Archive for November, 2015

Hmmm… Think It’s Time for a New Roller Cover?

November 29, 2015

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The old one is on the right, and I hadn’t realized how worn it was, until I held it up next to a new one. These are micro-fiber roller covers, and work really well with the primer called Gardz, which is very watery and drippy. When I used the new roller today, I was amazed at how nicely it worked, and how little splatter or drips there were, compared to the old, worn-out roller cover.

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Ditzy Dots Do a Disappearing Act

November 28, 2015
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The new owners of this home in Bunker Hill Village (Houston) inherited this wallpaper in their home office. It’s what I call “ditzy repetitive,” and was popular in the ’90’s – although there are plenty of current wallpaper sample books displaying this type of pattern. I, myself, have never been a fan. Well, neither was the lady of the house.

In the attic, she found scraps of a grasscloth that had been used in an upstairs room. The soft green / grey / brown color and nubby texture coordinated perfectly with colors and themes in the first level of the home, and there was enough to paper the backs of the bookshelves in the home office.

First, I stripped off the patterned wallpaper (3rd photo). To do this, I wet the surface of the paper with a sponge, then used a putty knife and my hands to remove the top inked layer of wallpaper, then used the sponge again to wet the backing, which then came away from the wall easily (because the previous installer had used a primer, like you’re supposed to do). I used the sponge to remove paste residue, then hung the new grasscloth.

The grasscloth is a pleasing update in this home office, and also coordinates nicely with the colors used throughout the home. The last photo shows you the nubby texture and visible seams typical of grasscloth.

Color Difference in Grasscloth

November 27, 2015

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Here are two strips of grasscloth from the same run number / dye lot – meaning that they were printed at the same time from the same batch of ink. Notice the very visible difference in color between the two strips. Dry, on my table, the difference is noticeable. Pasted and up on the wall, the color difference can be jarring.

This is called “paneling” or “shading,” and is considered standard / acceptable when decorating with grasscloth. As the manufacturers put it, it is part of the “inherent natural beauty of the product.”

Murky Green Damask on Display Shelves

November 26, 2015
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The red diamond pattern on the backs of these bookshelves was pretty, but the new owners of the home didn’t love it. There was wallpaper left over from when the adjoining dining room was papered, and so we used those scraps to paper the bookshelves in the living room.

It looked like there was a lot of paper to work with, but when you start talking about a 28.5″ wide bookshelf and 27″ wide wallpaper, syncing the pattern with that in the dining room, centering the pattern, matching the pattern, a 25″ pattern repeat, wrapping the sides, wrapping the top, and when you unroll the left over bolts and find that much of the material is not in one long strip but in multiple shorter strips – it becomes a game of math, logistics, plotting, and engineering.

In the end, though, there was enough to get ‘er done. And, I was able to place the dominant motif vertically down the center of the bookshelves, and balance it equally in either corner, as well as place the same motif at the bottom of the bookshelves as was at the top of the wainscoting in the adjoining dining room, so the two rooms were horizontally correlated, and match the pattern of the two header strips in each of the two shelf alcoves to the pattern on the back of the shelves below them.

Anyone looking at the shelves will no doubt focus on the pretty collectibles displayed within them. But I just thought I would give a little backstory on what went into applying the wallpaper that is the backdrop for those pretty white vessels.

I loved working with this paper. There were no labels or brand information, but it was a pulp paper product, which is often sourced from England. It sits flat and tight to the wall, and seams are nearly invisible. Once booked, there is no stretching or shrinking. It is not sealed, though, so you have to protect it from handling and from splashes, and have to take care to not overwork seams or abrade the material during installation.

Zig Zagging Across the Wall

November 25, 2015
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It’s been a month of “lines” type patterns, for me and for a number of paperhanger buddies around the country. The one I hung today on a headboard wall in an updated master bedroom in West University (Houston) is by Serena & Lily and is called “Etch.” It’s easy to see why!

Because the paper is dark, almost black, and because wallpaper often shrinks when it dries, leaving hair’s-breadth gaps at the seams that can reveal the white wall beneath it, I plotted where the seams would fall and then striped black paint under them, to prevent white wall from peeping out. The manufacturer helped, too, as you see in the fourth photo, where they have used a dark stock to print on, because a white backing might have shown at the seams.

Working your way around windows is always tricky with wallpaper, because the wet / pasted material stretches and expands and warps and twists, and that means that the piece you bring around and along side and finally down under the window might not butt up perfectly with the piece already under the window, and the pattern match might be off, too.

And that’s exactly what happened here… Although the wallpaper worked around the window on the right with no problems, on the window to the left (not shown), the wallpaper had twisted enough that it didn’t want to butt up against the strip under the window, the pattern didn’t match, and there was a large diagonal wrinkle running from the corner of the window to the left edge of the wallpaper. I don’t have a photo of it, but it was there.

This was an easy pattern to deal with that, though. What I did was, I cut along the bottom edge of one part of the pattern (see photo), pulled that strip up and smoothed out any wrinkles on the wall, then replaced it onto the wall, allowing it to overlap the bottom segment of that strip that was still clinging to the wall (see photo). Voilà! There is no wrinkle or twisted paper on the wall, everything is nice and flat and tight, and you absolutely cannot detect that the pattern is a wee bit off.

And, last photo, the entire day’s trash, all rolled up into one neat package, all ready for the recycling bin.

The Julles Has New Shoes

November 24, 2015

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I hate to admit it, but I was shopping in Wal-Mart yesterday. Saw these shoes, tried them on, and loved them. After wearing them at work today, I love them even more.

They are very light weight, easy to put on and take off, fit perfectly, and the backs don’t smash down when you slide your foot in. Oh, and only $9.98. I bought a pair in black and in white.

Looks Like Grasscloth – But It’s Better!

November 22, 2015
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When clients start talking about grasscloth, I go into my “lecture” about my disappointment with this product, because of color variations including “shading,” “paneling,” “staining,” “bleeding,” and others, like “cats love to tear it up.” So when I first met with these young homeowners, I was delighted that they listened to me, and took my advice to buy this faux grass product instead.

When properly reverse-hung (hang every other strip upside down), there is no color variation, and the seams are invisible. The material is a heavy vinyl that supports a textured surface (see close-up). The vinyl is water and stain resistant, and if it needs to be cleaned, it can be scrubbed. The material is reinforced with a scrim (woven fabric) backing (see photo) that makes it strong and durable, so no worries about their kids banging toys or tricycles into the walls.

And it looks remarkably like real woven grasscloth. It is a handsome paper, and the overall look is smart and tailored, providing a good backdrop to this mid-century-goes-21st century style home.

I hung this in a typical entry way in a typical ’60’s era ranch-style home, in Shepherd Park Plaza (the neighborhood with all the Christmas lights!) in Houston.   The job took two days, with the first day being spent smoothing the textured walls, so the bumps would not show under the wallpaper.

The pattern is by Thibaut, and is in their Texture Resource Volume 4 collection. It was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Dorota’s eye and knowledge of color and products was a big help to this couple. They were originally leaning toward a different colorway, but Dorota said this was a more neutral color and would work better in their space. Once they saw the wallpaper on the wall, they knew that Dorota had been correct! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

And notice – the day’s trash all rolled up into one neat package. 🙂

Tricky Bathroom Faucets

November 21, 2015

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Needless to say, these plumbing fixtures should have been installed AFTER the wallpaper went up. It would have been much easier for me, and the paper would have gone right up to the pipes, eliminating relief cuts as well as the potential for paper to peel due to wicking of water into the substrate along those cut edges.

It would have been easiest for me to make three vertical cuts from the backsplash up to each handle / faucet, and then carefully trim around them. But that would leave three seams that were right where water will be splashed on them, opening the potential for them to absorb water and delaminate and curl, plus the possibility that the seams would be visible, and who wants three vertical seams 3″ apart?!

So what I did was, I made a horizontal cut from the right edge of the wallpaper to the center of the right handle, and then carefully trimmed around each fixture, while first making sure that, as the wallpaper came around the left side and then around the bottom of the faucets, that its horizontally cute edge met up with the horizontal cut I had made on the right. Meaning, that it met up with itself with no gaps of pattern mis-match.

Some of the fixtures were not tight against the wall, and I was able to slide the wallpaper behind them. In other areas, I had to trim right up against the metal. This always opens the potential for water to get behind and cause curling, so I used clear caulk to seal these areas.

This is a heavy vinyl wallpaper, which will be more durable than paper, because it is more resistant to water, which makes it a better choice for this particular application. Of course, if you want your faucets to come out of the wall, instead of the countertop, it would be best to put tile on the wall, rather than wallpaper. IMO

I was guestimating it would take about an hour to hang this one strip, but I think I finished a little quicker – say, 45 minutes. 🙂

Frolicking Foresty Fun in a Master Bathroom

November 20, 2015
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This fair tale-ish wallpaper went in a bathroom in a new master bedroom suite in a recently built-out attic space in a 1936 yellow brick bungalow in Montrose (Houston). I showed up expecting to be working with bright red paper – but the homeowner said she looked at the sample taped up to her wall for a couple of weeks, and decided the taupe color would be easier to live with for the long run. I think she made a wise choice!

The pattern is called “Emily” and is by Hygge & West, an on-line company that also sells fabric. http://www.hyggeandwest.com/

Beachy Bathroom in Galveston

November 19, 2015
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This home in Galveston was built in the 1800’s, and survived the 1900 Great Storm (hurricane). The homeowners have an island theme going on in their decorating, and the bathroom was the final touch. They had done some renovations to the bathroom, including new shower & tub, toilet, vanity with quartz countertop, and the cool distressed, salvaged beaded board they put on the lower half of the wall as wainscoting. (last two photos) The doorknobs are for holding towels. So cute!

But they said they could not find anyone on the island to hang wallpaper; I was very happy to drive down and help them out.

The walls weren’t in bad condition, but they showed decades of “home repairs” – layers and layers of paint, drips, sheetrock patches, uneven areas, grit, etc. I skim floated all the walls to make them smooth, and then primed with a good coat of Gardz. This yield a much smoother surface for the shiny wallpaper, and a more stable foundation in a bathroom where humidity will be a factor.

This sea shell-themed pattern blends nicely with the beachy feel in the rest of the house. I particularly love how it coordinates with the rustic beaded board below the chair rail. The wallpaper is by York, and is printed on a pre-pasted non-woven stock, which is supposed to strip off the wall easily and cleanly when it’s time to redecorate.