Sassy, Shimmery Update On A Classic Damask

June 14, 2018


Here’s a fun twist on a classic pattern for an under-the-stairs powder room in the Rice Military / Camp Logan neighborhood of Houston. A damask is a well-loved, traditional design. But this navy blue color, along with the very shiny silver Mylar material, bring it into the Modern Age.

This was a non-woven material, and the instructions said you could install it using either the paste-the-paper or paste-the-wall method. I chose to paste the paper, because it makes the material more pliable. It was also nice that the sink / vanity was not in the room yet, so it was much easier to cover that wall, and eliminated the chance of creasing or scratching the delicate Mylar surface.

The material did expand in width a bit (1/4″), which is unusual for a non-woven. One of the selling points of these newish substrates is that they are supposed to be dimensionally stable and are not supposed to absorb moisture from the paste. Pasting the material gave it a chance to expand before I got it to the wall, which is good. If I had instead pasted the wall and hung the dry paper onto the pasted wall, it might have expanded and caused pouched or overlapped seams.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, a British company, 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.

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Air Bubbles from Latex Paint

June 13, 2018

The walls had a light texture covered with latex paint, so I skim floated over the walls to smooth them. When the wet smoothing compound got onto the wall, the latex paint absorbed moisture, expanded, and created these bubbles. It’s called “off gassing.”

After the mud dried and was sanded, most of the bubbles disappeared, but some rings were still visible. When I primed with Gardz, a water-borne penetrating sealer, many of the bubbles raised their heads again.

I will have to see if they dry flat over night, or if I will have to use my putty knife to knock them off in the morning. I don’t want bumps showing under the new wallpaper!

Disguising the Kill Point

June 13, 2018

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Digital ImageI hung this beautiful tan peacock pattern on a pearlized background in a powder room in the Clear Lake / Seabrook area of Houston. The “kill point” is the last corner in a room, and you will virtually always have a pattern mis-match at that point, so I plan the layout so that falls in an inconspicuous place. Usually, that’s a door that is set close to a corner.

But in this powder room, all four corners were very visible. I didn’t want to end in one of those corners, because that would result in a half a peacock butting up against a cut-off tree branch, for the entire 8′ height of the wall.

So I put the kill point over the door, where the strip was only 10″ high. A 10″ mis-match is better than an 8′ mis-match, but I still didn’t want to end up with a chopped up peacock. So I fiddled around a little, played with the pattern, overlapped two pieces (with wax paper protecting them from paste), and spliced the two pieces together, using a curved cut instead of a straight cut, so I could cut around the tree branches and leaves, instead of cutting them off abruptly.

You can see that the pattern motif repeats itself, but that is not too noticeable, in the grand scheme of things, and looks way better than the alternative.

Interestingly, I did a similar trick earlier in the week with another kind of paper, and the technique was entirely different. The other paper was thin and could be overlapped and have appliqués applied to it. This paper, a thick non-woven with a textured surface, could not be overlapped, so a splice was the best route.

This wallpaper is by Ronald Redding for York Wallcoverings, and was sold by Ethan Allen’s Friendswood (Baybrook) location. Betcha didn’t know they had (free!) design services, did you?

Flaw of the Day – Red Splashes, Blue Dots, and Banged Edges

June 13, 2018

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Digital ImageThe red ink (how do you get red ink on a paper that has only tan on a white background??!) ruined an 8′ drop of wallpaper. In addition, I found a number of little blue dots (hard to see, in Photo #2) throughout the rolls, which rendered a good number of feet of paper unusable.

And, my never-ending rant – banged edges (also hard to see, in Photo #3). On some strips, I could trim off the damaged edges. But on others, I had to throw away a lot of paper, until I got edges that were unblemished. Why can’t they just put a little bubble wrap in the bottom of the box, before turning it over to the “careful” guys on those delivery trucks?!

Visible Seam on a Non-Woven Paper

June 12, 2018

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Digital ImageWallpaper manufacturers are printing more and more patterns on non-woven substrates, a somewhat puffy and tear-resistant material. These papers generally don’t expand when they get wet with paste, and don’t shrink. Another feature is that they can supposedly be stripped off the wall easily, in one piece, simply by pulling.

When I put up the first strips in this powder room, I marveled at how nicely the paper went up, and how totally invisible the seams were.

Then, as the paper dried, I noticed fine lines showing at some of the seams. That means that the paper probably did shrink a little, and because it’s a dark color, the color of the backing shows up. This is disappointing. The client didn’t seem to notice, so (so far) all is good.

This is a Kenneth James design, #FD54432

Colorful Mural for a Little Girl’s “Big Girl” Room

June 12, 2018
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This little girl is about to have a new baby sibling, so she is moving out of the nursery and into her “big girl room.” This large, colorful floral pattern was printed as a 4-panel mural, rather than traditional wallpaper on a roll. The 3rd photo shows one set rolled out on the floor, so I can check the panel placement, make sure the left side will match up to the right side of the next set, and determine how much to cut off of which end (the mural is 9′ high and the walls are 7 1/2′ high).

It took two sets to get from the right wall to the window, but then the mom had to buy a whole ‘nother set, just to do the part above and below the window, and a 5″ wide strip down the left side of the window.

This pattern is by Lulu & Georgia, and is made by Sure Strip. It is a pre-pasted product, and was a delight to work with. In addition, it is designed to strip off the wall easily, once the young lady outgrows her “big girl’s room.”

Wallpaper on a Window Valance

June 12, 2018


I hung a beautiful grasscloth in the West U. living room of this empty-nester couple a month ago. They were putting the room back together, including hanging the curtains. This window valance had been covered with padded fabric which matched the drapes. Since the drapes are being changed, the valance no longer worked. The couple thought that the valance would look better covered in the same material as the walls.

So … I brought the valance home, along with some left over wallpaper scraps, and covered it.

The photo is deceptive – the thing is about 7′-8′ long. At first I thought I could take it to work with me and do it while I was waiting for primer to dry, for instance. But it’s way too big and loppy to haul into someone else’s home and, would, of course, take more time than anticipated.

So it sat in my garage for a couple of weeks, until I finally found a spare moment (three hours, actually) to pull out my tools, set up my table, get out the measuring tape, and slap some paste on that puppy.

The homeowner had removed the upholstery and the padding, and hammered the staples down as flat as possible. Then I sealed the wood with oil-based KILZ Original stain blocker, to prevent any wood sap from bleeding through the wallpaper. Since wallpaper paste won’t stick to most oil-based products I followed that with a coat of wallpaper primer (Ultra Prime, Pro 977 by Roman’s). On the driveway under the June Houston sun, that didn’t take long to dry. 🙂

Then some careful measuring to get panels of equal width, pasting, and applying the grasscloth to the wooden frame. I used a special “super glue for wallpaper” (clear silicone caulk 🙂 ) for the edges, to be sure the grasscloth would be able to grip on to the uneven and rough wooden surfaces.

I was pleased with the way it turned out. And I know the homeowners will be happy to get the valance up on the wall, their curtains up, and their room put back together and ready to enjoy.

Wallpaper in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, June 2018

June 10, 2018

Here’s a beautiful backdrop to a sofa, an accent wall in a living room.

Gentle Texture, Soft Color on a Home Office Ceiliing

June 10, 2018


Here is the home office of interior designer Layne Torsch, of Layne Torsch Interiors, in the Highland Village neighborhood of Houston. Her look is serene and simple, but livable for today’s busy families.

The walls and furnishings in this room are plain and clean, but the addition of light texture and color on the ceiling warms things up. The material is called “Bankun Raffia,” and is by Thibaut Designs. It is a scrim (woven fabric) backed solid vinyl product that is embossed with a texture that resembles woven grasscloth. It has a two-toned color.

Read my “Grasscloth Info Pack” to the right, and you will learn that I am not fond of real grasscloth, because of the color variations. But this is one of my favorite faux grasscloth products, because of the uniformity of color and because of the water-resistance and durability of the material.

A Taste of Africa

June 9, 2018
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The father in this family is from Africa, and they had a lot of African crafts and artwork in the home. They have lived in several large European cities, and have come back to Houston to settle down. The mom wants to freshen and update the house. This faux crocodile print goes nicely with the artwork in the home.

The wallpaper is by Designers Guild, and is on a non-woven substrate and is a paste-the-wall product. It went on one wall in the living room.

Interestingly, the homeowner had me put the same pattern in a guest bedroom, but in a soft teal color. But that room has mirrored end tables, mercury glass lamps, frilly bedclothes, and a clear Lucite chair topped with an eye-catching furry pillow. In a glitzy, gutsy, feminine sort of way, it is stunning! (Sorry, no photos 😦 ) Same paper, but the look is completely different.