Archive for April, 2018

Energy!

April 29, 2018


My client today couldn’t stand it that I didn’t eat lunch (I never do). So in the afternoon, she brought me a snack. Then when I finished, she sent me home with a doggie bag of avocado salad and risotto, made with basil, parmesan, and mushrooms. Yum!

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Wonky Walls = Mis-Matched Corners

April 29, 2018


When wallpaper turns an inside corner, you split the strip vertically and place the first half of the strip so that just a teeny tad wraps around the corner, and then you overlap the remaining strip into the corner, using a level to plumb this strip. This keeps all your subsequent strips nice and plumb, and running straight at the ceiling and floor lines (assuming that these lines are truly level).

But when walls and corners aren’t plumb, wallpaper patterns will get distorted. The rule of thumb is to match the pattern at eye level, and then let it fall as it will above and below that point.

This pattern is busy enough that the mis-match is not all that noticeable.

Sparkly Damask Pattern in a Powder Rooom

April 28, 2018


A gal with a big personality and a love of glam needs a wallpaper that follows suit. This one does the trick!

This large damask pattern has a traditional feel, but the sparkly accents bring it into the new millennium. I like the glittery look on this paper much better than the glass bead products that have had some popularity recently… The real glass beads – which are fairly pricy – simply don’t sparkle unless the light is hitting them just the right way. And they make the wall bulky, especially in corners, they fall off and create bumps behind the paper, and clog drains and get into the waterways.

This paper has much more sparkle, no matter where the light is coming from, and it’s much more economical, too. And it was a dream to work with. All good things.

The photos don’t show the sparkle very well, but trust me, the room looks glittery, glitzy, shimmery, glamorous, and fab!

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings. It is a non-woven material, and can be hung by either the paste-the-product or paste-the-wall method. I hung it in a powder room in a brand new home in central Houston.

It 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.

Repairing Damage from Hurricane Harvey

April 27, 2018


This home in the Champions Forest area of north Houston received flood damage after Hurricane Harvey. The bottom 2′ or so of drywall had been cut out and replaced by the restoration contractor. The only thing is, the new drywall was recessed back about 3/8″ from the existing drywall. Even though this was near the floor in the niche behind the refrigerator, the homeowner didn’t want to have a difference in wall height, nor a mis-match in the wallpaper pattern.

So I used joint compound (“mud”) and drywall seam tape to bridge the gap and to float out the discrepancy. It took three coats, and several sandings, plus a sealing primer, but the finished wall is pretty even and smooth. (2nd photo)

There wasn’t enough left over paper to replace the whole alcove, so I used scraps to piece in the bottom area. Rather than make a straight horizontal cut 2′ above the floor, it’s less eye-catching to have the patched areas run along a feature of the design, such as the vines and branches in this pattern. (3rd photo)

Once the new strips were smoothed into place (4th and 5th photos), the patched areas are virtually undetectable.

Sometimes people complain about having left over wallpaper. But here’s a good example of why you should. (last photo) This homeowner had kept all her leftovers in their original wrappings and in their original box, in a climate-controlled environment (not the garage or attic), and she had what was needed to make this repair (and several others around the room that are not shown here).

Flooded and Updated

April 26, 2018


At first glance, there is nothing wrong with the original striped wallpaper in this dining room of a home in the Champions area of Houston. In fact, it has been performing well for nearly 30 years. The only problem is that it’s outdated.

This home was damaged by the flooding that came with Hurricane Harvey last year. So while the homeowners were replacing floors and drywall and appliances, they decided to replace and update the dining room wallpaper, too.

This damask / trellis pattern has some unusual shading effects. From certain angles, it looks like there is a shadowy stripe running vertically through the design. But from another angle, you see an alternating depth of color (light, dark) running horizontally.

In addition, the printed design of the wallpaper has a metallic sheen to it. This adds life and energy to the room, and also ensures that the dining room feels young and up to date.

The homeowner thoughtfully chose the blue-green color paint at the bottom of the wall, to coordinate with the wallpaper. The darker color at the bottom of the walls helps ground and balance the room.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, and has a “raised ink” texture. It 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 Vinyl – Again

April 25, 2018


The original wallpaper put up in the early ’90’s was the then-popular “satin” or “moray” shiny, slightly textured heavy vinyl material, with – to crown it off – boring stripes in a lackluster color. Before the new classic damask pattern can go up, the old paper needs to be removed. Here are some of the steps.

Stripping wallpaper is a matter of separating the layers, soaking the backing, and removing the backing from the wall. In the top photo, you can see that some of the colored / striped white vinyl layer has been pulled off the wall. It leaves behind a gritty-textured, yellow manila paper backing, still stuck to the wall.

Don’t let anyone smart-talk you into believing that it’s OK to leave this paper backing on the wall. The truth is, if you put new paper on top of it, the moisture from the paste will soak into the substrate left on the all, and will most likely cause bubbling of both layers.

Back to the top photo. Once that vinyl layer was stripped off the wall, I used a large sponge and a bucket of hot water to soak the backing left on the wall from each strip. This process is drippy, so I protected the baseboards and chair rail with absorbent, water-proof strips. In the photo, you can see the color change of this paper backing, as it becomes saturated with water it darkens and the paste behind it begins to soften.

In the second photo, the paper backing is entirely wet, the paste has reactivated and loosened, and the paper is easily peeling away from the wall, in one tidy intact piece. The section of wall to the right still has paper stuck to the wall. The section to the left has been stripped, and then scrubbed to remove paste residue.

The section in the middle is coming away to reveal a light colored clay-based paste still adhering to the wall. I will soak this, scrub it with a coarse sponge, and then wipe it with a softer sponge, to remove as much paste residue as possible.

Once the paste is washed off the wall and the wall has dried, I will apply a primer / sealer.

Note that this strip job was fairly easy and left no damage to the walls, due to a couple of important factors.

First, I think the original installer used a primer or sealer on the walls before hanging paper.

Second, the solid vinyl paper with its paper backing is generally easier than others to strip off. (However, I dislike this type of material, and find it poor quality, especially in rooms with humidity, such as bathrooms. The seams often show from the beginning, but also, as time goes by, especially in humid rooms, the seams often begin to curl, and cannot be glued back.)

On to the Third,,, the clay-based paste used by the original installer (and I’ve gotta wonder why he pasted the paper in the first place, since it was a pre-pasted paper – I follow the manufacturer’s instructions to run the paper through a water tray, which allows it to absorb moisture and expand as it’s supposed to, and also to become more malleable). But I also augment that by rolling on a thin layer of paste onto the wall. ).

Anyway, the clay-based pastes seem to rehydrate more readily than other pastes, and to separate from the paper more easily. They do leave a gooey, tan-colored mess on the wall, though. Which will need a bucket of hot water, a scrubby, and a lot of elbow grease to remove.

Lower-End Vinyl Wallpaper is Bad Stuff

April 24, 2018


Pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings are economical, and they are often touted as “kitchen and bath papers,” because the vinyl surface is resistant to water and because it can be washed better than paper papers.

But these products often perform poorly, especially in rooms with humid conditions or where they may be splashed with water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. It’s very common for the seams to curl, as you see in the photo. In some cases, the seams never look good, even when the paper is newly hung.

The curling seams are caused, in my opinion, because the paper backing absorbs moisture from the air, or if water is splashed onto a backsplash and can be wicked up into the paper backing of the wallpaper. The paper expands, the vinyl doesn’t, causing it to curl back. Then the vinyl actually delaminates from the paper backing. This is not a “loose seam” and cannot be simply glued back down. The two layers of the product are coming apart, and cannot be repaired.

My advice – avoid these papers. Instead go for a paper paper, or one of the new non-woven papers. More info on choosing a quality paper in the “Beginning – General Info Pack” page to the right.

Stripping Solid Vinyl Wallpaper

April 21, 2018


This pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpaper is one of my least favorite types due to its poor performance in humid areas. However, when it comes to stripping it off the wall, it’s one of my favorites. 🙂

Getting this paper off the wall is a matter of peeling off the top, printed, vinyl layer. This usually comes off in large pieces. The paper substrate layer will be left on the wall. That’s the light tan you see in the photo.

That layer gets soaked with a wet sponge and warm water. The backing will turn darker tan when it’s good and wet, as shown in the photo. It usually takes several applications of water, over a period of time, to reactivate the adhesive enough that the paper can be removed.

Sometimes that backing will simply and cooperatively come away from the wall. Other times you will need to use a stiff 3″ putty knife to gently scrape it off the wall, taking care to not gouge the wall or tear the drywall.

If the previous installer primed the walls, all this should go fairly easily and with minimal damage to the walls. But if no primer was used, it may take more care, time, and a little repair work to fix any damage to the walls.

See the page to the right on “How to Strip Wallpaper” for more information.

From Dark and Dated to Soft and Welcoming

April 21, 2018


This room was decorated around the unique dark green pedestal sink and toilet. Back when the house was built, in 1992, the black floral wallpaper was a fun and in-vogue pattern.

From Dark and Dated to Soft and Welcoming

April 20, 2018


This powder room in the West U neighborhood of Houston was decorated around the unique dark green pedestal sink and toilet. Back when the house was built, in 1992, the black floral wallpaper was a fun and in-vogue choice for this room. But by 2018, the look was dated, and some of the seams were succumbing to humidity and splashed water, which were causing curling. (2nd photo)

So the old black vinyl paper was stripped off. (3rd photo) The new paper still looks good with the plumbing fixtures, but it is bright and airy, and has a softness to it. But it’s not a sleeper – look closely and you’ll see a wonderland of fun characters playing and gallivanting through the forest. (4th photo)

This wallpaper pattern is by the Swedish company Boras Tapeter. While this particular choice is monochromatic and muted, the company has a wide variety of very playful designs with a whole lot of color – all the while reflecting the simple, clean-lined Scandinavian look. Interestingly enough, I have another client family looking at patterns from this same brand.

Additionally, the quality is great, and it was very nice to work with. It’s a non-woven material, and is designed to be a paste-the-wall install process – but I pasted the paper instead, which makes it more pliable and cooperative, especially around complicated areas like the fluted pedestal sink. Another advantage if the non-woven products is that they are engineered to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the walls, when it’s time to redecorate.

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.