Pretty , Airy Humming Birds on Breakfast Nook Walls

January 22, 2023
Before. Note that those vertical lines on the wall are cast by the macrame light fixture. You also see bench seating with storage underneath . There will be a wall-mounted table in the center . The wainscoting / chair rail is high enough to keep any food splashes or sticky fingers from staining the wallpaper .
Finished .

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

Revisiting Arts & Crafts Install in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Note: The camera has altered the colors here a bit … the blue is actually a lot more toned-down and murky . I hung this back in 2020. This bungalow in the Houston Heights / Woodland Heights is very Arts & Crafts in style … that’s a decorating theme that was popular back around the turn of the last century .
The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury , who specializes in recreating the feel of by-gone wallcoverings , especially from the periods of Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age , and more.
The color is a little more true here. A wide wallpaper border like this is called a frieze , and was poplar in Craftsman styled homes back about the turn of the last century .

Bright Botanical for Home Office Accent Wall

January 20, 2023
The windows look out into a green yard,
so the verdant , playful design frames the view perfectly.
The bull-nosed edges on the sides and top of the windows are really tricky to wrap wallpaper around, BTW.
Skim-floating / skim-coating the textured wall to smooth it, along with the puffy wallpaper, added enough thickness to the wall that the blinds on the right would not fit into their brackets. A window covering company can easily trim those down.
Arrrgh! Moving from left to right, the last strip ended up 1/2″ from the corner. That meant that I had to cut a narrow strip and work it into place. Trickier than it sounds.
Note that this required an entire 10′ long strip, to get that 1/2″ wide piece. Always order a little extra!
el like I’m stepping back into the ’70’s !
This ” House Plants ” design is buy MissPrint , a British company. It’s on a non-woven / paste the wall substrate , which is more durable and stain-resistant than traditional papers. And it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate .
The home is in the Eastwood neighborhood of Houston .
install installer

Yes, I’m A Little Obsessed

January 19, 2023
Re previous post … This accent wall is in the butler’s pantry , and ends at the corner that turns into the main kitchen area. Since this corner was visible from the great room / family room , I plotted the lay-out so the full motif would fall at that corner . In other words, I butted the right edge of the wallpaper up against the corner of that wall . This left a vertical gold line running the height of the wall. A good stopping point for the eye. Just perfect!
But … the paper came with a teeny bit of black next to that gold line. So there was about 1/16″ of black showing to the right of that vertical gold line. (Sorry, no pic) I thought it was so minor that it wouldn’t be a big deal. But, once that strip got up on the wall, I thought that black edge caught your eye . It bugged the heck out of me!
So I took straightedge and razor blade and trimmed off that miniscule bit of black.
No we have a crisp gold line against the corner.
As the wallpaper hung from right to left, at the final corner, naturally, the pattern didn’t fall exactly along one of the vertical gold lines. For one thing, walls are always wonky . Also, that last section of black trapezoids were less than their full width. But only by about a half an inch. I had measured ahead of time and knew this, and I felt 1/2″ shorter box wouldn’t bother anybody.
But I did think I could make that left edge look crisper , and also wanted it to match the edge on the right side of the wall.
So I took a bit of scrap wallpaper (like what you see lying on the floor on the left), and again my straightedge and razor blade, and trimmed off one of those gold lines. This is about 1/8″ wide .
Next, I pasted it over that left edge, as seen in the photo.
Here is the left edge finished. Nice and sharp , and more ” finished ” than just a black box ending at the wall. Speaking of black blocks … those on the far left are a bit narrower than the ones on the rest of the strips. But, seriously – who cares, and who notices?? What you do notice is the gold strip neatly trimming off the wall corner .
This geometric pattern is in the Jaclyn Smith line by Trend Fabrics . It’s a nice non-woven , paste the wall material , and is durable and stain-resistant . Also, it will strip off the wall easily and with little / no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate .
The install was in a home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .

Gold Geometric on Black Accent Wall in Kitchen Area

January 18, 2023
” Floating ” accent wall between kitchen and dining room . The homeowners originally considered a mural for this area . But with help from the wallpaper sales guy, they landed on this.
Both husband and wife love this. The black color plays beautifully off the black cabinets in the kitchen , butler’s pantry , and mud room . The gold geometric lines keep everything lively .
The specs say this is is a 25″ pattern repeat. But from looking at it, you’d think it was much shorter … the narrow lines match up with the narrow lines, and the fat sections line up with fat sections. Maybe 4″ repeat. But – not. I’ve hung this before, so I was already aware that those lines and sections are not all the same distance apart. It’s essential that you lay your strips next to each other and make sure you’ve got the pattern match correct. Because if not, you could end up with tiny 1/8″ mis-matches across the seams between some of those gold lines .
This is a Jaclyn Smith design by Trend . It’s a paste-the-wall / non-woven material , and is strong and durable , and resistant to stains and tears . Flexible and easy to install . Will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate .
It has a raised ink / lightly textured surface .
The wallpaper was purchased from Calico / Calico Corners on W. Alabama in Houston , with the expert knowledge and interior design assistance of Ron Dillon , whom I’ve known for about 25 years .
The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

More Peel & Stick Hate

January 17, 2023
so-called peel and stick wallpaper is not nearly what the vendors’ websites make it out to be. It is neither easy to install , nor easy to remove . Nor does it hold up very long. I won’t hang it, neither will most of my colleagues across the country. Even our British counterparts have asked us to not let it slip across the pond!
I won’t work with it, but one of the clients I visited yesterday did attempt to DIY try it on her own, with quite unsatisfactory results. She was kind enough to let me take photos .
Here you can easily see wrinkles next to the door molding .
gap at seam over door, warps along side door.
hard to see, but there are large wrinkles. Plus notice on the right, paper is not adhering to the wall.
seams shrink and gap.
P&S material is not even trying to adhere to the wall.

A lot of these failures are due to the homeowners’ lack of knowledge and experience with peel & stick , and with wallpaper in general. For instance, the textured walls should have been smoothed / skim-coated / skim-floated before applying the material . Wallpaper wants to adhere to a smooth surface – not to the “highs and lows” of a textured wall .
Next, most P&S instructions call for application on a semi-gloss paint , which needs to cure for 6-8 weeks.
Also, read the fine print, and you’ll learn that P&S is meant as a temporary wallpaper …. you can plan on it starting to fail in less than a year. That’s where you get the failure to stick to the wall , and shrinking at the seams . Of course, here you can see that that happened within a few weeks / days.
In this case, the material will be easily removable from the wall. But in most cases, if you’ve installed it on a smooth , primed wall, well, when stripped off, it will take the paint along with it. Leaving you with a nasty , pock-marked mess to have to repair. Click the link to my page on the right, about why to stay away from P&S.

Homeowner Lets Me Know Which Wall To Paper

January 15, 2023
My client wasn’t home when I got there, so she made sure I put wallpaper on the right wall.
Furniture was moved 3′ away from the wall, box of rolled goods was leaning against the wall, and the yellow sticky note – no question of where the decorating is to happen!

Mum Flowers in Heights Entry

January 14, 2023
Painted walls in this new-build in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston have been primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer .
Done
Just the area above the wainscoting / chair rail was papered .
Obstacles to trim around included six doors – with a total of TWELVE corners of decorative molding to trim around. In addition, there were EIGHT terminations of wood ceiling beams , also with uneven edges , to trim around.
Absolutely NO information came with the wallpaper . No run number , no installation instructions , no nuttin’. Confoundingly, the company’s website was malfunctioning, and pop-ups prevented me from getting information , or even from seeing what the pattern looked like on a large wall .
So here I am rolling the paper out on the floor , to get a scope of the pattern and layout .
Note the unprinted selvedge edge , which I’ll have to trim off using a straightedge and a razor blade. See previous posts (do a Search) to learn more about this.
The pattern is called Kanoko and the manufacturer is Relativity Textiles . This material was VERY difficult to work with. More about that in a future post.

Whimsical Arabian Nights Dance in Powder Room

January 13, 2023
You’ve got to look at this close-up, to notice the antelope and flames / foliage .
You gotta make a decision … The light sconces (they are currently removed, but you can see the electrical boxes where they will be placed) were centered on the vanity top, but the faucet was off-center by about an inch. So I chose to center / balance the pattern on the sconces and countertop. The mirror will be hung between the two light fixtures, so we’ll end up with a pleasing, balanced look. The faucet isn’t exactly in the middle of the design motif, but no biggie – there’s going to be a mirror there, anyway.

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Corner going around shower. Note the window looking into the shower.
Although the website specs said this is a pre-trimmed non-woven material , that was incorrect. Turns out it had an unprinted selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand . Here I’m using my straightedge and razor blade to remove this selvedge. This takes precision and a LOT of time .
The manufacturer usually provides trim guides to help you know where to cut. But it’s usually better to trim to the pattern – determine an element in the design motif that will meet up with the corresponding motif on the opposite side of the strip when the strips are hung on the wall, and use that as your guide . Be sure to trim off the trim guide marks, or they will show on the wall.
The pattern is called Arabian Nights and is by Relativity Textiles . I’ve never worked with this brand before. I was not pleased . In addition to the incorrect information about the pre-trimmed paper , the mfgr’s specs said this was printed on a non-woven substrate . It was not. It wasn’t even printed on standard wallpaper stock . Instead, it was a pulp material – This is a sort of old-fashioned wallpaper , and is very brittle and prone to tearing and dragging (your trimming knife or razor blade will get snagged and you’ll end up with a ” chewed ” jagged cut, instead of a crisp cut . It also tears easily. It also has no coating, so it’s not stain-resistant … Not good in a busy household with a 3-year old toddler , or anyone splashing water or soap or air freshener .
It was also difficult to hang . Applying wet paste to the backing causes the substrate to absorb moisture and expand at a different rate from the ink on the surface. So you end up with wrinkles , waffling , and quilting .
Sponging a light bit of water on the front before pasting helps even out the moisture differential and ease installation . I’ve never before encountered a pulp that had this type of ink on the surface. One clue for this bad stuff is when you open the package and it smells like moth balls . Once I figured out how to work with it, , it went OK – although tedious . The seams did look very nice.
BUT … all this effort would have been unnecessary and the finished room would be more durable if the mfgr had printed on a non-woven substrate (as their on-line specs stated) and had used standard inks instead of this weird , smelly , high-end stuff. In fact, the material would have cost the homeowners a whole lot less $ if it had been normal ink on a non-woven backing .
The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
installer