, somewhat heavy, Spanish-influenced blend. The powder room originally had a nicely done faux finish, and it served well for 17 years. The interior designer had that painted over with a single color, and then had me hang this silvery material with natural colored grass on one accent wall behind the vanity.

It updates the room, adds just a touch of dazzle, and blends nicely with the stone sink and rustic vanity, and the new stone floor.

The interior designer for this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs.

More Pictures of the Cork Living Room

October 15, 2017


Here are more photos of the silver & white damask cork, and dark brown cork papers used as companions in a large living room. Note that the damask pattern is nicely balanced from top to bottom of the wall.

Also note how the seams are noticeable – but only if you are standing right in front of them. This is because cork is so think, and possibly the factory trimmed the paper with a slight bevel. At any rate, it’s normal, and considered “part of the inherent natural beauty of the product.”

The damask paper is by Thibaut. See previous post for purchasing information.

Allen Wrenches – American and Metric

October 14, 2017

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Many bathroom fixtures (towel bars, etc.) are removed by the use of an allen wrench (also called a hex key).  My American (inch) set on the left works most of the time.

But it helps to have a metric set (right) on hand, too, for the occasional fixture calibrated to European measurements.

Metallic Cork Married With Earthy Cork Breathes New Life Into A ’70’s Living Room

October 13, 2017

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This 1967 home in a unique neighborhood in Pasadena (Houston) is like a time capsule. It’s a little larger and nicer than the typical ranch-style houses of that era. And just about everything in it was original when my clients bought it … terrazzo floors, dental crown molding, upholstered wall panels in the dining room, diamond paned windows, French Provincial painted iron stairway railing, heavy pleated drapes, and much more.

The homeowners love the look and want to preserve as much as possible. But they also want the home to live a little more modern, and they want it to work with the lifestyle of their young – and very busy – family. They’ve already done a fabulous redo of the kitchen that still respects the era and feel of the home’s bones.

Now it’s time to update the living room. Enter – wallpaper! They used the same grey-brown, wood-look floor tile that they put in the kitchen. They kept the chair rail molding that runs around the room. A sliding barn-style door was custom made to divide the living room from the dining room, and it immediately became the focal point of the room.

Wallpaper was the next element … The couple wanted something earthy, yet elegant, and it had to meld with the vintage theme of the house.

They fell in love with a dark brown cork wallcovering enhanced with metallic accents called Enchanted Woods, by Phillip Jeffries. Whoops! – that brand is crazy expensive! My source (below) found them something nearly identical, but at a much more reasonable price. This dark brown material was used on the bottom 1/3 of the walls, below the chair rail. I was able to railroad this product (run it horizontally, instead of vertically), which eliminated seams. (Sorry, I did not get any photos of this.)

For the upper 2/3 of the wall space, they went with a silver metallic cork wallpaper embellished with a classic damask pattern in white. This is a classy, traditional look jazzed up by a luscious shimmery sheen.

The husband was worried that the dark cork at the bottom of the walls would visually occlude the barn door. At first, I tended to agree with him. But once the cork went up, it was clear that the door still stood out as a dominant feature in the room. Furthermore, it was apparent that the dark band of brown cork was needed all around the room, to balance the visual heft of that massive sliding barn door and to bring continuity to the remaining three walls.

As for the upper 2/3 of the walls, there is no question that the barn door stands out against the silver and white damask cork wallpaper. In addition, the natural texture of the cork coordinates nicely with the stained wood of the door.

Cork wallpaper, especially the metallic colors, is pretty popular right now, and I’ve hung a fair amount of it. But this room was the most challenging. Cork is thick and stiff, and does not want to turn corners (In fact, the instructions say you should not attempt to turn outside corners, but should, instead, cover the corners with wooden molding.), nor is it easy to fit around intricate moldings, and it will give a lot of argument when you try to bend it into a small, tight spot. This room had many of those features!

There was one wall that had two trim-less windows that had reveals (and outside corners) to be covered with the cork material, plus four points of wainscoting trim to cut around, as well as two sections of drapery valances to manipulate the stiff material up and under and into. This wall alone took me 4 1/2 hours to paper!

The rest of the room was easier, but still had its challenges. The cork material is thick and stiff and won’t push tightly against moldings or into corners, which means you have to work extra hard and make several cuts before it will sit snugly against the molding or corner. When trimming around intricate moldings (like the edges of the chair rail), you can’t see or feel where the cuts should be made, so you have to inch your way along, taking a bit here and a sliver there. I estimate that each of the six chair rail edges took me at least 15 minutes – each.

The metallic sheen made it difficult to see the pattern, so it took longer than usual to plot and cut strips.

Cork wallcovering is pretty thick, and you have to expect that the seams will show, just as they do with other natural materials, such as grasscloth. Depending on where you stand in the room, the seams on this product are either invisible, or fairly noticeable. I think the seams could have been better – I have a feeling that the manufacturer’s trimming blade was set at a bit of an angle, making a beveled cut. A perfectly straight cut, or even a slightly reversed-bevel, would perhaps have been less noticeable. Still, this is part of the look of the natural material, and not considered a defect. To be honest, unless you’re looking at a particular seam from just a certain angle, you won’t even see a thing – except the beautiful pattern, color, and shimmer.

The dark brown cork is by Monarque, and the upper cork in the silvery damask pattern is by Thibaut. Both papers were bought at 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.

Over the last few years, I have papered three other rooms for this family. Now that the wallpaper in the living room is up, they are on to other things – furniture, drapes – and then on to update / decorate other rooms. As I left tonight, the mom assured me that I would be back at some point, to paper another room.

Lights Out, And I’ve Got To Work…Big Larry To The Rescue!

October 12, 2017

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This week I’m hanging wallpaper in a large living room near Pasadena (Houston). There is no overhead light in the room, nor any air vent or other fixture that I can hang an extension cord and work light from.

I’ve been able to get by with three light bulb sockets I’ve plugged into the wall outlets, along with the sun light coming through two large windows. But as the sun went down this evening, I didn’t have enough light over my table to see what I was pasting.

Big Larry to the rescue! This is a compact yet very bright LED flashlight that will stand on end. It provided just enough light for me to paste the strips of wallpaper.

In addition, Big Larry has a high beam and a low beam, plus a flashing red light. He has a magnet on the base and fits easily in my toolbox. He is about $20 at Southwestern Paint in Houston. He even has a little brother, Little Larry, for about half the price, and half the light.

And, psssst… either one makes a nice gift. 🙂

Don’t Touch the Wallpaper!

October 11, 2017

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See the light-colored, clean wallpaper close to the light switches?  Now see the darker area a little beyond?

The light area had been covered up by the switch plate cover.  The dark area shows were family members have put their hands on the wall while turning the light on and off.  Over time, the paper has become discolored.

This could be from dirt on people’s hands, or it could simply be from the oils we all have in our skin.

Bottom line – when you are turning lights on or off, touch the SWITCH, not the WALL.

Flaw of the Day – Smudges / Misprint

October 10, 2017

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The vertical line just in front of my finger is a misprint. In addition, there were regular smudges through every bolt of paper, in the same spot on the pattern design – both obviously printing defects by the manufacturer.

With this busy pattern, none of these defects were very obvious, so I went ahead and hung the wallpaper.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Sure Strip line, and was bought at 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.

Getting Behind the Issue

October 8, 2017

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Wallpaper looks better and adheres to the wall better when it goes BEHIND elements like light fixtures, towel bars, and this thermostat.

Sorry I didn’t get pictures of the “during” phase. But what I did was to detach the thermostat from its mounting base. Then I unscrewed the mounting base and removed it from the wall. Everything was still attached via the electrical wires which ran into the wall, and the air conditioner still functioned.

I was able to wallpaper up to the 1/2″ round hole where the wires came out of the wall. When I replaced the mounting base and thermostat, the hole was completely hidden, and there were no cut edges showing around the fixture.

This also means that if the homeowners ever get a new thermostat, it will easily cover that small hole. If I had left the thermostat in place and cut around it, there would be a large hole in the wallpaper, and the new thermostat might not hide it, so the homeowners would be faced with replacing the entire wall of wallpaper.

The way I did it took more time, but it looks neater, is more secure, and disguises more.

Transforming a Stark Hallway

October 7, 2017

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This young couple in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston has a beautifully updated and furnished 1940 ranch style home. But they wanted to up the volume, so to speak, and thought that this hallway, which slices through the center of the home, would make a fine focal point.

I’ve hung this classic damask pattern twice before, and was carrying around a sample of it when I visited them for an initial consultation. They liked it immediately, and, after considering several other patterns, decided on the damask.

To make the area really special, they added a chair rail and crown molding.

It’s hard to get a good shot of a long, narrow hallway. But you can see how the color and pattern adds warmth and dimension to the space, and the lightly pearlized shimmer of the paper definitely adds a touch of understated glamor.

Since the chair rail was a main feature of the room, I positioned the pattern so that the bottom of the damask motif landed just above the chair rail. Likewise, the top of the motif sits just below the crown molding. This looks a lot better than having part of the design chopped off in mid-motif.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and was delightful to work with. It was bought at 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.

In fact, the couple is going to meet with Dorota tomorrow, to choose a complimentary paint color for the bottom portion of the walls.