Archive for September, 2016

It’s Nice to Hang Paper When the Toilet and Sink Are Not There

September 14, 2016

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If the toilet and sink are not in the room, it’s so much easier to work around plumbing pipes and to get the wallpaper adhered to the wall neatly and without a lot of relief cuts. This is especially true of paste-the-wall papers, because it’s often impossible to get paste on the wall behind a toilet.

From Country Child’s Room to Cozy Guest Room

September 12, 2016
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With it’s bold brown color, contrasting horizontal band, and stenciled pattern, the original treatment of this room had taken a lot of planning and careful execution. To me, it had a country look, but I am told that the room sported a “cars & trucks” theme, and was used by a little boy. See first photo.

The new homeowners plan to use the room as a guest bedroom, though, and wanted something more grown up and more soothing. This neutral-toned Chinoiserie (Oriental-themed) toile (two-color pen-and-ink type drawing of daily life scenics) perfectly transformed the room.

The walls had a fairly heavy texture, which I skim-floated the first day, then sanded smooth and primed the second day. I love the second photo, with the new paper juxtaposed against the freshly-prepped walls.

The second-to-last photo shows my kill point, where the last strip meets up to the first strip, which virtually always ends in a mis-match. I pulled a few tricks out of my hat, and I think I disguised this mis-matched corner nicely.

This wallpaper is on a non-woven substrate, and is by Brewster. It was more pliable than many non-wovens, and was pretty nice to work with. The seams were practically invisible, and even going around corners and windows, the paper performed well. It was bought below retail price from Sherwin-Williams, at the Durham & Washington store, in Houston.

Another Serene and Pleasing Faux Grass

September 11, 2016
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Originally, the walls were textured and painted a bold gold (top photo). This homeowner was considering grasscloth for their master bathroom. I told her that grasscloth has problems with color variations – called paneling and shading – and that, because the pattern cannot be matched, all the seams would show, and that it stains when splashed with water or toiletries. I was pleased when she took my suggestion to contact my favorite wallpaper source (see below) and chose a faux grass product.

This manufacturer offers several imitation grasscloth options. I’ve hung many of their Bankun Raffia woven version, but this is the first time I’ve hung this more grass-like offering. This design has a pattern match (reeeallly hard to see, but I got it figured out and got ‘er done!), and that used up a little more paper, but it meant that there was no disruption of the pattern at the seams, which made the seams pretty invisible.

The material is embossed with a textured finish, so it looks and feels like real grasscloth. But because the wallcovering is vinyl, it is very water- and stain-resistant, and because it has a scrim (woven fabric) backing, it is very durable, and it will also be (relatively) easy to remove when they are ready to redecorate.

The homeowner loved the finished room. Originally, she had wanted something that was very plain, and I suggested that a very finely woven product would look like, well, like nothing, once it was up on the wall, and she would be just as well off painting the room. So, again, she took my suggestion and selected this, which has a little more texture. Well, in the time between selecting and finally getting the paper up on the wall, she got to worrying that the pattern might be too strong or overwhelming.

Happily, once the wallpaper started going up, it was very clear that the pattern was quite tranquil and serene, with just enough pattern to engage the senses, but still sit calmly in the background.

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. She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Crooked House With An Unforgiving Geometric Pattern

September 10, 2016
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Geometric patterns are all the rage these days, and that’s fine, if all you are wallpapering is one short accent wall in a house where all the walls and floors are perfectly plumb and level.

But that is not what most home are like, and it’s not what I encountered today when I went to hang this swoopy trellis pattern by Farrow & Ball (a British company).

I chose to make the pattern look straight against the most visible element in the room – the door molding. But this meant that the pattern would start to slide up or down the wall at both the ceiling and the chair rail. The chair rail is not at eye-level, but it is very visible, so the discrepancy was very noticeable. For this post, I’ll skip the details about how I made the ceiling appear to be level, and focus on that chair rail.

Because I opted to hang the pattern parallel to the door frame, and because the door frame was off-plumb, and because the chair rail was plumb, when the pattern hit the chair rail, it was not perpendicular. With wild flowers, you would never notice it. But with this small-repeat geometric design, your eye would catch an element (like the “crowns”) moving up or down the wall by even a half an inch.

To disguise this discrepancy, as well as to put a nice focal point at the chair rail, I pulled a tromp l’oeil.” – fool the eye.

I cut a motif out of the wallpaper design – let’s call it a “crown” – and pasted it on top of the paper just above the chair rail. This gave a uniform appearance along the chair rail, and made the eye believe that the wallpaper was straight and level and plumb.

Cutting and appliquéing these crowns took a lot of patience and time, and I missed an event I was planning to attend that evening. But this one detail makes the room look so much better and finished, I knew I had to take the extra time and effort to do it.

Reaching High Spots

September 9, 2016

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These walls are over 12′ high. Even with my 6′ ladder, I couldn’t reach the walls over the bathroom vanity. So I had to get creative.

This isn’t as dangerous as it looks. First, before I actually put any weight on that ladder, I put non-slip padded foam shelf liner under the feet, to prevent slipping and to protect the granite. And, since granite is considered a somewhat fragile stone, and will not support a lot of weight, that is not a concern here, because, a.) I only weigh 100 pounds, and b.) the legs of the ladder distribute my weight to the outside of the vanity top, which is supported by the vanity frame and case (not just the granite).

Nonetheless, it takes care to work like this. I don’t have as much freedom of movement of my arms or my body as I can when I can set the ladder anywhere I want. And, you can’t see it, but, where I removed the light fixture, there is an electrical box with live wires (capped and safe, but, still, kinda scary) very close to where my left arm is moving and jostling.

So, I am mindful of many things: my weight distribution, my movements, my shifting weight, my arms relative to that electrical box, the task I am working on, and lots of other related things, like not dropping any tools from 12′ up, and I forgot to lock the bathroom door so I sure hope that no one decides to come in right now because the door will knock into my ladder and I sure don’t want to take a tumble from this high up! (Another reason why I love to work when I’m alone in the house.)

BTW – tomorrow, I am bringing my 8′ ladder. I just may be able to reach the wall without having to stand on the vanity top.

Dollar Store Hairbands to the Rescue!

September 4, 2016

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You never know what crazy item will fill a need. I already use hair bands from the dollar store for, well, for keeping my hair out of my face. But I also use them to rig a way to hang a light bulb on an extension cord from the ceiling; for instance, from an air vent or exhaust fan.

Here is another use: Most thick non-woven wallpapers are stiff and like to keep curled up like they were on the roll. If you take these strips to the wall that has been covered with adhesive, you run the risk of the paper bumping into the paste and getting messy, or even ruined.

So I roll the paper backwards, so the printed side will not come in contact with the wall. But the paper fight that back-rolling, so I use hairbands to hold the re-rolled paper as I want it.

When I am ready to hang the strip, I simply climb my ladder, remove the hairband, and let the strip of paper unroll, with its backside against the pasted wall. Then I can easily position it and smooth it against the wall.

Disguising a Kill Point

September 4, 2016

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When you wallpaper a room, there is almost always a mis-match in the last corner, the point where the last strip of wallpaper meets up with the first strip that was hung. So I try to hide this in an inconspicuous place, like a corner behind a door, for instance.

In this powder room in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston, there were no corners tucked behind doors, so all the corners would be very visible, and a pattern mis-match in these corners might be eye-jarring. Sometimes, that’s your only option.

But today, I got lucky with both a design and with wall dimensions, that allowed me to hide the mis-match in plain sight, so to speak.

The area over the door was only 9″ high, and was not as visible as the corners of the room. So I opted to put the mis-match there. The idea was to splice two strips of wallpaper, each with different design motifs, together, to try to fool the eye so it would not see a mismatch, but instead would see an unbroken pattern design.

The top photo shows the wallpaper pattern (a damask) as the artist designed it. In the second photo, I am moving from the right to the left, preparing to meet the wallpaper to the left (not yet in place, so you see white wall). To prepare for the splice that will take place on the wall (which we call a double cut), I have padded the wall, to protect it, with a piece of scrap wallpaper. (It is important to not let your razor blade cut deeply enough to score into the wall, because an un-intact surface can yield to stress applied by drying (shrinking) wallpaper, and actually pull away from the wall.

The next photo shows the two strips of wallpaper in place and overlapping, with the wall behind them protected, and ready for the splice (double cut).

Instead of making an easy, straight vertical cut through the two layers of wallpaper, which would be fast and mindless, and result in noticeable a pattern mismatch, I opted for what we call an “S-cut.” Meaning, instead of making a straight, ridged cut from top to bottom, if I cut in an “S” pattern, it will be much less visible. Even better, if I cut along an element of the p0attern, such as these swoopy floral things, it all will be much less noticeable. It’s also important to use a fresh, new razor blade for this.

So, in the next photo, I’ve made my cuts – along the curved element in the pattern’s design. Now the strip of waste wallpaper that was used to protect the wall has been removed, and so has the excess paper from the strip beneath our splice. All that remains is to smooth the remaining layers back together … Once this I done, in the final photo, even though the pattern does not technically match, no one is noticing the slight discrepancy, and it looks great

Subtle Damask in a Rice Village Powder Room

September 3, 2016

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A damask is a timeless design, and will never go out of style – even when it’s been jazzed up with a pearly shimmer.

I hung this in the powder room of a newish home that straddles the Houston neighborhoods of the Rice Village, Montrose, and the Museum District. The interior designer is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs. The wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and was nice to work with.

The room itself presented some challenges, particularly the obtuse angles to the right of the sink, not to mention the un-plumb corners, wavy corners, and bowed walls.

I’m glad I had the designer order a little extra wallpaper, because I used three full strips and a whole lot of waste, to go around those two angled corners you see in the third photo. I needed the extra paper to make the pattern match in the corners as true as possible. We were lucky that this paper had a somewhat “scratchy” look, so a little mismatch would hardly be noticeable.

The pearlized finish also made it very difficult to see the design, or to be sure I had lined up the pattern match correctly.

Of course, that’s just what I fret about. Which other people never see. The homeowner loves the new powder room, and will spend the holiday weekend getting the mirror and artwork back up on the walls.

Small Print, Shimmery Finish Brightens a Powder Room

September 2, 2016
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This ’90’s home in West University Place (Houston) is being remodeled, and the homeowners wanted the wallpaper put up before the plumbing fixtures went into the room. I was happy, because it is sooo much easier to hang paper when you don’t have to work around the toilet and sink. The vanity is particularly tricky, because it stands on four tall legs and is open underneath, so you have to cut around the legs and pipes.

This small pattern and two-tone color scheme does not overwhelm the room, but adds sparkle and personality. The homeowner and I decided it would look better on that sloped part of the ceiling, even though there is no crown molding at the top.

This pattern is by G P & J Baker, a British manufacturer, called “Flora,” pattern # PW 4507. It is a thick, somewhat stiff, and somewhat spongy non-woven material, and is a paste-the- wall product.

Plotting a Mural Before Hitting the Wall

September 1, 2016
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Most murals come in strips or panels, which can be either vertical (as shown here) or horizontal. Before hitting the back with paste and attempting to put the paper on the wall, it’s a really good idea to unroll all the panels an spread the mural out on the floor.

This will allow you to organize the panels into the sequence in which you want them to be hung. You will also need to check the dimensions of the mural as compared to those of the wall, and decide which, if any, of the design will have to be cut off and discarded. You’ll also be checking to see how (well) the pattern matches across the seams.