Compensating for Crooked Walls, Pt. I

Digital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageSee how the flowers line up nicely along the chair rail?  That’s what your eye wants to see.

But it’s not always possible, especially in old houses, or, well, any house really, because shifting, settling, and inattentive construction techniques can cause walls, ceilings, and trim like door moldings, chair rails, etc. to be off-plumb or not level.

In Photo #2, it’s plainly evident that that bubble is not even trying to be in the center of the window – meaning that the chair rail it is sitting on is way out of plumb.  That means that if I hang the wallpaper true to plumb, it will look crooked at the point where it meets the chair rail.  (And, in this house, also at the ceiling, which was out of plumb, too.)

In this room, the walls were plumb, so I had to hang the paper to line up with the walls, or else the pattern would be crooked at the corners and door frames and windows.  But this meant that the pattern would not be even along the ceiling and chair rail.  Meaning, there would be a half flower at the right of the wall, and as each sesecutive strip was hung, there would be less and less of the flower, as it disappeared like the sun slipping behind the horizon.

So I did a little trick to fool the eye.  In Photo #1, you see that there’s about a half-circle of the dark flowers inside the turquoise half-moon.  But in Photo #3, the pattern has moved down the wall to where only a little of the dark flowers still show.

What I did was cut some dark flowers out of scrap paper, to approximately the height they were in the first strips.  See  Photo #4.  Then it was simply a matter of pasting this applique over the too-short flowers.

In Photo #5, you see that it turned out pretty great.  Not perfect, but definitly good enough to fool the eye.

My next post will discuss another technique I used in this very un-square and off-plumb room.

This pattern is by Amy Buttler for Graham and Brown Wallcoverings.

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