Going Straight – By Faking It

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Here I am hanging a small geometric pattern in a bathroom in a home in River Oaks (Houston). The home was built in 1940, and there has been a lot of movement since. Read: The walls, the ceiling, the door and window frames – none of these are plumb or level. And I mean, some of the areas were out of plumb by as much as 1 1/2″ from ceiling to floor. Read: With a floral paper, you might not notice if things don’t line up perfectly. But with a geometric pattern, you will definitely see it if the horizontal elements in the wallpaper are not parallel to the horizontal lines in the ceiling and moldings. What to do?

I’m less concerned about hanging true-to-plumb, and am more concerned with keeping the motifs evenly lined up at prominent areas, such as the ceiling and at door and window moldings. In the top photo, I have just hung the short strips over the shower (to the right in the photo), and am working my way to the left. The crown molding is level; the paper I just put up is not. If I hung my next strip to comply with the un-plumb pieces I just placed over the shower, they would be off-kilter with the crown molding. Meaning, you would have 3/4″ of navy blue at the top of the wall on the right, tapering to 1/4″ of navy blue when you get to the left end.

So, I faked it. I was lucky, because this pattern was the same right side up as it was upside down, and also sideways. This gave me the option of “railroading” the paper – running it horizontally, instead of vertically. The layout of the room also afforded me many opportunities to tweak the paper and the pattern.

Where the wallpaper ends to the left of the shower tile, and to the right of the curved crown molding, instead of bringing a full-length (8′) drop down to the floor, I stopped the paper near the top of the shower tile, cutting along the honeycomb pattern. My next piece was run horizontally, from the shower tile left past the window, and ended at a cabinet on the left. To disguise the unconventional seam, I cut along the honeycomb design of my new strip of paper, and overlapped it onto the existing paper (and used special adhesive designed to stick to the vinyl paper).

It might be off a tiny bit at the point of overlap, but it’s such a narrow strip that you will never notice. What’s important is that the pattern is nice and straight as it runs along the crown molding. It is a little off along the top of the window molding – but that is because the crown molding and the window molding are not parallel. In fact, they form a trapezoid. You can’t fight a trapezoid! (As you may have learned in high school geometry. 🙂 ) You can align the pattern with one, but not both; I chose to align it with the crown molding at the top of the wall.

O.K., that took care of the strip of paper above the window. I still needed to put paper down both sides of the window. And remember – the window molding was neither parallel with nor perpendicular to the crown molding. And let’s not forget the shower tile – nothing was aligned with that, either.

But those honeycombs had to look like they were parallel with something , or they would look like they had been chopped off irregularly as they made their way down the wall.

So, once again, I trimmed the design along the honeycomb pattern, and left the jagged edge (see photo). Then I cut a new strip of paper to fit between the window and the shower tile, pre-trimming it on my table to have a balanced edge where it met the shower tile, and overlapped it at the top where it joined the strip that ran over the window. (see photo)

Underneath the window, I had pretty much the same issues to deal with, but less flexibility in the paper. Still, it worked out wonderfully.

The final – and least cooperative – space was the narrow strip between the left side of the window and the cabinet to its left. Again, I pre-trimmed the edge of the paper to align with the design on the paper above the window, and cut along the honeycomb motif to disguise the overlap. It looks perfect, as you can see.

However, because this paper along the left side of the window was tweaked, and so was the paper along the right side, as well as the paper under the window, by the time it came to match up all these strips of paper, the pattern design didn’t line up. No biggie. We’re talking a 1 1/2″ wide strip between a raised window molding and a cabinet, and it’s not like anyone is going to be examining the pattern match on the wallpaper in that spot – more likely, she’ll be digging inside that cabinet, completely absorbed in her hunt for a new roll of toilet paper.

Still, I couldn’t help myself – I spent a little time creating the illusion of teeny lines and gaps in three strategic places, to disguise the miniscule mismatch, and fool the eye.

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