Archive for February, 2017

Prepping Heavily Textured Walls for Wallpaper

February 15, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Wow. Some DIY remodeler / house flipper loved this textured wall finish, and sprayed it on EVERY WALL AND CEILING in this otherwise-beautifully-updated home near Gessner & Kempwood. The young couple who bought the home want wallpaper in their two daughters’ rooms and in a front room study, plus they want chalkboard paint on one wall in the kitchen.

Wallpaper looks best and sticks best to smooth walls, and the chalkboard wall needs to be perfectly smooth, so I am spending two days smoothing these surfaces. The wallpaper will go up later.

Today I skim-floated the walls with joint compound. (It’s kind of like plaster, and is applied with a trowel.) I went through nearly FIVE boxes of the stuff (see photo). Each box is 44 lbs. Need I say that my arms and shoulders are tired and sore? 🙂

Applying it thickly enough to cover the 1/4″ – 1/2″ bumps means that it will take a looong time to dry, so I have turned on the heat in the house (to help draw moisture out of the smoothing compound) as well as the house fan (to circulate air), set several fans up blowing against the walls, and left it to dry overnight. Tomorrow, I will sand the walls.

Because the skim coat was so thick, even when it is sanded, the surface will not be perfectly smooth, and will also have many holes caused by air bubbles. So I will trowel on a second, much lighter coat, to cover these irregularities. With the heat cranking, and the fans blowing, this second skim coat should dry fairly quickly.

Then I will sand one final time, vacuum up the dust, wipe the walls free of dust with a damp sponge, and finally roll on a sealing primer called Gardz.

The painters can then apply the chalkboard paint to the kitchen wall. And when I come back to hang wallpaper in a month or so, the messy part of the job will be over and done with, so no more dust or mess or smells in the clients’ home – just new, pretty wallpaper for the little girls’s rooms and for Mom’s study.

Hanging Paper Plumb

February 14, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Here is my laser level, shooting a line onto the wall, so I can hang my first strip of wallpaper perfectly straight and plumb in the middle of this accent wall.

First Stab Wound of 2017

February 12, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Dang that razor knife!

Subtle Shimmer in a Home Office

February 12, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


It’s easier to find beautiful shimmery Chinoiserie murals on HOUZZ – than it is to swallow the price tag … Some of those you see pictured are very high-end, meaning, $1000-$10,000 per panel.

I suggested this homeowner go visit Dorota (read below) and she was able to find a very similar design and color that she loves, for a very reasonable price. It has just enough of the Asian look, and the flowers look like they are hand painted on. It compliments her mirrored desk and side tables, and it offers a bit of upscale shimmer, but does not overpower the room.

The soft colors blend nicely with the rest of the house. The homeowner will probably pick up some of the soft peach color from the flowers as an accent color in other areas of the room. I’m hoping she will paint the other three walls this color.

I hung this on one accent wall of a second floor home office, in a new home in the Houston Heights. It’s by Wallquest, in their Jaima Brown Home line. This wallpaper was bought at below retail 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.

Jungle View With Vaulted Ceilings

February 11, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


The ceiling of this home office on the third floor of a newish home in the Rice University / Museum District of Houston has some interesting angles and spaces. But there is no window in the room. The homeowner thought the space was stark and claustrophobic. So she came up with the idea to open up the space with a verdant foliage pattern.

The palm leaf paper went on the two large angled spaces over where the desk / computer will sit. Then a companion paper was chosen for the two smaller angled areas flanking the desk area.

I love using two coordinating papers in one space. And the green leaves really do open up the space, and bring a bit of the outdoors in.

Angled spaces like this eat up a lot of paper, so plan for a lot of waste.

Both these wallpaper patterns are by Designer Wallpapers, and were bought at below retail 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.

Silvery Pearlized Faux Bois in a Very Complicated Powder Room

February 10, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This under-the-stairs powder room has a LOT of challenges: angles, nooks, turns, and a pedestal sink, not to mention those odd “columns” running through the ceiling. The homeowner wanted all surfaces covered, so I suggested a non-directional pattern. This faux bois fills the bill, because it looks virtually the same right side up or upside down. She also likes the “faux bois” (fake wood) look, and really loves the shimmery, silvery, pearly sheen of the silver-on-white colors.

So the pattern suits the room, and the homeowner loves the color; unfortunately, the paper itself was a true test.

This wallpaper is one of the newer non-woven materials, and it is intended that the installer paste the wall, rather than paste the wallpaper. However, this paper is thick, stiff, unmalleable, and creases easily. All this works fine on a flat accent wall. But problems arise when you try to paste a thick, stiff, unmalleable, easily-creased paper onto the walls of a very complicated room.

What makes a room complicated? Corners, angles, steep angles, ceilings, light fixtures that cannot be removed, and weird “beams” that appear to serve no purpose other than to madden the paperhanger. Oh, and let’s not forget that pedestal sink. This 12 single roll powder room (6 bolts) took me 12 hours to hang.

This was a paste-the-wall material, but I found that pasting the paper instead made it more pliable and workable. Most strips required multiple relief cuts, so I could work the paper against fixtures and into corners without creasing it.

The first strip I attempted to hang was around the pedestal sink, and then moving into the corner to the right. The paper simply would not allow me to manipulate it into position, and the ensuing struggle resulted in creases, cuts, blemishes, gaps at the seams, and all sorts of unacceptable results.

So I ripped that strip off and started over.

To get around the sink with minimal relief cuts or stress on the paper, I trimmed the strips vertically, to cut them into two narrower, more manageable sections. All other handling was done slowly and carefully, to put as little stress on the paper as possible, and to minimize the potential of creasing. It was still difficult to fold the paper into corners and trim.

Matching the pattern was difficult, because the silvery sheen of the ink combined with sun coming in through the windows and harsh lighting in the powder room made it virtually impossible to see any part of the pattern, much less match one jagged bit of tree bark on the wall to it’s counterpart going onto the ceiling.

The “beams” built into the ceiling, and the recessed areas behind them, were very difficult, too. The stiff paper didn’t want to bend around or stick to the slightly un-straight edges. Wrapping certain areas with wallpaper meant that other adjoining areas could not be covered with the same strip, so they had to be patched in – difficult to explain, but trust me, it was tedious, time-consuming, and took a lot of plotting and planning before any approach could be begun. Oh, and wrestling with cantankerous bull-nosed edges around the door.

In the end, the room looks great. The few mismatched areas and other imperfections just blend in with the wild pattern and shiny ink, so you don’t even notice them.

Next time, though, I will encourage the homeowner to get not only non-directional pattern, but a paper that is thin and pliable.

I hung this in the powder room of a newish home in the Museum District / Rice University area of Houston. This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, in the Anna French line, is called “Surrey Woods,” and was bought at below retail 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.

Shiny, Orange, Woven Grasscloth in an Entryway

February 9, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Here is a large art niche in an entry in a newish home in the Rice University / Museum District area of Houston. The homeowner was originally considering wallpaper for her powder room and office, but when I suggested papering this niche, she quickly agreed, seeing how it would bring color and life to the home’s entryway.

This woven grasscloth is a different take on the traditional grass product with horizontal reeds. It is also more uniform in color, with none of the shading and paneling and color variations between strips. And, because the backing appears to be a plastic material, instead of the typical paper, it has an appealing sheen.

The woven pattern hides the seams a little, but, as with all natural products like this, the pattern could not be matched at the seams, so all the seams show. After I did a little trimming and tweaking, the first seam looked pretty good. The second seam, however, looked good at the top of the wall, but started to show unpleasantly as it moved down toward the floor. This is because the grass fibers at the edge of the strip moved away from the edge, so there was a wider-than-the-eye-wants-to-see strip of orange at the edge. It showed up more in person, but you can kind of see it in one of the photos.

This is typical of grasscloth, and not considered a defect. However, since there were only two seams on this wall, the one seam that had wide spaces of orange was very obvious.

I needed three strips of paper for this 10′ high wall, and the two double rolls had already given me three. I had one 10′ strip left, which would be good to keep on hand in case of damage or repairs in the future. But I thought that a better looking seam would be more important than the possibility of replacing a strip years down the road. So I ripped off that third strip, and then I took the remaining paper and cut a new strip.

The reason the seam was visible was because too much orange was showing at the seam. It needed more of the vertical grass fiber. So I took my straightedge and trimmed the new strip of grasscloth to eliminate any orange, and to leave a vertical strip of the tan grass fiber along the entire edge. I worried that this strip of tan grass would be too wide when it butted up against the previous strip already on the wall, with its tan grass at its edge, by creating a double-width of tan grass fiber. But it ended up that the double width of tan grass was far less noticeable than the double width of orange, and the seam turned out nearly invisible. The last two photos show a distant and a close up shot.

All this fussing and futzing was called for because the wall had only three strips of grasscloth and only two seams, and because the first seam looked good, so the second seam had to look equally good. And because we had extra paper to get that extra strip out of.

But had this been a larger room with many seams, and without lots of extra paper to tear off the wall and replace with new, the homeowner would have had to live with very visible seams that showed extra widths of orange, or seams that showed double widths of tan grass fibers. If the whole room looked like this, the look would be uniform, and would not be offensive. It is what’s called, “The inherent beauty of the natural product.”

One other point about this particular product – There was a little bubbling as the paper dried. Since the material has the plasticized backing that gave the appealing sheen, that same plastic backing allows no where for air to dissipate to when the paper dries, so it “off gasses,” leaving bubbles under the paper. I was able to poke tiny holes to let the gas escape. But I prefer grasscloth that is sewn onto a traditional paper backing, because it “breathes” and allows moisture to pass through it, letting the material lie good and tight against the wall.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at below retail 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.

Wallpaper Wants To Sit On A Smooth Wall

February 8, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

The walls in this powder room were way too heavily textured (Photo 1) to even think about putting wallpaper on them. For one thing, those ugly bumps would show under the paper – and might even poke holes through the surface. For another, the wallpaper would not have a smooth, intact surface to cling to, resulting in poor adhesion.

So I smoothed the walls. To do this, I trowled on joint compound, (we nick name it mud), which is a plaster-like substance used mostly for drywall installations. The initial layer was thick, and had to dry overnight.

In the morning, the surface was dried, as you see in Photo 2. Dry, but way unacceptable for wallpaper … All of those ridges and uneven surfaces would show under the paper.

I sanded this surface down, and it was much better – but still not acceptable for wallpaper.

So I skim floated again, with a very thin layer of mud. Once that was dry, I sanded one more time. And ended up with the perfectly smooth walls you see in the 3rd photo.

In the last photo, you see the wallpaper on the wall, perfectly smooth, and with no signs of bumps or texture or ridges or uneven areas.

Ogee Petals Wallpaper Pattern in a Powder Room

February 7, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


“Ogee” means double continuous “S” pattern. This wallpaper pattern sure has them! It is also reminiscent of flower petals, and so has been called “Petals” in some of its incarnations. I hung the glass bead version a few months ago. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/swoopy-trellis-of-glass-beads-brightens-a-powder-room/ This no-bead paper was not as difficult, but it still was a tedious install.

My before shot disappeared, and so did my prep shot, so please just enjoy the pics of the finished project. Note the careful centering of the pattern on both the sink faucet. This was very time consuming, because I had to start with the strip to the left of the one over the sink, and carefully plot the width of the pattern and the rate of expansion of the wet paper; I won’t go into explaining it here, but I think it was well worth the 45 minutes it took to accomplish. The pattern is also centered nicely over the toilet.

The strip to the right of the mirror also took about 45 minutes, thanks to un-plumb walls, bowed walls, stiff unyielding paper, and more, in order to get the pattern to match at points both above and below the mirror, all the while keeping the right edge plumb, and straight enough for the next trip to be able to butt up against.

In the close-up shot, you see a slight pattern mis-match at the seams. The manufacturer had a mis-print issue, which was more noticeable in some rolls than others. I followed paperhanger protocol, and matched the pattern where it would be seen at eye-level, and I let points above and below fall out of match as they happened. Once the job was finished, I took some brown craft paint and a VERY tiny paint brush, and colored some of the mis-matched areas, to make them less noticeable to the human eye. It looked great.

I also ran a bead of clear caulk around the top of the backsplash, to prevent splashed water from being wicked up under the paper (which could cause curling).

This wallpaper pattern is by A-Street Prints, which is made by Brewster. I hung it in the powder room of a new home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston. It is a non-woven material, and it is meant that you paste the wall, rather than pasting the wallpaper.

One Really Fun, Cheery, Cheek-Bursting Wallpaper Design

February 5, 2017
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This homeowner has a vibrant personality – yet all of the walls in her home were bland and boring. She is coming up on a significant birthday, and is planning a huge bash. She wanted to get this powder room gussied up, to both reflect her spunky personality, and to impress her friend who would be coming to the party.

Oh, and she also likes the color purple.

This wallpaper pattern fills the bill in many ways. For starters, it is lively and fun. The scale of the pattern works quite nicely with the width and height of the walls. Next, it is way colorful. And it has the homeonwer’s favorite color – purple.

Originally, we were going to paper the walls from floor to ceiling. But the homeowner anticipated that the busy pattern might be overwhelming if spread over 8′ of wall height. Good call!

So I hung the paper from the ceiling down to 34″ from the floor. (Three feet is a pretty standard height for a chair rail.) The homeowner will have the bottom 1/3 of the walls painted, probably a rich grey. Next, a chair rail will be added around the middle of the room.

I am encouraging the homeowner to paint this molding a vibrant purple.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see what color she decides to use.

I am confident that she will land on the perfect colors, and the powder room will be looking stellar in time for her Bog Birthday Bash.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Cary Lind design line, and in their Sure Strip material line (one of my favorites). It was bought from 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!

My client said, “I went in there confident that I knew what I wanted – but I just wanted to see what else was out there. I advised Dorota what I was looking for, and when I got to the store, she had books marked and waiting for me. But every time I’d fall in love with a pattern, Dorota would walk up to me, holding a new book with new patterns.

Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.