Archive for February, 2018

“I Should Have Done This Years Ago” – Adding Color to a Previously Brown-and-Bleak Bathroom

February 25, 2018


Sorry, I didn’t get ‘before’ photos – but it was a ’70’s era brown-and-gold-disco-theme paper that didn’t fill the space well, and it felt heartless.

This new lavender-colored wallpaper isn’t much brighter than the old brown paper, but it does have a lot of life. The vines in the floral pattern have an upward movement that engages the eye. The scale and pattern fill the space nicely (this bathroom has very high ceilings).

Best of all, the lavender color – while subdued – is a real game-changer. The room finally, after nearly 25 years, has color and vibrancy.

While I was working, and as the wallpaper began to cover more and more walls, every time the homeowner walked into the room, she said, “Why didn’t I do this YEARS AGO?!”

This is a large master bathroom in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston. It’s a pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl paper by Exclusive Wallcoverings, and was sold by Sherwin-Williams.

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Whoops – Somebody Painted Over Old Wallpaper – And It’s Peeling Up

February 23, 2018


This wallpaper is in the potty room of a Hollywood bathroom in a newish home in Bellaire (Houston). Instead of stripping off the original wallpaper, someone decided to just paint over it.

It’s not clear if they painted over the inked, vinyl / acrylic – coated surface, or if they peeled off that surface coat and then painted over the remaining paper backing.

Not that it would make a lot of difference, but they probably did not prime or seal the surface, either.

Either way, as you can see, the various layers failed, and the wallpaper seam let go of the underlying surface, resulting in the “popped” seam you see in the photo.

This probably has to do with a lot of factors, including an improperly prepped surface (read above), latex paint adding moisture that could cause the underlying surface to expand and swell, and humidity from the shower and the window allowing moisture to enter the edges of the wallpaper.

Once humidity enters the edges of wallpaper, it can cause the paper to expand and then pull away from the underlying surface. This can result in curled seams.

This is what you see in the photo above.

Stay Away From Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

February 21, 2018

Wallpaper - Curlinig Seam, Paper-Backed Solid Vinyl, Mylar
Paper-backed solid vinyl papers are about my least favorite of all papers. The main reason is that they tend to curl at the seams, especially when there is humidity present.

The issue is that, IMO, the gritty manila-type paper backing is porous, and so it will pull moisture and humidity out of the air when the room is under humid conditions (teenagers taking long hot showers). Once this happens, humidity / moisture can enter the seam and soak into the paper backing, the vinyl surface can delaminate (come apart) from the paper backing, causing the surface to curl away from the substrate / backing. This is what you see in the photo.

Because the two layers of the wallpaper have actually come apart, it is also very difficult to paste back against the wall. It would be far better to remove all the wallpaper, properly prep the surface (smooth, primer), and then hang the new wallpaper.

Down With The Old ’90’s Pattern – In With The New

February 21, 2018


This “angled brush stroke” pattern in navy on a shiny white (Mylar plastic) background was a very popular theme in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s.”

It has seen it’s day, and it’s time to go away.

I spent today stripping this paper off a Hollywood bathroom in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Stay posted to see pics of the new selection!

Blue Faux Woven Grasscloth In A New Home’s Dining Room

February 20, 2018


This homeowner was originally considering grasscloth for the dining room in her home in a new subdivision in Cypress, in far northwest Houston. I sent her my “info pack” showing the visible seams, color variations, staining, bleeding, and other problems inherent to a natural material like grasscloth (see the grasscloth link on the right side of this page). She quickly realized that she would not be happy with the look of real grasscloth.

Instead, she chose this faux product made of embossed vinyl. This ‘woven look’ pattern has the texture that people love, and the different shades of blue add depth. This paper has become quite popular, and is available in about 30 colors. The homeowner was able to find this beautiful cloudy blue, which coordinated beautifully with furnishings and accents in her home.

One option for this dining room was to paper just the top 2/3 of the walls, and then leave the part below the chair rail painted. As you can see in the second photo, this look was a little lifeless. Once paper was added to the bottom area below the chair rail, the room began to feel snug and inviting.

This wallpaper is called Bankun Raffia, and is one of my favorite alternatives to real grasscloth. The seams are invisible. There is no shading or color variation between strips. It’s extremely durable, and is also water- and stain-resistant. It’s one of the few wallpapers that is a good choice for bathrooms or areas where it might be splashed by water or touched by grimy hands.

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.

Venetian Plaster – Whoever Thought This Was A Good Idea?!

February 18, 2018

In the early 2000’s, someone got the idea to put Venetian plaster in American homes. The fad caught on, and soon people were forsaking wallpaper and covering their walls with the new trendy texture, which was supposed to look “rustic,” and “Tuscan.”

To me, unless you had a house that was designed from the ground up to look “Tuscan,” this wall finish never looked good in the typical American home. Even worse was when the finish was poorly executed. Please see the photos.

I’m glad that the pendulum has swung, and people are going back to wallpaper.

There are special prep steps that must be taken, so that the texture won’t show under the new paper, and so the paper can adhere to the surface (true Venetian plaster has a slick wax coating).

1950’s Bathroom Revisited – and Updated

February 17, 2018


This hall bathroom in a 1955 home in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston suffered damaged during Hurricane Harvey. The wallpaper had to be replaced. The homeowner chose the aqua trellis paper, thinking it would compliment the original sea-foam colored tile (which I happen to love, BTW). The contractor let his painter hang the new wallpaper. Both these decisions turned out to be mistakes.

I was called in to remove the trellis paper, prep and prime the walls, and then hang this beautiful and bold paisley pattern. Some of the photos are washed out, but in the good ones you can see the rich hues of this fun pattern. And it coordinates perfectly with the tile.

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.

Wild, Crazy, Colorful, Fun – A Bold Step for a Heights Powder Room

February 16, 2018


I hung this in the powder room of a beautifully renovated and modernized 1912 Spanish-style home in the Houston Heights. The homeowners love color. Unfortunately, the contractor left everything white and washed out. See first photo.

Never fear! Wallpaper came to the rescue – and in a BIG WAY! This super bold and mega colorful “Expanded Floral” pattern by Anthropologie ramped up the Wow Factor in their powder room.

This home will be on the Historic Heights Home Tour this spring. Come on by and see it!

Medallion Kill Point Over A Door

February 15, 2018


When you wallpaper a room, the last corner – where your last strip meets up with the first strip – always results in a mis-match. We call this the kill point, and we try to hide it behind a door, up high, or in some other not-too-noticeable spot.

This room didn’t have any “hidden corners,” and I didn’t want the family to live with starburst medallions that were chopped in half. So I planned to put the kill point over the wide doorway leading from the dining room into the entry hall. This was a less-noticeable spot – but still, a chopped-off medallion would be very obvious.

When I plotted the layout, to get the pattern to match at the right and left corners over the doorway, there was going to be an excess (see the “pouch”) in the center of the wall. To get rid of this excess, I “shrank” the paper until it fit the expanse over the doorway.

I used a straightedge and some careful measuring to remove 1″ (or two star spikes) from each of three medallions. See third photo. When the remaining pieces were put together, you could not detect any pattern mis-match.

When it was all put together way up on top of the door molding (last photo), it all looks homogenous and balanced.

Stripping Off Old Wallpaper

February 14, 2018


This hall bathroom in a 1955 ranch-style home in the Briargrove / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston was damaged by a roof leak during Hurricane Harvey. The contractor’s guys did a good job replacing drywall and painting the woodwork, but they fell short when it came to wallpaper. See first photo.

But this just gave the homeowner a chance to choose something that coordinated better with the decades-old tile that she loves (and that I love, too), and to pick a paper with more color and flair, that is more suited to her taste. See tomorrow’s post for that.

My first task was to remove the existing wallpaper. It turned out that there were two layers of paper, and, in some places, THREE layers.

In the second photo, I have removed most of the top (new) paper, which is the aqua trellis by Thibaut. I took it off by simply tearing it off the wall. Below it, you see the green savoy (small, tight, squiggly) by Waverly. Interestingly enough, I have hung this a bunch of times – in the ’90’s. 🙂

This paper was attached more tightly to the wall. To remove it, I had to first separate the top inked layer from it’s paper backing. You can see this in the second photo. Once the top layer, with it’s water-resistant acrylic surface was removed, it left behind a white paper backing. I used a sponge and bucket of hot water to soak the backing. It didn’t take long before the underlying paste reactivated, and then it was ready to let go of the wallpaper. You can see clean wall revealed in the photo, where the layers of wallpaper have come away.

In one area of the room, I got a surprise. There was a third layer of paper under the others. The top vinyl layer had been stripped of eons ago, but the tan, gritty paper backing was left on the wall. You can see this in the third photo dry (light tan) and soaked with water (dark tan). Once that tan paper backing got soaked enough with several spongings with hot water, the paste reactivated and the paper was happy to come away from the wall.

I was uncommonly lucky today, because whoever hung the original wallpaper had taken the time to prep the walls correctly. First, he skim-coated the textured walls to yield a smooth surface for the paper to adhere to. Second, he applied good quality penetrating sealer. This sealer might have been Gardz, a product that I use now, or another similar sealer, perhaps even a solvent-based (as opposed to water-based) sealer. His sealer provided a hard surface for the new paper to stick to, and also gave a surface that was resistant to all the water I was using to strip off the old wallpaper.

Check out the fourth picture to see the huge pile of wallpaper I pulled off this one small hall bathroom.

Once all the paper was off, the walls were in very good condition. There were no delaminated areas, no lifted areas, nothing that needed patching – just an amazingly intact surface.

I did a few little touch-ups to a few little areas (I wanted to clean up 60 years of grime collected along the top of the tile), and then rolled on my favorite wallpaper primer, by Roman’s, their Pro 977 / Ultra Prime. It’s a white pigmented primer, and is a wonderful surface to hang wallpaper on.