Archive for December, 2019

Bringing Happy to a Home Laundry Room

December 13, 2019

This home in Kingwood (far northeast Houston) was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Harvey, so the bottom portion of the walls had to be torn out and replaced. The repaired laundry room was functional, but not very inviting.

This cheery pattern changed all that!

The light black pen & ink-like images on a white background add whimsy and really brighten the room. I don’t think anyone would mind spending time in here on Laundry Day!

The motifs remind me of dandelions that have died and dried, that you puff on to make a wish.

The wallpaper is by York, in their Sure Strip line, which is one of my favorites. It is a pre-pasted paper, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

10″ Head Space – I Can Do It!

December 13, 2019


Not only was there only a mere 10″ of clearance between the cabinet and the ceiling, the niche was way deeper than the typical cabinet, because below it was a 36″ deep refrigerator. Even standing on the very top of my ladder (ya know – the step that OSHA says NOT to stand on!), and contorting my whole torso on top of the cabinet, it was difficult to reach the back wall. And even more difficult to maneuver my hands and tools.

I managed to skim-float the area, sand it smooth, and prime it. Today it was time to get paper onto it.

The fewer tasks I had to do, the easier (and safer) it would be to accomplish.

The first thing I did was to trim the paper horizontally at the point where I wanted it to meet the ceiling. This eliminated the need for me to squeeze in a straightedge and trimming blade and try to manipulate them in the deep, narrow space.

Likewise, I wanted to avoid having to trim in the last corner (on the right). So I measured carefully, and pre-trimmed my last piece to fit. It was 3 7/8″ at the top, but widened to 4″ at the bottom.

After the strip got pasted and booked, it expanded a tad, so I had to trim off a teeny bit from the right edge. And also a little more off the upper right, due to the wall being un-straight at that point.

I was able to get my plastic smoother and damp microfiber cloth into the space, to smooth the strips to the wall and wipe off any paste residue.

Primer Choices

December 12, 2019


Today I was priming the backs of some bar cabinets. My preferred primer, Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977, which usually sticks to anything, was beading up and sweating off of the Formica surface. Even if it dried, it would leave beads and bumps under the wallpaper. I had to take a paper towel and wipe it all off.

Luckily, I had some Zinsser 123 in my van. This stuff sticks to just about anything. It rolled on with no problems.

It’s OK to hang wallpaper over 123, but I prefer to hang on a product made specifically for wallpaper. So, once the 123 was dry (it dries quickly, and for good measure, I set a fan blowing on it), I rolled on a coat of Ultra Prime.

This is all very timely, because I was looking at that can of 123 just the other day, which was bought exactly a year ago and which I virtually never use, and was about to toss it out. I’m glad I kept it.

Using the Laser Level

December 11, 2019


Here I am using my laser level to line up my first wallpaper strip, making sure it’s nice and straight and plumb, while also centering it on the spot where the headboard will sit against the wall.

Hand Trimming Off the Selvedge Edge

December 10, 2019


This wallpaper pattern by Lindsay Cowels came with an unprinted selvedge edge, which had to be trimmed off by hand before the paper could go up.

I used a brass-bound straightedge and plenty of new razor blades to do this trimming.

Wacky Abstract Lindsay Cowels Wallpaper

December 8, 2019


Not everybody wants flowers, birds, or geometrics. Well, if you had a bed with a headboard that mimicked orange mink fur, you’d need wallpaper strong enough to stand up to it. Here’s a wild and wacky pattern by Lindsay Cowels that is well-suited to this room.

What’s extra cool is that the homeowner is a wine sales rep, and often hosts wine aficionados from France in this guest suite. I think this room out-hautes even the chiquie Frenchies!

This is a non-woven material, and the edges had to be hand-trimmed.

The home is new(ish) and is in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Mary Evans McCloskey.

A Whimsical Frolic Through The Woods

December 5, 2019

The homeowner wanted her powder room to be dark. The original paint was darker than the first photo shows (My two 100 watt light bulbs are washing the dark color out.). But stark, dark walls and ceiling can be claustrophobic, so she knew a little pattern would help create the effect she was going for.

This house in far-west Houston was redone after flooding from Hurricane Harvey. The contractor’s worker attempted to hang the wallpaper, but wasn’t making things look great.

The homeowner ordered new paper. This time around, her original color choice was discontinued, so she opted for the one you see in the photos. I say it was fortuitous. 🙂

I was called in to hang the new paper. After smoothing the very lightly textured walls and then priming, the paper went up nicely.

It was nice that York Wallcoverings printed this dark design on a dark substrate, instead of the typical white (see photo). That helps prevent white showing at the seams, if the paper should shrink a tad as it dries.

I really like the pattern. It’s fresh and has a bit of whimsy – sort of like a dance in the forest.

And the pattern gives the room a whole lot more character, and it’s definitely not boxy or claustrophobic anymore.

From Dining Room to Home Office

December 4, 2019


The previous owners used this as a dining room, but the new homeowners are a young family that need the space for a home office / toddler’s playroom. They wanted a bolder pattern than the original soft clouds, but were happy to stick with the black and white color palette.

Once I got the original paper thoroughly soaked with a sponge and clean water, the paste reactivated and it stripped off the wall easily and with no damage.

It did reveal a previous wall treatment – a stenciled diagonal foliage pattern.

It also revealed a lightly textured wall. I don’t like these bumps showing under the new wallpaper, so I used a trowel and “mud” (drywall joint compound) to smooth the wall.

After sanding smooth, vacuuming up the dust, wiping dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then priming, the new wallpaper could go up. I used a laser level to center the design on the wall.

This wallpaper pattern is in the Magnolia Home collection- yes, good old Joanna Gaines. It is by York, and is in their SureStrip line.

It is pre-pasted and goes up easily and cleanly, and is a delight to work with – one of my favorites. SureStrip is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

The home is in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston.

Peek-a-Boo Bear for New Baby Girl’s Nursery

December 3, 2019

This design is called “Surprise.” Once I got it up on the wall, I realized why – there are only two of the cute bears, and they pop out unexpectedly from behind random fan motifs. This is the wall where the crib will be placed, and the bears will cradle it nicely, while peeping down once in a while to keep an eye on the little one.

This is a good example of why you should see your pattern choices in a room-set photo, before ordering. The mother-to-be had seen a portion of the design on the company’s website, and they also sent her a 6″ x 8″ sample. Both of these led her to believe that the bears were more predominant in the design.

Another thing to note … The 6″ x 8″ sample had a much smaller scale of “fans” and bear faces than what the homeowner received. This is because the mural is custom digitally printed to order to fit the dimensions of the specific wall / room where it will hang. So stretching the pattern to fill a full wall enlarged both the fans and the faces.

Another opportunity for me to get on my soapbox … Always have the paperhanger measure and figure what size to have the mural printed, BEFORE you order. And remember to add 2″ to EACH side of the mural, to accommodate trimming and un-level ceilings / un-plumb walls.

This company normally does add a little “bleed” area. But only about one inch – to be divided between two sides. This one-half inch at the top would not have been adequate to accommodate the un-level ceiling line in this room. Good thing I advised the homeowner to add 2″ to each side.

Even so, I had to deal with the mural the way it was printed. If this had been regular wallpaper, I would have pulled the design up to where the top of the fans met with the crown molding. But the manufacturer did not place the pattern on the panels to where I could do that, so I had to drop it a little below the crown molding.

This probably worked out for the best, because the ceiling line was not level. If I had placed the fans at the top of an unlevel ceiling, they would have worked their way off-track and you would see a sloping motif line at the top of the wall.

Since the tops of the fans had to be dropped down a little, now you see a vertical column instead of a fan top. You don’t notice a small fluctuation in the height of the column, as you would if the fan tops didn’t hit the crown molding at the same spot all across the wall.

On to more simple concepts …

This product came rolled up as one long piece, which I cut into eight individual panels, each having been printed to fit the dimensions of the wall. I spread those out on the floor of the empty room, to be sure each panel matched correctly to the next one, and to get a grasp on how the pattern would span out across the wall.

After measuring the wall and the panels, I plotted where I would place my first strip. MuralsWallpaper prints on a non-woven substrate, which can be hung using the paste-the-wall method. For one accent wall with no fancy turns or cuts, this is an ideal installation method.

To keep the surface of the paper from bopping into the pasted wall, I roll each strip backwards, with the top coming off the roll first, and secure with a Dollar Store hairband. See photo.

After the wall has been pasted (taking care to use a brush to cut paste in to the edges and corners), when I am up on the ladder, I remove the hairband and let the paper unfurl. You have to take care while positioning the strip to not allow the edges to come in contact with the paste on the wall, as this could cause dark edges or staining.

This mural by MuralsWallpaper.com went up very nicely. The finished wall looked super. It is ready to welcome the newest member of the family!

I stay pretty booked up with work, and originally wasn’t able to get this room done before the baby came. But I had a schedule change, and was able to move this job up, so the young family could get their nursery decorated in plenty of time for the baby.

I’ll bet they spend tomorrow assembling the crib and arranging other accessories for the room!

Faux Agate Kill Point Over Door

December 1, 2019

When you hang wallpaper around a room, the last corner virtually always ends up in a pattern mis-match, because the last strip will be split vertically to fit gap between it and the first strip that was hung. The pattern on it won’t line up with the pattern on the first strip that it is butting up against. Difficult to explain.

Anyway, as you see in the first photo, if I had let this be the last corner (the kill point), the horizontal lines would not line up as they do in the photo, and there would have been an 8′ high, eye-jarring mis-match of lines.

So I chose to put the kill point over the door, an area that is only 7″ high, and that not too many people look up at.

The pattern came together over the door pretty nicely, but the design on the left piece was a bit higher than the design elements on the piece on the right, so there is a bit of a mis-match.

If I could bring the design on the left down a little, it would match up much more nicely with that on the right.

To do that, I took a straight edge and a razor blade and trimmed off a wedge-shaped sliver of paper from the left edge. The wedge was wider at the bottom than at the top. This created a gap at the bottom of the strip. When the strip was positioned to where it butted up against the previous strip, closing that gap forced the upper portion of the strip to lean downward, which brought the horizontal lines on the left strip down to where they met up nicely with the horizontal lines on the right strip.

At this point, the left strip is overlapped on top of the strip on the right. The thickness of the under-lying strip shows as a ridge under the upper layer of paper. I would have been OK with this, because the strip is over the door where no one is going to be looking.

But I thought I could make it look better.

So I did double cut. A double cut is a paperhanger’s term for a splice. Before cutting through the two strips of overlapped paper, it’s important to protect the wall, because if the wall gets scored into, when the wallpaper dries and pulls taught, the layers of paint and drywall and etc. inside the wall may give way (delaminate), and leave irreparable curls at the seams.

In this case, I used a few layers of scrap wallpaper placed behind where I would make my splice. So when I cut through the two left and right pieces of wallpaper, my razor blade did not go all the way down to the wall surface.

Once the cut was made, I removed the cut-off remnants on either side of the cut, and smoothed the remaining paper into place. As you can see, the pattern now lines up pretty darned well.

There were still a few lines that didn’t match up, so I took my trusty No. 2 pencil and drew a few “enhancements.” Voilà!