Archive for April, 2015

Time for an Update

April 17, 2015

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The top of this dining room in Barker’s Landing (Memorial & Hwy 6) was papered 15 or 20 years ago in a soft pink “satin look” paper-backed pre-pasted solid vinyl wallpaper, and the bottom was painted a soft pink. Well, that was well and good back in the ’80’s, but the room needed an update. Besides, I really try to steer people away from those paper-backed solid vinyl papers, because, especially in humid rooms like bathrooms, they tend to curl at the seams.

As you can see, the new pattern is similar, but much more up to date and livable, in tan and cream, with a thin navy and a thinner red stripe. The bottom of the wall will be painted a deep blue, to coordinate with the blue stripe, and to complement the homeowner’s collection of Flow Blue Oriental dinnerware.

This is a paper, not a vinyl, so it will lie nice and flat against the wall for years to come. Even the last corner worked out nicely (last photo), as you can hardly see that the striped pattern is off, but only by a tad. (The dark stripe is a little wider in the corner than it is on the straight walls.)

This pattern is by Ronald Redding, by York Wallcoverings, 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. Dorota also coordinated the paint color with the wallpaper. The homeowner said, “Dorota is everything you said she was! She made it so easy to find a paper we loved, and she helped us with paint color selections, too.”

Coordinating the Last Two Corners And the Kill Point

April 16, 2015

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When wallpapering a room, the pattern in the last corner virtually never matches. It’s just physiology and geometry. We call that last corner the “kill point,” and try to put it in an inconspicuous place, like behind a door, or in a short strip over a door. But in this room, the kill point was very obvious – a 5′ high strip next to the toilet. To make matters worse, the walls were crooked, when throws the pattern off-plumb and exacerbates the mis-match.

In the middle of a wall, a mis-match on this geometric pattern would be very obvious. But in a corner, not so much, because it’s fairly busy and the corner disguises the break. However, the strong horizontal line looks much better if it’s maintained from wall to wall.

But what to do if the wall is crooked and causes your wallpaper design to start running uphill? That’s the problem I faced after turning the corner on the right. So what I did was, instead of smoothing that next piece into place and trimming it at the ceiling and floor, I positioned it temporarily, and then placed the second strip, which met the corner on the left, also leaving it loose. Then I was able to play with both strips, to line up the horizontal lines, (which were off by about 1/4″ – 3/8″).

To twist the wallpaper into line, I wrapped the lower section of the right hand strip a littler further onto the wall on the right than it was at the top. This caused a slight pattern mis-match, but it was minor and low to the floor, so not a biggie. Same thing in the left corner.

But wait – there’s more! Look at the photo with the toilet. If you look closely, you will see that one of the diagonal lines in the wallpaper is narrower than the others. What I did was, I cut along the white stripe and then twisted the paper to line up as I wanted it to to match the pattern, overlapping the white stripe over the wallpaper below it. Because no vertical lines are dissected, you don’t notice the slight pattern mis-match.

I tossed in the final photo so you could see how the finished room looks. This was hung in a powder room in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. 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.

I Hope They Didn’t PAY Someone To Do This!

April 15, 2015

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I don’t know if a paid “tradesman” or the home handyman did this work, but, gee, I hate that a homeowner is left with work that looks like this. The second photo is a close-up of a patch over a hole in the wall – plastic (improper material) stapled (improper fastener) to the wall, and never taped-and-floated. Third photo shows a paper towel (?!) stuck into a hole in the baseboard (??!!) The last photo is someone’s idea of touching up paint on the woodwork.

When I’m wallpapering in a home that has work that looks like this, it’s hard to get my job to look as good as it should, because the infrastructure is so poor. And this effects the adhesion and long-livability of the new wallpaper.

Wallpaper on the Heights Home Tour

April 14, 2015

I attended the Heights Home Tour yesterday, which showcased six homes. My favorite was a new home built in a traditional style – meaning, nice decorative woodwork, granite countertops, hardwood floors, tile in bathrooms, no mid-century modern looks (which were popular in many of the other homes). And this home happened to be part of the Gallery Furniture family. And, yes, all the furniture in it came from Gallery Furniture.

Another thing I loved about this home is that it had fair amount of wallpaper in it, all very nicely hung. There was a cute pen-and-ink drawing of dogs hanging in the back entry hall. There was a beautiful silver cork with a white leaf pattern stenciled on it in the master bathroom and potty. Another bathroom had a soft grey wallpaper, the laundry room had a paper that looked textured from a distance but actually wasn’t, another room had a patterned grasscloth, and, finally, in the “man cave” in the garage apartment, there was a fine grasscloth over all the walls. I was impressed that this grasscloth did not display the color variations (shading and paneling) that is common, so it had a very nice, uniform, textured look.

Of course, hundreds of tour-goers saw those rooms and how lovely they are, and will surely be clamoring for wallpaper in their own homes. 🙂

Whoops – Somebody Got Too Close to the Wall!

April 12, 2015

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Quinn was quite friendly and playful, and I enjoyed his company today. However… his eagerness to show his affection by rubbing on everything rewarded him with a messy coat, when he rubbed against the wall I was floating with joint compound to smooth out the textured surface. Don’t worry – it won’t hurt him, and it will come out easily with a gentle brushing.

Finally – A Grasscloth I Can Love

April 11, 2015

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If you’ve read much on this blog, you know that I dislike hanging grasscloth. The visible seams, color variations, and paneling and shading, and un-uniformity are hard to live with, in my opinion. People say they understand these natural color variations and will accept them – but once it’s spread out on the wall, they are unhappy. I’ve taken to having clients sign a release / waiver, before I will install grasscloth.

But … today I hung a grasscloth that I thought looked mighty good. This is not the typical horizontal reed-on-paper look, but a tightly woven product. When I first unrolled it, I was alarmed by the vertical striped effect, and called the homeowner to come and look at it. She gave her approval, so I went ahead and put it on the wall. She was right – the stripes only enhance the overall effect.

There was no color variation, and the seams were invisible. In addition, the paper has the texture and warmth that many of my clients are seeking. And – it appears to be pretty resistant to stains and discoloration. A win-win-win!

I am going to keep track of this paper, and recommend it to people who ask about grasscloth.

The pattern number is SG37053, and the homeowner said it was by Astex – although I could not find it on their website.

I hung this wallpaper in the entry and on the backs of two bookshelves that flank the fireplace in the family room, for a couple in the far west end of the Memorial area.

Funny Handprints

April 10, 2015

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Where I was hanging wallpaper today, some workmen were installing two sliding barn-style doors. Yeah, just like you see on HGTV, or in magazines.

These fingerprints, up and down the edges of the door, just tickled my funny bone.

Don’t worry – the doors have not been painted yet. When they are, the fingerprints will be a matter of history,,,,and a funny, hidden secret of the house’s legacy.

Transforming a City Home Into a British Pub

April 9, 2015

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This Memorial-area couple had a vision, and, boy, did they make it happen. This is the dining room of a ’60’s ranch-style home. But they wanted to use it as a pool room / man cave / pub. Friends kept telling them to make it sleek and contemporary, as is in vogue right now. But the homeowners followed their hearts, and created this very unique and authentic room.

That is real brick applied to the far wall. There is a dark, rustic wooden floor, and dark brown crown molding that resembles old wooden beams. The same dark paint covers a chair rail. Below the chair rail is a thick texture that resembles the stucco on homes in 1500’s Sherwood Forest.

Next came the wallpaper – a classic toile of a hunt scene, in a reddish brown on cream, which perfectly compliments both the paint color and the brick wall. I totally love the way this room is coming together – all they need to do is add the pool table, maybe some tarnished brash light fixtures, haul in some comfy leather chairs, and then light the cigars!

This wallpaper is printed on a pulp stock, and is by the British company Sanderson, from the Toile Collection (“Toile” means a line drawing in one color on a plain background, usually depicting blissful scenes from rural life in Jolly Ole England.), pattern # 47-63268 “Fox Hunting.”

Nature, Forest, Trees – Another Bedroom Goes from Bland to Wow!

April 8, 2015

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The homeowner spotted this cool, woodsy pattern in a room pictured on HOUZZ.com. I didn’t realize you could buy from HOUZZ, but apparently you can, because that’s where she got it. I have hung this paper three times, in green & grey, blue & charcoal, and today in the white & grey.

Tree trunk patterns are very popular right now, with the Cole & Son’s “Woods” being one that many people like. (Do a Search here to see the rooms I’ve put it in.) I believe I prefer this one, though. It’s more natural looking, and doesn’t have the strong diagonal movement that I find distracting in the C & S version.

This pattern is called “Birch Trees,” and is by Designer Wallpaper, pattern # EH61008. I hung it on an accent wall in a master bedroom of a couple in the far west end of Oak Forest, in Houston. It was nice to work with, too, and will perform well for years to come.

Poorly Hung Wallpaper

April 7, 2015

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I was stripping off this paper, to prepare surface for repapering. The solid vinyl surface came off easily enough, leaving the paper backing, which, usually, you just soak with a wet sponge and it reactivates the paste and the paper will release from the wall.

However, the previous installer must have used an improper paste, or, I swear, possibly even rubber cement. The paper backing would NOT come off the wall, and when I scraped enough to get most of it off, there is this gummy, rubbery residue left. Not good for hanging the new paper on.

He did a number of other bad things:
-Did not remove the old wallpaper
-Did not prime the surface
-Overlapped the seams (by 1″!!)
-Left untrimmed wallpaper wrapped around the edges of the door moldings
-Etc.

I am able to get this wall ready for paper, but it is taking a LOT more work, and an extra day, plus more mess in the homeowner’s kitchen. After spending two hours on a 24 square foot area, I stopped stripping the backing off, and instead rolled on a coat of the sealer Gardz, which soaks in and prevents the paper backing from bubbling when it gets wet. Once it was sealed, I skim-floated over it, to create a new surface. That got sanded (dust!), then wiped free of dust, and then another coat of Gardz.