Archive for March, 2016

Traditional to Traditional – Bold to Subdued

March 31, 2016
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The colorful botanical / bird original wallpaper is a classic design and color, but the homeowners had grown tired of it. Plus, as you see in the second photo, some of the seams had begun to curl. This is common with paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers, especially in humid rooms (like bathrooms) or rooms with no air vents (this bath had neither A/C vents nor an exhaust fan) and the big reason why I try to steer clients away from this material.

The next photos show the new wallpaper. Originally, the homeowner wanted a woven faux grasscloth, which she saw that I had installed in a friend’s bathroom. But she could not find a color that worked with the color of the tile in this Tanglewood area 1950’s ranch style home’s bathroom. This damask pattern turned out to coordinate perfectly! It also cloaks the walls in a little pattern, without being busy (because it contains only two soft colors), and adds more interest to the room than the faux grasscloth would have.

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.

This product was a paper-backed solid vinyl (read my comments above). It was thick and stiff and difficult to work with. The seams showed more than they should have, and there were edges of the paper that were warped by the plastic wrapper that never relaxed completely once the strip was pasted and applied to the wall, leaving slight waves at some seams. The material did not turn corners well, and I was never happy with any of the outside corners. There was also off-gassing, which is when a strip goes up and looks wonderful, but as it dries, moisture is trapped between the wall and the vinyl and has nowhere to go, so bubbles form under the paper.

Note to Self: Don’t let any other clients buy this product.

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A Scratchy, Blurry Geometric Trellis On A Dining Room Accent Wall

March 30, 2016
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The homeowners are fairly new to this house in the Shepherd Park Plaza neighborhood of Houston, and are doing lots of updates. In this dining room, they removed the built-in cabinet that was smack in the middle of this wall, as well as the chair rail molding around the middle. In the top photo, you see new Sheetrock that has been taped and floated in areas that were damaged by removing the cabinet.

To make a perfect surface, I skim-floated the wall. This eliminates hairs and grit from the drywall, and smoothed over the patched areas. I then sanded, wiped free of dust, and primed with a penetrating sealer called Gardz. The finished wall is shown in the second photo.

The homeowners found a paper that matched the colors on their walls and in their Oriental rug, and the scratchy, vague design is visible, but not at all overwhelming. I love the way that the trellis pattern mimics the carved design on the ceiling.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpaper, and was a non-woven, paste-the-wall product. It was bought from Sherwin-Williams. I made sure to center the pattern on the wall, so when they place furniture against it, the pattern will be balanced on either side.

Runny Ink

March 29, 2016
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Look under the dark leaf. See the smears of green ink running downward?

The manufacturer possibly is using an “eco-friendly” water- or vegetable-based ink, and it is not stable when it gets wet. Since this is a pre-pasted wallpaper and is designed to be run through a water tray to activate the paste, it is impossible to not get it really wet. While positioning the paper on the wall and wiping off paste residue, even lightly wiping the surface with a damp rag would cause the ink to run. (Wiping in the opposite direction would push the ink back to where it was supposed to be.)

There are alternate ways to paste this type of paper, but since I had started with the manufacturer’s recommended method, I pretty much had to continue, since switching to another method might alter various aspects of the paper’s performance.

So I adjusted my usual techniques, and avoided wiping the paper with a damp rag, and instead used dry paper towels – lots of them.

Bold Geometric Wallpaper Replaces “Stucco” On a Dining Area Accent Wall

March 25, 2016
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Today I worked in homeowner-run vacation rental apartment in the Riverside neighborhood of Houston. The owners wanted a look that was updated, but still fairly neutral, because all sorts of people will be staying in the unit (honeymooners, medical patients, sports fans, vacationers) The wall was originally a thick faux stucco finish (1st photo) and had to be smoothed before the new wallpaper could go up.

Smoothing the wall took several hours. Next I sealed / primed with Gardz, and once that was dry, I hung the paper. The house dates to 1940, so you can bet that the walls and floors and ceiling are not plumb or level. That made working with a geometric pattern rather tricky. I used a few tricks, and got it to look pretty straight at the crucial points.

This wallpaper is by Graham & Brown, and is paste-the-wall product (rather than pasting the back of the paper). Unlike the thick and stiff P-T-W papers I have worked with recently, this paper was thin and pliable and nicer to work with. Tt was lightly embossed, giving it a light texture, and the design included some shading, which gave a 3-D effect.

Beautiful British Birds & Foliage in a Powder Room

March 24, 2016
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I have hung this pattern a couple of times before, and I have to say, it is one of my all-time favorites. The idea of this pattern dates back to the 1800’s, so it is very historic and classic. It is by a British manufacturer, and one of the homeowners is from England, where they pretty well “wallpaper everything” – and generally in flowery prints – so this bird-and-foliage pattern felt like home to her.

She got a good deal on it, too. Bought new, this paper is about $150 a double roll. Well, she stumbled upon an unopened bolt at an art store for a steal, and snatched it up. Once I got to the house and measured, though, it was clear that she would need more paper. Once again, she got lucky, by finding two more bolts on ebay for a price way below retail.

Unfortunately, the run number of the original paper did not match the run number of the new ebay paper, so we had the potential for color variations between strips. Also, the room really should have had four bolts, not the three we had.

But I measured the walls carefully, counted how many strips would be needed, figured where I would be able to fudge on the pattern, and then rolled out the paper to see how we would do. It turned out that this homeowner was, once again, lucky, because the baseboard and crown molding in the room reduced the wall height from 8′ to 7′ – and that was just enough to allow me to get four strips of paper from each bolt, instead of the usual three.

There was just enough paper to do the room, and I was able to keep the different runs on separate walls, so there were no eye-jarring color variations between strips. We ended up with, literally, about 2′ of paper left over. Whew!

This wallpaper is by Cole & Son, a British company, and is printed on a traditional pulp substrate, different from the non-woven material that they are using these days for much of their paper. Pulp papers do not have a protective coatings so they will look wet if they get splashed by water. They also will not stand up to stains or spills of any kind, and you have to be careful not to touch the paper when reaching for a light switch, or the paper may discolor from oils in your hands.

That said, I love the pulps, because the colors and inks and matt finish are unique and beautiful. They lie flat on your wall and don’t have issues with curling at the seams or delaminating like vinyl papers sometimes do.

I hung this in the powder room of a 1930’s home in Riverside (near downtown Houston).  Most everything in the home (floors, tile, sinks, faucets, windows, doors, doorknobs, stairway’s iron railing, telephone nook, stained glass windows, Art Deco features, on and on) are original to the home, and are in perfect condition.  The home even has plaster walls!   These elements are reveared and will be preserved by the homeowners.    It was a real honor to work there.

Old House / Crooked Walls / Straight Paper / ??

March 23, 2016
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Who can expect the walls in a bungalow built on gumbo soil in the Houston Heights back in the 1920’s to be straight and plumb? These walls sure weren’t.

In the first photo, you see the tree motif running pretty evenly along the door frame and the shower tile from ceiling to wainscoting. But on the opposite wall (sorry, no photo), the door frame and tile were both off-plumb, so the wall was less like a rectangle and more like a trapezoid. That meant that the white tree trunk started out at the ceiling about 1/2″ away from the tile, with about 1/2″ of navy blue along it’s left edge. But by the time it dropped a mere 5′ to the wainscoting, the white tree trunk was running crooked and disappearing into the white tile, with no navy blue showing at all.

The eye really notices variances like this.

I needed to get some navy blue showing again, along the left side of that tree trunk.

This non-woven wallpaper was too stiff to manipulate or maneuver into a plumb position, and a cut-and-overlap would have been very visible on this thick material. So I tried something else.

In the second photo, you see where I have cut out a part of the pattern motif, which includes the white tree trunk and some of the navy blue area to the left of it. I then trimmed this piece so that it had 1/2″ of navy blue showing to the left of the tree trunk. Next, I appliquéd this piece over the tree, in the spot where it would have been if the wall had been plumb.

Some leaves of the tree got cut off or obscured by this appliqué. But that is much less noticeable than a disappearing navy blue line. The trick I used maintains that navy blue line to the left of the white tree trunk. My trick ensures that the eye sees a uniform width of navy blue from ceiling to wainscoting. This is much less jarring to the eye. And it makes the wall look plumb – even though we all know that it has not been plumb since about, oh, since about the 1940’s.

The wallpaper is by Brewster, in their A Street line, and was bought from the Sherwin Williams store in the Rice Village on University.

Perky Trees in a Shared Bathroom

March 23, 2016
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“The decision to go with wallpaper was a hard-sell,” said the husband. His previous knowledge of wallpaper was the flowery sort of stuff that your grandmother had. But the wife wanted some pattern and color for this bathroom that is share by a pre-school girl and an adjoining guest bedroom, in their remodeled 1920’s bungalow in the Houston Heights. She found this fun tree design at Sherwin-Williams.

Once the paper started going up, Hubby was sold!

Originally, the walls were all white, plus white wainscoting on the lower 3′ and white tile on the mirror wall. Clearly, the wallpaper brought personality and fun, and a bit of color to the space.

The couple was originally debating leaving two short walls that flanked the mirror wall painted white. During our initial consultation, I pointed out that that would leave too many disparate elements in the room – paint, tile, paneling, mirror, wallpaper. I suggested they put the wallpaper on all the walls, including bringing it onto those two walls that surrounded the mirror wall. It turned out to be the right choice. (Sorry – no photo.)

I also plotted the pattern placement so that both of those walls mirrored one another, and both had a half inch of blue space between the trees and the tile, and the trees on both walls were at the same height. It’s something you would not consciously notice when looking in the mirror, but your mind’s eye would sense that the area is equal and balanced.

This wallpaper is by Brewster, in their A Street Prints line. It is a non-woven material and a paste-the-wall product. The homeowners bought it from the Sherwin Williams store on University in the Rice Village – the store I deal with the most. It was nice to work with, but, like many non-woven wallpapers, it was stiff and somewhat argumentative when turning corners or doing detailed work like cutting around intricate moldings.

A Classic Trellis Pattern is Classy in a Powder Room

March 22, 2016

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The marble countertop, intricate moldings on the vanity, and the homeowner’s choice of mirror and light fixture all combine with this centuries-old pattern for an elegant, yet modern look.

This is in the powder room of a young couple in a new home the Heights.

This wallpaper design 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.

Water Color-Ful Wall for a Baby Girl

March 20, 2016
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This is wallpaper with a huge repeat, custom-made to fit this wall. Essentially, it is a lot like a mural. What an impact it makes in this nursery, waiting for the new baby girl!

This product is on a non-woven substrate, and was a paste-the-wall installation. It is thick and stiff and difficult to tear, and is designed to be stripped off easily when it’s time to change décor. However, the stiffness a little difficult to maneuver into intricate areas like around the window trim.

The home was in the Woodland Heights, and the interior designer for this job is Shayna Hawkins, of Interiors Designed, in Houston. http://www.interiorsdesignedtx.com/home.html

A Really Nice Faux / Fake Grasscloth

March 19, 2016
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Grasscloth is all the rage right now, but I cringe when clients talk about using it. There are so many problems with shading and paneling and color variations (Do a Search in the upper right on these terms.), as wall as staining, bleeding, and shredding by pets.

There are faux products that are pretty realistic, and some are better quality than others. (Again, do a Search here.) This homeowner wanted the look and texture of grasscloth in her bathroom, but knew that the real deal would not hold up to a busy family with little children.

She found this paper-backed vinyl product on an internet sales site, and got a really good deal on some expensive paper. The rolls she got were not all the same run, so had to be kept on separate walls, but there was plenty of paper, so I was able to get the room done.

I was very pleased that there were no color variations (except between runs, and I kept different runs segregated on separate walls), and she is happy that the vinyl paper will withstand water and little hands. The vinly surface is embossed with a realistic texture, too. I was able to do this powder room while the toilet and sink were out of the room, making the install much easier, and also ensuring that there would be no cut edges along the top of the sink (which could wick up splashed water and cause curling).

The brand is Elitis, a French company, and the product is a paper-backed solid vinyl. I hung this in the powder room of a darling 1930’s home in the Rice University area of Houston.