Schumacher Pyne Hellyhock

March 22, 2020


We don’t call this company “Schitmacher” and “Poomacher” for nothing … With so many quality substrates and inks out there, and so many other companies making top-notch papers, why, oh WHY does Schumacher continue to use outdated materials and methods – especially when they’re crappy?!

The wrinkles here are referred to as “waffling” or “quilting.” This is caused by the wallpaper backing (substrate) absorbing moisture at a different rate from the ink on the front. This moisture causes the substrate to expand more than the ink, which creates wrinkled areas.

I had this problem with the Bibliotheque I blogged about last week. But that was not as severe, mostly because the inked area covered most of the paper.

In this Pyne Hollyhock, most of the ink is concentrated down the center of the strip, leaving large un-inked areas along the outer edges.

I was able to smooth out many of the smaller wrinkles in between the blue flowers. Others may disappear when the paper dries.

But the blank / white areas had wrinkles so big that they would not be smoothed out. See third photo. The other thing is, because this white area was twisting and warping so dramatically, you can bet that the edges of the strip will not butt up properly with the next strip.

Sometimes you can double cut (splice) seams that are not butting up correctly. But since this paper also presented the huge wrinkles, it still is gonna look bad at the minimum, and have large gaps at the worst.

A liner might help (do a Search here), but I doubt it would tame the worst wrinkles, especially at the edges. In addition, it adds more material cost and at least another day’s labor.

I did a couple test strips, employing different approaches with each. Such as dampening the front before pasting to even out the moisture distribution. Booking for extended lengths of time. Booking and then opening and repasting. Different smoothing techniques. I even got out the heat gun to speed up drying to see if the wrinkles would flatten.

But I never got a result that I felt was acceptable. And certainly not what this family deserved, nor worth the price they paid for this so-called high-end brand.

It’s not often that a paper beats my butt, but I did end up throwing in the towel on this one.

Too bad, because the homeowner and interior designer really love the pattern, which is one of Schumacher’s most popular. Right now, it’s undecided if they will see if one of my buddies wants to tackle it, or if they will choose something else.

This was to have gone in the dining room of a newly renovated home in the Woodland Heights of Houston.

Cheery Blue & Pink for Shared Girls’ Bedroom

March 21, 2020


“Uplifting” and “cheerful” come to mind when you search for an adjective to describe this accent wall in a bedroom for two little girls in a beautifully renovated home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Flowers, birds, pink, blue – a fanciful pattern and sweet color choice framing a view out of the window of a magnificent live oak tree.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Serena & Lily “Feather” In Boy’s Bedroom

March 20, 2020


I like Serena & Lily papers, and their “Feather” is one of their most popular. Here it is in navy in the bedroom of a young boy in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The room presented some challenges, but the pattern was accommodating. It took a whole lot of time, but when I finished, it looked great.

The 4-square house was built about 1920. In the ensuing years, the house has shifted. Which is a nice way of saying that the floors and ceilings are not level, and the walls are not plumb.

I started to center the pattern on a plumb line between the two windows. But a plumb line is plumb, and the window moldings were not, so the wallpaper pattern would have started going crooked along the windows and ceilings. So instead of lining my first strip up against a plumb line, I carefully placed it to straddle an area equidistant between the two windows.

This took a lot of measuring, a lot of repositioning, and a lot of trips up and down the ladder. And, yes, I even had the strip in place, trimmed, and done – and then realized that it was a tad off. So I pulled it off the wall and moved it over by a scant 3/16 of an inch. The effort paid off, because, as you can see in the first photo, the design is perfectly centered between the two windows, from ceiling to floor.

The next full strip hung to the right of the window on the right (no photo). This wall was way off-plumb, and was shaped more like a trapezoid than a rectangle. My job was to keep the pattern looking straight along the window frame on its left, as well as straight along the door frame to its right.

The only way I could do this was to slice the strip apart vertically, cutting along the vertical “stripes” in the design. Then I aligned the pattern to the left and right moldings. In between, I overlapped the “stripes,” distributing the discrepancy in widths between the sections. In this way, I accommodated for more than an inch of difference in width between the top and bottom of the wall. This did create a slight vertical ridge under the stripes, but it was disguised by the stripes themselves. And a little difference in thickness of the wallpaper looks a whole lot better than a crooked pattern.

To the right of that was a wide closet door. I hung the three strips over the door, and the pattern was placed perfectly. Yet when I stepped back and looked at it, the design looked horribly crooked.

I finally figured out that the ceiling and door moldings were not perfectly perpendicular to each other. In fact, there was a full 3/4″ difference in height between the left and right side of the area. This trapezoid shape was causing the strips to look crooked, even if they were not.

Again, my solution was to cut the paper apart vertically along the “stripes,” and overlap as needed, to make my strips look plumb.

I employed this trick as needed in other areas of the room.

The design itself was very helpful. The vertical “stripes” were not straight, so nothing had to be exactly-dactly straight or plumb. And the “V”s at the top of the wall were also irregular, as were the positioning of the diagonal lines, so I had flexibility in how high or low to place my pattern.

Throwing another wrench into the works was the fact that we had two different runs to work with (do a Search here to learn about that), plus one double roll bolt that was defective and could not be used, which meant I had to figure out how to make 10 rolls cover 12 rolls’ worth of wall space.

Another obstacle was placing the wallpaper against the stained shiplap wall – without getting paste onto the rough, un-cleanable wood. And let’s not forget to mention the “industrial” metal pipe that hung 1/2″ from the wall I was papering.

I used two tricks for this. One was using my Boggess blue cut tape to protect the wooden wall. The other again involved using the trim-along-the-stripe-and-overlap-new-strip-as-needed technique. Too intricate to explain, especially without photos. But it was a good trick and the perfect solution to ending the paper at the wooden wall.

Sounds complicated. It WAS! It took me 10 hours (3+ hours per wall) to get these 10 single rolls up.

When all was said and done, though, the room looked fantastic. All ready for the young boy to move in!

Other parts of the room have a heavy “industrial modern” look – exposed pipe, weathered metal light fixtures, unpainted original shiplap wood. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Dopey Place to Leave Shoes!

March 19, 2020


This week I’m working in a house in the Houston Heights that has been completely updated. The floors were just refinished and sealed, so workers are requested to not wear shoes in the home.

But don’t you think the workmen would set their shoes TO THE SIDE OF THE DOOR, instead of right where everyone needs to walk through?

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt I – Hand Trimming, Overlapping

March 18, 2020

Like many of the higher-end brands, this Brunschwig & Fils wallpaper had to have its selvedge edge trimmed off by hand. Unfortunately, they did not provide trim guide marks. Double unfortunately, I tried using the pattern as a guide, but, for a lot of reasons, this was a big fail – the edges looked like they had been trimmed with a hair curling iron. 😦

How, then, was I going to get good seams?

I was preparing to double cut (splice). But for many reasons, this was not presenting as a good option.

Then I got the idea to overlap. This turned out to be the perfect solution!

The edges of the “bookshelves” were not straight, so, instead of using my straightedge as a trim guide, I grabbed a new razor blade and free-handed my cuts along the design. (see top photo)

Then, after measuring, pasting, and booking my strips, I positioned them on the wall by overlapping one “shelf support” on top of the previous one. The second photo shows one strip being placed thusly.

Overlapping like this does leave a ridge under the wallpaper. But it is not very noticeable, especially since my design motifs were perfectly aligned.

What’s even cooler is that this overlap added a bit of 3-D to the room, which is what you would have if you had real wood and books in there.

Another advantage is that I could tweak the spacing if needed, to plumb up a strip that might have started going crooked.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt II – Waffling, Wrinkling

March 18, 2020


In the top photo, I have used a paint roller to apply paste to the back of this wallpaper. See it wrinkling up? We call this “waffling,” or “quilting.”

This happens because the ink on the surface absorbs moisture from the paste at a different rate from the substrate. So they both expand, but fight each other, which causes the wrinkles you see in the picture.

One way to minimize this is to lightly sponge the surface of the paper with clean water. In the upper left of the top photo you can see my sponge and bucket of water. You can also use a spray bottle.

After pasting, the strip is “booked” and then rolled up like a newspaper and placed into a plastic trash bag to sit for a few minutes. This gives the paper and ink a chance to absorb all that moisture.

Some papers are still cantankerous when they get to the wall. But my experience with Brunchwig & Fils and their Bibliotheque is that, with proper smoothing and minimal manipulation, it smooths and adheres quite nicely to the wall. The wrinkles and quilted areas disappear.

The only wrinkles that remained were inside the horizontal “shelves” (see second picture). Most of these either could be chased out with a smoothing too, or laid flat once the paper dried. A handful of them remained even after the wallpaper was dry, but were not very noticeable.

Bibliotheque Install Details, Pt III – Curling Edges

March 18, 2020

As mentioned in a previous post about this install, wallpaper paste introduces moisture to the back of the paper, which causes the backing to absorb moisture and expand – and, sometimes, as in this case, the expansion will cause the paper to curl back on itself.

As you can imagine, this makes it a whole lot harder to get the strip positioned and secured to the wall.

Bibliotheque Install Details – Pt IV – Plumbing Up Coming Out of a Corner

March 18, 2020


Walls are never straight, and corners are never plumb. This can wreak havoc with wallpaper and wallpaper patterns. But there are ways to deal with that. For instance …

Coming around an inside corner, you want to split your strip of wallpaper vertically, so that it wraps just a tiny bit (1/16″ – 1/8″) around the corner. Then you take the remaining portion of that split strip and overlap it on top of that 1/16″ – 1/8″.

At this point, you have the opportunity to make adjustments for walls that are out of plumb or that have bows or other defects.

In the photo, you see me using my laser level to plumb-up the right edge of the wallpaper strip. This may mean mis-matching the pattern a bit in the corner – a convenient place to hide slight discrepancies.

Bibliotheque Install Details – Pt V, Corner Pattern Detail

March 18, 2020


For reasons too complicated to get into here, the left vertical edge of the “column” in this corner ended up not being as wide as those of other “columns” in the room.

My solution was to take some scrap wallpaper and hand-trim a 3/8″ wide x 6′ high strip of the appropriate pattern match.

I could applique this onto the left side of the wall – but that would eat up some of the right edges of the books.

I decided that it would be less noticeable to place that strip right in the corner. This means that it would eat up a bit of the width of the “column.”

But the eye would not notice that much.

What the eye would see is the 3/8″ wide vertical white stripe along the left edge (see last photo), nicely in sync with the columns in the other areas of the room.

Bibliotheque – Install Details, Pt VI, Add An Incha Shelf

March 18, 2020


I positioned this pattern so that the shelves would align with the ceiling line. It’s the best look option for this powder room.

After that, as the pattern worked its way down the walls, it fell along the top of the vanity backsplash so that about 3/8″ of the tops of a row of books was sitting right along the top of the backsplash. This 3/8″ of chopped-off books was really bugging me.

So I took some wallpaper from the scrap pile (actually, this did use up a lot of wallpaper, not just scraps), found the corresponding pattern, and, after double-checking measurements and pattern placement, and then doing several dry runs, then, finally, I used my straightedge (for the bottom edge) and my free-handing razor blade (for the top edge), and made me some horizontal “shelf extensions.”

I appliqued these over the “book tips” sitting along the top of the backsplash. See last photo. Now the “shelf” is a little wider / thicker than in the original design. But that is a whole heck of a lot better than looking at those chopped off books!