Archive for February, 2015

Preventing White Gaps

February 28, 2015

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I am about to hang a finely-textured gold grasscloth with something of a metallic sheen in the space between these bookshelves, in a home office in League City, south of Houston.

I have smoothed and primed the wall, but noticed that a little of the original painters’ white paint has wrapped just a teenie bit around and onto the navy blue walls of the bookcases. It looked fine when everything was painted and you had white wall against blue shelves. But with the gold grasscloth going next to the shelves, there was the potential for a wee little stripe of white to show between the wallpaper and the navy blue shelves.

So I got out my Box of Tricks (paint bottles) and mixed two colors together until I got a pretty good match, and then used an artist’s paintbrush from Texas Art Supply to cover up the white line where the navy blue shelf meets the white wall.

This way, you won’t have any white wall peeping out from between the new gold grasscloth and the navy blue wood.

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Flaw of the Day – Misprint

February 27, 2015

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This wallpaper patterns is by designer Carl Robinson, for Seabrook wallcoverings. It’s a somewhat pricey paper (but in this case, you are paying mostly for the designer’s name).

So I got the prep all done, was rolling the paper out, got my first strip cut, then, into the second strip, discovered this misprint. It ran most of the way through this double roll bolt. I’m lucky that I discovered it when I did, because the other double roll did not have this flaw, and so I might have gotten half of the wall done, then not have been able to finish.

The homeowner is trying to have the paper (a different run, so we have a better chance of not having the same printing defect) express-shipped so the wall can be finished this week. It’s kind of doubtful, though, because of shipping delays due to weather in the east, and happening close to a weekend, etc. We’ll know tomorrow!

Grasscloth Gives an Asian Feel to an Entry

February 26, 2015

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Natural-toned grasscloth set into these wooden panels lend a very Asian feel to this entry in a 1961 ranch style home in Oak Forest. The home features other Asian-inspired elements, too, like siding shoji screen doors, large uncovered windows, and bonsai trees in the garden.

There was very little shading or paneling (color variations) with this grasscloth, and that makes me happy. 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.

Purple Power in a Dining Room

February 25, 2015

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This dining room with grey walls (the color in the photos is off) got a major hit of color and personality from this accent wall with a silvery medallion on a very dark purple background.

The wall had a fairly heavy texture, so I spent most of the day floating, sanding, vacuuming, and priming. Then plotting the layout of the pattern, coloring the seams, etc. When I finally got to put the paper up, that part went pretty fast – probably and hour and a half, for seven full-length strips.

I placed the medallions at the top of the wall, and centered the motif so when the family places a buffet in front of the wall, it will look smartly balanced. It worked out that the medallions were intact (not cut off) and exactly the same width on either side of the wall. (See fourth photo.)

This was a non-woven material, and a paste-the-wall product (instead of the customary paste-the-back-of-the-paper).

Many of these non-woven papers are thick and spongy, and that thickness often makes the seams fairly visible (Do a Search – upper right corner.), especially on such a dark paper printed on a white substrate. So I used a special marker to CAREFULLY color the edges of each strip, from the back to avoid getting ink on the surface. This worked great, so when the seams butted together, no white showed (last photo), nor was there a noticeable ridge or difference in thickness at the seams, which often happens with thick non-woven papers. I am very happy with the way these seams turned out.

I hung this wallpaper in a dining room of a nicely updated 1964 ranch style home of a young family in the Meyerland area of Houston. This wallpaper 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.

Clouds on Blue Sky in a Baby’s Nursery – Accent Wall

February 24, 2015

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Here is my second accent wall in a to-be-born baby’s nursery in two days. (And I have a third one later this week!) This wallpaper is by Spoonflower. I generally like working with their product, but it does take a bit of a learning curve.

For one thing, you have to be careful how you order the paper. Usually, “six rolls” will come packaged in three double roll bolts of paper. But here the Spoonflower company has packaged each roll separately. This means there is a lot more waste, as I can often get three strips out of a double roll, but can only get one strip out of a single roll, with about five feet left over that is too short to use anywhere.

Also, this is a pre-pasted paper, and it’s very thin. So activating the paste will cause the paper to become very wet, resulting in the blotchiness you see here. Don’t worry – once it dries, it will look fine.

The paper is also designed to be overlapped at the seams, instead of butted, which is the typical way of joining strips of wallpaper. In fact, if you butt the seams on this brand of paper, it will dry and shrink just a little, revealing a hair’s breadth of wall in between the two strips. So you overlap the seams. But that mean you have a visible and tangible thickness the entire length of every seam. On a busy pattern, this is not all that noticeable (Do a Search on my blog for “Sherlock Holmes Wallpaper.”) But on this very plain sky pattern, the overlapped ridge will be somewhat noticeable, especially when the sun is shining through the windows at certain times of the day. Still, once you get the crib in place and hang a few things on the wall, the seams will fade to the background.

Another thing about this particular job, the walls were not plumb, and the crown molding was way off from level, going uphill as you moved from left to right. If I had hung the paper true-to-plumb and matched the strips as they were designed to be matched, we would have had the crown molding moving away from the clouds diagonally, looking pretty bad. The wallpaper engineer designed the paper so one half of a cloud on the right side of a strip would be overlapped by the other half of the cloud on the left side of the next strip. If I had done this, the clouds would have been marching downhill, because the walls and ceiling were not plumb or level.

To avoid having to match the clouds at the seams of every strip, I hand-trimmed the clouds on one edge to be only 1/4 of a cloud, to allow for the overlap the manufacturer wants. On the opposite edge, I trimmed off of one cloud completely. This gave me an edge with no motif that had to be matched to the other strip. I took this “free-form” edge and overlapped it over the edge with the 1/4 cloud, covering it up completely and not lining it up with the 1/4 cloud, but instead raising the clouds at the top of the wall to the same height as those on the previous strip. This way, all the clouds appeared to be at the top of the wall, instead of sloping diagonally away from the un-level crown molding. The fact that the clouds on the new strip were a little higher than the clouds on the previous strip was not very noticeable, and it looked much better to have the clouds at the top of the wall all uniformly positioned.

The clouds lined up perfectly with the starting point, the wall on the left. But by the time I got to the wall on the right, the ending point, because the walls were not plumb, the clouds were going crooked, and were wider at the bottom of the wall than at the top. This was very noticeable. To minimize that, I cut some partial clouds that were the same width as the clouds at the bottom of the wall out of scrap wallpaper, and pasted them over the too-narrow clouds at the upper portions of the wall. This way, the eye saw uniform widths of clouds from the top to the bottom of the wall. And the eye didn’t see that the spacing between the appliqued clouds and the rest of the pattern was a little less than it should have been.

Sometimes, it’s all about fooling the eye.

I know that my explanation is difficult to follow, and probably doesn’t make sense to anyone other than a fellow paperhanger. But suffice it to say that these little tricks helped mightily to make the overall look uniform and pleasing.

This cute pattern was hung in a nursery in a home in Bellaire (Houston).

More Grasscloth on Bookshelves Today

February 22, 2015

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This is a popular look! These shelves were 41″ wide and 35 1/2″ high. Since grasscloth comes 36″ wide, one strip would not cover the entire back of the shelves. So I would have to cut two strips 20 1/2″ wide, and put a seam down the middle.

To avoid having this distracting seam down the middle, I suggested that we run the grass horizontally, instead of vertically. This worked because the height of each cubby was less than 36″, the width of the material. The homeowner held up the paper to the shelves, found she lived the look, and so that’s I hung it – sideways. I think it looks super!

They have a lot of upright books on these shelves, and running the grass up and down, instead of side to side, also keeps the background running the same direction as the books.

This is a finely-woven grasscloth in black and gold, and is by Shcuumacher, and I hung it in a home office in Spring Branch.

Gold Grasscloth on the Backs of Bookshelves

February 21, 2015

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This is a new home in League City, south of Houston. The builder had left the wall behind these bookshelves textured and painted like the rest of the walls in the house. The decorator, Christine Zuehlke, envisioned something to distinguish the shelves from the rest of the room. She found this tightly-woven, gold-colored grasscloth with a slight metallic sheen, which was the perfect fit.

The walls had a the spray-and-drag texture that is typical of new homes these days. This texture would surely show beneath such a finely-textured material. So, I “skim-floated” with “mud” to smooth the walls, sanded, vacuumed, and then primed the area. Once all that was dry, the grasscloth could be hung.

The sheen of the material is subtle, and a perfect backdrop for the home owners’ home office. Note that the grasscloth is all the same color. There appear to be color differences between shelf units – but that is due to shadows and lighting and the like. Viewed in person, the color is uniform, and the effect is very pleasing.

This wallpaper 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.

The Woods in a Powder Room

February 20, 2015

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People love this pattern, and this is at least my fourth time to hang it.

The fattest tree is a dominant feature in this pattern, and, as you can see in the third photo, I centered this tree above the sink and between the sconces. It will look super, when the mirror is hung, smack in the middle.

In the fourth photo, you see that the large tree is also centered on the rear wall. Reflected in the mirror, this will be a really cool effect. This took more than a little engineering, because, after you position the first strip, you don’t really have control over how the pattern falls on each subsequent strip. So it took a little finagling to get the tree to land in the center of that final wall over the cabinet.

This pattern has a strong diagonal theme. This 4-roll powder room is too small and chopped up for the secondary pattern to play out (the overall look of the pattern, as seen from a distance), but you see a little of it in the second photo, with the branch heading diagonally away from the fat tree trunk. The thinner branches reiterate the diagonal movement.

In the last shot, I am pointing out, again, that, if you choose a thick non-woven paper, expect to see the seams. That’s just how it is. But, really, hardly anyone notices that stuff but me. 🙂

This wallpaper pattern is called “Woods,” and is by Cole & Son, a British company, and is printed on the newish non-woven substrate that manufacturers are using more and more of these days. Non-wovens are breathable, and are designed to pull off the wall easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. I hung this in a powder room, above a beaded-board wainscoting, in the Memorial City area of Houston. The contractor who remodeled this powder room and the adjoining kitchen did a fantastic job. Wendell Smith. http://wendellrsmith.com/

Contemporary Face Lift for a Drab Bathroom

February 19, 2015

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Whow – what a dreary bathroom! Originally painted an unflattering drab-and-dark brown, someone had started to “fix” the upper portion of the walls by rather poorly skim-floating some areas.

To smooth everything and create a uniform surface, I skim-floated over the entire wall area, then sanded, then primed with Gardz, which I like for this purpose, because it soaks in and really bonds the surface together.

The new wallpaper really brought life and personality to the small, windowless room, and it coordinates nicely with the homeowners’ black-and-silver contemporary decorating theme.

This wallpaper is by Thibaut Designs, pattern # T173, and I hung it in the bathroom to a guest bedroom in Pearland, Texas.

Metal Mars Wallpaper

February 18, 2015

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The little grey mark here, near the point of my razor blade, was made by a metal tool – straightedge, probably – brushing against the wallpaper. With some papers, this can happen, and you have to handle the material very delicately. I’m not sure exactly which tool did this, but I’m a little surprised, because I am careful, and because I invested in a pricy magnesium straightedge, because that metal is supposed to not scratch wallpaper.

Luckily, virtually all marks like this will wipe off with light pressure from a damp rag.