Archive for August, 2020

Two Layers of Wallpaper to Strip Off – and No Primer

August 8, 2020



It’s not good to put wallpaper over wallpaper, especially if the bottom layer is vinyl. And double especially if no prep is done.

In this case, a vinyl wallpaper was hung over another vinyl wallpaper, which had been hung on unprimed drywall, back when the house was built 30 years ago.

All very bad. Vinyl is plastic, and therefore glossy, and that means that new wallpaper placed on top of it won’t stick. Look at the curling paper in the top photo and you will see what I mean. The second photo shows the paper curling away from the baseboard.

Raw drywall is porous in some areas, meaning it sucks the paste off the wallpaper, and thirsty in other places, meaning that it bonds tightly to the wallpaper paste and is often impossible to get off without damaging the drywall.

In the last photo, you can see where I have peeled off the top layer of wallpaper, revealing the paper backing underneath. Under that, you can see where I have removed some of the top layer of the first wallpaper, and the lighter colored backing of that paper is also visible.

So you are looking at two layers of wallpaper backings, installed on the home’s original drywall.

I knew I could remove the top layer of vinyl paper (see my page to the right “How to Strip Wallpaper”). But I honestly didn’t think I would be able to get the first layer off the wall.

But this job surprised me. … Turns out, both the top and bottom layers stripped off relatively easily, and with minimal damage to the drywall. Solid vinyl wallpapers are easier in situations like this. Click the link on the right to see the process.

Note: “Relatively easily” does not mean “quickly.” It took me about four hours to remove the paper from this 10 single roll (5 bolt) powder room.

Warming Heights Living Room With Faux Grasscloth

August 7, 2020


Top photo – you’re looking at a living room in a beautifully renovated 1910 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The bottom 3/4 of the walls are clad in beautiful white board-and-batten paneling. I skim-floated (smoothed) the upper 2′ of wall space a few months ago – and, due to construction delays, the poor family has been living with these uninspiring grey walls ever since.

Today I was able to finally get their paper up on the wall. This is an embossed vinyl faux grasscloth product by York. It is good quality, and the close-up shot shows that it does a good job of mimicking real grasscloth in texture and design. Unlike real grasscloth, because this material is vinyl, it will be resistant to stains. And because it’s man-made, there won’t be the sharp color variations from strip to strip.

However, like real grasscloth, this particular product does not have a pattern match (some by other manufactures, like Thibaut, do have a pattern match). No pattern match means that you will see a visible pattern break at every seam, every 27″ apart.

The homeowner knew immediately that she would not be happy with that. So she suggested running the material horizontally instead of vertically (called “railroading”). The width of the wallpaper accommodated the height of the wall space wonderfully, and we had just enough yardage to cover each of the four wall areas without having to splice any paper.

Another benefit is that, with the “grass” in the design directed vertically, it correlated nicely with the vertical paneling below.

And … the room has special tiny LED lights running along the top of the wainscoting. When turned on, they light up the wallpaper in a beautiful way. If the texture had been running horizontally, those lights would cast some really disconcerting shadows. (Remember when you were a kid and held a flashlight under your chin?!)

The true colors don’t show up well in the photos. This material mixes strands of murky blue, navy, mossy green, and gold. These colors coordinate sooo nicely with the deep blue ceiling, the navy paint in the adjoining dining room, and the tiles in the era-accurate fireplace.

The wallpaper manufacturer is York. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. She works mainly in the Heights area, and mostly on new builds or whole-house renovations.

Bringing Back The Bird

August 6, 2020


Re my previous post, where I explain why to add 2″ to EACH side of EACH dimension (height and width) of the wall when measuring for a mural (for a total of 4″ to both height and width),,, thus when the mural is installed, there will be 2″ or more of excess paper trimmed off and discarded from each side.

Usually, the manufacturer leaves a good bit of space around all sides that has no important pattern or motifs, so you are not losing anything special when this excess paper is trimmed off.

But this mural had a part of a bird flying in from the left edge. And he was going to be completely cut off and thrown into the trash.

I thought it would look better if the mural included this arriving feathered friend.

So I took the strip of wallpaper that had been trimmed off from the left side of the mural, and cut around his figure, pasted the back side, and appliqu├ęd him to the upper left edge of the mural – right where the artists planned to have him be.

Gorgeous Chinoiserie Mural in West Houston “Cocktail Room”

August 5, 2020


Here is a much more economical take on the hand-painted silk Chinoiserie or Oriental murals crafted in China that can cost $1000-$2000 per panel (this accent wall required 10 panels).

This digitally-printed mural is made in Sweden on easy-to-install Non-Woven material, and was sized to fit the wall with no major measuring gymnastics required. No color differences between panels, as with real silk products. Close-up photos show the detail work that mimics silk material and hand-painted fowl and foliage…. Just as nice as the $$$ cousin.

But this entire mural cost only about $600. (plus labor to install)

The finished wall, seen from a distance through the entry and dining room is jaw-dropping.

The family intends to use this as a “cocktail room,” with svelte custom-made tables and sink-into lounging chairs. I sure hope they send me a picture of the finished room!

I skim-floated the wall to smooth it, and the top photo shows my fans working to dry the smoothing compound.

Another photo shows the strips cut from the bolt, collated, and rolled backwards to both reduce “memory” (the inclination of the material to stay curled up) and to prevent the surface from bopping into the paste on the wall.

To hang this wallpaper, I use the paste-the-wall method.

An important thing to note is that, when measuring to order a mural, measure your wall’s height and width accurately, and then ADD TWO INCHES TO EACH SIDE. In other words, add 4″ to the height and 4″ to the width. This will allow for trimming at floor and ceiling and either side, and will help accommodate crooked or unlevel / unplumb walls and ceilings.

The homeowner wanted the serene feel of this muted colorway, but this mural is available in other colors, too. The home is in the Energy Corridor area of West Houston. The manufacturer is Rebel Walls. I have hung their paper a good number of times, and like it a lot.

Cute Mud Room / Dog Room Wallpaper

August 4, 2020


I hung this cute dog-themed wallpaper a few months ago, and was back to the home today to hang another room. Couldn’t pass the opportunity to snap a picture of the finished area.

This is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. Interior designer is Cokinos Design.

Balancing the Design

August 2, 2020


With some wallpaper patterns, it often looks best to plot where the design element will fall on the wall, both vertically and horizontally. In the top photo, I planned to have the “lotus” motif line up with the center of the wall horizontally (so it would align with the block paneling beneath it, and also look good behind the buffet, which will be placed in the center of this wall).

I also measured and planned ahead so that the lotus motifs would be distributed along the height of the wall evenly, without being chopped off at either the top or the bottom. The bottom, or the part just above the wainscoting, was most important, because it’s at eye level.

The wall with the buffet was important. But the wall with the window was also screaming for symmetry. I wanted either side of the window to be mirror-images. This took some doing.

Because I had centered the pattern on the buffet wall (to the left in the top photo), every other strip in the room would have to fall as it came off the roll, leaving no control over placement of the lotus design. Yet I still wanted that mirror-image.

But – I had a plan. And – in great part due to the forgiving layout of the room and the very short (2″) height of the wall over the entry door – I was able to fudge things and nudge things, and get the window wall to be symmetrical, and still have an invisible kill point at the last pattern join.

Too complicated to explain here, but I was very pleased to give this family this dining room with a nicely balanced and symmetrical wallpaper pattern lay-out.

See previous posts for info re pattern and interior designer.

Calming and Perky at the Same Time

August 1, 2020


When there are adjoining rooms to be decorated, I really like using coordinating patterns, rather than putting the same paper in both spaces.

Here is the paper chosen to go in the potty / tub room of the hall bathroom that I papered yesterday. Although the papers are not of the same material, nor even by the same manufacturer, they coordinate perfectly via color and theme.

Many thanks to Dorota (below) for helping the homeowner make this selection.

About 20 years ago, the room was papered in a dark tan striped pattern and, with no windows, the room just felt oppressive. The new paper, with it’s light colors and upbeat pattern, really brightens the room and the mood.

This product is by Anderson Prints, and is a traditional paper. 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.