Archive for February, 2015

Changing What I Did

February 17, 2015

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I hung this reddish faux finish wallpaper pattern a few years ago on the bottom of the walls in an entry in a 2-plex in the Rice University area of Houston. Some workmen bopped the walls and caused damage to the wallpaper (Photo 1). I told the homeowner that I thought I could touch up the dings with paint, but she opted to have the whole room redone.

In Photos 2 & 3, I have started stripping off the original wallpaper. (See step-by-step instructions on a “How To” page on the right.) The top inked layer has been wet, and then pulled off, and you see a little of the white substrate still clinging to the wall. This layer gets soaked with a wet sponge, and it pulls off easily, with little damage to the walls. The main reason this went so well is because I prepped the walls with a good primer. When people hang wallpaper without a primer, removal can be much more difficult, time-consuming, and cause damage to the walls.

In the next shots, you see the new paper. This was hung below an oak wainscoting, and there was oak trim and oak flooring of the same color at the bottom of the wall.

At first, I was dubious about the blue color with the brown wood, but once all the walls were finished and I stood back and looked at it, it looked great!

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, 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

I LOVE It When the Sink Is Not In the Room

February 15, 2015

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Here you are looking at the plumbing connections for a powder room sink. The homeowners have removed the sink so I can work around the plumbing more easily. This makes me happy. 🙂 Even with this stiff and brittle silver cork wallpaper, I was able to manipulate the material neatly behind the escutcheon (round silver plates) and the drain pipe. This is important because this area will be visible, because the homeowners will install a modern-looking sink supported by tubular chrome legs (not the typical wooden vanity).

This area probably took me about 12 minutes. If the sink had been in place, I could have been sitting under it with my scissors and razor blades for the better part of an hour.

Note: The painter was probably not as lucky as I, because, judging from the amount of paint slopped on the metal escutcheons, he most likely was floundering around with his brush under a cramped sink in the dark.

This silver cork wallpaper 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.

Sweet Baby’s Room in Polka Dots

February 15, 2015

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The parents-to-be have chosen not to know the gender of their coming baby. This cream-on-taupe polka dot is calming and sweet, and it will work for either boy or girl.

In the second photo, note that the seams are dark. This is a prepasted wallpaper, meaning that there is powdered paste on the back, and all you have to do is wet it to activate the paste. The water can also find its way inbetween the top, colored layer of wallpaper and the paper backing, which causes the discoloration at the seams. Don’t worry – it dries and looks just fine. In the third photo, you see a dark, wet seam on the right, and most of the seam on the left has dried and is invisible.

The last photo show a small dot that was some tiny thing imbedded in the wallpaper. If it were up high, I probably would have let it go. But it was just about eye-level, and I thought it would be too noticeable, so I ripped that strip off the wall, cut a new one, and hung it. I’m glad I did; the baby deserves a perfect room.

I liked working with this paper. Another nice thing about it is that the dots did not cross the seams. This eliminated the need to match a pattern from strip to strip (although I still had to keep the dots in their right sequence). But more important, I was able to pull the dots right up to the top of the wall on every strip. You see, walls and ceilings and floors and, yes, even wallpaper, are never 100% absolutely true to plumb. That means that the dots could start looking like they are walking up or down hill, or could get cut off diagonally at the corners. Just look at my previous post about the crooked walls and the striped wallpaper. But since I didn’t have to match a pattern at the seams, I was free to position each strip where I wanted, and thus was able to place all the dots exactly at the top of the wall. I wish more manufacturers were mindful of this.

This nursery was in a newish townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. The wallpaper pattern is by York, 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

Coaxing Crooked to LOOK Straight

February 14, 2015

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Who-ah, Boy! The walls in this 1960’s era ranch style home in Highland Village were really out of plumb. The corner you are looking at was off by a full inch, from the ceiling to the floor. With wild vines and flowers, you don’t notice so much. But if stripes and walls and door frames don’t run parallel, well, it really looks bad.

So, what I did was, I cut the wallpaper along the lines of some of the wider stripes. Then I manipulated those stripes so they were spaced evenly from the corner. They were not plumb, but to the eye, they looked plumb. To do this, I had to overlap some of the paper along the edges of the stripes. This meant that, for example, some of the stripes were wider at the bottom than at the top. But, since the effect was spaced out over several inches, it was much less noticeable than if I had allowed the stripes to be crooked in the corners.

In the top photo, you see where I have cut this strip along two of the black stripes, from the top to just shy of the bottom. It’s tricky, as I am working with 1″ wide strips, each 8′ long, wet with paste, floppy, and sticky, and working from the bottom up, instead of the usual top down. In the second photo, I have begun to position them on the wall, keeping an equal distance from the corner, and allowing a little unequal distance between stripes in the middle of the wall.

In the bottom photo, you see the finished wall. Some of the stripes on the left are closer together at the top of the wall than they are at the bottom. But this doesn’t really catch your eye. And it looks a whole lot better than having stripes get cut off diagonally in the corners.

Tailored Men’s Shirt Stripes in a Powder Room

February 14, 2015

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Here is a very tailored and serene look with just a touch of a nautical feel, that I hung in a large powder room in a 1960’s era home in Highland Village. The wallpaper sales gal (read below) helped the homeowner find a pattern that pulled in the colors of the black granite countertop, as well as the cool stone wall with sea shell fossils in it. The homeowners spend a lot of time off-shore, so they love the slight seaside feel.

I centered the pattern (we call that “balancing”), so when they hang their mirror, the stripes will fall evenly on either side. (The toilet wall is also balanced, but you can’t tell, because the toilet is a tad off-center.)

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.

Sexy Silver Cork in a Powder Room

February 14, 2015

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This couple moved to the Montrose area of Houston from Manhattan, and wanted to make their somewhat traditional new home look more contemporary. They were considering grasscloth, but they listened to my list of reasons why not to put grass in a powder room (or anywhere else, IMO). I showed them a sample of silver cork, they loved it, and bought it.

These photos don’t do the product justice. It’s shimmery but rustic, high-tec yet earthy, all at the same time. And the cork will hold up to water splashes much better than grasscloth. The cork is applied to the backing in squares of 6″ or so, so there is a slight checkerboard look. It’s also stiff and brittle and wants to flake off the surface, and is a bit tricky to work with, especially around turns and sinks and toilets.

They will have a white sink supported by visible tubular chrome legs, which will really up the contemporary feel.

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.

Surprise for Me Today

February 13, 2015

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This was my third job at this young couple’s home. As usual, they were not home, so they left a key, I let myself in, got all the prep done, and I was in the middle of my second strip when the doorbell rings. It was a delivery man – OK, I receive packages for clients all the time. But the man says, “Julie Young!” I thought he had read my name off my truck and was just being friendly. But he was pushing this pretty box at me, and saying, “No, it’s for YOU.” It took me a while to grasp, but the package of cookies – still warm from the oven! – and milk were for me!

The lady of the house had planned this surprise. What a delight! Work has been stressful of late, and this just made me feel great…to be appreciated and to know she went to so much trouble to plan this.

Man, I sure love my job and I love my customers!

Colorful World Map Mural for Girl’s Playroom

February 12, 2015

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1st Photo: Plain, boring walls
2nd Photo: Map has been measured, layout has been plotted, and primer has been applied.
3rd Photo: Half way there! Starting in the center helps even out discrepancies in the ceiling line (which was not level). Also, since wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, starting in the middle allows for expansion in width, and ensures an even amount of uncovered space will fall on either side of the mural.
4th Photo: Fini!
5th Photo: This family has roots in Kazakhstan.
6th Photo: Can’t forget out neighbors to the south.
7th Photo: And here’s cheers to the good old U.S. of A.!
8th Photo: Details… When measured dry, the mural was expected to fall 2 1/2″ from the wall on the right and also 2 1/2″ from the door frame on the left. As you can see, due to expansion, it was much more like 1/2″ on either side.

Also, there was an unprinted selvedge edge on the top and bottom of each strip that had to be trimmed off. Here you see the bottom edge after trimming. Because it could not be figured precisely where these outer areas of the map would fall, I did not prime all the way to their outer edges. Because the paint on the wall was semi-gloss, and because wallpaper will not stick to a slick surface, and because my primer was not under these areas, I used a special paste designed to adhere to slick surfaces, under just the right, left, and bottom edges.

This world map mural came pre-pasted in seven 6′ long strips, which is a little different from the typical hand-pasted, 8-panel mural. The homeowner found it on-line. I hung it in a girl’s playroom in the Spring Branch area of Houston.

Setting Up Outdoors

February 11, 2015

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I don’t like to set my wallpaper table up outside, because dust can get on the paper, and wind & sun can dry out the paste. But today, there was no room in the house, and I was working just inside the front door (the entry), and it was 73*, sunny, and no wind – perfect for working outdoors!

I wasn’t, however, too happy with the road construction and noisy, diesel-smoking vehicles just two doors away.

I LOVE It When the Pedestal Sink is GONE!

February 10, 2015

Digital ImageWow, was I happy to come to work today, and discover that the homeowner had removed the pedestal sink. These free-standing sinks are real buggers to hang paper around, and under, and around all those pipes.

Not having it there meant saved me about 40 minutes of time, gave the homeowners a neater look around the pipes (a decorative escutcheon will go around the pipes and drain to dress it up a little more), and it meant that there is no cut edge at the top of the sink, which eliminates the worry of splashed water causing the wallpaper to curl.

This textured peacock pattern is by Ronald Redding by York Wallcoverings, and was sold by Ethan Allen’s Friendswood (Bay Brook) location. It went in a powder room in the Clear Lake / Seabrook area.