Archive for January, 2012

Trends in Babies’ Rooms – All Over the Map!

January 25, 2012

I’ve done several accent walls in nurseries lately. An accent wall is an easy and affordable way to get major impact with wallpaper, without overpowering the room.

One family expecting a girl chose to go bold an dramatic, with a strong teal medalian design on a metalic silver background.

Today I did another nursery for a little-girl-on-the-way, and the parents chose to go sweet and playful, with pastel colors, birds, butterflies, and flowers.

Interestingly, both papers were British imports (Harlequin and Nina Campbell).




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Flaw of the Day

January 25, 2012

Nina Campbell #NCW3830-02

Minor things like very small ink spots here and there, and long blue marks (scratch? ink?) running vertically from one design about 12″, in several places – this wiped off, so no big deal.

But the edges of the paper were not cut straight, which meant that some sections of the seams butted perfectly, like they should, while otheres gapped or overlapped. From a distance you can’t really see it, but up close, or with the light coming at an angle, this will be visible.

I usually love hanging the British pulp papers like this brand, because they usually go up perfectly, and the seams, while they look noticeable while wet, dry and are about the most invisible seams of any paper I work with. So today’s issue was unusual and unexpected.



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Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Gratification from the Bottom Up

January 23, 2012

Most people who choose Bradbury & Bradbury paper are going for the Victorian or Arts & Crafts period look. And no wonder – take a look at these gorgeous room sets:

As you look at the photographs, you will see that the beauty of the rooms lies in the combination of several papers, layering borders over fills over dados, with numerous patterns in the same room.

That’s the look the people were going for, in the job I did recently. They have a 1906 house, with dark woodwork and moldings dividing the walls into sections: a top, a middle, and a bottom. Just perfect for the B&B look!

They chose Bird & Anemone for the bottom, Claire’s Willow for the middle, and Claire’s Willow layered with the Prairie Frieze at the top

I started at the bottom, which had strips about 5′ long. Didn’t even need to get on my ladder! : ) As the walls filled with paper, you could begin to see the pattern play around the room.

The next day, I hung the middle section. There was less pattern, but still enough to add character and texture to the room. The theme was building.

The third day, I installed the lower part of the top section first, which was the same pattern as in the middle wall section just below it. The room was getting prettier and prettier as the day went on.

But NOTHING makes a Bradbury & Bradbury room like the final touch – the Bradbury & Bradbury frieze (border).

The dining room I did was pretty all along. But as the border went up, the room came positively ALIVE. It added color, it added personality, it added depth and character. It made the room SING “Arts & Crafts.”

Wish I had a picture. Well, just go to the B&B website (link above), and click and scroll through the many patterns and roomsets. You’ll be WOW’ed, too!

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Flaw of the Day

January 21, 2012

Georgetown Design #CG5725

Bashed edges, which is common. Gee, why can’t they put a little BUBBLE WRAP around the edges of the rolls, before cramming them into the paper wrapper and sending them on their way with the big burly UPS guy?

Also, there was one semi-colon shaped smudge of ink near the left edge of one roll. This occurred on a short piece that I was using over the vanity, and I was able to put it on the left end of that wall, which allowed me to cut off that part since the full width was not needed.




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Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Yellow Water

January 20, 2012

Wallpaper manufacturers always include in their instructions admonitions to be sure not to let any paste remain on the surface of the paper, because it can cause the ink to flake off, or otherwise damage the surface of the paper.

Now, you’d think that the scientists in wallpaper factories would figure out a way to keep inks on their paper, especially considering that paste is REQUIRED in order for the paper to stick to the wall. But that’s fodder for another thread….

So we installers are always wiping the surface of wallpaper as it’s hung, to remove any paste that may have gotten onto the surface.

How does paste get on the surface in the first place? From lying face down on the work table while being pasted, and paste that’s brushed to the edges of the paper can get underneath and onto the surface. From being pressed against the wall during installation, and sometimes excess paste is squished out at the seams. From the installer’s hands, if he has not kept them clean. From unfolding a booked sheet (folded pasted side to pasted side) and having a strip flap and knock into the pasted side. From smearing against wooden molding as the sheet is being brought to the wall.

So we wipe those bits of paste off. And most papers hold up to a reasonable amount of this wiping.

I was surprised, then, to find my terry cloth rags taking on the yellow ochre color of the Bradbury wallpaper. Some of the ink was coming off the paper and onto my rags.  Rinsing my rags sent a lot of yellow water down the sink.

Not a big deal, it happens. But if too much of it comes off, you can end up with blotchiness in some areas of the paper.

That’s why it’s important to know how much to wipe the paper, how much pressure to use, in which direction to move, and to try not to allow paste to get on the surface in the first place, especially with porous papers.

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Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Loose Seams

January 20, 2012

For more on this story, read previous posts.

After working through a million types of paste (a slight exaggeration), and finally finding one that worked well with the paper and did not leave staining or “dark seams,” I was happy to have the job finished, and the homeowners reasonably satisfied.

But then a few weeks later came the call: “Julie, the seams are coming loose.”

When a job is well done, wallpaper stays on the wall, usually for years and years. One of the main factors that causes paper to come loose is humidity. (And I’m sure I’ll blog on that biggie some time down the road.) But this B&B was hung in a dining room, not a bathroom, so humidity was not an issue.
I was curious to see what had happened.

When I got to the house, I saw that the paper was, indeed, coming off the wall, with large areas of the seams coming loose, even up to 3″-5″ in spots.

Looking at the back of the paper, I didn’t see paste, which is what you would see if the paste had not held tight. Instead, the paper had a thick feel, and had a thin layer of the white primer adhering to it.

I’ve seen this once before – the primer had delaminated. Meaning, that the primer had come apart in layers, leaving one thin layer on the wall, and one thin layer on the paper, held by the paste.

I have only had this happen one time before, when friends talked me into using a water-based acrylic primer. So I was very surprised to see this happen with my standard oil-based KILZ.

Since the problem was only on the bottom section of the room, which was hung with the clay paste (the upper sections, which were hung with cellulose paste were fine), my surmization is that the failure was caused by an incompatibility between the primer and the clay paste.  Indeed, I have since learned that, due to the “green movement,” polymers in oil-based primers have changed, and pastes no longer stick to them, or at least not as well.  This experience seems to bear that out, as least with respect to clay-based paste.

But to deepen the mystery, the only walls with loose seams were the east and west walls. The north and south walls, and two narrow east and west walls, were perfectly adhered.


Weird or not, mysterious or nor, the homeowners needed to have a proper looking room. So, after carefully measuring and plotting to be sure we had enough left-over paper, all the loose paper on the worst wall was torn off. There was just enough paper left to redo that wall, this time using cellulose-based Ecofix paste purchased from B&B, being careful to place the seams so they did not overlap where the old seams had been (to minimize stress on the wall, and minimize the chances of the seams pulling up – for a whole different reason, which just might be the topic of a future blog!) That took care of the west wall.

The east wall didn’t have as bad of loose seams (pardon the grammar), and we didn’t have any more paper anyway, so I worked the paste into the loose areas to readhere the paper to the wall.

This sounds like a quick fix, but is in itself tricky, because the moisture from the paste, as well as from my rags wiping the surface clean, can cause sections of the paper to swell and lift away from the wall, causing even more problems. The trick is to use enough paste to get the paper to stick, but not enough to allow moisture to wick to other areas of the paper.

This wall also had some shrinkage of the paper, which left very narrow strips of white showing at the seams. Once the paper was repasted, it stretched enough to mostly cover this. To be sure no white showed, though, I painted the wall just beneath each seam, a color that nearly matched the paper.

The replaced west wall looked good, the repaired east wall looked good enough (but I am not confident that the inner sections of the strips, which are still adhered with clay paste, will not eventually start to come away from the wall).

With the furniture placed back in the room, and people looking at the food on the dining room table instead of the walls, everything will be fine.

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Beachside Mural on HGTV

January 17, 2012

Yesterday on a segment of Room Crashers, they redid a guest room that doubles as a den for the family. The homeowners wanted a beachy feel.

There were many facets that contributed to the beach theme, of course. But the most powerful was the use of a photo mural that took up one entire wall. It was the clasic white beach / blue sea / palm tree scenario.

It was beautiful, added depth and color, gave the feel of the beach, and the homeowners loved it.

Now, from a paperhanger’s point of view, I noticed that they had a professional install the mural (a lady, too!) instead of trying to DIY in one hour. Also, atypically, the mural came in full length strips, rather than the eight half-wall-height panels that are more common.

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Flaw of the Day

January 5, 2012

Ecochic by Wallquest Pattern # TA90217

This was a rather odd one…. The room took eight single rolls (four double rolls). One of the double rolls had, just about all the way through it, a sporadic defect …. It appeared as if something got stuck on the printing press and caused the front of the paper to stick to the backside of itself as it was rolled up… Sorry if this sounds complicated; if you work with rolled goods, it makes perfect sense.

Anyway, the result was a 5″ long by 1/8″ wide strip that had the printed design peeled off the face of the paper, smack in the middle of the roll, about every two feet.

It ruined a full 9′ strip of paper, and more, as I had to cut around this defect. There is one place on the wall where I had to leave the defective paper, or there would not have been enough to finish the room. But it’s in a fairly hidden area, and I disguised it with paint, so hopefully, in the dim light of a powder room, it won’t be noticeable.

Would be nice if defects didn’t happen at all, of course. This paper cost the homeowner about $100 per double roll, with shipping, etc.

Also, not really a defect, but it is something that manufacturers could prevent if they wanted to… This paper shrank a little as it dried. This happens commonly on papers (as opposed to solid vinyls) and is not always a problem. But since this particular pattern is a dark brown, the white lines showing up at each seam are noticeable. A quick fix with a little of the right kind of paint makes these lines disappear in a jiffy.

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