Mountain Mural for a Mountain Climber

October 6, 2018


This homeowner is a mountain climber, and goes every chance he gets. He wanted to bring a little of his passion into his home, and this rear wall of his closet was the lucky spot.

A lot of the mountains and sky were cut off where the cabinets hit the wall, but you see enough of the photo to feel like you are there!

The mural is by MuralsYourWay.com (who happen to be fellow members of the Wallcovering Installers Association). It was custom-sized to fit the wall (allowing a 2″ “bleed” all around each side). It came on a heavy vinyl material with a canvas backing, and was pretty thick. That made it a little difficult to trim.

There was one seam, and that was double-cut (overlapped 2″ and then spliced). Since the material was so thick, and with the fabric backing having threads that got caught up in the seam, it was somewhat difficult to cut – I used a new single edged razor blade and had to press really hard to get through both layers. I used a thin polystyrene plastic strip to pad and protect the wall under the cut, so the drywall would not be damaged (cut drywall can delaminate and result in a popped seam.

I also used blue plastic tape on the edge of the overlapped piece, to prevent paste from getting on the face of the mural.

The wide strip on the left would have been unwieldy trying to fit around the upper and lower cabinets, and the material was prone to creasing. So, I split the strip in half vertically, so the first half went to just an inch past the cabinets. This was much easier to manipulate, and put less stress (potential damage) on the paper, plus it kept paste off the cabinets. Then I was able to easily position the short piece that went in between the upper and lower cabinets.

This is a new construction home in the Tanglewood area of Houston. I was lucky enough to work all by myself, with no other construction workers in the house. No noise, no distractions = happy.

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Acquario Fish Swimming Through a West Houston Powder Room

October 5, 2018

I hung this paper for this client in her previous home in Spring Branch (Houston). Two years later, the family is moving to a new construction home in the Briar Park neighborhood, and she wants the same pattern in her new, larger, powder room.

In a house where practically everything else is all white, it’s an unexpected jolt of fun when you open the door to the powder room and are hit with – not just bold color, but these cheeky fish swimming in both directions across the walls.

This pattern is called “Acquario,” and is by the British company Cole & Son, in their Fornasetti line. I’ve hung it several times, in a couple of different colors. It is printed on a non-woven backing, and is intended to be hung using the paste-the-wall method. I find the paste-the-paper method to be superior.

For one thing, the paper expands when it gets wet with the paste. (Non-wovens are not supposed to do this.) It’s best to let the paper absorb moisture and expand while on your work table (instead of on the wall), as this will help prevent “pouched” seams on the wall.

Also, pasting the paper makes it more soft and pliable, which makes it easier to manipulate into position of the walls.

Cute Paris Theme for Little Girls’ Shared Bathroom

October 4, 2018


Most everything in this new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is sleek and white. The homeowner wanted to add just a little pizazz to the hall bathroom shared by her two young daughters.

This Paris-themed design, with its pencil-thin lines and three-color palette is just perfect! I love the way the line drawing effect reiterates the lines in the shower’s subway tile. Charcoal grey, white, and just a touch of red are enough to brighten the room, without overwhelming the serene white color scheme. And it’s a fun design to look at. I mean, who wouldn’t love Paris – especially a Paris with a Ferris wheel?

The wallpaper is by York Wall, in their Sure Strip line, and is a pre-pasted product on a thin non-woven backing. It is designed to strip off the wall easily with no damage when it’s time to redecorate. In the meantime, it is thin and hugs the wall tightly, and the seams are practicably invisible. This brand is very reasonably-priced.

The interior designer for this project is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. Stacie specializes in helping choose floor plans, finishes (flooring, countertops, paint colors), fixtures (faucets, lights, knobs), appliances, in new home construction and in remodel projects. Her look is fresh and clean, but very livable for modern families. She is a delight to work with.

From Bold and Dashing to Soft and Pretty

October 2, 2018


The homeowner loved the “Longwood” pattern originally in her powder room (see a snippet of it in the second photo), but, after going through the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, she worried that putting the same paper in her renovated bathroom would remind her of the horrible storm. So she decided to tame things down a little, and went with this “Augustine” pattern by the same company.

She chose this muted colorway (it’s a tad brighter in person than in my photos) partly because the greens in the paper melded nicely with her marble countertop, and also because the blues looked great with her blue ceiling (which was chosen to go with the original Longwood design).

The contractors did a reasonably good job prepping the walls. However, they painted over the old wallpaper, which is not a good idea. They also didn’t bother to remove the mirror or light sconces when they applied their smoothing compound, and you can see remnants of white gunk under the oval where the mirror hung and by peeking behind the light fixture. These were small things, but it took me two hours to smooth over these areas, get to dry, sand, and then prime.

The new Augustine humming bird pattern is one of my all-time favorites. It’s a very old, historic design. I love the design, and the paper is wonderful to work with. It is pre-pasted, so goes up more quickly than papers that have to be pasted by hand. It is easy to manipulate around turns, it doesn’t tear easily, it is thin and hugs the wall tightly, it dries quickly, and it has a lovely “raised ink” texture.

This paper is by Thibaut, and 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.

The home is in the Memorial-Dairy Ashford / Energy Corridor area of Houston.

Wallpaper Gets Exposure in Magazines

October 1, 2018


Thank you again, Better Homes & Gardens, for featuring wallpaper in your magazine.

The first photo is a powder room done in “Nuvolette,” a rolling cloud pattern in the Fornasetti line by the British company Cole & Son.

Next is a hand-painted scenic mural, and think the brand was Gracie, although there are a few other companies that make similar. These are very high-end products, and this homeowner saved mega bucks by having just a few panels made, and then framing them and hanging as artwork (as opposed to papering the entire room with the mural).

Third photo is a popular foresty pattern by Hygge & West. They have delightful designs, but I am not crazy about their papers, because the seams tend to “pouch” just a little. Do a Search here to read more (upper right corner).

In the last photo, you see just a little wallpaper in the background.

More Pics of the Shaded Faux Grasscloth

September 28, 2018


Addendum to my post yesterday … here are clearer pictures of the shading / paneling with this faux grasscloth product.

In the top photo, you can see the color difference between the right side of one strip and the left side of the other.

The second photo is shot from an angle, and it unjustly exaggerates the issue. Seen straight-on, these two strips are pleasing and look pretty much the same color. But from an angle, there is a very distinct difference between the two strips. At first, I thought it was due to some variance with the strings, which are superimposed onto the surface of the wallpaper. But the strings have nothing to do with it. The effect is weird because the strips were both taken sequentially from the same bolt, and are hung running in the same direction.

The look is similar to what you would expect from real grasscloth – the beauty inherent to natural fibers and materials taken from nature.

It’s weird, and it’s unexplainable. And it’s disappointing because I recommend this product over real grasscloth, because of its uniformity (read yesterday’s post). Yet these photos prove that this product is not uniform. For the record, I have had this shading problem with this darker brown color, but not with the lighter tan color. Warts and all, it’s still a more pleasing product than real grasscloth. IMO.

My best advice: Look at your wallpaper straight-on, not from an angle.

A Really Nice Textured Faux Grasscloth

September 27, 2018


I’m not a fan of grasscloth (read the page to the right), but there are wonderful alternatives – this product is about my favorite. The layers of string on the surface provide the texture that is so popular today, while the printed pattern mimics real grasscloth. Because the design is printed, it can be matched from strip to strip, so you don’t see the abrupt breaks between panels as you do with real grasscloth. It also has a bit of a protective coating, so it is more durable than the real stuff, too.

My only complaint is that this darker colorway tends to have some shading / paneling issues. In the fourth photo, you can see that the strip on the left is darker than the strip on the right. This happened on every strip, every bolt of paper, and some were worse than others; I had to discard two strips because of this. Interestingly enough, I have hung the lighter tan version of this material and did not have the shading issues.

I hung this in the hall bathroom of a home in the Meyerland area of Houston, that had been damaged by the flood from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The house is a veritable temple to Mid-Century Modern, and the homeowner wanted the wallpaper to be era-appropriate to the style of the home.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and is in the Grass Effects book. 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.

Wall Sealing Whoops

September 26, 2018


Today I prepped a room where the drywall had been badly torn when the old wallpaper was stripped off. This happened because the original installer hung the wallpaper directly on the drywall, with no coat of paint or primer to protect the drywall.

Before I could smooth the wall surface, I had to seal the torn drywall, because moisture on the torn areas would cause the brown paper to bubble. I rolled on a heavy coat of Gardz, a water-thin, penetrating product that is designed to soak into the porous material, bind everything together, and dry hard. It is supposed to dry inpenetrable by water.

Once it was dry, I skimmed over it with joint compound (which will be sanded smooth later).

As you can see, the Gardz failed to do as claimed, and it allowed moisture from my smoothing compound to seep through it and enter the torn paper of the drywall, which then expanded and bubbled. I’ve got a big mess on my hands!

Tomorrow, when everything is dry, I will sand smooth. Usually bubbles like this dry out and then sand flat. But the large loose areas have me a little worried. They may still be loose and bubbled, and they may swell again when the wall is given its final coat of Gardz.

I may end up having to cut out some loose areas, refloat, and reprime.

Not good, because this could add a full day to this job, and because there could potentially still be unstable areas under the surface. Never good to have an unsecure surface under your wallpaper.

Historic Wallpaper in 1883 Byers-Evans House in Denver

September 25, 2018


Before the 2018 Wallcovering Installers Association annual convention started in Denver last week, I took a few extra days to see the mountains and city. I toured this 100+ year old home and, of course, grooved on the wallpaper. The papers in the first two rooms are reproductions, made from scraps of the original paper that were uncovered during renovations, and then meticulously recreated. The ceiling paper is similar to designs made by Bradbury & Bradbury today (popular with owners of Victorian or Edwardian properties, such as in Galveston).

The brown paper is the real deal – authentic paper from a 1912 renovation to the property.

Cozy Accent Wall in a Master Bedroom in the Houston Heights

September 23, 2018


This small, two-color Moroccan lantern style wallpaper pattern is snugging up an accent wall in a master bedroom of an expanded and renovated home in the Heights neighborhood of Houston. Because the design is small and tight, it works as a background, rather than making a statement of its own. Once the new headboard arrives, the bed and bedding will take center stage.

The four windows, along with an unlevel ceiling line and unplumb windows and west wall, combined to create an installation challenge. It’s too complicated for me to explain, but I like to say, “It’s easy for you to look at this wall, but it was darned tricky for me to hang it!”

It was a somewhat thick non-woven material, and was intended to be hung using the paste-the-wall method – but I find the product much easier to work with when the paper itself is pasted. The pattern match was spot-on, and the seams were invisible.

The interior designer for this project was Stacie Cokinos. She does a lot of work with clients who are remodeling older homes, or who are building from the ground up. It’s great to have a designer on board from the beginning, to help choose fixtures, moldings, colors, flooring, appliances, etc. Stacie is one of my favorite designers to work for, too, because she is sharp, knowledgeable, organized, and on time. And her interiors are gorgeous, yet well suited for busy modern families.