Archive for July, 2020

Unwelcome Helper

July 21, 2020

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Look at who was spying on my work area today.

One Very Good Reason NOT to Put Wallpaper on Switch Plates

July 19, 2020

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I don’t like wallpaper on switch plates or outlet covers. I think they look much better nice and crisp and white. I also just hate covering them – it’s tedious and imprecise and leaves lumps at the corners and it eats up my razor blades.

In the few times I have had to cover them, I always give my “lecture” to touch the switch, not the plate. As you can see, someone in this household wasn’t listening, and simply slapped his hand across the whole thing. And, over time, dirt and oil from the skin has stained the wallpaper.

Serena & Lily “Summerside” on Young Girl’s Accent Wall

July 18, 2020


A dresser and white ratan mirror will sit in front of this accent wall, in the bedroom of a young girl.

The pattern is called “Summerside,” and the manufacturer is Serena & Lily. Their patterns tend to be sweet and usually small scale, and I positively love the quality of their paper.

The home is in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

Cole & Son Fornasetti Chiavi Segrete in a Houston Powder Room

July 17, 2020


I’ve worked for these clients many times over three homes and nearly 30 years. This is their final but “not-quite-retired” home.

The homeowner fell in love with this pattern by Cole & Son, in their Fornasetti line, called Chiavi Segrete. But she got pulled in other directions by various design trends, and then got side-tracked by more pressing things.

Finally, at least a year after moving into the new home, she realized she really wanted her first choice, so went back to the green leafy pattern with the gold keys.

I have to admit – it is a best ever fit for this room. It matches the paint color perfectly. The scale is right for the size of the room and walls. And it will look even more super once the mirror is put up.

Like most of the British papers these days, this material is a non-woven, and can be hung via the paste-the-wall method, or, as I chose to do today, pasting the paper. The surface is vinyl, and can be cleaned (somewhat) easily.

This wallpaper pattern is by Cole & Son, and was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. This homeowner has worked with Dorota for most of her projects, over these many years. (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.

Arts & Crafts Authenticity in a 1908 Heights Home

July 16, 2020


This home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston dates back to the very early 20th Century, back when the Arts & Crafts movement was in full force. The style emphasized nature, earthy colors, blocky features, and stylized designs.

I like this look a lot, so it was really fun to work with the wallpaper and help bring their living room to their vision. They have the period furniture to go with it.

The wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, a California company that makes wallpaper in vintage and antique designs – Victorian, William Morris, Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts, Oriental, Atomic Age, ’20’s, and more.

Their paper is a little tricky to work with. First, there is an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off with a 6′ straightedge and razor blade (search here for other posts showing that process).

The manufacturer calls for clay-based paste, which I hate, for various reasons. But to comply with their specs, I bought a $50, 50lb, 5-gallon bucket of it – and used only about 1/2 gallon. Clay is a low-moisture paste, which helps with this material.

When wet with paste, the heavy inks on this paper absorb moisture differently from the paper backing, and the result is “waffling” or “quilting” – which is when you get wrinkles inside the unprinted areas (do a search here for more posts on this issue). To prevent this, it helps to lightly dampen the surface of the paper with a sponge and clean water. This helps even out the moisture ratio. I found that this pattern also fared better with a little water sponged lightly onto the back, as well.

To handle the 20′ long horizontal strips, after pasting, I folded the strips accordion-style. I also added blue plastic tape to the bottom edge, to prevent paste from getting onto the painted woodwork, which would eliminate the need to wipe it off during installation. Then all went into a plastic trash bag to “book” for a few minutes.

I set up two ladders, so I could step between them as I unfolded the accordion pleats, and I also used push pins to hold the booked strip up while I got down and moved the ladders.

The paper adhered nicely to the wall without curling at the edges. There were a few wrinkles in the inked areas, but these disappeared as the paper dried.

A wide decorative border like this, especially dating to this era, is called a “frieze.”

What’s really cool is that the homeowner (a former contractor), added the block wood molding because he wanted to unite the heights of the door molding with that of the windows (both just barely visible in the photos). That was way before they thought of adding a wallpaper border. Once they discovered Bradbury and started hunting for a wallpaper, turns out that the height of the space between the two moldings was exactly the height of the wallpaper frieze.

Even more amazing is that the paint colors were chosen before they went searching for wallpaper – but are magically perfectly harmonious with the colors in the frieze.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Birchwood Frieze,” by Bradbury & Bradbury. They have lots more gorgeous stuff on their website.

Fun and Loose Geometric in Bellaire Powder Room

July 15, 2020


Same house as the last three posts. The homeowners have done a super job of coordinating the decorating in the downstairs living area, as well as keeping the husband happy (he likes the all-white look), by choosing soft patterns made with thin lines and light colors, all on white backgrounds.

This powder room got a dose of geometric, but without the rigid lines and harsh bold strokes of many geometrics. This softer version is much easier to live with, and the hand-drawn look is plenty fun.

The wallpaper is by A Street Prints, and they’ve cleverly gotten the Scott brothers of HGTV fame to sponsor a line, “Scott Living.”

The paper is a non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. The seams are virtually invisible.

This wallpaper pattern was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Serena & Lily “Meadowsweet” Defines Breakfast Nook

July 12, 2020


Apologies for the dark photos. It’s the best my elementary phone camera can do. But look closely at the second photo, and you can see the pattern wrapping around the windows.

Here’s another home where all the walls were originally white. You can see how a little pattern and color add personality, definition, and warmth.

This swirly wallpaper pattern was chosen in a soft hue, so when you look at the breakfast nook from a distance, it feels snug and warm, but still light enough to fit into the home’s crisp white vernacular.

The space looks small and simple, yet took me at least six hours. There was a lot of intricacy involved in getting around the windows, and keeping the pattern intact.

Serena & Lily is one of my favorite brands. One of their catalogs came in the mail recently, and maybe that is why – I’ve had a rash of clients these days using this brand.

The home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Colorful Raindrops in a Youngster’s Playroom

July 11, 2020


Isn’t this a cute pattern for all four walls of a playroom for a toddler (and soon to be new sister)?!

The little boy walked around the room naming colors in the raindrops. The wallpaper also has an interesting downward movement feel – which works well in this large room with three sets of French doors.

Soon the room will be full of stuffed animals, cars, PlaySkool furniture, and crayons. Don’t worry – the little tyke has already been “lectured” that wallpaper is for looking at… not for touching. 🙂

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest (Seabrook / York), in their Eco Chic line. It’s pretty nice to work with, although I think the factory had some issues with trimming the edges perfectly straight. Minor, though.

It was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

The home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Transitioning to a Big Boy’s Room

July 10, 2020


The little boy who uses this room is 2 1/2, but you’d think he was 5. He’s energetic, articulate, inquisitive, polite, outgoing – and ready to move from the nursery into his “big boy’s room.”

The room was originally all white, but the parents knew an accent wall in this “Pick Up Sticks” pattern in white on navy would add warmth and character. In addition, this is a pattern that will grow with the boy, from his tot years to his teens.

When you look at the close-up, I like the way the white lines look like they were drawn by hand, instead of being perfectly straight and regimented.

The wallpaper is by Magnolia Home (Joanna Gaines, of HGTV fame), which is made by York. It is in their SureStrip line, which is one of my favorite brands. It’s a thin, flexible non-woven material, designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

SureStrip comes pre-pasted, so all you need to do to activate the paste is to add water. I do brush and roll a little augmentive paste onto the wall before hanging the paper.

Since papers like this are known to shrink as they dry, and because the factory often fails to trim the edges absolutely straight, I striped some dark paint on the wall where the seams would fall, so in case of gapping, you wouldn’t see jarring white lines.

The material does bubble a bit as it dries (releases moisture). You have to be patient, because bubbles will eventually disappear, and waiting is better than overworking the paper. But in this case, I got some rather large bubbles, so I did spend some time after the install going over the walls and chasing out the largest of them. By the next day, everything was nice and flat.

This wallpaper was bought from my favorite source for good quality, product knowledge, expert service, and competitive price – 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.

Please Don’t Patch On Top Of Old Wallpaper!

July 9, 2020


There was a floor-to-ceiling crack in the drywall. I instructed the painter to strip off the wallpaper around where he was going to repair the wall, and to NOT put patching compound on the paper.

He said that he did strip off the paper. Then why, oh why, did he go and extend his patch on top of the wallpaper he did not strip off??!

In the second photo, you see where I cut around his patch, and then stripped the old green paper off the rest of the wall.

Not shown is where I skim-floated over his patch, to cover the ridge from his patched area and the little bit of paper left on the wall.

Sanded smooth and sealed with Gardz, the wall was then ready for the new wallpaper.