Archive for August, 2016

Getting Smoothing Compound to Dry Quickly

August 30, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image


Here in Houston, many homes have textured walls. Texture prevents good adhesion of the wallpaper, and it looks, well, it looks cheesy under the wallpaper. So I do a lot of what we call “skim floating,” to smooth the wall. This involves skimming the wall with a plaster-like substance (joint compound, also referred to as “mud”).

Nothing can progress until that mud is dry. It will dry overnight, but then the homeowner would have to pay for a second day of labor. So I try to speed the process so that everything can be done in one day. Here you see my two box fans and one heavy duty fan, all aimed at this one short accent wall. The texture was heavy, and so it took a longer than usual time for the joint compound to dry.

Turning the air conditioner down (or the heat up) and having the house fan set to “on” also helps to circulate dry air through the room and pull moisture out of the wall. In a small room like a powder room, I use a space heater and close the door to keep in the heat. I also have a heat gun that can be used to spot dry stubborn areas.

Note that the black fan and the heaters all pull a lot of power, so they cannot be used at the same time or they might trip the circuit breaker. So it becomes a juggling match of turning something on and off, moving the fans to different positions, opening the door to let hot humid air out, etc.

Once the smoothing compound is dry, I sand it, then vacuum up the dust, then wipe residual dust off the wall with a damp sponge, rinsing it frequently. Then the wall has to dry again briefly, and then the primer gets rolled on. That needs to dry for about an hour, and then the wall is finally ready for wallpaper.

Advertisements

Heads In The Sand On A TV Wall

August 28, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


The homeowner saw this paper and fell in love with it. She wanted it on an accent wall in the living room; a big-screen TV will be mounted on the wall.

The home has a mid-century modern vibe to it, and is in the far west section of Oak Forest (Houston). The wallpaper manufacturer is Bespoke, a British company.

This pattern is darned cute – I have hung it before, in fact. I knew it would look good on the wall, but it wasn’t until I had finished and stepped back that I got the whole picture, and grasped just how perfect this paper is for this room.

The big birds add a clever bit of whimsy to the room, and, because the design is printed with only one color, there is not a lot of busyness to distract the eye.

Personally, I think I would rather look at the wallpaper, than watch the TV. 😉

Classic Geometric in a Breakfast Area

August 27, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Geometric patterns are all the rage these days, but this one is less trendy and much more classic. Indeed, it is by Farrow & Ball, a British company, and who can be more traditional and classic than the Brits? 🙂

The kitchen in this 1960’s home in the Briarpark neighborhood of Houston has been very nicely remodeled. But the wife knew that plain paint in the breakfast nook wasn’t the vision she had for her home … Mixing modern and traditional, she chose this sculpted trellis by Farrow & Ball, in a grey-on-grey color scheme that coordinates really nicely with the paint on the kitchen cabinets, and with the décor in the rest of the house.

F&B also makes paint, and the company is known for using paint, instead of the more expected ink, on it’s wallpaper. The paint has a beautiful matt finish, and the printed areas display a lovely “raised ink” texture. I have also seen these painted wallpapers change color over time. And, the F&B papers are known for their seams that show “gaps and overlaps.” I didn’t get a picture, but today was no exception.

Blue & White Medallion Brightens a Newly Remodeled Kitchen

August 26, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


The walls in this newly updated kitchen in a condo in the Houston Heights were new and white. I spent a couple hours priming and putting the paper up, and was focused on what I was doing. When I finished and started to pack up my gear, I looked at the wall and said – Wow!

I couldn’t believe how much brighter the wallpaper made the room look! It’s funny how that works.

Another cool thing is that I centered the pattern on the dining room wall, so it would line up with the chandelier. But as I worked my way to the left, the pattern fell smack centered on the sink and faucet. (Well, O.K., if you look hard, it’s off a smidgen – but that’s pretty good for an unplanned happenstance.)

A couple years ago, I hung this same paper in the adjoining living room, on a fireplace accent wall. The homeowner made a wise choice to use the same paper in the dining room and the kitchen (one long wall), because it ties the areas together, but does not overwhelm with too much pattern.

This wallpaper is by Thibaut, had to be hand-pasted, and went up very nicely.

Water Color Flowers for a Little Girl’s Room

August 25, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This is my second time to hang this mural wallpaper – and both times were for a little girl!

This mural is sweet, with subdued hues and watercolory transparancy, so it does not overwhelm the room. I hung it on one wall in a little girl’s room in the Briarpark neighborhood of Houston.

I said I hung this before, but, to be honest, I am not sure. I’ve been told that all you need to do is tweak a design a little – the tilt of a leaf, the shading on a petal – and you can get around copyright laws and call the design your own. I think that’s what is going on here.
Here is the one I did previously: https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/water-color-ful-wall-for-a-baby-girl/ If you look really closely, the flowers appear to be ever so slightly different. That tells me that one of them is a knock-off.

In fact, the one I did a few months ago was very expensive, and was on a non-woven substrate, and was a paste-the-wall product. I didn’t have any particular problems with the installation.

The one I hung today was less expensive, was printed on a thin paper substrate, and was a pre-pasted product. I had issues with seams that “gapped and overlapped” (butted perfectly in some places but overlapped in others), pattern mis-matched at the seams, paper twisting off-plumb, and the pattern not being printed at the right height at the top of each panel.

This almost caused a huge problem, as I was about to come up with a strip that was unexpectedly 2″ short at the top of the wall – but I was able to pull some tricks and rectify that.

Whichever is the “real” design and which is the knock-off, the pattern and colors are perfectly suited for this little girl’s room – in fact, she was toddling around the house in a matching pink top!

This wallpaper is described as a mural, and it came in a set of seven panels. It was custom ordered and sized to fit the wall. In the last photo, I have separated each panel and laid them out on the floor, to be sure the pattern matches, and to ensure the proper sequence for installation.

Fabulous Jolt of Color in a Little Girl’s Bedroom

August 24, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


The homeowner was originally looking at doing one accent wall behind the bed, and was loving a contemporary design with sort of concentric wavy-edged circles in a rhythmic pattern, by a high-end manufacturer that is known for printing defects, and that was crazy expensive and had a 65″ pattern repeat (lots of waste).

Over time, she looked at the room differently, and did an about-face, ending up having block paneling installed on the lower 1/3 of the walls, and then papering all four walls with a classic trellis pattern in a bold and contemporary color.

Unlike the original choice with the wavy circles, this trellis design has been around for hundreds of years and will not go out of style. The strong turquoise color stands out brilliantly against the white paneled wainscoting, so the room looks crisp and fresh for its young inhabitant, a six year old girl. The décor will be pumped up even more with the addition of a few jolts of bright coral – a vase, a throw pillow, and – most daringly – the chandelier.

Although this room presented challenges (unplumb walls coupled with an unforgiving geometric design, plus two windows with crooked edges and dimensions out of sync with those of the wallpaper), it was a fun install. A lot of plotting and brainwork was required to get that geometric pattern to look straight against those unplumb walls.

The 4th photo shows the kill point – the point where the last strip of wallpaper comes back around to meet the first strip. This almost always ends up in a mis-match. This corner did mis-match, but I had a lot of fun fiddling around to make it look like it matched.

Most men don’t care too much about decorating, but this father was really excited about the transformation of his daughter’s room.

This wallpaper pattern is called Downing Gate, and is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought below retail price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. Dorota was also able to get the paper shipped here super fast, so the homeowner could keep her original installation date. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Shadowy, Watercolory Trees in a Master Bedroom

August 23, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

If you saw the rest of this room, with it’s tan walls and soft blue accents, punctuated here and there with very dark brown furniture, plus a little sparkle from mirrored bedside tables, you’d grasp how perfect this paper is for the room. The homeowners have been dreaming of getting the paper up for about a year now, and finally made the jump and called me. I measured, they bought the paper, I got an unexpected opening and was able to get their paper up very quickly.

The pattern is by Harlequin, a British company, and is printed on a non-woven substrate and uses a paste-the-wall installation procedure. I love that the trees look like shadows, and when you get close, it appears to be a watercolor painting. It went on an accent wall of a master bedroom in a new home in the Houston Heights.

Last pic:  The day’s waste, all in one neat package.  Another day, no trash bag used.  🙂

How Many Birds In The Forest?

August 21, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


It takes guts to put a dark paper in a small room. In this small hall bathroom, this pattern looks super! What helps this black wallpaper work is the white tile floor and shower surround, and a black vanity with a soft grey marble top. There are enough light colored surfaces to balance all the dark.

What’s extra cool is that this home is set on about an acre, and all the land is planted with foliage and large trees and looks quite wooded. The homeowner also owns an aviary with several types birds. So this woodland scene is perfect!

This paper is by Witch & Watchman, and is a non-woven material and uses a paste-the-wall process of installation. I ran black chalk along the edges, to hide the white backing, and that made the seams disappear.

I hung this in a home in Hedwig Village (Houston). The remodel work is being done by a company I work for from time to time, Greymark Construction, who does mighty fine work.

“Iconic” Martinique Banana Leaf Wallpaper

August 20, 2016

IMG_3277

IMG_3276

IMG_3282

This “Martinique” (French island in the Caribbean), wallpaper pattern is the exact same as was used in the ’40’s in the Beverly Hills Hotel – and on TV shows like Friends and the Golden Girls, and in celebrities’ homes, and on a Mariah Carey album cover, to name a few. I have hung it several times – it is retro, it is timeless, and people love it.

It is also expensive. And thus there are knock-offs. Most of the knock-offs are easier to hang. This one was not.

While most wallpapers these days come pre-trimmed by the factory, this paper came with a selvedge edge, which I had to trim off by hand with a 6′ straight edge and plenty of sharp razor blades. I spent maybe an hour and a half just trimming the edges off six strips of wallpaper. And the trim mark arrows printed by the manufacturer were not distinct, so it was hard to tell exactly where to cut, which means it was easy to get an edge that was not perfectly straight. That means you can get perfectly butted seams, but also what we call “gaps and overlaps.” In addition, the pattern was not perfectly matched by the manufacturer, so there were some slight mis-matches once on the wall. Luckily, the pattern is busy enough that these are pretty disguised.

The paper had a thick vinyl coating that was difficult to cut. The thick manila paper backing sucked up paste, leaving little to hold the paper to the wall. The paper backing opposed the vinyl surface, causing curling at the seams. I added extra paste, I added more moisture, I striped the wall behind seams with paste, but I still had seams that wanted to curl up a little. Usually, once the paper is good and dry, the seams give up their moisture and that causes them to shrink, and then they pull tight to the wall. By the time I left, most of the seams were tight and flat.

In the end, the finished wall looks fantastic, and the homeowner loves it.

I put this bright and bold “Martinique” wallpaper pattern on an accent (headboard) wall in a guest bedroom in a new home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

Lotus Leaf Wallpaper

August 19, 2016

image3

image2

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


I am grateful to the home ower, for the first two photos. And apologies for my own bad photos – this was very dark paper in a room with poor lighting. In reality, the wallpaper is gorgeous – a very deep and rich teal with a sheen to it. And what’s extra cool is that the texture comes from lotus leaves!

The homeowner loves green, and she wanted a texture for the wall behind the bed in her master bedroom in Montrose (Houston). She was originally considering grasscloth, but after getting my “lecture” warning about shading and paneling (color variations inherent to grasscloth), she searched further, and came up with this unique and dazzling paper. The top photo shows you a bit of the texture, and just a hint of the deep teal color.

The material was difficult to work with. As with most natural materials, I was sure there would be gaps here and there at the seams, so I stripe the wall with paint to match the color of the wallpaper (Photo 2). The lotus leaves on the surface were dyed very dark, but they were attached to a light colored substrate, so Photo 3 shows the deep blue and deep green oil pastel crayons I used to color the edges of the paper, so white would not show at the seams.

As with many dyed wallcoverings, the ink was not stable, so I ended up with hands the color of the paper.

The instructions said this was a paste-the-wall product. I had my doubts, but used that method for my first two strips. Not good. The backing was not non-woven material, but paper, and it soaked up paste like crazy, to the point where there was nothing left on the wall to hold the paper up.

In addition, after I had the first two strips up and looking good, I looked back and saw puckers at the seams. The backing had soaked up paste, absorbed moisture, and expanded, which caused the pouches at the seams.

I ended up taking those two strips off the wall and repasting them, then rehanging. I had to be gentle, because the wet backing could be fragile and delaminate from the surface. Since both strips were already trimmed, I had to carefully line them up at the ceiling and baseboard, while moving the second strip every so slightly to the right, to relieve the stress on the seam and eliminate the pouching.

Because the paper backing appeared to be what is typically used with grasscloth (which is generally pasted on the back), and because of the expansion when wet with paste, it was obvious that this product was not suited for paste-the-wall and dry-hanging. Someone at the factory got his instructions mixed up!

My solution was to roll out each strip and lightly sponge the backing with a damp sponge, then let that sit to absorb moisture and expand a bit, while I rolled paste onto the wall. Because I knew the backing was thirsty, I used more paste than I had with those first two strips.

This proved to be the answer, and the remaining strips stuck to the wall nicely, and there was no more puckering at the seams.

There were, however, a lot of areas at the seams that did not want to lie down. I had to do a lot of repasting and reworking the seams. This is not good, because overworking can cause burnishing, and can even push paste out from under the seam, and which could cause the seam to open up over time.

As noted on the instructions, some of the lotus leaves were fatter than others, so there were areas at the seams that were thick butting up against areas that were thin, which made it look like the seam was popping open, even though it was nice and tight to the wall.

O.K., let’s see what else happened with this stuff … It was thick and stiff, and difficult to press tightly against the ceiling and baseboard, and therefore difficult to get a nice, tight horizontal trim. The vertical trims where the paper met the corners of the wall were even more cantankerous. The material didn’t want to fold into the corner, and it was difficult to cut perpendicular to the grain of the material, even with a brand new razor blade. Manipulating the piece so it I could trim it and so it would fit nicely into the corner resulted in some abrading of the dye from the surface, as well as some minor blemishes on the surface. It’s no wonder that the manufacturer said to not wrap corners, but to cut the material and start each wall with a new strip.

Another problem was that the moisture from the paste, and also from my light sponging with water, could soak through the material and loosen the adhesive holding the lotus leaves to the paper backing. In other words, the leaves could delaminate from the backing. Even though I worked quickly to avoid over soaking, I did have a few areas that bubbled or delaminated. (They could be repasted and re-adhered.)

I hung this on one accent wall with no obstacles. But I would definitely not want to hang it on all the walls in a powder room, for instance, or where I’d have to cut around corners or a pedestal sink or intricate carved moldings, or the like.

Bottom line: I’m glad I got the experience of working with this material. But I’m not 100% happy with the way it turned out. The manufacturer should work out some kinks, and should provide correct installation instructions. The homeowner, though, doesn’t see these little things that I see, and she is quite ticked with her deeply-hued, uniquely-textured, accent wall in her bedroom.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Designer Series, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.