Fireworks Light Up A Baby’s Ceiling

November 10, 2017

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This soon-to-be-new-mom has loved this wallpaper pattern for eons. I worked for the couple in their previous home, and she really wanted to use it, but could not find the right space. Now, in a larger home and with a baby girl on the way, Mom finally found the perfect place to showcase this fun pattern.

The fireworks pattern spreads out sensationally across the ceiling of this nursery. It really pulls your eye up, yet doesn’t compete with the other décor in the room. Mom is going to use some bright pops of blue accents through out the room, as well as one large painting that pulls in the blue color.

This wallpaper is a product that had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, which is tedious and time-consuming. It is made by Donghia, and 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.

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Getting Wallpaper Onto A Ceiling

November 9, 2017

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I don’t often hang wallpaper on ceilings. But every now and then I’ll take one on.

Because I have neither scaffolding nor a helper, I’ve devised ways to defy gravity and get the paper up on the ceiling with minimal anguish.

After the paper is pasted, I book it in several shorter accordion folds, instead of the traditional 3′ and 6′ split. I place two ladders facing one another. I get on one ladder, position the paper, then use push pins to hold it to the ceiling while I walk from the first ladder to the second.

I smooth that paper into place, then use more push pins to hold it to the ceiling, climb down, move the ladder, climb back up, unbook one or two of the accordion folds of wallpaper, smooth it into place, tack it to the ceiling, climb off the ladder, move it, and repeat.

Two Months After Hurricane Harvey Things Are Not All Right In Houston

November 8, 2017

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Some of the homeowners effected by this massive storm contacted me shortly afterward, seeking help with insurance quotes, repairs, etc. But now that more weeks have passed, I am getting a second wave of calls.

Some are from people whose homes are finally getting put back together. Some are from people who are half-way through initial repairs. Many more are not yet back in their homes, or who are living (“camping out” is a more appropriate term) in what is a shell of what was once their former home (read below). And there are countless families whose homes are just now coming out of the water, or that are still not yet approachable, or that have been underwater for so long that they are unlivable – meaning, totally destroyed, not salvageable, mold-infested, insurance won’t pay to fix it, you can’t sell it because no one will buy it, you can’t fix it yourself because you don’t have time because you have to go to work and you don’t have the money because insurance won’t cover it, and your brother has been very kind to let you stay in his home for two months, but it’s wearing thin because they want their privacy back and you want to be back in your own home … but it’s unlivable.

I visited two clients today who were effected by the flood. These photos are from a homeowner who lives in a neighborhood that was “intentionally flooded” when officials made the decision to open the reservoirs, which would save many thousands of homes and families, but would knowingly flood the homes of thousands more.

The city has been through this neighborhood THREE TIMES already to pick up debris – more keeps piling up. Most of it is white… drywall, doors, tile, door and window trim,,, and much of it is brown … wooden floors, cabinets, furniture. And books, clothing, artwork, television sets, garage stuff, toys, anything the sewage-tainted water could have touched or wicked its way into.

All the homes look like ghost houses – uncovered windows, empty rooms, lawns scraped to bare earth by the mechanical claws that swooped up their soggy Sheetrock and personal belongings. All the drywall is torn out, the bottom 4′ of it. No flooring, just the cement slab. No doors, no trim, no kitchen, no cabinets, counters, appliances, no toilet. My client and her family were living holed up on the 2nd floor. All they had downstairs on the concrete floor was a folding table with plastic chairs around it, and remnants of an easy-to-fix meal – sandwiches.

All this while trying to maintain a “normal” American life – going to work every day, kids going to school, mowing the lawn, walking the dog, church, groceries, laundry – but there is no washing machine, no hot water heater ….

All while trying to coordinate contractors, selecting tile and wallpaper, find the best deal on major appliances, juggle financing ….

Here is the “new normal” for hundreds of thousands of American families along the Gulf Coast.

Palm Fronds in a Powder Room

November 7, 2017

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Just about everything in this house is expansive white – woodwork, walls, cabinets, appliances, even the floors are a whitewashed light grey. The house was just begging for some color and pattern somewhere …

This palm leaf wallpaper adds a lot of personality to the powder room, yet is understated and easy to live with. With only two colors and a fairly homogeneous pattern, it feels more like a texture than a pattern.

This attractive foliage wallpaper pattern is by Serena & Lily, and is called, simply, palm. The paper was nice to work with, and will stay nice and flat to the walls for decades to come. The house is in West University Place (Houston).

One More Reason to NOT Let Your Handyman (or Contractor) Prep the Walls

November 6, 2017

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Can you see the vertical line dead-center in this photo? That is the ridge in a swipe of wall-smoothing compound that is showing under the wallpaper.

For various reasons, the homeowners elected to have their contractor’s guys smooth the textured walls of this powder room. They didn’t do a bad job. But, well, I would have done better.

The crew did a good enough job smoothing the center areas of the walls. But when it came to corners and edges, and especially around the ceiling light fixture, they left a lot of rough areas. Rough areas mean that the wallpaper won’t have a sound, solid surface to adhere to. And they mean that these rough, irregular spots will show under the wallpaper.

In the case of what you see in the photo above, they must have forgotten to sand the smoothing compound, because the ridge between swipes of their trowel is still there. Depending on how the light hits it, it is not – or is – visible.

Nicely Disguised Kill Point

November 4, 2017

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A kill point is the last corner in a room, and it almost always results in a mis-matched pattern.

Today, if I had followed tradition and cut my final strip in a straight vertical line at the last corner, it would have resulted in a visible line of cut-off palm fronds.

So what I did instead was to use a scissors and razor blade to cut around the green leaves on both the left-hand (original) strip and the right-hand (last) strip.

Because fronds were not cut off abruptly, they melded into one another, nicely obscuring the junction of old and new.

This wallpaper is by Serena & Lily, and is called “Palm.”

Flaw of the Day – Wrinkles

November 3, 2017

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Wrinkles like this popped up in three separate places in a bolt of wallpaper I worked with today, rendering most of the bolt unusable.

Luckily, I was able to cut around the defects and still get a full strip out of the bolt. And I usually have people order a little extra, so we did have enough paper to finish the room.

The manufacturer is Serena & Lily.

Killing Mildew

November 2, 2017

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Yeowee … this wall has a lot of issues with torn Sheetrock (the dark brown areas), but more important – the black stuff that you see in the top photo is mildew.  Not good.  Mildew is a living organism, and it can grow and grow.  It’s powdery, and so as it spreads across the wall, it can separate from the wall (delaminate), which means that the wallpaper is at risk of falling off the wall.  Mildew can also travel right through wallpaper, creating a ghost-like shadow of dark – or sometime pink – discoloration.

Mildew is usually caused by moisture.  It’s not clear what caused the problem in this powder room in a 1957 home in the Tanglewood area of Houston.  It could be a leak in the wall (pipe, window, roof, lawn sprinkler outside hitting the wall).  Or it could be that the solid vinyl surface of the previous wallpaper prevented air from getting to the backing, and so that it could not dry out, and then it held dampness against the wall – which created the perfect breeding ground for mildew.

Getting rid of mildew requires a few steps.  First, it must be wiped and scrubbed with chlorine bleach, then rinsed clean.  Once the wall is dry, a coat of a quality stain-blocker is applied.  I like oil-based KILZ Original, but other options include Zinsser’s B-I-N stain blocker.

Once the stain blocker is dry, the wall can be coated in a wallpaper primer.

WILD Color For A Baby Girl’s Room

October 31, 2017

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No wimpy pastel pink for this soon-to-be-with-us baby girl … Her parents chose something wild and BOLD!

Both the scale and color of this bright wallpaper fill the wall with an eye-stopping blast of color and movement. Right now the remaining three walls are “vanilla.” But the homeowners will soon paint those three walls a coordinating color – either a baby blue or a soft aqua, either color to be drawn from the accent colors in the wallpaper.

This wallpaper was prepasted, and was easy to hang. However, as with other products I’ve hung by this company, there were issues with the seams that I was not happy with.

The seams were not cut perfectly straight, so we ended up with what we call “gaps and overlaps.” In addition, some of the factory-cut edges left a tiny bit of the white selvedge on the edge. This meant that when one strip butted against the next strip of wallpaper, that tiny bit of white would show. Even if it’s “only” 1/32″ of an inch, it shows.

The misprinting went further than that. As you can see in the photo, some of the pattern matched perfectly at the top of the wall, but fell into a mis-match as we got further down the wall. To minimize this, I was able to use craft paint (kept in my truck) to cover up some of the gaps at the seams, and to disguise some of the pattern mismatches.

This wallpaper came in the form of a 6-panel mural, which has a less repetitive pattern than a standard wallpaper pattern. In the top photo, three of those panels are rolled up and waiting to be pasted and then taken to the wall.

The mural was bought from AneWall, an on-line company. I hung it on one accent wall of a nursery in the north Heights (Heights) neighborhood of Timber Grove.

Good Reasons NOT To Let The Handyman Hang Your Wallpaper

October 30, 2017

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“He was good at everything else he did,” said the homeowner. “Painting, drywall, and everything else. He just had never encountered un-prepasted wallpaper before.”

Pre-pasted or hand-pasted material has little to do with it … this poor fellow’s skillset didn’t cover basics like matching the pattern, wrapping corners, butting seams, trimming neatly along the edges, patching over a mistake, removing the old wallpaper, properly prepping the walls, or using an appropriate adhesive (he made a mad dash to a local box store… Sherwin-Williams or Southwestern Paint would have been better).

He also failed to remove the existing wallpaper. I am sure that that paper could have been stripped off, with proper knowledge and a little time. Then the walls should have been primed – another step he skipped.

In addition, there is a gummy residue that feels something like rubber cement left along the top of the tile. This will be pretty difficult to remove, and any product that can dissolve it will probably stain the wallpaper.

And this rubbery-feeling gunk makes me fear that this wallpaper will be very difficult to get off the wall. There are some versions of “wallpaper primer” that result in a tacky surface that is great for grabbing ahold of wallpaper – but NOT for letting it go when it’s time to change décor.

The bottom line for these homeowners…. They paid this guy to put up their wallpaper, and will now have to pay me to fight to get it off the wall, fix any damage to the wall surface, subjugate the problematic adhesive residue, re-prep and reprime the wall, and then rehang the new paper.