Hiring a Pro – Worth It? a.k.a. Fake News

April 13, 2018

Here’s a stupid piece of unreasearched and incorrect “advice” found on purewow.com. The article is about home services that are worth paying for, and some that are not.

Quote: “Obsessed with the temporary kind—like this rose-petal pattern from Anthropologie—but worried you’ll botch the project? Don’t be. With the right tools (read: a quality measuring tape and heavy books to flatten out any paper curls), you’ve got this. Just block off a few hours in the afternoon.”

Just about every word is wrong. First, that paper by Anthropologie is not “temporary,” but rather “easily removable.” Second, if you want to tackle hanging wallpaper, you’re going to need a heck of a lot more tools than a tape measure. Like about $100’s worth. Not to mention primer, paste, etc. Third, “heavy books to flatten out curls” ?! No comment needed. Next, if I can’t hang a room in “a few hours,” how would a novice manage to? Last, by the condition of the un-smooth and un-primed wall they are planning to put the paper on, you can tell they are not concerned about how the finished job looks.



Cork Wallpaper Living Room Revisited

April 11, 2018

I hung this wallpaper a few months ago, and am back to do another room. I couldn’t resist peeking in the living room to see how it looked furnished.

While I’d like to say that the wallpaper makes the room, really – that SOFA rocks the place! And the lamps. These homeowners have taken their time pulling their home together, and they’ve been rewarded with a unique and stunning décor.

The wallpaper is by Thibaut, and is silver cork embellished with a white damask pattern. The bottom of the room is covered with dark brown cork wallpaper. Both were sold by Dorota (see Where To Buy Wallpaper link to the right of this page).

Metallic Ink Causing Curled Seams – Revisited

April 10, 2018

A year and a half ago I hung this wallpaper in a powder room. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/10/02/9056/ I complained then about how the metallic ink caused the seams to curl, just a tad, everywhere the ink crossed a seam. I was hoping that once the paper was good and dry, the seams would lie down flat.

Well, I was back at the home today because it was on the Heights Home Tour. I was disappointed to see that the ink was still curled at the seams. With the way the sconces threw light on it, I thought it was very noticeable.

Of course, everyone else was looking at the beautiful pattern and the lovely room. Still, I wish Schumacher (and all manufacturers) would pay more attention to how their products perform in people’s homes.

Gracie Wallpaper Mural in Victoria Magazine

April 8, 2018

Sorry, this is a really, really bad picture, I know. It’s a shot of a page in the Spring 2018 issue of Victoria magazine.

But what’s cool is that it shows a really fabulous hand-painted, custom-made, probably silk wallpaper mural, in an equally fabulous and beautifully furnished home full of antiques.

The mural is by Gracie, and took a year to produce. The room has to be measured meticulously, with notes made where very door, window, bump-out, and other elements of the room are located. Then the silk is hand-painted in panels, which are then shipped to the home and reassembled sequentially as they fit around the room. Installation is tedious and exacting, and requires special liners, pastes, techniques, and sometimes even gloves, to prevent hands from touching the delicate paper and inks.

Peek-a-Boo Wallpaper in Southern Living Magazine

April 7, 2018

Here’s some unusual stuff for a none-of-your-friends-will-have-anything-like-this wall treatment. It’s natural material (usually grass-like), and is woven into the design you see in the photo. It’s sort of like mesh or macramé, with open spaces between the strands of grass. That means that the wall shows through.

Pasting the material while keeping the surface clean is tricky; it’s usually done by applying paste onto another, flat surface, then carefully laying the backside of the wallcovering into the paste, carefully lifting it off, and then taking it to the wall. Normal wallpaper smoothing tools won’t work with this stuff, and often patting with your hands is the best way to get it stuck to the wall.

The magazine credits the material to Eden: Weitznerlimited.com

Wild Color for Twin Baby Girls

April 6, 2018

No soft pink ribbons and polka-dots for these two baby girls… This mom wanted a room full of color! This is a mural, so there are no repeating design elements. It came in eight panels. But the wall was narrower than the eight panels, so the homeowner chose to eliminate the right and the left panels. The width of the remaining six panels worked out perfectly with the width of the wall.

The mom wanted this mural to “float” on the wall, so I did some measuring and line-drawing and plotted to move it in from each side and up from the floor by 6.” You can see my white wallpaper primer inside the area where the mural is to go. A 2″ wooden frame will be built around the outside of the mural. That will leave 4″ of painted wall around the whole thing, effectively letting it “float” on the wall. I plotted the height so the wooden frame would line up with the top of the doorway to the right.

In the third photo, I am using the red vertical beam from my laser level as a guild for trimming that right edge 6″ from the end of the wall.

This mural was bought through Anthropologie, and is made by York, in their Sure Strip line. It was prepasted, easy to hang, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

Run Numbers Running Wild – Not Acceptable

April 4, 2018

For this job, the vendor sent FOUR different run numbers, plus two bolts that had no run numbers at all. It all had to be sent back and exchanged for new paper – all in the same run, please!

Run numbers are very important. When wallpaper is printed, each batch is marked with a run number. The next time the manufacturer makes a batch of wallpaper, a new vat of ink will be mixed up, and it will be an ever-so-slightly different shade from that which was used before. So that new batch of wallpaper will be given a new run number.

These color differences are minor – but if they are placed next to each other on a wall, you will have a very noticeable color change from one strip to the next. In the second photo, you can probably see the difference in color between the red flowers, and maybe even the green and brown foliage.

In the third photo, a smaller rectangle of the wallpaper pattern has been placed on top of a larger rectangle. All around the perimeter, you can see a slight color difference between the reds, greens, nad browns.

But it’s important to realize that the background will also be of a slightly different shade.

When two strips of two different runs are placed next to one another on a wall, the shade difference will be obvious in the form of a floor-to-ceiling slight-but-noticeable color difference. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/two-runs-are-not-fun/

It’s possible to work with this, by “breaking” the runs in a corner. But this uses up a lot more paper, and it’s too complicated to explain here.

This wallpaper was bought from an on-line mass-marketer. I like the quality of their products. But they seem to have no clue of how wallpaper works, and the customer service person had no grasp of what a run number was or why it mattered. From a vendor like this, you can pretty much expect that they have a bunch of stock shoved into shelves in the warehouse, and when someone buys some, a worker just goes out and pulls any old rolls from the stack, willy-nilly, with no regard to run number, damaged goods, and may not even check to ensure they are all the same product number – A coupla months ago, I got the same pattern but in two different colorways.

The bottom line is, buy your paper from a reputable source, check the run numbers when the paper arrives, and, if necessary, keep separate runs on separate walls.

The Wallpaper Installers Tour England

April 3, 2018

It’s almost a year later, and it was such an amazing trip, I thought I’d post about it again.

The trip to England was fantastic, in large part due to the organization efforts between WIA members in England, Australia, and the U.S. We flew into Heathrow (London) and then bussed two hours to Oxford. A “luxury” hotel in England is way different from what we expect in the U.S. The rooms are tiny, there are no fluffy white robes, and no air conditioning. No A/C needed – we opened the windows and fell asleep to the sound of cattle bells from the field next door. In fact, we were there during a record “heat wave,” with temps topping at about 75.* I was wearing undershirts and leggings, while all the local gals pulled out their tank tops and skimpy skirts.

The hotel was a short distance from Oxford University, and in the mornings, from the walking trail behind the hotel, I watched the rowing teams out practicing. The town teamed with college students and fresh ideas. The Punk look may be passé in the U.S., but it’s alive and everywhere in England.
Christ Church was on the way to town, and I missed the day’s final tour by walking to the wrong door. By the time I got to the correct door, they had admitted the last visitor – I was, I mean, like, thirty seconds late. I tried to sweet talk the guys at both doors, but no go. No matter. Walking further down the street, I chanced upon a non-descript sign that read “Musical Museum.” I opened the gate, walked down some stairs, and found the entrance. The basement museum was filled very old musical instruments – from beautifully inlaid harpsicords to lyres to lutes to ancient wind instruments. It was a hidden gem I never would have found of I’d gone on the church tour. (On another day I did slip into a beautiful old church, again, too late to climb the famous clock tower, but in time to see preparations for a concert that evening.).

Each morning, we boarded a large bus (same driver, great guy, neck tie and sweater, very proper) and headed out to the day’s destinations. Folks, England is small, and the roads are narrow. You could stick your hand out the window and literally touch the vehicle next to you. City roads are crowded, and country roads are winding, one-lane, and there’s no way for two vehicles to pass.

Everywhere we went, our hosts were warm and generous and very excited to welcome us.

Our first stop was Lewis & Wood, who manufactures 54” wide panel murals. The owner hosted us personally and gave us a talk about the company and its products. We toured the print room got to see the different quality of their several types of digital printing, then got a demonstration of how to hang these wide goods. Yeah – easy for the 6’5” British guy with the wide wing span. Then we were treated to lunch (sandwiches of cheddar and chutney, charcuterie, fruit, local craft beer).

Back on the bus, down those winding country lanes, to Allyson McDermott’s, where we were warmly invited into her home. This is a 1000 year old structure, updated for modern life, but that still retains its old world look. She generously let us crawl all over every inch of the place. The grounds outside were perfectly lovely, including a small lily pond, classic frilly English gardens, foot paths that lead to hidden “secret gardens” (I think I stumbled upon the grave of a beloved pet), open pastures, and cows in the neighboring farmer’s field. Back to wallpaper… over crisps (potato chips) and local craft hard cider, she told about her business restoring and recreating old wallpaper. We’re talking about paper that dates back to the 15th century. Researching and reproducing the pigments and papers that were used back then, printing them in her studio next door using period-correct methods, and then installing in whatever museum or historic home they belonged to. An employee did a demonstration of authentic block printing.

The next morning we toured Anstey Wallpaper Company, which manufacturers many brands (but we were sworn to not tell which ones). We walked through the huge building with scores of roaring printing machines, learned the difference between types of wallpaper printing (gravure, raised-ink, screen, block, and the more recent digital, etc.), and saw their quality control – two guys who sit facing opposite directions and literally inspect every inch of wallpaper as it comes racing off the rollers, watching for imperfections. Again, the owner took time to personally host us, and then fed us lunch (I must say, I’ve developed quite a taste for cheddar and chutney sammies).

In the afternoon we stopped at Bleinheim Palace, constructed over many years in the early 1700’s, and the birthplace of Winston Churchill. We enjoyed high tea in the Indian Room, whose walls are covered with a centuries-old hand painted mural. Our hostess took us on a tour of the palace, and tailored her talk just for us, to focus on the wallcoverings and textiles in the palace. We had enough time to tour the palace chapel, and then the grounds, some of which were immaculately manicured, and some of which were wild and spooky – almost like the Emerald Forest of Oz.

The next morning we drove two hours to London. As we drove past centuries-old buildings, Parliament, Westminster Abby, Big Ben, and crossed the Westminster Bridge, our British WIA member hushed our talk and pointed out the spot where, two months earlier, a terrorist had rammed his car into pedestrians, and where people had jumped off the bridge trying to escape, but perished in the water below. (Our trip also coincided with the Manchester bombing of the concert for young girls.)

Off the bus found us at London’s Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour. We toured the Fromental showroom (hand-painted silk $$$ scenic wall murals), again hosted by the founder and accompanied by snacks. We also toured the Arte Showroom. Then we were free to wander the huge Design Centre, exploring showrooms for brand names both familiar and new. I admit that I’m not big on shopping, and high-end products mean nothing to me, so I was a little lost. But our local WIA member’s wife is an interior designer, and she swooped down and swept me off to some showrooms of companies that I am familiar with – and I even got to practice my French with the folks at Pierre Frey.

After lunch (Jamie’s Italian), we headed into a more gritty part of the city. Our bus parked in front of a 3-story brick building set in little more than a deteriorating alley. It was a walk-up (no elevator) across narrow, creaky metal stairs to the 3rd floor. The building shared several tenants, and one was a catering company. The aroma of Indian curry floated through the entire building. My companions were a little unsettled, but I was loving it – it reminded me of my days in South St. Louis. The top floor was our destination – Meystyle, a company that makes wallcoverings embedded with tiny LED lights. The owner had flown back from a trade show in New York City just to talk with us. We were shown how the electrodes are attached, how gold leaf is hand-ironed to individual sheets of wallcovering, how the product is installed, and more. Each purchase comes complete with electrical adaptors for any country. A nice inclusion, for the $10,000 per panel price tag.

That was followed by cocktails at China Tang, a restaurant whose walls are cloaked in Fromental murals.

The next morning we had a business meeting at the historic Vincent’s Club at Oxford University. This was a little intimidating, because we were told to dress in “business casual” and to show utmost respect for this revered Oxford institution. Turns out I didn’t need the dress and heels … Vincent’s Club is one dimly-lit, unairconditioned, somewhat worn room on the second floor of a building on a side street. It’s respected and loved, but definitely on the casual side. Again, the care taker hosted us personally. We had a few educational presentations, then were visited by some local paperhangers (“decorators,” as they call them in England). It was fun chatting with them and hearing the differences in how we approach the same job. Again, lunch and local brews.

As I mentioned, I was worried that I wouldn’t get a chance to eat in an authentic British pub, nor drink a real Guiness beer. Turns out, just about every restaurant in England is a pub, and Guiness is everywhere. (In the Dublin airport, you can get Guiness T-shirts, board games, and even candy.) The pubs are LOUD, though, and after three days, I just couldn’t take any more of the noise, and couldn’t see the point of sitting at a table with your friends when you couldn’t hear a word anyone was saying. So that night I tossed way more money onto the table than needed to pay my bill, fled the pub, and hoped for a few minutes of quiet. What an opportune decision this turned out to be!

I walked out of the restaurant and down a dark and quiet street. Then I turned a corner – and the streets of London opened before me, a blast of people and activity. An art gallery was open across the street. Always up for a little art, culture, and free vino, I walked in. “What’s going on outside?” I asked. “Is some kind of festival going on?” “No,” she said. “It’s the pubs.” Turns out the pubs are too small to hold the crowds, and you can’t smoke inside, so people spill out onto the sidewalks. There were masses of them. Later I would walk in and out of a few of the pubs, just to get the flavor of the old buildings, dark wood, beer taps, how people interacted, what clothing they wore for an evening out.

Back to the art gallery… I happily took their flute of prosecco, but looked around saw the place was little more than one small room, displaying a sole piece of Pier I quality artwork. Then the girl asked if I wanted to see some art, and motioned for me to follow her downstairs. Down a flight of stairs, make a turn, and a whole gallery revealed itself. The girl took me from piece to piece, explaining each one. I was grateful for her exposé, because, really, on my own I would not have thought much of a bunch of spoons welded together and stuck to the wall.

I left the gallery, made a quick tour of another art venue, did that once-through of a few pubs, checked out architecture, did some people watching, and made it back to the original pub in time to meet my friends and get on the bus for the hotel.

The last night, because of catching an early flight the next morning, and because I didn’t think my ears could stand another evening of raucous high-decibel din, I declined to eat with my friends, and set off to check off the last on my bucket list – an Indian curry house. I walked the streets of Oxford, full of college kids enjoying an evening out. I spotted one Indian restaurant, but had to wait for them to open. When I circled back later, I opened the door to find – nothing. Nothing but a dark set of narrow stairs heading up. I was beginning to understand that this old, old city is short on space, and businesses are shoehorned into any sliver they can find, and that stairways can lead to magical places. So I walked up, and did, indeed, find a cozy restaurant stretched across the long narrow space above the store below. I asked for a seat by the open window, but the guy wouldn’t give it to me. Cheesh, I thought, it’s early, you have no other customers, and I’ll be done and gone before your Friday night crowd comes in. No matter. The service was good, the Riesling a perfect complement, and I got my curry. It was authentic and delicious.

The next morning I got up at 3:00 to catch the bus to Heathrow. I was starting my day at the same time a group of young folk was just ending their night at the clubs. There were two guys and two gals – not coupled, but decidedly flirty. The girls in their short skinny dresses were wobbly on their feet. When the cobblestones became too treacherous for their heels, they flung their shoes to the pavement. One spilled her purse, and everyone fumbled to gather the contents. The women tossed their long hair, and the guys rushed to straighten it. Eyelashes fluttered. Men pranced. They were in a haze of alcohol and amour, oblivious to everything but themselves, and I was the invisible American on a bench, privy to it all. Quite a fun eyeful, for my last glimpse of England.

Making a Door Header Manageable

April 3, 2018

A header is a short strip of wallpaper that is placed over a door or window. These can usually be cut from remnants of paper left after the full-length strips have been cut.

In this case, the strip was going to extend about 3″ to the left of the door frame. This meant I would have to use a full 9′ strip, most of which would be hanging over the door and cut out and thrown away. That’s a lot of waste. It’s also very awkward to work with a narrow strip, because they like to twist off plumb and create a wavy edge that the next strip won’t want to butt up against.

My solution was to cut one short strip for over the door, and another full length strip to place to the left of the door. But I cut both strips vertically along a design element (a tree trunk). That kept me from having a big, unwieldy strip of pasty paper hanging against the door, and made the narrow strip going to the left of the door easier to handle.

Then I took the right side of the full-length strip which I had cut apart vertically (which might have been thrown in the trash), and placed it to the left of the previous strip. I trimmed the header over the door to the left in the same way, butted the previous strip against it, and this kept the pattern undisrupted.

I know this sounds complicated, and it did take some engineering and figuring out. But the bottom line is, I had manageable pieces of paper to work with, I kept the pattern intact, while saving paper by using scraps for the two headers, and by splitting one strip in two vertically and using both sides to cover the area between the two doors.

Narrowing a Strip of Paper Over a Door

April 1, 2018

Here I am working my way along the wall from right to left, and am hanging short wallpaper strips over the door. The strip above the door is 1/4″ wider than the door, so it would continue down the left side of the door – but only about a 1/4″ width of it. It would me a major pain to deal with a strip this narrow – try to keep it straight, try to keep it plumb – not to mention using a full 9′ length of paper just to get this 1/4″ strip….most of it would end up in the trash, a real waste of paper.

In addition, the ceiling is not-level, so the wallpaper design is starting to track off-kilter (a particular motif in the design is not staying at the top of the wall, but is moving downwards).

I wanted to avoid having a skinny 1/4″ strip down the left side of the door, and I wanted to pull the design back up to the top of the wall. My plan was to position a new strip of paper along the left edge of the door molding, placing the design motif at the top of the wall. You can see how this is causing the short piece over the door to buckle, because of the 1/2″ excess paper.

The pattern is matched from this new strip to the short strip over the door. But, because of the un-level ceiling and the design tracking downward, the pattern on the short piece over the door does not match perfectly with the piece to the right of it.

I had a couple of options, but the solution I chose was to cut along one of the tree trunks vertically, slicing the short strip over the door in two. I then slid the right portion of this cut strip down, so the pattern matched the strip to its right. Then I smoothed both cut portions to the wall, overlapping that 1/4″ of excess.

Even though the paper is shimmery, the slight overlap is not noticeable, because it’s high overhead, and also because it follows the line of the tree trunk, which disguises it. See final photo.