Posts Tagged ‘balanced’

Balancing the Design

August 2, 2020


With some wallpaper patterns, it often looks best to plot where the design element will fall on the wall, both vertically and horizontally. In the top photo, I planned to have the “lotus” motif line up with the center of the wall horizontally (so it would align with the block paneling beneath it, and also look good behind the buffet, which will be placed in the center of this wall).

I also measured and planned ahead so that the lotus motifs would be distributed along the height of the wall evenly, without being chopped off at either the top or the bottom. The bottom, or the part just above the wainscoting, was most important, because it’s at eye level.

The wall with the buffet was important. But the wall with the window was also screaming for symmetry. I wanted either side of the window to be mirror-images. This took some doing.

Because I had centered the pattern on the buffet wall (to the left in the top photo), every other strip in the room would have to fall as it came off the roll, leaving no control over placement of the lotus design. Yet I still wanted that mirror-image.

But – I had a plan. And – in great part due to the forgiving layout of the room and the very short (2″) height of the wall over the entry door – I was able to fudge things and nudge things, and get the window wall to be symmetrical, and still have an invisible kill point at the last pattern join.

Too complicated to explain here, but I was very pleased to give this family this dining room with a nicely balanced and symmetrical wallpaper pattern lay-out.

See previous posts for info re pattern and interior designer.

Centering the Wallpaper Pattern Makes for a Balanced Look

April 8, 2020

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It takes a lot more work, time, plotting, and math, but centering the wallpaper pattern motif on a dominant element in the room (the sink faucet) is a nice touch. Once the mirror is in place, the effect will be even more important.

Often, it’s one of those things that people can’t put their finger on unless I point it out, but it makes the whole room look more balanced and it just feels right.

A Really Nice Vinyl Faux Grasscloth

February 8, 2020


Originally, this downstairs bathroom in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston was painted a mocha brown. It looked OK, but lacked luster and life. The homeowner envisioned more texture and color, plus a tiny bit of dazzle. She was considering grasscloth.

During our initial Sunday afternoon consultation, luckily she heeded my warnings about the problems with grasscloth – visible seams, color shading differences between strips, staining from water splashes or little ones’ hands, etc.

She chose this textured vinyl faux grass pattern by York instead. What a winner this turned out to be! Because there is no pattern that can be matched, you still see the seams. But, because the color is so homogeneous, there are no jarring shade differences. In the sink photo, note that you are seeing a shadow, not a shading of color.

The color variations within the grass-like design are more pronounced than in other brands (for instance, the Thibaut versions), and so it looks more like real grasscloth, and you can see the various colors even from a distance.

There is a pleasing texture that can be seen and felt. And, because the material is a heavy vinyl, it’s quite durable and water- and stain-resistant. What’s more, because there was no pattern to match (that’s called a random match), there was very little waste – in a room with a tad less than 9′ ceilings, I got three strips out of a 27′ long double roll bolt (usually you only get two strips).

I did follow typical grasscloth-installation techniques for this product.

Because the lack of a pattern match meant that the seams were visible, I took precise measurements and “balanced” the width of the strips in the various areas in which they were hung.

Because there was still a bit of a color difference between the right side and the left side of each strip, I also reversed the top and bottom of every other strip – a little trick that minimizes visible color differences by placing the right side, for instance, of each bolt of paper next to itself on subsequent strips. That sounds confusing, but it’s valuable trick of the trade.

The navy blue brings a welcome shot of color into the room. The gold metallic touches add sparkle, and coordinate smartly with the light fixture (not shown). The homeowner will soon trade the chrome faucet for one of brushed gold.

Shimmery Geometric in a Bellaire Powder Room (Harvey Flooded House)

November 25, 2018


I wallpapered the nurseries for this client in her two previous homes. (Don’t ask me how old the kids are now! 🙂 ) Her current home in Bellaire was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. During the rebuild, this homeowner took the occasion to freshen and update the look of her ’90’s era home.

This shiny, curvy geometric wallpaper pattern fills the bill perfectly. The soft silver color compliments the new distressed grey wood-look floor tiles, and the sheen and design play wonderfully off the new contemporary chandelier (sorry, no picture!).

I usually have a long lead time, but this client was planning to host a party early next month and wanted her paper up, so I figured it was better to stay away from Black Friday shopping and hang wallpaper instead. 🙂 The homeowner was out of town, but she was able to let me in each day via remote-access, and I had the privilege of working in peace and quiet with no distractions or worries about disturbing the family.

That peace and quiet enabled me to do some intricate things… things that make the job look better, but that the average person wouldn’t be able to put a finger on. Like I say … something that is easy to LOOK at, but that was tricky and time consuming for me to PLOT AND EXECUTE.

For instance, you will notice that the wallpaper pattern is balanced / centered perfectly behind the sink / faucet. And that funny little alcove that the toilet is recessed into (what architect thinks these things up, to accentuate the toilet with it’s own little niche?!)… It took a fair amount of engineering to lay everything out so that the pattern would fall evenly above the niche and then down either side. Then the back wall was hung, with care taken that the pattern matched up with the pattern on the header above, as well as the walls on either side.

This meant that the pattern DIDN’T match on either the right or left corners inside the niche, nor the horizontal corner at the top back. But these areas are not very noticeable. I felt it was more important to make the pattern match when it is seen by someone who is standing outside the room and walking in – which is the view you see in the photograph.

This room also had another “hidden corner” (not shown) where I elected to allow the pattern to not match. This gave me the freedom to balance / center the design on the vanity and sink, and, as explained above, in the toilet niche.

Hard to explain, and hard for you readers to follow and envision. But the end result is a room with several perfectly balanced focal points, and a really professional look. I am so happy that I was able to invest the time to pull all this together. The finished room looks amazing.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their “Designer Series.” It is a textured vinyl product on a thin, flexible non-woven backing, and was a joy to work with. It was pretty resistant to creases, and it will hold up against water splashes better than other types of paper – a good choice for this powder room. It is designed to strip off the wall easily down the road when it’s time to redecorate. I have hung this twice before, in two different colors.

This wallpaper 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.

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

Grasscloth Seam Placement on Off-Kilter Wall

May 15, 2018


Because of the textured nature and natural fibers of the material, all the seams on grasscloth are quite visible. So I try to place the seams in a “balanced” or evenly placed pattern on the wall. On this narrow wall that requires just one seam, I would normally put that seam in the center of the wall. However, the electrician was unable to get the light sconce in the center of the wall, so the sconce was placed a few inches to the right of center.

Dilema… Do I place the seam in the middle of the wall, or so that it falls centered on the light sconce?

After deliberating with the homeowner, we decided it would look best to have the seam align with the light fixture. Seeing it finished, I agree that this was the best choice.

“I Thought I Wanted an All-White House – But It Was Bland and Lifeless”

June 9, 2017

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I love it when homeowner say this! Because I have been crusading against all-white houses for years. While the all-white concept looks good in magazines, in real life, with real families in real homes, the look can be coldly stark and anonymous. See Photo 1. This client realized she craved more warmth and personality. Her choice was grasscloth.

In Photo 2, see how just a light, neutral color defines the room, and makes the beautiful woodwork stand out. (In the ‘before’ photo, you could not even see the woodwork.) Further, the nubby texture of the grasscloth adds warmth, while it ‘snugs up’ this large master bedroom. See a close-up of the texture in Photo 3.

Photo 3 also shows a seam. It’s important to understand that grasscloth has no pattern to be matched, and that all the seams will show as a ‘mismatch.’ There can also be color differences between strips. Happily, this product had very little of the shading and paneling and color variations that can occur with grasscloth.

Because all the seams will show, the room looks better when the walls are ‘balanced.’ This means trimming all the strips so they are equally wide for each wall they will sit on. See an example of this in Photo 4. This is called ‘engineering,’ and it takes a lot of time, math, calculating, measuring, and trimming. But the balanced, more sophisticated finished look is worth it. This homeowner noticed the even widths of the panels right away, and was appreciative of the effort I had taken.

This grasscloth product is by Thibaut Designs, pattern #5060. The Run # is 92 – which is pretty high, and it tells you that a whole lot of people have loved this particular color and material.

This wallpaper pattern was bought at below retail price from 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.

Wallpaper on the Azalea Trail Home Tour, 2017, pt II

March 15, 2017

I attended the Azalea Trail Home Tour yesterday, which took me to four homes in the rather exclusive neighborhood of River Oaks (Houston). As always, I was scrutinizing the wallpaper.

One traditional style home had a very classic design of wallpaper (sort of a damask) in the dining room. Ever since I attended a Wallcovering Installers Association convention seminar years ago on “balancing” wallpaper patterns, I have been obsessed with the concept. This means that you position a dominant feature of the pattern so that it is centered on the wall. (Do a Search here to see some of my previous posts.) Normally, you can do this once in a room. Thereafter, the pattern has to fall on subsequent walls as it comes off the roll.

But in this dining room, there were about three walls that had the pattern centered. It looked wonderful, because the design was centered on a main focal wall between two windows, and again on an adjacent wall behind the buffet, an then on another wall that was highly visible.

Now, how can this happen?

I really studied the room. And I realized that all the draperies in the room reached way above the windows to the ceiling. And the drapery fabric and hardware pretty much filled up the entire space over the windows. Meaning that, the drapes would hide anything that was above the windows.

Meaning that, if the paperhanger chose, he could place the pattern as he wanted on the walls, and then mis-match the wallpaper pattern over the windows, knowing that it would be hidden from view. Then he could move on to the next section of wall and place the pattern as he wanted.

This trick worked nicely in this room, because the wallpaper design and color, as well as the draperies and hardware were all amenable.

It also took collaboration from the very planning stages, between the interior designer and the wallpaper installer, and also including input from the drapery lady and the hardware installer.

Modernizing, But Staying True to Colonial Roots

November 10, 2016
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This 1958 ranch-style home overlooking the jogging trail along Braes Bayou in central Houston has a strong Colonial flavor, and that is reiterated by the collection of antique furniture and accessories. In the powder room, the previous sweet tan-on-cream toile wallpaper pattern fit in perfectly.

But, over years of raising kids and careless splashing of water onto the wallpaper, some of the seams were curling (see first photo and my previous post). And, come late 2016, the homeowner was ready to update the home and bring in a more modern feel. But she didn’t want to fight the bones of the house.

She shopped at my favorite store (see below) and found the perfect pattern! A trellis is a classic design, dating back hundreds of years. But this version edges toward a contemporary feel. And the color is perfect with the unique shade of the woodwork.

I engineered the room so that the trellis pattern would be centered on the sink / faucet, and so it would look nicely balanced around the mirror and light sconces (4th photo).

The homeowner was ecstatic. She kept saying that it looked even better than she hoped it would.

This is my third time to paper this powder room, over 15-20 years. I have seen their kids grow up! 🙂

This wallpaper is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line. I like this brand a lot. This paper was bought at a discounted price from 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.

Powder Room Papered in Purple Peonies

November 5, 2015
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The painted walls in this powder room were dull and uninspiring. This homeowner is an artist, and loves drama and color. Well, you can’t beat huge purple flowers to meet the cravings!

Regarding pattern placement, this room defied the rules of chance. I spent quite a bit of time plotting and measuring and calculating, to get the flower to land intact (not get any important elements chopped off) at the top of the wall, and still have the weighty part of it land at the top of the sink, and also fall dead-center behind the faucet. But after that first strip is hung, every subsequent strip falls as it will, and you cannot control pattern placement for the rest of the room.

However, on the wall to the right of the sink, the wallpaper pattern balanced itself out perfectly, with the dominant flower lining up smack down the center of the wall, and perfectly halved-flowers falling down the right and left corners of the wall (no photo). Then, to heighten the improbable, the dominant flower centered itself again on the rear wall, behind the toilet, with the two corners ending up with perfect halves of peonies on either side (not shown).

Finally, the last join ended with less than a 2″ gap, which I was able to disguise very nicely with virtually no disruption of the pattern (no photo 😦 ).

This all just defies the laws of physics and geometry and chance, and I was tickled and thrilled when it all worked out so perfectly. Best of all, the room looks fantastic – and the clients think I’m a genius! 😉

This wallpaper pattern is by Sanitas, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby.  (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com.  Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.