Notch in My Straight Edge

March 31, 2015

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I was unloading tools from my van this morning, and, thanks to Houston’s crappy, pot hole-filled streets and uneven pavement, the doors to the van would not stay open, and when one slammed shut, my $100 magnesium straight edge was knocked down. It hit the concrete curb and came up with this gouge.

I worry that this will snag a razor blade as I try to trim wallpaper. To be honest, I have been considering buying a new straight edge anyway, because I think this one is bowed, resulting in cuts that are off as much as 1/8″.

Growing Boy Needs a More Grown Up Room

March 27, 2015

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The little boy had outgrown the bright colors and cartoon characters painted on his bedroom wall. His mom wanted something durable, with a pattern that would work as the boy goes through grade and high school.

She chose this faux grasscloth in a woven pattern. It’s tailored look will be a good backdrop to any style of decorating the boy may want. It’s super durable, too, being made of scrim (woven fabric mesh) backed vinyl, like what they put in hotel hallways, so it can survive dings and washings.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, from their Texture Resource line, 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.

Why Does This Pattern Match at the Top of the Wall, But Not at the Bottom?

March 26, 2015

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When turning a corner with wallpaper, you never wrap the paper around the turn, but instead cut the paper just a hair past the corner, and then trim a new strip to match, and overlap it in the corner, taking care to match the pattern.

In the top photo, the wallpaper has turned the corner, and, at the top of the wall, the design from strip to strip matches nicely. But as you go down the wall, to above the sink, the pattern match gets off. Why?

Several reasons. For one, one of the walls is plumb, but the other is not. When one wall is heading catty-whompus, it’s pretty difficult to get both strips of wallpaper to line up. But more important – look at my straightedge. See those dark areas of shadow, where the straightedge is not sitting tightly against the wall? It turned out that the wall has waves and undulations in it. In fact, I could actually rock my level back and forth, the wall was so “off.” If the wall is waving back and forth, there is no way that a wallpaper pattern can match perfectly.

So, there is an understandable reason for the mis-match. But it still looks a little bad on a geometric pattern like this. Let’s hope that the homeowner can find a mirror or medicine cabinet to fit into that corner. Still, from a distance (last shot), you hardly notice.

Interestingly enough (last photo), the next day, working in a house coincidentally just a few blocks away, I ran into the same thing, with walls and ceilings that were not plumb, and walls that had waves and uneven areas that caused the pattern to distort a little.

Same Room, Same Color, But a Dash of Personality Plus!

March 26, 2015

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This under-the-stairs powder room in the Houston Heights went from grey and boring to grey and delightful and full of personality. The pattern makes the room look larger, and the white color makes it brighter. I took care to center the design on the sink’s faucet, so the wall will be nicely balanced when they hang their mirror.

The room included a vaulted ceiling under the stairs. The homeowner first said paper this area, then almost decided not to – but I had already primed that surface, so she gave the OK to go ahead. Once the pattern went onto the sloped surface, it was clear that this was the right decision… it just makes the room look cheery.

The last corner is virtually always a mis-match, so I posed a photo so you can see what that might look like. On a busy floral pattern, you might not notice it, but on a medallion like this, you see it more. Still, it’s not horribly distracting.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Palmetto,” and is by Serena and Lily, and was bought on-line. I found it very nice to work with.

Good-Bye Alien, Hello Copasetic Geometric

March 25, 2015

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This homeowner was wooed by a manufacturer’s claim that it’s peel-and-stick wallpaper was easy to install. Well, they put up two strips and called uncle! Hell, even I won’t work with at that stuff! Besides, I think it looks like Alien from the book Communion.

The peel-and-stick is a lot like Contact Paper. It’s not repositionable, and it’s difficult to smooth out wrinkles or maneuver into place. In the first photo, I am peeling it off the wall. It was hard to remove, and, as you can see, it has pulled much of the olive green paint away with it.

I repaired damaged areas of the wall, primed, and then hung the new paper, a cream-on-silver geometric pattern by Thibaut. The wallpaper was easier to work with, and the new look is much brighter.

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 hung this in a powder room in a contemporary style home in the Houston Heights.

Paint Splatters on Baseboards, Floor, and Countertops

March 24, 2015

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See these little grey specks of paint? This is because whoever painted the wall using a roller did not put blue painter’s tape on the baseboards, to protect them from splatters. There were a few specks on the floor, as well. This was an expensive new home in the Heights.

In the last photo, a powder room in the Rice U. area, you can see splatters all over this nice slate countertop. The floor in this powder room was equally marred. What a shame.

The primers I use are clear or white and don’t splatter much. But still, I usually use push-pins to hold the dropcloths up over the baseboards, to catch any drops that might fall.

Some Papers are Prone to Wrinkles and Gaps

March 23, 2015

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In the first photo, why is the pasted paper puckering? And the edges are curling. This is because the white ink and the blue ink absorb moisture from the paste and expand at different rates. The blue ink is stretching, expanding, and curling.

This continues even after the paper has been booked and relaxed and then hung on the wall. In the second photo, you see how the white areas are clinging tightly to the wall, but the blue ink is causing the paper to curl away from the wall.

Sometimes, I have to fight with the paper to get it to stay down tight to the wall, and this can cause a little burnishing at the seams. Usually, though, patience wins out, and, if you wait until the paper dries, the seams will loose their moisture and pull tightly against the wall, as this one did.

This cute wallpaper pattern is by Hygge & West, comes in several colors, and can be bought on-line.

Soft-Toned Damask on a Tall Bedroom Accent Wall

March 22, 2015

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I don’t get many opportunities to pull out my 16′ extension ladder, but this week I did … the ceilings in this master bedroom were 12′ high! – just a few inches further than I could reach using my 6′ ladder. The first two photos were taken yesterday, as I was “floating” or “skim coating” the wall, to smooth it so the texture would not show through the wallpaper. The whiter areas you see have the plaster-like substance applied, as I work my way from top to bottom, from left to right.

Because of the dark paint on the other walls, I stopped the white “mud” just a hair away from the corner. In the second photo, that is my floating trowel hanging from the brace of the ladder. I floated the wall yesterday, and let it dry overnight. Today I sanded, vacuumed, wiped dust off the wall with a damp sponge, primed, and then finally hung the wallpaper.

I started in the middle (third photo), so I could center the damask motif on the wall, which will look nice once the homeowners get their bed and headboard back in place. The plastic is on my ladder to keep wallpaper paste from slopping all over it. I don’t have to do this with a normal step ladder, but extension ladders require a different angle of approach, and I couldn’t avoid having the pasted paper unbook and flop against my ladder. Yuck.

Fourth photo just shows some of the mechanics of how all this happens. The next pics are shots of the pattern; really pretty, soft, and nicely suited for a bedroom. They wanted a light color on the wallpaper, as it would contrast nicely with their brand new, very dark hardwood floors.

This wallpaper pattern is by Etten (by Seabrook), and is printed on the newish non-woven substrate, which is designed to peel off the wall easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. Note that, since these papers are generally thick and somewhat puffy, you often see the seams just a little (last two photos).

The room was a master bedroom in a fairly new home, and the location was Pearland, a suburb of Houston, Texas.

From Pretty to Pretty With Personality

March 21, 2015

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Digital Image This reading room off the master bedroom in a very nicely remodeled old bungalow in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston was pretty, with two full walls of windows and a pretty aqua paint color. Yet look at the difference a little wallpaper made… The background color is the same, but more color has been added, along with flowers, butterflies, and movement.

The first thing the husband said when he walked in was, “The room looks larger.” Yes, contrary to what many people think, wallpaper makes a space look larger. And it also adds personality and warmth and character. This very pretty pattern is by Nina Campbell, a British designer / brand, printed on the classic pulp substrate (as opposed to the newer non-woven materials – I prefer the pulps). It was bought through My London Flat, a design firm and antiques shop located in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston. Suzie Smith, the owner, lived for several years in England, and has brought her knack for stylish-yet-down-to-Earth design to Houston. A lovely lady, and great design savvy. I highly recommend her!

Adventures at Work – Towel Thief

March 20, 2015

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Those are my towel, rags, and trash bag out on the grass. The homeowner left the window open last night, and their 6-month-old husky poked his head through and helped himself.


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