Posts Tagged ‘bookshelves’

Faux Grasscloth / Textured Stringcloth on the Backs of Bookshelves

September 9, 2018


The homeowner wanted to use texture and color to warm up her very large kitchen / breakfast area. This faux grasscloth on the back of a pair of bookshelves that flank the fireplace was the perfect solution.

The shelves are high, and they are deeper than most, which made accessing the top areas difficult – and a little dangerous. So I borrowed the painters’ 3′ ladder, and was able to reach where I needed to.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (click the link to the informative article on the right of this page). So I try to steer clients toward alternatives. This product is about my absolute favorite! It has a realistic grass pattern, and it can be matched from strip to strip, so you never see the seams. The color is consistent, so you don’t have the paneling effect that comes with the real stuff. And it is covered with a vertical stringcloth material, which provides the texture that homeowners are seeking these days. And it’s reasonably-priced.

Wallquest is the manufacturer, and it’s in their EcoChic line. 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.

The home is in the Fall Creek area of northeast Houston, off Beltway 8 and Hwy 59.

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Mid Century Modern Bookshelves Get Grasscloth on Back

May 6, 2018


This 1960 ranch style home in the Westbury neighborhood of Houston is like a time capsule of Mid Century Modern design. The doors, windows, moldings, cabinetry, and even most of the bathrooms are original – and in mint condition. The homeowners love the look, and wanted to honor that, while updating some of the rooms. Grasscloth was all the rage in the ’60’s, so it was the perfect choice for the backs of these bookshelves in the family room.

I have to tell ya, covering this beautiful, original, perfectly maintained 1960 wood paneling with mud and a primer just about killed me. But since the wallcovering choice was grasscloth, the new look would be in keeping with the original feel of the house.

I don’t usually like grasscloth, because of the color variations (and many more reasons – do a Search – upper right corner) – But I was pleased with today’s product. The color was very uniform, and the material was very soft and pliable, as well as thin. It turned corners nicely and hugged the wall tightly.

This particular grasscloth has a bit more of a “nubby” texture than those with straight reeds, and this one had a nice sheen, too.

I wanted to avoid getting paste on that pristine wood, because I was afraid it might not wipe off without leaving residue, and also because I didn’t want to run a damp rag along the grasscloth, for fear of staining or bleeding. So I used my craft store cutting mat and a couple of different straightedges, to pre-trim the pieces to perfect right angels, so they would fit into the bookshelf alcoves, and also butt up against one another precisely.

I also used blue plastic tape (not shown) on the edges of certain pieces, to keep paste off the wood bookcase.

This grasscloth wallpaper is by Phillip Jeffries, a higher-end brand, and 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.

Grasscloth in Tiny Bookshelf Cubicles

February 3, 2018

This neutral-hued grasscloth sure warms up the look of these display shelves, adding both soft color and texture. The homeowner’s books and decorative items stand out much better.

None of the shelves was removable, so I had to cut and install TWENTY FIVE separate pieces of grasscloth wallpaper for the backs of these bookshelves.

To minimize trimming inside those small, tight cubicles, I took careful measurements and then pre-cut my pieces. I used a straight edge, razor blade, and one of those “self-healing” cutting mats that are used for sewing and crafts. The mat was marked both vertically and horizontally in inches (and graduations) and had easy to see right angles.

I cut all my pieces a mere 1/2″ larger than the dimensions of each cubicle. I used the craft mat and straight edge to cut a right angle in the upper left corner of each piece of grasscloth. I could position this in the upper left corner of each cubicle, which also butted it up perfectly against the top and left sides of the cubicle.

Then all I had to do was use my razor knife to trim the grasscloth on the right and bottom sides, to fit into the cubicle.

I spent a full four hours priming, then measuring and labeling each cubicle, and then cutting and pre-trimming each of the 25 pieces of grasscloth. Look at the photo of my measurements!

All this effort paid off, because every single piece of material went into its cubbyhole perfectly, and required trimming on just two sides (instead of four). The install still took a full eight hours. But it was fun and challenging, and a different work-out for the brain from hanging paper on tall, flat walls.

This grasscloth wallpaper is by Thibaut. I forgot to take a photo of the label, but it was a really nice paper, and, even though I had only one seam (in the TV niche), for once there was no issue with shading or color differences – in fact, that one seam is all but invisible. I hung this in a living room in a townhouse in the Rice Military / Camp Logan neighborhood of Houston.

Lavender Grasscloth Wallpaper on Bookshelves

March 8, 2017

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A simple but dramatic change … This softly-colored grasscloth has a fine texture, but it’s just enough to set off the books and decorative items that will be displayed on the bookshelves.

The shelves could not be removed, so I had to work in tight spaces, with each strip being less than 12″ high. The bottom shelf was at floor level!

In order to eliminate a visible seam down the center, I “railroaded” the grasscloth – ran it horizontally. I used a sewing / crafting self-healing cutting mat to pre-trim the right side of each strip, making sure it was perpendicular to the edge that would be the top of the strip.

This made for less trimming at the wall, less paste smeared on the woodwork, and reduced the chance of paste getting on the surface of the paper, which could stain it.

The manufacturer of the grasscloth is Schumacher, and the pattern number is #5004724.

The interior designer for this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs in Houston.

Silvery Grasscloth on Bookshelf Backs

December 18, 2016
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This homeowner has a wonderful knack for decorating, and her front sitting room in a newish home in the Rice University area of Houston is beautiful. But she wanted to add a little “oomph.”

This grasscloth did the trick. The natural material adds texture, and the silvery backing adds a little glamor without overpowering the rest of the room. And it’s a lovely background for the decorative items on the shelves.

Grasscloth on Bookshelves – a Popular Concept

September 21, 2016
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Grasscloth adds a warm touch to the backs of bookshelves, texture without a lot of pattern, so it does not upstage the items displayed on the shelves. This is a light, neutral-colored option by Phillip Jeffries.

If I had hung this the normal way, with the reeds running horizontally, I would have had to place a seam smack down the center of the shelves. The homeowner agreed with me, that it would look better to run the reeds vertically, and eliminate that seam.

When she came home, she kept exclaiming, “I can’t believe how that little bit of texture and color really changes the whole room!”

Grasscloth on Bookshelves

January 4, 2016
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These bookshelves looked good as they were, but a neutral colored grasscloth really warms up the back wall. The homeowners will replace the shelves and their decorative items, and the grasscloth will be a wonderful backdrop.

The label reads “Natural Surfaces,” but the manufacturer is someone else …. which I didn’t write down. The interior designer working in this home is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs http://www.pamelahopedesigns.com/, a wonderful person and a joy to work for, plus her interiors are just lovely – sleek, clean, chic, but totally livable for today’s young families. This home is in Bellaire (Houston).

Murky Green Damask on Display Shelves

November 26, 2015
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The red diamond pattern on the backs of these bookshelves was pretty, but the new owners of the home didn’t love it. There was wallpaper left over from when the adjoining dining room was papered, and so we used those scraps to paper the bookshelves in the living room.

It looked like there was a lot of paper to work with, but when you start talking about a 28.5″ wide bookshelf and 27″ wide wallpaper, syncing the pattern with that in the dining room, centering the pattern, matching the pattern, a 25″ pattern repeat, wrapping the sides, wrapping the top, and when you unroll the left over bolts and find that much of the material is not in one long strip but in multiple shorter strips – it becomes a game of math, logistics, plotting, and engineering.

In the end, though, there was enough to get ‘er done. And, I was able to place the dominant motif vertically down the center of the bookshelves, and balance it equally in either corner, as well as place the same motif at the bottom of the bookshelves as was at the top of the wainscoting in the adjoining dining room, so the two rooms were horizontally correlated, and match the pattern of the two header strips in each of the two shelf alcoves to the pattern on the back of the shelves below them.

Anyone looking at the shelves will no doubt focus on the pretty collectibles displayed within them. But I just thought I would give a little backstory on what went into applying the wallpaper that is the backdrop for those pretty white vessels.

I loved working with this paper. There were no labels or brand information, but it was a pulp paper product, which is often sourced from England. It sits flat and tight to the wall, and seams are nearly invisible. Once booked, there is no stretching or shrinking. It is not sealed, though, so you have to protect it from handling and from splashes, and have to take care to not overwork seams or abrade the material during installation.

Finally – A Grasscloth I Can Love

April 11, 2015

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If you’ve read much on this blog, you know that I dislike hanging grasscloth. The visible seams, color variations, and paneling and shading, and un-uniformity are hard to live with, in my opinion. People say they understand these natural color variations and will accept them – but once it’s spread out on the wall, they are unhappy. I’ve taken to having clients sign a release / waiver, before I will install grasscloth.

But … today I hung a grasscloth that I thought looked mighty good. This is not the typical horizontal reed-on-paper look, but a tightly woven product. When I first unrolled it, I was alarmed by the vertical striped effect, and called the homeowner to come and look at it. She gave her approval, so I went ahead and put it on the wall. She was right – the stripes only enhance the overall effect.

There was no color variation, and the seams were invisible. In addition, the paper has the texture and warmth that many of my clients are seeking. And – it appears to be pretty resistant to stains and discoloration. A win-win-win!

I am going to keep track of this paper, and recommend it to people who ask about grasscloth.

The pattern number is SG37053, and the homeowner said it was by Astex – although I could not find it on their website.

I hung this wallpaper in the entry and on the backs of two bookshelves that flank the fireplace in the family room, for a couple in the far west end of the Memorial area.

Corresponding String Cloth in Adjacent Room, on Bookshelves

March 19, 2015

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Wow, I have not hung string cloth in at least a decade! It is a paper-backed product with actual string fibers on the surface. That’s why there is a somewhat fuzzy aspect to the look.

Here you see the bookshelves primed and waiting for paper, and then the finished job. I took care to place the darkest stripe in the center.

There is an interesting story with this job, and a good lesson to me. I had just finished hanging the coordinating wallpaper in the adjoining exercise room. That paper was a paste-the-wall product on a non-woven backing. I started to work with the striped paper, and assumed it was the same material. I had the first bookshelf done, three strips, and noticed bubbles in the wallpaper and puckering at the seams. I could “chase” these out – but they kept coming back.

Puckering and bubbling are usually caused by the paper absorbing moisture from the paste, and does not happen with non-woven materials (not usually, anyway – I have had it happen). So I dug around and found the instructions. Turns out, this pattern, even though it was a companion to the one I had just finished hanging, and was the same color and printed on seemingly the same substrate, this one was specified to have the paper pasted (not paste the wall). And, they recommended a 10-minute booking (relaxing) time, to allow the paper to absorb the paste, expand, and relax.

Hmmm. Lesson to self: Even if you’ve hung 10,000 rolls of paper, including this same brand, ALWAYS read the instructions. 🙂

Because I had a good primer (Gardz) under the paper, I was able to pull off the strips without damage to the wall. And because it was printed on the non-woven substrate, and had not gotten completely dry, the paper came off in one piece, totally intact.

I didn’t have time to haul in and set up my table, so I laid down some drop clothes on the floor, spread the paper out on them, rolled on paste, booked, (no need for relaxing time, since the paper had already had time to absorb moisture and expand), and then hung the paper.

Whew! It as a bit of a mad dash, but it was the right answer. The newly pasted and hung strips went up perfectly, no bubbles, and the seams were nice and flat. The paper did stretch a little bit, though, horizontally, but not vertically, so I had to trim a little off one side, and it did throw off my placement of the center stripe in one of the bookcases, but, in the end, it looked great.

All this took a little time and more work, but I am glad that I noticed the bubbles and went through the steps to get rid of them. Sometimes, they disappear when the paper dries and shrinks. But you can’t plan on that. So I am glad I took the extra effort to make the job look perfect. The homeowners loved it. (They did not know any of the drama involved in getting a smooth, flat, bubble-free surface.)

This wallpaper design is by Carl Robinson, made by Wallquest which is made for Seabrook, and was hung in a family room in a house in Bunker Hill Village.