Archive for March, 2011

Murals Gone Mad!

March 29, 2011

Gee, I sure am putting up a lot of murals lately.

No wonder – take a look at what’s available today…Much more than the old “fake tropical beach scene” of a few years back.

Check out what this company has to offer:

They’ll even make any mural any size, to fit your specific room.

Disney characters, dinosaurs, graphics, realistic vistas, and much MUCH more, including your own photographs!

Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, pt III

March 20, 2011

Related to my two recent posts – Ahhhh, now here’s one done right, IMO.

Flip through and look at page 53 of the February 2011 issue. Here we have a lovely dining room done in the popular color scheme of tan, soft brown, and pale aqua. Very soothing (this color palette is often used in bedrooms and bathrooms, and referred to as “spa like”.)

Here we have another oversized version of a traditional pattern, tan and white, on a soft aqua background. The furnishings are also modern takes on traditional style, where the designer has taken a classic style but made it more streamlined and clean cut. Other accessories in the room are the same – mirror, lamp, and the curtains are brown-on-white in a huge zig-zag pattern.

As someone who works with wallpaper every day, what I find interesting in this room is the paper going from floor to ceiling. Quite often, dining rooms are done with the wallpaper on the top 2/3 of the wall, and either wooden wainscotting or paint on the bottom 1/3, with a chair rail inbetween. This treatment works very well in dining rooms, powder rooms, and breakfast rooms.

Normally, I wouldn’t want to see so much pattern going down to the floor in a dining room. But the room in the photo works well. Part of it is the harmony in colors, and the limited palette.

Another reason this room works is the scale of the pattern on the wallpaper. The huge scale of the paper’s design enables it to stand out against the legs of the table and chairs, instead of everything swallowing each other up and getting lost in the pattern.

The key here in using non-conventional twists on classic design, is the large size of the pattern and the two-hue color scheme.

Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine , pt II

March 19, 2011

Related to my previous post, the February 2011 issue of BH&G focuses on color, and on page 16 there is a sort of introductory page entitled, “Transform Your Home With Color!”

The photo is of an entryway papered floor-to-ceiling with a very bold pattern, a modern play on a traditional style. It’s a huge what I call a “fleur-de-lis” pattern, done not in the traditional muted tones but a BRIGHT turquoise on bright white background. Very modern and trendy right now. I’ve done several rooms in this sort of pattern recently. (See the Gallery on my website,

But, in my opinion, the room doesn’t work. The furniture is antique or vintage, and, to my way of thinking, simply doesn’t go with this updated take on wallpaper, especially not the frilly mediuim-toned mirror.

I think the room would have looked better with bold, heavy, solid furniture with straight, clean lines. Even older furniture painted a solid color – given that it’s the ‘right’ piece of furniture.

For instance, the chest of drawers used in the photo might work, if they removed the old hardware and replaced it with modern handles. That would have appropriately and effectively updated the older piece of furniture, so it would better fit the feel of the contemporary wallpaper.

Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

March 19, 2011

Wallpaper makes an appearance in shelter magazines (home type mags) just about every issue these days. Better Homes & Gardens frequently features wallpaper. I’ll comment on a couple of the recent articles.

The December 2010 issue, on page 70, shows a breakfast room in a house, with a traditional paper on the walls (floor to ceiling), and a dinette set that has traditional chairs but a modern, straight lined table.

“I really wanted an old-fashioned mixed with super-modern,” the homeowner says, “so she paired toile wallpaper with a knockoff Saarinen table she found on eBay.”

Well,,, it makes for a nice photograph, and I’m glad the magazine is featuring wallpaper in a main room. But I can’t say I’m crazy about mixing such a traditional, time-tested pattern as a toile (Google it) with a round, white, shiny, ultra-modern piece of furniture. Nothing wrong with it – just not my taste.

I think what does make this mix work, though, is the similiarities in color – both the wallpaper and the furniture are pale in color, so there is a thread of unity.

Wallpaper & Martha Stewart’s Interior Designer

March 18, 2011

Readers of Martha Stewart’s Living magazine have been watching Kevin Sharkey, one of their design editors, as he shows us, month-by-month, how he is fixing up his new apartment.

In the current issue, he focuses on the entryway – “Entrance Strategy.”

Kevin says the entrance is like the HOV lane in your house, because people funnel into and through it quickly, without spending much time there.

So, he says, “If you love, love, love color, but don’t want to commit a larger room to it, a foyer is the perfect place to test a new hue. The same goes for fanciful wallpaper.”

So, if you’re not sure how wallpaper will work in your home, or are feeling timid about using pattern in a primary room, try starting out in a room that is not used much, such as the entry way.

Taking Your Lumps – Pt II

March 4, 2011

Coincidental to my previous post, I bid a job this weekend in a room that had an extremely nasty texture on the walls. The homeowner had gotten a quote from (Large Wallpaper Retailer) that included the wallpaper and installation, and it sounded pretty reasonable.

The only thing is, just like the other Large Chain Wallpaper Retailer, this company did not include a price for prep. Now, how can you price a job without knowing what type of prep is involved?!

What these guys typically do is, give a price that sounds wonderful, then show up to do the work and either don’t do any prep at all, which could result in a bad looking job, or one that looks good initially but doesn’t stay on the wall for long, OR they arrive at the home and suddenly inform the homeowner that more work is going to be involved and, by the way, it’s going to be ($XXX) more. In one story that I heard, the price jumped from a very reasonable $300 to $1800 !!

To me, that’s leading the customer on, misleading her, and pulling the old Bait And Switch.

That’s another reason why I always insist on seeing the job ahead of time, and why I spend time talking to the homeowner to explain what I plan to do to get a good look and a lasting installation. Hopefully, with this explanation, the client will understand why there may be a cost difference, and value the extra work required to ensure a good job.

Like It or Lump It

March 3, 2011

Regarding a job I did last week, when I visited to give an estimate, the first time I saw the room, the bottom 1/3 of a young girl’s room, the first thing I noticed was a light texture from the painted wall showing from underneath the existing wallpaper. Whoever had hung the paper had not bothered to smooth out the wall.

I pointed this out to the homeowner, and explained that, in order to do the job right, I would have to do twice the normal amount of prep, meaning I would have to strip the existing layer of paper, and then skim float the wall with “mud” (joint compound), sand it, and then prime it, before the new paper could be installed. This would insure a smooth finish on the new paper.

She replied that when (Large Chain Wallpaper Retailer) sent a guy to install the paper, she told him she noticed the bumps under the paper. He told her that that was there because it was how her wall was.

Well, that’s true. The bumps DO show because the wall has bumps. The thing is, the installer is supposed to GET RID OF THE BUMPS before putting up the wallpaper. It’s more time, and perhaps more expense for the homeowner, but, gee, if you have the option of doing a mediocre job or on that you would be proud of, wouldn’t you take the extra steps to do the job right??

Homeowners don’t know about prep or what’s invovled in getting a good wallpaper job. That’s why it’s part of my job to educate them about what steps are necessary to get a good result. In this case, the woman definately DID want a smooth finish for her paper, but the installer made excuses and shrugged it off, so he could get out of the extra work.

When I did the job this past Friday, in removing the existing wallpaper, I found even more “no-nos” – The previous installer had removed the top vinyl layer of the existing paper, but had left the backing on the wall. Then, without bothering to even paint on a primer, he put the new paper right on top of the paper backing. This is bad, because the backing is pourous and can suck the paste right off the paper, and because it has seams, which show under the new paper. So, in addition to lumps from the texture, there were verticle seam lines showing, too.

Once I got all that off, smoothed the surface, and installed the new paper, the finished room looked great. It was a pink-on-white classic toile (Google it), and the furniture in the room was all white and pink – perfect for a little “girly girl.”

What Do Grasscloth and Dog Food Have in Common?

March 1, 2011

When they’re made in China, they can be of POOR QUALITY.

I’ve been doing a lot of grasscloth lately, and every now and then we run into problems, almost always with the very finely textured goods with very thin grass reeds.

The problem is that the dyes in the paper come off if they get the slightest bit of moisture on them. Well, in installing wallpaper, it’s vital to keep tools and hands clean, and that means rinsing rags and hands frequently. In addition, you have to remove paste from seams and woodwork, which means wiping with a damp cloth or sponge. In some cases, simply putting weight on the grasscloth once it’s pasted, for instance, to slide it around into position on the wall, can cause moisture to come through the stock and mar the surface.

Most grasscloth products do not have this problem. In fact, you can get them as wet as you want, they’ll look horrible, and when they dry, they look perfectly fine.

We’ve decided that the problem is due to a recent change in manufacturers of these papers. Recently, some companies bought and sold other companies, and in the process, manufacture of some goods moved from the U.S. to China.

Now, just like the dog food and glass bakeware, it’s believed that the problems are coming from poor quality in manufacturer.

A darned shame, because it’s so easy to make a quality product. What’s even more maddening is that I make a point of contacting the sales reps to let them know about these flaws, in hopes that the message will be relayed to the designer and the manufacturer. Unfortunately, it appears that the message hasn’t gotten through. Or that they simply don’t care.

The bottom line for my readers is, before choosing a grasscloth, please talk to me (or Dorota – see “Where to Buy Wallpaper in Houston” on the right of this page) to see which brands are good and which have been problematic.