Archive for April, 2017

How the “Hot Mess” Turned Out

April 18, 2017

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After I spent a day getting these walls into good shape (see previous post), came the fun part – hanging the paper.

This was a Moroccan lantern style geometric pattern, in yellow on grey. The homeowner loves geometric designs, and she searched hard to find something in this style that would compliment the granite countertop in that came with the powder room in her family’s new home.

This pattern does all that very nicely.

The home is in Fleetwood, in west Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Brewster, in their A-Street Prints line. It is a non-woven material and is intended to be a paste-the-wall installation, but I find that pasting the material is a better method, for many reasons.

The paper 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.

Stripping Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 17, 2017

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This powder room in a newish townhome in the Galleria area of Houston was originally papered with a deep red, nubby-textured grasscloth wallpaper. It didn’t suit the taste of the new homeowners, so they had me strip it off and replace it with something lighter.

Often, grasscloth can be really hard to get off, because the grass fibers and the netting used to sew them to the backing separate from the backing and come off in tiny handfuls of fiberous messiness.

I was luckier today, because the top layer with the grass fibers and red ink came off the wall fairly easily, and in almost-intact 9′ strips. The paper backing was left on the wall (see 2nd photo). In some areas (see 3rd photo), bits of the red inked layer remained.

The next step was to remove the paper backing. All that’s needed is to use a sponge to soak the backing with warm water. Soak one section, move on and soak the next, then go back and resoak the first section, etc.

Water has a harder time penetrating the patches where the red inked layer was not removed. Soak it a little more, or use a putty knife to get under that layer and pull off the inked material.

Eventually, the moisture from the warm water will reactivate the paste. If you are lucky, you will be able to simply pull the paper backing away from the wall. But if not, all it takes is a little elbow grease and a stiff 3″ putty knife, to gently scrape the paper from the wall.

I was doubly lucky today, because whoever hung the original grasscloth did a good job, including the use of a good primer to seal the walls before he hung any wallpaper. His primer protected the walls, and all my water and tension as I soaked and pulled paper off the walls caused no damage to the subsurface.

All I had to do to prepare the walls for new wallpaper was to wash off old paste residue, and apply a primer, in this case Gardz by Zinsser.

Finding Spacemen in Wallpaper

April 16, 2017

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The danger of pointing this out to a homeowner is that, once your eye learns to pick it out, from now on to forevermore, you will be seeing …

Spacemen in the wallpaper.

Look above the center diamond. There is a spaceman jumping upwards into the stratosphere. Next look to either side of the diamond. There are twin spacemen, with their helmets pointing right and left, away from the diamond.

Elsewhere on the paper, there is a distinct cat’s head.

And you thought it was just an ink blot!

This design is by Candice Olson for York Wallcoverings.

A Welcome Note to Find on My Windshield

April 14, 2017

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Today I was working in a powder room in Fleetwood (far west Houston) and went out to get something out of my van and spied a note stuck to my windshield. Oh no, I thought, another mail carried p!ssed off because I’m blocking the mailbox.

But – No! It was the homeowner next door, who had seen my truck, and who was wanting wallpaper in her own powder room.

It pays to have your business name & info on your vehicle!

Candice Olson Wallpaper in a Home Office

April 12, 2017

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This home in the far west end of Spring Branch (Houston) has the typical 60’s era ranch-style home floor plan. But the passage between the dining room and the kitchen had been walled over. Plus, the new homeowner wanted a home office. So she decided to turn the former dining room into her office.

The bottom wainscoting is painted deep navy blue. This “ink blot” pattern by Candicd Olson for York Wallcoverings is a bold and daring, but very well-suited, choice. The homeowner love it.

Once this went up in the home office, she looked at the adjoining living room with it’s painted walls and said, “I think I need wallpaper in here, too – this room is starting to look pretty blahhh.”

One photo shows my first strip centered on the wall. This makes a nice backdrop for the sofa, and other furnishings that will be moved into the room later.

This wallpaper pattern is by York Wallcoverings, 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.

God Bless the Homes with Elevators

April 11, 2017

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Today I was hanging wallpaper in a 4-story townhouse. I was not looking forward to lugging all my bulky and heavy gear (7′ long 30lb table, 40lb buckets of paste, loaded toolbox, and lots of assorted equipment) up and down all those stairs.

Was I happy to see this in-home elevator! It sure made my day much easier.

A Good Reason Not to Double-Cut

April 10, 2017

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A double-cut is a paperhanger’s term for splicing two strips of wallpaper together. The edges of the strips are overlapped about 1″ on the wall, and then, bracing against a straightedge, a sharp razor blade and plenty of pressure are used to cut through both layers of wallpaper. Remove excess paper from both layers, and you have a perfectly butted seam.

The only problem is that it’s virtually impossible to do this without scoring into the wall, slicing through the top layer (or more). This cut makes the surface unstable, and when the new wallpaper dries, it shrinks and puts tension (torque) on the wall’s surface. This shrinking and tension can cause the wall to split and curl back, leaving a gap or a gaping wallpaper seam.

This is what you see in the photo.

To remedy this, I wanted to bridge the gap with something that would move with any shifting in the drywall, and that would not cause ridges under the new paper.

The new wallpaper was a thick, textured material, so I was not overly worried about ridges from the patch telegraphing through it.

I used strips from the paper backing of the old wallpaper / grasscloth I had just stripped off the wall to cover the cut wall areas. I tore the patches, rather than cutting, because the “feathered” edges of the torn paper would be less noticeable under the new paper than a sharp, straight edge would be.

The strips were wet from having been stripped off the wall with water, and the wall’s surface had damp paste residue remaining on it, so the patching strips adhered nicely to the wall surface.

But, to be sure, I brushed on Gardz, a penetrating sealer and “problem wall solver.” It soaked in, bound the surfaces together, dried, and made a taught, strong surface for the new wallpaper to go over.

Still, I made sure that my seams did not fall in the same exact spots as these compromised areas of wall. That greatly reduces the possibility of seams in the new wallpaper from curling back or pulling away from the wall.

As it turns out, because of the way I engineered the wall and various other factors, I did end up doing a double cut splice over this door. But I made sure it was not in the same place as the compromised wall surface. In addition, I protected the wall by putting a thin polystyrene (plastic) strip under the wallpaper before I cut, so that when I pressed my razor blade hard to cut through the two layers of cork, it did not damage the wall. Sorry, no pics, but there are other photos of that process on my blog, if you want to do a Search.

Hummingbirds Bring Color and Life to a Heights Bedroom

April 9, 2017

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This Houston Heights home is an older bungalow that has been nicely renovated, updated, and enlarged. The outside has been kept traditional, to fit in with the historic neighborhood. But there is a slight mid-century / industrial modern feel to the new interior. Everything is very white.

The homeowner wanted some life and color in the master bedroom, and fell in love with this beautiful, cheery, historic pattern of hummingbirds on a dark background. It went on one accent wall in the bedroom.

The homeowner is thinking of pulling a color from the wallpaper and painting the walls. She’s thinking of a light green. I am all for it – no more white walls! Plus, the woodwork in will stand out better, and the room will feel cozier.

This pattern has been around for nearly 150 years, so “historic” is fitting. Thibaut makes a very similar, but smaller-scaled version, called “Augustine.” But this one is by Cole & Son. It is on a non-woven backing, and is installed by the paste-the-wall method.

A Dose of Light Dazzle for a Glam Bedroom

April 8, 2017

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This homeowner’s style is all about shimmer and lux and high glamour. But the bedroom felt cold, and she thought an accent wall would perk things up. We explored a number of wallpaper designs, mostly pretty dramatic. She ended up choosing this much more subtle pattern – really more of a texture than a pattern – and I think it is the perfect choice.

It has just enough design to bring life to the room, and the light flocked texture warms things up. But it is a background sort of pattern, and doesn’t overwhelm the room. This is good, because it means that the chrome-and-black headboard, the chrome end tables, and the large mirrors that hang above them (not pictured) will be the focal points of the room.

The homeowner loved the look so much that she is considering taking the paper all the way around the room, onto the three remaining walls. The pattern is soft enough, and the color light enough, and the room large enough, that I think this will work wonderfully.

This home is a new townhome with custom features, in Braes Heights, Houston.

The wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, 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.

Silver Cork Wallpaper in a Galleria Area Powder Room

April 6, 2017

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Nubby red grasscloth originally covered the walls of this powder room in a newish townhome in the Galleria area of Houston. It had water stains around the top of the sink. Plus, the homeowners just didn’t like it. They were considering another, lighter-colored grasscloth. On our initial consultation, first I told them reasons why I am not a fan of grasscloth (do a Search here). Then I showed them a sample of a silver metallic cork wallpaper that I have hung in several homes – and they went nuts over it.

Here is the transformation, from nubby and dark and stained to crisp and bright and much more water-resistant.

The material is thick and stiff, and is just fine if you are only putting it on one wall, such as behind a headboard in a master bedroom. Working it around a whole room, with corners, was tough enough. But then maneuvering it around a pedestal sink, and then moving on to the (unstraight and uneven) curved wall to the left of the sink….Boy, oh boy!

All you are doing is looking at photos of a nice, beautiful finished room. But I can tell you that I was doing a whole lot of work to get the room, and that wall in particular, to look that good…. I won’t go into details, but that sink and that wonky curved wall were quite the challenge. I spent about an hour and a half on just that one strip.

In the end, it looks great, and the homeowners are thrilled. The room is bright now, and the new shiny chrome towel bars and light fixture will add more to the contemporary feel.

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.