Posts Tagged ‘bathroom’

Serene Serena & Lily Grasscloth in a Hall Bathroom

November 28, 2018


If you’ve read my page about grasscloth (click link on the right), you know that I don’t like it much, and that it is not suited for use in bathrooms, because water can easily stain it.

This homeowner, however, had found a beautiful paper in her perfect colorway on the popular Serena & Lily website.

She bought two double rolls. Now, if I had been called in earlier, before they ordered their paper, I would have told them to order an additional bolt. Most of the time, grasscloth is not figured via the square foot, but by the strip count. Which is not as straight forward as it sounds … there are tricks to measuring for grasscloth (and any paper, really), so please don’ order any wallpaper until the space has been measured by a professional.

Back to the wallpaper – This natural grasscloth product by Serena & Lily was wonderful. It had NO color variations and NO shading. It was thinner than many grasscloth products, and was easy to work with. It turned corners well. It also bridged / disguised minor defects in the wall. I can’t remember the last time I had such a nice grasscloth product to work with.

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Loose Wallpaper; Wall Layers Delaminating

November 15, 2018


Look closely between the seam of the wallpaper in the top photo. You can see little crumbly things. In the second photo, the issue is even more pronounced.

This is in the upstairs bathroom of a 1950 house in central Houston. Over time, compounded by humidity, poor air circulation, poor air conditioning / heating, and possible influences from the outdoors, various layers inside the wall have let loose of one another.

What are these layers? Originally the walls were probably painted with oil-based paint. Over the years, layers of latex paint, gloss paint, joint compound, and etc. were piled on, probably without proper prep between coats.

Some of these materials are not compatible with one another, and, over time and with stressers like humidity, they can let go of one another.

If just the wallpaper has come loose, as in the second photo, it can be pasted and readhered. But when the wall itself is coming apart, there is no fix, other than to scrap everything down to the original drywall (huge mess) or go over everything with 1/4″ drywall.

In this case, the homeowner had me repaste the few loose areas of paper, and then chose to live with the other visible cracks, chalking it up to an old house full of character and quirks.

A More Grown-Up Room – But Still Way Fun

October 25, 2018


I put this paper up back in the ’90’s. It’ still in perfect shape!

The two girls who shared this bathroom have grown up and moved away. Mom thought it was time to get rid of the girlhood décor and move to something more suited for a guest bathroom.

The original paper was a pre-pasted solid vinyl. The vinyl layer stripped off easily, and left the paper backing clinging to the wall. A good soak with plain water softened and reactivated the paste, and the backing came away from the wall easily and with minimal scraping (the putty knife is there more to show perspective). The primer I used back then, oil based KILZ Original, helped protect the walls, and prevented moisture from the removal process from soaking through. KILZ was a superb primer, and I wish I could still use it. But the EPA required changes to many products, to be more environment-friendly, and wallpaper paste will not stick to the new formulas. 😦

Back to the wallpaper … This pattern is from Anthropologie. It is made by York, and is in their SureStrip line – one of my favorite papers to work with. It is pre-pasted and water-activated. The non-woven substrate is thin and pliable (unlike most other brands), conforms nicely to the walls, and exhibits no shrinkage / gaps at the seams when it dries.

The material is designed to strip off the walls easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. (Although I pretty much doubt that claim – and I would prefer that it not … There is much less chance of damage to the wall if the top layer of wallpaper strips off, leaving the backing on the wall, and then the backing is soaked with a wet sponge, the paste reactivated, and then the backing will come off easily, with minimal or no damage to the walls.)

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

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.

Beautiful Bradbury Birds

June 29, 2018


Bradbury & Bradbury is a well-established company based in California that produces wallpaper patterns in the style of by-gone eras – Victorian, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Oriental and more. I have their Raspberry Bramble, from the Victorian collection, in my own master bathroom. Do a Search here to see pics.

Bradbury has unveiled some new genres recently, including the ’50’s Atomic Age and the ’20’s Vintage. These new products are digitally-printed, which is a little different from their other papers, most of which are screen-printed.

Today I hung half of a master bedroom with their 2D-103. Those numbers are not very interesting, but the pattern is – see it in the photos above. It’s a lovely, cheery, and easy-to-live-with birds, branches, and flowers, on a soft yellow background.

Bradbury wallpapers come with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand, using a razor blade and straight edge (not shown). This takes precision and a lot of sharp new razor blades – I spent two hours trimming paper for these two walls (with more to come tomorrow for the remaining two walls).

Once all that tedious trimming was over, the paper was a delight to work with. The seams melted together and were next to invisible. The paper hugged the wall nicely with no curling at the edges. Other companies with cantankerous papers could take a lesson from Bradbury.

This home is in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston, and was partially destroyed in the flooding after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The homeowners love the vintage vibe of their older home, and when the house was rebuilt after the flood, they took great care to recreate the look of the original home … woodwork, flooring, kitchen cabinets, kitchen appliances… all are true to the home’s original look.

Blue Birds Brighten a Bathroom – But Not A Good Quality Paper

June 27, 2018


The original wallpaper had fallen victim to curled seams. This happens most often with lower-end pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings, particularly in humid rooms, like this bathroom. Adding to the list of no-no’s were an improperly smoothed wall and the lack of a primer.

The seams on these papers are never great to begin with. When there is humidity, it will find its way into the seams and onto the paper backing of the wallpaper. When this backing gets wet by humidity, it expands. When it expands, it has nowhere to go but out – pushing away from the wall. This results in a curled seam. This is not “loose” wallpaper, and the seams cannot be glued back down. In many cases, the paper backing layer of the wallpaper actually delaminates (separates from) the top vinyl layer.

The homeowner loved the pattern, particularly the blue birds, and bought the same exact paper to replace the other. I stripped off the old paper, took various steps to stabilize the unsound wall surface, then skim-coated the wall to smooth it, primed, and hung the new paper.

The look is cheery and bright, and looks fabulous with the pale yellow bead-board wainscoting. The seams looked good when I left, and will pull down tighter as the paper dries.

Still, these economical pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpapers are not my choice for use in any room. And this particular brand (Norwall) just about tops my list for brands to NOT purchase.

Same Run – But Color Difference

June 8, 2018


One of the first things the installer does before starting a wallpaper job is to check the run numbers, to be sure it is the same for all the bolts of paper. This means they were all printed at the same time with the same batch of ink, so they will all be uniform in color.

Both these bolts are from the same run. But look closely, and you will see that the blue lines on the strip to the right are darker and thicker than those on the left. If these two strips of paper were placed next to each other on the wall, the difference would be very visible.

I am glad I noticed this before I started cutting any strips. I set aside the errant bolt, and hopefully won’t have to use it (I always have my clients buy a little extra, for repairs later and in case of instances like this). If I do need to cut into this bolt, the bathroom has a lot of choppy areas that are on separate walls where the color difference won’t be noticeable.

Wallpaper – Lots of Wallpaper – In Flea Market Décor Magazine

May 22, 2018

I know that the current interior design craze is HGTV’s Joanna Gaines / Fixer Upper look, with vast open rooms, white and grey on every surface, and uncluttered spaces. But there are plenty of people out there – me emphatically included – who like the feel of walls around us, love color, love all things vintage, love to collect, and love to look at our collections. At Christmas, my brother gifted me with a subscription to Flea Market Décor magazine, and, boy, was this a perfect fit! If you like old stuff, retro stuff, imperfect stuff, beat-up stuff, quirky, fun, colorful, funky, junque, thrift stores, and flea markets – go check out this magazine!

Anyway, I am always thrilled to see wallpaper in magazines, and the spring 2018 issue of Flea Market Décor had lots of it.

Note the use on all walls of a living room, and one accent wall of two different bedrooms. Bold patterns and receding patterns. Some paper was used to highlight panels in a door, the butterflies were captured in a large frame over a bathroom vanity, and a bright pink pattern accents a desk area.

You will notice vintage and retro furniture. Many of the rooms use recurring color, pulled from the wallpaper and used again throughout the room. Even though there is a lot of “stuff” in the rooms, the repetitive use of the same color keeps the look cohesive.

Some of the rooms are funky, and some are sophisticated and even elegant (the peacock feathers). All of them feel warm and inviting, and they definitely express the homeowner’s personality and individuality.

A Beautiful, Natural Grasscloth

May 16, 2018


I was really pleased with the grasscloth I hung today. The fibers were thin enough that the material was pliable and turned corners well. The texture was a pleasing middle ground between rough and refined, and the color was gorgeous – natural, with bits of brown, gold, grey, and olive all mixed together homogenously.

But best of all, the material had virtually no shading or paneling or color variation issues. Do a Search here (upper right) on these terms to see what most grasscloth looks like, and why I am not a fan of it. But this stuff today – I liked it!

Because there is no pattern to be matched, you will see all the seams. But because the color and the texture were quite uniform, the seams and panels pretty well blended together. The two shots showing the seams are good examples of what grasscloth is supposed to look like.

The room immediately felt warmer and more inviting, with a bit of color and texture from the natural material on the walls.

I don’t know what the brand is, because the label simply said “Wallcovering.” But it 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.

I hung this in a bathroom in a newish home inside the Loop in Houston. Yes, grasscloth will stain if it gets splashed with water, so it’s not recommended in wet areas. But the homeowner is a single gal, and she promised to use the room gently. 🙂

She also promised to keep the door closed, so the cats will not get their claws into the new textured wallpaper.

Geometric Trellis in a Garden Oaks Attic Conversion Master Suite

May 1, 2018


I attended the Garden Oaks Home Tour yesterday, and walked up the stairs to the master suite, all the while thinking, “Something about this feels familiar.” When I got into the master bathroom, I got it – I had hung the wallpaper about two years ago!

What’s cool is, the wife had had the bathroom remodeled as a surprise gift for her hubby while he was overseas. Well, yesterday he was there, so I got to meet him. He said he positively loved the new bathroom.