Posts Tagged ‘1930’s’

Updating from Decorative Paint to Beautiful Wallpaper

November 18, 2020

The walls in this small entry in a pretty original condition 1935 home in the Montrose / Upper Kirby neighborhood of Houston had been painted by an artist with a wide stripe pattern in deep orange and gold, with a darker wash over the surface. It was probably done in the ’90’s, and was a good look then.

But the new homeowner never loved it. As for me, I think the look is too modern to suit the era and style of the home, and also the colors have a sort of dirty cast to them. After living there several years and focusing on career and raising kids, the homeowners were finally ready to bring a new concept to the entry.

The first photo shows the existing wall finish. The white stuff is my smoothing compound, which I have started to apply over the lightly-but-irregularly textured walls.

The next photo shows the walls sanded smooth, vacuumed and then wiped free of dust, primed with a wallpaper primer, and ready for wallpaper.

In the “after” photos, note that the dark or blotchy areas are simply wet with paste or water, and will disappear as the paper dries.

This is a particularly pretty pattern that suits the room well. There is a slight Chinoiserie / Asian feel to the design. And the grey is a good colorway for this home’s décor. I love the arched moldings that frame the passageways to both the living room and the dining room. Typical adorable 1930’s architecture!

The wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was pretty nice to work with, but did tend to dry out even before the booking time was up, so presented a bit of a challenge in that respect.

In the distant shot, you can make out a sort of hourglass figure in the branches and vines. I plotted the placement so a full “swoop” would display over the doors.

And also so the “hourglass” would play out down the center of the main wall, as shown in the photo. This will look nice as the vines and flowers gently surround the chest of drawers and oval mirror when they are placed back into the room.

Spoonflower – Overlapping Seams

April 5, 2020


Re my previous post … this manufacturer, Spoonflower, specs that the seams on its wallpaper should be overlapped – by as much as 3/4″.

On a busy pattern, you might not notice this. But when there is lot of blank space (white area), and when light is coming at an angle (see photo), you’re might notice it.

If you hunt, at every seam, you can spot a ridge the height of the wall, that’s about 3/4″ wide. To me, it’s not much of a big deal. Once yo uget used to it, you don’t even notice. In fact, I have authentic 1930’s and 1940’s wallpaper in two rooms of my home – with overlapped seams – and it doesn’t bother me in the least.

Truthfully, overlapping seams actually has many advantages. For one thing, when wallpaper gets wet with paste, it absorbs moisture and expands a little. Then when it dries, it can shrink a little. This is how you end up with tiny gaps at seams.

Second, overlapping the seams can reduce stress on the wall surface, and prevent the layers within from delaminiating, which can cause popped seams. (Do a Search here on “delaminate” for more info and pictures.

Vintage Home, Antique Furniture, Classic Wallpaper

December 22, 2019


This week I have the pleasure of working in a charming 1930’s house that is right across the street from Rice University (Houston). The owners are super lovely people. I have hung paper for them in two other homes, over nearly 25 years.

The house has been kept pretty much in its original condition. The homeowners love the look and are accentuating that with their collection of antique furniture. The history of this burlwood bedroom suit dates back to 1900.

The trellis damask pattern is a classic that is true to the period, and will never go out of style. The color is a super perfect compliment to the bedroom furniture.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was a joy to work with. Nice and flat, held tightly to the wall, no shrinking at the seams as it dried, malleable when I needed it to be.

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.

Deco-y Pattern for Art Deco Home

August 15, 2019


This mid-1930’s home on the eastern edge of the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston has a lot of cool Art Deco features. For the powder room, the homeowners chose this intertwined diamond-and-bird pattern. I think it suits the home perfectly, and it looks great with the marble wainscoting (sorry, no pic! 😦 )

This wallpaper pattern is in the Antonia Vella line by York, 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.

Chinese Hand-Painted Silk Mural

June 27, 2019


Here is some delicious stuff! This is silk wallpaper, hand painted in China with these beautiful bird, butterfly, and botanical motifs. Look at the close-up shots to see the gorgeous paint detail.

There are some historic companies who make these murals, like Zuber, Gracie, Fromental, and de Gournay, and they can run $500-$1200 per panel. (This wall took seven panels.) But my client found another manufacturer who was way more reasonable. http://www.worldsilkroad.com/

The mural was custom-sized to the homeowners’ wall. The studio added 2″ to the top and bottom, and a little more to each side, for trimming, and to accommodate walls that are not perfectly plumb and ceilings that are not perfectly level. (Never order a mural to the exact dimensions of the wall, and always best to have the paperhanger measure before ordering.)

There are a lot of things that make an install like this much more complicated than a traditional wallpaper. For starters, the silk can easily be stained by just about anything … wallpaper paste, water, hands. So it’s important to work absolutely clean. You will NOT be able to wipe off any errant bit of paste. The paper also had a half inch “bleed” of excess paper along the edges that had to be trimmed off by hand (no photo).

The material was thicker than expected, wanted to stay curled up as it had been in its shipping tube, and the backing was very absorbent, which meant that it sucked up paste and was almost dry by the time it was finished booking and got to the wall… So it required extra paste on the edges to get them to stick tight, while, once again, taking care to not get any paste on the surface of the paper.

The company provided precious little information. Well, actually there was information, but it came in Chinesnglish, and, bless their hearts, was virtually indecipherable. The company was very responsive, but, unfortunately, was unable to provide adequate information about paste recommendations, booking time, was a liner spec’ed, if the substrate was paper or non-woven, if the silk had a protective coating, and even whether or not the goods had to be hand-trimmed or came pre-trimmed. There was a lot of other mysterious content on their instruction sheet that ended up best being disregarded.

So I used common sense and traditional installation methods, and it turned out great.

In one photo, I am rolling out the panels, to be sure they are in the correct sequence. Even though the manufacturer had told me the panels were pre-trimmed and ready to butt on the wall, while rolling them out, I discovered that if I did that, the pattern match would be off. This is when I discovered that 1/2″ had to be trimmed off one side of every strip.

This also meant that each strip would be 36″ wide, rather than 36.5″, so my measurements and layout calculations had to be revised. This was particularly important because that first area to the left of the window was barely more than 36″ wide – and I didn’t want to end up having to piece in a 3/8″ wide strip of this delicate material.

Two other pictures show some crinkles in the material. I believe these happened at the factory or during shipping, because the same defects appear in two consecutive panels, at the same position. They were both up high, and, once the material got wet with paste, expanded a little, and then applied to the wall, these flaws were not detectable.

The last photo shows what you should expect from hand-painted products. They probably had one guy working on Panel 6, and another working on Panel 7, and each probably had a different size paint brush, and possibly their stencil (or whatever they use) was a bit off. Either way, this mis-match is not considered a defect, and is part of the beauty of a hand-crafted mural. There were really only two areas that matched this poorly, and they were both low toward the floor. In the upper areas where branches crossed the seams, the pattern matched very nicely. Really, it’s quite incredible that their precision can be as good as it is.

I’ve never worked with this brand before, but overall, I was pleased with the quality and the installation. You can find the manufacturer by Googling World Silk Road. It comes from England, but is made in China. (Gee…. why can’t they have one of those British guys translate the installation instructions?!)

This mural went on one accent wall in a master bedroom of a home in Idylwood, a small, idyllic, and very desirable neighborhood of 1930’s and 1940’s homes on Houston’s east side. The homeowners love vintage as much as I do, and are keeping most of their home true to its original state.

Fans on a TV Room Wall

May 4, 2019


This pattern reminds me of the marques and fanfare around movie theaters in the Art Deco period of the 1930’s. So it’s fitting to use in a large living room / TV room in this townhouse in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

Since the area where the pattern hits the edges of the paper is dark, and the paper is printed on a white substrate, I used dark chalk pastels to color the edges, to prevent white from showing at the seams.

The paper is by A Street Prints, and is a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method.

The homeowners have a lot of artwork in the form of colorful glass plates and other pieces, and this pattern will be a fabulous backdrop.

1930’s Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Home Office

April 29, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This paper is the real deal; not a reproduction. I bought it from HannahsTreasures.com. They have tons of beautiful, authentic papers from the ’20’s through the ’70’s. Much of it is very limited stock, as was with this beauty.

There were only 8 single rolls, and I thought I could only do the top 2/3 of the walls, and then paint the bottom 1/3. But I found that, instead of the standard length of today, 33′ long, most of these bolts were 40′ or longer. That made all the difference, and I was able to squeeze out enough paper to do the entire room, from floor to ceiling.

This paper is very delicate and brittle. I used what they used years ago, powdered wheat paste (available from Bob Kelly at paperhangings.com), mixed with distilled water, and a soft, long-bristled smoothing brush. I used extra care, to avoid tearing or breaking the brittle material.

Back in the day, this paper was hung over a muslin type fabric tacked to the ship lapped walls. The seams were overlapped. The last I hung vintage wallpaper (in my entry), the paper hand-trimmed nicely, and I butted the seams and they looked great. This stuff, though, I’d cut it along the trim lines, but the edges would turn out all jaggedy. I got one decent seam out of it, and the second was good at the top, but overlapped toward the lower section. With so little paper to work with, I decided it was best to go with a sure thing and overlap the seams.

What I did was to trim off most of the selvedge, leaving a 1/8″ raw edge on the left side. On the next strip, I trimmed the right edge right up to the pattern, then left a 1/8″ selvedge on the left. This strip was then overlapped onto the previous strip, with the trimmed edge matching up with the pattern to its right, and overlapping that 1/8″ left edge.

This means that there’s a ridge under each seam from floor to ceiling. It’s more or less visible, depending on the direction of the lighting. But that’s how the paper was meant to be hung, so it’s the authentic look. Once my furniture and artwork gets back in place, and I have the computer screen to look at, no one will pay any attention to it.

I totally love this paper. The colors, the texture, the smell, and most of all the pattern. Most of my furnishings and artwork are vintage, so the room will look very pulled together.