Archive for November, 2017

Boldly Whimsical

November 30, 2017

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“Bold” and “whimsical” don’t typically go together, but that’s what this homeowner wanted for her large powder room in the Briarpark neighborhood of Houston. I’d say that this animal-filled, fun foresty pattern in a smudgy charcoal colorway fills the bill! Look close to see the stylized animals frolicking across the paper!

The second photo shows the first strip going up. I love the stripe of dark, bold color against the boring white walls.

The pattern is called “Wonderland,” and it is by Boras Tapeter, a Scandinavian company. It is on a non-woven substrate, and I hung it using both the paste-the-paper and the paste-the-wall methods.

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Flaw of the Day – Smudge on Back

November 27, 2017

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This smudge goes all the way across the back of this strip of wallpaper.

I don’t know what it is from, and I worry that it might be ink or some other substance that could bleed through to the front of the paper, so I had to throw the strip away.

A good reason to always buy a little extra.

The manufacturer is Serena & Lily.

Bringing Dull Grey to Life

November 26, 2017


This homeowner in the Galleria / Highland Village area of Houston is from Madrid, and had this wallpaper in her home there. She loved it.

When the family moved to Houston, she brought the paper with her. Well, first there was a detour to London, England, to pick up the paper from where it is made.

The new house is beautiful, but it was dark, with lots of grey and grey-based colors everywhere. The kitchen even had a wall painted in chalkboard paint – an oppressing mass of solid black.

The new wallpaper, called Madam Butterfly (by Designers Guild), adds a happy feel of uplifted cherry buds and blossoms, and a cherry color palate of both light and bold pinks.

The colors work together beautifully. There is just enough pink to compliment the grey cabinets, without being too cartoonish or girly. The design looks like swoops of water color paint – like a Japanese painting. And I love the upward movement of the tree blossoms.

In addition, the adjoining rooms all have accents of the hot pink color, from sofa pillows to artwork to vases to a divine hot pink divan sitting center stage in the family room.

Oil Spot Damages Wallpaper

November 25, 2017

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Before putting up a mural, I like to spread the strips out on the floor, to get an idea of the pattern, the layout, dimensions, etc., and to be sure the sequence is correct.

Little did I know that the homeowner had recently oiled her furniture, and drops of oil had gotten onto the floor. The oil got onto the wallpaper and created several permanent stains. Whoops!

Luckily, only one strip was effected. It was the end piece (far right of the mural) and was not needed. Whew!

Laying Out A Mural

November 23, 2017


You can’t count on the manufacturer putting the parts of a wallpaper mural into the box in the correct order.

Here I have spread the separate strips of the mural out on the floor, to be sure they are arranged in the right sequence, before I take them to the wall.

This mural was unique, because it does have a repeating pattern (as opposed to a landscape or other scene). And the pattern spread over a width wider than the standard 41″ or 54.” Rather than make the installer struggle with extra-wide strips of paper (and shipping the material in a reaaaaly long tube), the manufacturer cut the mural into easily-managed 17.5″ wide strips.

This Madam Butterfly pattern is by Designers Guild, a British brand, is a non-woven material, and was installed with the paste-the-wall method.

Don’t Mark The Walls With Ink

November 22, 2017

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The two holes in the wall are from picture hooks. See the little “X” under the holes? That’s from whoever was hanging the hooks. He was measuring and marking the wall, so he would know where to hammer in the nails for the hooks.

The only problem is that he used a ball point ink pen to make his marks. Ink is bad because, diminutive as this “X” is, it will bleed through wallpaper. It will bleed through paint and other materials, too.

Other substances that can bleed through wallpaper include water stains, oil, grease, wax (crayon), tar / tobacco, blood, rust, and more.

There are special stain-blocking sealers that can be used to cover these types of marks. KILZ Original is one that I like, and BIN is another.

Since this was tiny, and since I was skim-floating the wall to smooth it anyway, I just used a putty knife to dig the mark out of the wall. Gone! That way I don’t have to worry if a stain blocker will do its job sufficiently. Then I skimmed over the gouge with joint compound to smooth the surface.

The Corner’s Crooked, The Pattern’s Gone Wonky – But There Is A Fix

November 21, 2017

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Walls aren’t always plumb, horizontal surfaces (ceilings, floors, countertops) aren’t always level, and wet wallpaper can twist out of shape. Look down the center of the top photo, and you’ll see how poorly the pattern matches in a corner that is off-plumb by more than half an inch from top to bottom. Notice the double-images in the upper part of the picture.

When hanging the strip to the right of the corner, I could have manipulated the paper so that the pattern matched perfectly. But that would have meant hanging the strip off-plumb – and that would have meant that every subsequent strip would be off-plumb. And that would have meant that the design motifs would begin tracking down the wall.

Meaning that, the red leaves I plotted to sit at the top of the wall would begin walking their way down, further and further from the ceiling line. The whole wall would have a lopsided and off-kilter look.

I chose to keep the red leaves in their assigned position at the top of the wall. The trade-off was the mis-matched pattern you see in the corner in the top photo.

But I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Let’s just say that some craft paint, a tiny artist’s brush, a sharp scissors and a few appliqu├ęs, time, patience, and a good pair of strong reading glasses did their magic.

My Helper – Asleep On The Job

November 19, 2017

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Smoothing a Textured Wall

November 18, 2017

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A lot of homes in the Houston area have some type of texture on the walls. In the suburbs, the tract home builders are using a fairly heavy texture, intended to lend a ‘rustic” feel to the home.

But when the homeowners want wallpaper, the texture has to be smoothed over, so the bumps won’t show under the new wallpaper, and so the new wallpaper has a flat, sound surface to hold on to.

In the first photo you see the texture of the walls in a new home in Fulshear (far west Houston). In the second photo, I have applied an initial coat of joint compound (smoothing compound). Once it is dry (tomorrow), I will go back and sand it smooth.

The next two photos show how much dust is generated by the sanding process. The plastic did a good job of containing it and keeping it off the homeowners’ floor.

In the last photo, you see how smooth the finished surface was.

Then the walls were wiped with a damp sponge to remove dust. Next came a primer. Once the primer is good and dry, it will be time to hang the new wallpaper.

Grasscloth in a West Houston Study

November 17, 2017

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This couple wanted the textural look of grasscloth for their study, in a newish home near Cross Creek Ranch and Cinco Ranch, a bit southwest of Houston. The pattern they chose is a medium-fine grass in a pretty uniform color. With fine grass, you don’t notice as much the mis-match of the fibers at every seam.

The grass fibers have been sewn onto the front of the wallpaper. But the black backing is less homogenous, and exhibits variations in its color. These are the horizontal differences in color that you see in the pictures.

Some of these color variations spill onto the surface of the material, too. These can be especially evident as swathes of darker colored dye on the outer edges of the wallpaper. (See photo)

Overall, this product looks very good. People who like grasscloth love the texture of the natural material. And they like the “organic look” of visible seams, mis-matched pattern (there is no pattern to match!), and the color variations at the edges and within the strips.

I believe the manufacturer of this grasscloth is York.