Archive for February, 2013

Interior Design by Jak Kesterson, of Houston and Washington D.C.

February 15, 2013

photo (25)photo (17)photo (24)Here’s the finished version of Wednesday’s wallpaper installation.


Yes, hiring an interior designer will cost you a bit more.  But it’s clear that designers have the eye to really pull a room together.

Who would have ever thought that a little hall bathroom could explode with such POP?!

photo (22)

Cute Paris Scene in a Breakfast Nook

February 15, 2013

Digital ImageDigital ImageParlez-vous français? Here’s a cute wallpaper pattern I put in a small breakfast nook today. Beautiful to work with, and holds up well.

This is the third time I’ve hung this pattern, each time in a different colorway.

It’s York’s Ashford House “Très Chic” collection, pattern BL0436.

Geometric Pattern Right Side Up & Sideways

February 14, 2013

Digital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageDigital ImageI know that many readers of my blog love these geometric wallpaper patterns. They’re really hot right now. I have done them in both bold colors like this, and in tamer colors, such as last week’s tone-on-tone trellis.

This was installed in the hall bath in the home of interior designer Jak Kesterson, of Houston, Texas. Jak is a hoot, with a big personality and daring taste in decorating, as you can see. Much of the furniture in his living room is HOT PINK!

In the adjoining potty room, he had me hang a 5″ wide black & white stripe, by York. He positively loved the way the two rooms worked together.

What’s extra cool about this sink room done in the trellis pattern, is the way he had me railroad (run horizontally) the paper in the recessed area. This was formerly a linen closet. Now, with the shelves removed, it will be a showcase for a special piece of artwork.

I am particularly pleased that, in this older townhome with crooked walls and trapazoid-shaped areas over the doors, the geometric pattern still came out nice and straight. And even in the art niche, as you can see, it centered perfectly in the niche, with the ovals ending at each side of the wall perfectly intact.

Running the pattern horizontally in the niche yielded more benefits than just looking cool. You see, as you hang paper around the room, hang one side of the niche, then over the top, then the opposite inside wall, you can match all of those pieces to each other, keeping the pattern correctly matched. But the back of the niche can only be matched on one side. right or left. It’s kinda hard to explain, but if you study the photos, you will see how, after wrapping paper around the two side walls, there will be a mismatch at one end when the back wall is papered.

This railroaded treatment eliminated that. Plus, it just looks GREAT!

And what’s extra cool is, unless you really stop and study it, you don’t even really notice that the paper in the niche is running perpendicular to the paper on the walls.

The pattern is by Designer’s Guild #537/03.  I call it “Pills & Capsules.”

Mismatched Corner Hardly Mismatched At All!

February 12, 2013

Digital ImageAs you go around the room hanging wallpaper, when you get to the last corner, the pattern is not going to match. So we try to hide this in the least conspicuous place – usually in the corner over a door.

Today, it worked out pretty incredible – the pattern came together wonderfully and looks like a perfect match. It’s not, but it sure fools the eye!

This is a Thibaut paper, T-1801. Geometric trellis patterns likie this are really popular right now, in both quiet colors like this, or more bold colorways like black on white.

Consultation Appointments – A Few Important Bits of Information, Please

February 12, 2013

I do most of my wallpaper bids on Sunday afternoons – come to the house, measure for number of rolls needed, determine prep required and any special tools or materials, and quote a price. I can see as as 10 homes in one Sunday afternoon, travel from Cypress to Clear Lake and all points inbetween, and put over 100 miles and eight hours on the vehicle.

You would be surprised at the number of people who neglect to mention something pretty important – like that they live in a gated community, or a high-rise building, or their unit number. Oh, and the homes with no number on the house or curb! How do these people think I’m going to find them?

If I’m unfamiliar with the neighborhood I usually pull the address up on Google Maps, so I know how to get there and what the house looks like. If I’m lucky, such as yesterday, I’ll be able to see that it’s a gated community. Then I can call the homeowner to get the gate code, or other instructions to get into the complex, and directions to find the house.

But, if I’m unlucky, like yesterday with another home, I may know nadda before heading out. Knowing the neighborhood, I thought I was looking for a townhouse. Could not find any structure with the address I was given. Finally I realized it was the mid-rise condo building on the corner – with a very inconspicuous address over the door. Of course, the entrance was locked and only opened by card access. I called the homeowner, who gave me a code that was supposed to open the side door. It didn’t. There was a call box, so I dialed the homeowner, whom I knew was home because I had just talked to her one minute before. No answer. I kept hoping a resident would go in or out of the building, so I could zip in behind him while the door was open. No luck. All this ate up 20 minutes. I had other appointments, couldn’t get in, couldn’t reach the client, so I headed off.

The thing is, I rarely take jobs in these types of buildings, anyway. Waaaay too difficult to work in them. (Fodder for another post.) If this gal had told me in the first place where she lived, or even just the unit number, which would have tipped me off that it was a mid-rise building, I would have been able to refer her to one of my buddies who likes to work in these buildings, and saved myself time and aggravation, and saved her the disappointment of not being able to get a start on her decorating projects.

Quick Change of Plans – Got to the Home Show After All

February 10, 2013

The client I was supposed to do a small repair for today is not answering her phone.

Wish I had known this earlier, as I wanted to go to the Home Show, and can sure spend the entire day there.  Hmmm… think I’ll dash over there anyway, and see what I can see before closing time at 8:00 pm.

Update:  I got to the Home Show about 4:00 pm.  The Reliant show is much smaller than the one in the fall at the Geo. R. Brown Convention Center, so it was, indeed, possible to see all the booths in the four hours I had.  Well, I should say three hours… Because just about as soon as I walked in, they announced the start of an hour-long Faux Finishing demonstration.  Michael Graves is the guy, and he’s GREAT.

Michael is based out of Dallas, but works all over the state (and probably the nation), and has a studio here in Houston.  I have seen one of his assistants put on a demo last year, and it was wonderful, too.  This time it was the real guy himself, so that was a treat.  He  covered different material from what the gal demo’ed last year, so I learned new tips.  He’s wonderfully down to Earth, explains things well, and was well prepared, with all his materials laid out and ready to go.  He even offered to answer questions by phone for free.  You can find videos on YouTube.

About the neatest things he did was to use a polyester doily to stencil a cabinet door.  He placed the doily on top of the door, took a trowel of Venetian plaster, swiped it over the doily, then removed the doily.  What was left on the door was the design of the doily, made from little bitty raised dots of plaster.  Once that dried and he got various coats of stain and paint and glaze over it, it was stunning.  Depending on what he did with it, the effect could have been old world French (faded smokey blue with gold dots), Morroccan, antique Chinese (blackish base with red dots), or Martha Stewart modern.

There was another cool product I was interested in, which was a guy who does concrete overlays on just about any surface, and finishes them to look like granite, marble, stone, etc.  In other words, you could take a Formica countertop – even a sheet of plywood – and he could transform it to look like granite, for a fraction of the cost.  I don’t like cheesy looking stuff, but I have to say that this man’s product looked pretty darned good.  And – the guy who worked the booth and sells the product is the same guy who comes to your house and does all the work.  I really like that aspect, because that’s how I run my business, too.  You meet me, you hire me, you trust me, and I’m the one who will be working in your home – not some strange guy you never met before.  Anyway, this product is called Stone FX, the guy is Adam Morse, and find him at

Did I buy anything?  Well, besides jewelry (this gal making really cool bracelets and necklaces out of tiny scraps of colorful wrappers from Tootsie Roll Pops, and another style with itty bitty gears, all embedded in resin), OK, besides jewelry and a philodendrum plant, I bought two 25′ hoses that are really cool – they expand to full length when full of water, but deflate into what you can fit into a 1 quart flower pot when empty, will not kink or break.  Similar to this – wish the one I bought had been this green color.  I am looking forward to trying this product right now, when I do my Sunday morning pond maintenance.

I love home shows.  These days I am not often able to get to them, but I was so glad it worked out for me to make the mad dash over there yesterday.  I had a good time and saw wonderful products of all types for the home and garden.

One Good Use for Old Wallpaper Wrappers

February 10, 2013

Digital ImageThe plastic sleeves that come wrapped around rolls of wallpaper are perfect for protecting your TV and DVR remote controls!

Geometric Trellis is Nice and Straight

February 9, 2013

Click to enlarge, and to view the slide show.

Here’s one “before,” and a bunch of “afters.” MUCH of an improvement, don’t you think?! The floral was popular in the ’90’s, but the soft colored trellis is much more up to date, easier to live with, and just plain cheerful.

Usually, trellis and geometric patterns make me anxious, but this house was about the straightest and most plumb home I’ve ever worked in. The only off-kilter place was the tub surround which, oddly enough, was 1/2″ higher off the floor on the east end than it was on the west.

The wallpaper pattern is Thibaut #1801.

Continuation of Yesterday’s Post

February 8, 2013

Digital ImageDigital ImageContinuing from yesterday, here’s how I did the same narrow area. I explained it all in yesterday’s post, so today all you need are photos. When the paper is dry, it will be flatter, plus my strong work light will be out of the room, so the slight shadow in the second photo will not be so visible.

Saving Paper When Covering a Narrow Area

February 7, 2013

Digital ImageWhen I strip wallpaper, I like to observe how the previous guy did his job. Often I can learn things – good and bad. In this large master bathroom in the West University neighborhood of Houston, the previous guy did a pretty darned good job. This photograph shows a clever trick he used to save paper and to make his job easier.

This area is about 4″ wide, and lies above a door (you can see the molding on the right) and between that door and the shower on the left. I have begun stripping paper from the bottom and am moving upwards.

Usually wallpaper tears off in jagged pieces. But here you see that at the top, the strip of paper ends at a clean curved cut along a green stem of one of the vines. What the guy did is to splice in a strip of scrap wallpaper.

Why? To save paper. (And to have an easier time working in this area.) This brand of wallpaper is 27″ wide, but the space to be covered is only 4″ wide. If the installer had used a full 27″ wide strip 10′ long, he would have wasted 23″ of paper from the floor to the top of the door frame. That’s about 14 square feet of unuseable paper!

Instead, he cut his strips long enough to cover the area from the ceiling to just below the tops of the door frame. Then he took a piece of paper left over from some other part of the room, probably a long strip cut away when trimming alongside another door.

He used this narrow piece to cover the 4″ wide space between the shower and the door. In this case, he matched the pattern where the new, narrow piece joined the piece above. However, with this viney pattern, it would be possible to take a piece that does not perfectly match the pattern and position it so it fits in visually. No one will notice that there’s a blue flower where there’s supposed to be a red flower, and you get much more useability out of your leftover scaps of paper, too. In a pinch, you could even use several short pieces of left over paper, taking care to disguise any mismatch of the pattern.

This guy used a splice to join the two pieces – it’s what we paperhangers call a “double cut.” I would have done exactly what this previous installer did, except I would have avoided doing the double cut. A double cut is good because it splices two pieces together perfectly, with no bumps or overlaps, which can sometimes be visible. However, it’s extremely tricky to do a double cut on the wall, because you have to cut through two layers of paper, but NOT score into the wall itself. Slicing the wall can cause a weakness that can pull open later, as the paper dries and becomes taught and tight and puts stress on the seam/cut edge. In addition, there is the possibility of shrinking and gapping at the newly-created seam.

So, when I can get away with it without leaving a visible ridge, I prefer to overlap the two pieces. It can be minimized by cutting along a design element (such as a branch or flower, as in the photo, instead of making a straight across horizontal overlap), and then overlapping only a tiny area, such as the thickness of the vine’s stem (as opposed to a straight across horizontal overlap). This leaves the wall intact, and eliminates the worry of the two strips of paper shrinking and exposing a small gap.