Posts Tagged ‘bradbury & Bradbury’

Victorian Style Wallpaper in Henry Shaw House / Missouri Botanical Garden

July 28, 2022
Re my previous post, here is a more Victorian decorating style, particularly the intricate work on the ceiling. My camera didn’t capture much of the ceiling , but there are decorative borders and other fancy elements.
I believe this wallpaper is made by Bradbury & Bradbury , who specializes in reproductions of past eras .
The home is also called the Tower Grove House , and was built in 1849 .

Stretching Paper to Save a Seam

July 1, 2018

In this room, I was working from left to right. The last strip I hung ended under the air register, as you see in the top photo. By measuring and engineering, I knew that the way the next strip would fall would leave two seams in between the two doors on the right of the photo. (See last photo) But the width between those two doors was just a tad less than the width of two strips of paper, which would mean only one seam, so I really wanted to get away with that one seam, instead of two.

But if I hung just two strips between the doors, it would leave a 5″ gap over the left-hand door, between the strip on the left and the strip on the right. See top photo.

Never fear – I figured a way to bridge that gap – without screwing up the pattern match or horizontal repeat.

I found a piece of scrap paper with an appropriate design. I trimmed it so it would butt up against the strip on the left, and then overlap onto the strip on the right, with a bit of tree branch and flowers to disguise the area. Voilà! No gap! (See third photo)

This would not have worked on a full-height wall, and maybe not even on a 1′ high area over a door. But since we are talking about only 4″ or so of height, the eye never notices that the pattern is not exactly what it should be. And the rhythm of the design as it moves across the ceiling line is undisrupted – Your eye never notices that it is 5″ off.

This beautiful wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, in their new ’20’s Vintage line. I hung it in the master bedroom of a home in Bellaire (Houston), that was flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

By the way, the homeowners were talking about painting that air register a softer color to match the woodwork and blend with the wallpaper. The register had been stuck to the wall with caulk and paint, and was not removable. That blue tape is on there with a note to tell the painters to NOT put any tape on the wallpaper. Painter’s tape will pull the inked layer right off that beautiful new wallpaper. Actually, after I explained that to the homeowners, and also told them how the register would have to be deglossed with chemicals or by sanding, and then painted with paint specially formulated for metal and to withstand the condensation that happens around those air ducts, they decided to forgo painting it, and were happy to live with the color as it is. Whew!

Mixing Powdered Paste

May 29, 2016

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Certain papers call for special adhesives. “Back in the day,” all wallpaper was hung with powdered paste. Today, some papers still do better with these types of paste. Some of the options are wheat, cellulose, or potato starch based. They are less tacky, more slippery, and less likely to stain delicate materials.

“Back in the day,” paperhangers used a wire whisk and a lot of elbow grease to mix these pastes with water into a smooth consistency. My modern day trick is to use an immersion blender. It’s much faster and really gets rid of the lumps!

After mixing, the paste must be allowed to sit for a period of time, to completely absorb the water, and then be stirred again, with more water or powder added as needed.

Eco-Fix is a potato starch based paste that can be bought from Bradbury & Bradbury ( Wheat and cellulose powdered pastes can be purchased from Bob Kelly at I always try to keep some on hand, for the rare occasion when a job calls for this type of special paste.

New Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Bathroom

May 3, 2016

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Last week, I stripped off a decade-old botanical and bird wallpaper pattern from my master bathroom, and replaced it with this “Raspberry Bramble,” by Bradbury & Bradbury (, a California-based company that specializes in patterns true to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts and Victorian periods, along with some Mid-Century Modern and other designs.

This B&B wallpaper was a little tricky to work with. For starters, it has to be hand-trimmed (see photo) to remove the selvedge edge. My go-to pre-mixed adhesive is not a good choice for this material, so I chose a potato-starch paste available from Bradbury, that comes powdered and is mixed with water on-site.

This particular pattern has a lot of ink (smells like moth balls!) on the surface, and, when paste is applied to the back, the backing absorbs paste and swells at a different rate than the inked surface, resulting in wrinkles and bubbles and twists, plus the curled edges you see in the photo, which can prevent the seams from lying down properly. The moisture differential can cause the paper to continue to swell on the wall, causing wired (overlapped or puckered) seams.

I’ve hung a good amount of Bradbury & Bradbury papers, but had never encountered the degree of bubbling and curling as with this paper.

The solution to all this is to mist or damp-sponge the surface of the paper, which puts moisture on the front, and allows the front and back (wet by the paste) to absorb moisture more evenly. Then the paper is folded loosely (booked), and also rolled up like a newspaper. This helps push the curled edges back down. Then the strip of wallpaper is placed in a plastic trash bag to sit for 10-15 minutes, much longer than the booking time for most papers.

All of this took more time, but it resulted in smooth paper with flat seams.

My plan for this room is to achieve a 1700’s French chateau look, so I am also darkening and stenciling my vanity, which has a new “Noche” travertine countertop, will be hanging some frilly antique wall clocks, period artwork, a beautiful chandelier, and adding other features.

Murky Background With Random Gold Metallic Stars on Oak Forest Dining Room Ceiling

June 12, 2015

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This homeowner had a good grasp of what she wanted for wallpaper in her new home. When she showed me photos of the antique furniture and Old-World artwork in her existing home, I suggested she look at the wallpapers made by a few specialty companies. I was thrilled when she took my suggestions – and she was, too. Because she found some truly fantastic and unique patterns to put in her home. (See yesterday’s post.)

This beautiful deep teal wallpaper with a random pattern of metallic stars is made by the Bradbury & Bradbury company in California, who specializes in reproducing or recreating authentic patterns from the Vicrorian, Arts & Crafts, and Moderninistic eras.

The paper is harder than most, because it comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off (painstakingly and time-consumeadly) by hand, and it calls for special paste. And putting wallpaper on a ceiling is trickier than it sounds.

Still, this job went well, and the client was very pleased.

Bradbury & Bradbury – Coincidence of the Day

September 5, 2012

I got a call today to look at that Bradbury & Bradbury job I did last Thanksgiving time – the Job From Hell … well, not quite, but I blogged a LOT about that one!

Anyway, shortly after we finally got the paper up and looking great, the house shifted (good old South East Texas Gumbo!) and the wallpaper twisted in the corners. There are other areas that need to be redone, too. So I will be working with this brand again, with its wonderful reproductions of Arts & Crafts, Art Deco, Art Nouveau, and Victorian patterns.

So, what do I get in my e-mail box today? An update from B&B, telling about their newest collection!

Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Gratification from the Bottom Up

January 23, 2012

Most people who choose Bradbury & Bradbury paper are going for the Victorian or Arts & Crafts period look. And no wonder – take a look at these gorgeous room sets:

As you look at the photographs, you will see that the beauty of the rooms lies in the combination of several papers, layering borders over fills over dados, with numerous patterns in the same room.

That’s the look the people were going for, in the job I did recently. They have a 1906 house, with dark woodwork and moldings dividing the walls into sections: a top, a middle, and a bottom. Just perfect for the B&B look!

They chose Bird & Anemone for the bottom, Claire’s Willow for the middle, and Claire’s Willow layered with the Prairie Frieze at the top

I started at the bottom, which had strips about 5′ long. Didn’t even need to get on my ladder! : ) As the walls filled with paper, you could begin to see the pattern play around the room.

The next day, I hung the middle section. There was less pattern, but still enough to add character and texture to the room. The theme was building.

The third day, I installed the lower part of the top section first, which was the same pattern as in the middle wall section just below it. The room was getting prettier and prettier as the day went on.

But NOTHING makes a Bradbury & Bradbury room like the final touch – the Bradbury & Bradbury frieze (border).

The dining room I did was pretty all along. But as the border went up, the room came positively ALIVE. It added color, it added personality, it added depth and character. It made the room SING “Arts & Crafts.”

Wish I had a picture. Well, just go to the B&B website (link above), and click and scroll through the many patterns and roomsets. You’ll be WOW’ed, too!

wallpaper installation houston

Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Yellow Water

January 20, 2012

Wallpaper manufacturers always include in their instructions admonitions to be sure not to let any paste remain on the surface of the paper, because it can cause the ink to flake off, or otherwise damage the surface of the paper.

Now, you’d think that the scientists in wallpaper factories would figure out a way to keep inks on their paper, especially considering that paste is REQUIRED in order for the paper to stick to the wall. But that’s fodder for another thread….

So we installers are always wiping the surface of wallpaper as it’s hung, to remove any paste that may have gotten onto the surface.

How does paste get on the surface in the first place? From lying face down on the work table while being pasted, and paste that’s brushed to the edges of the paper can get underneath and onto the surface. From being pressed against the wall during installation, and sometimes excess paste is squished out at the seams. From the installer’s hands, if he has not kept them clean. From unfolding a booked sheet (folded pasted side to pasted side) and having a strip flap and knock into the pasted side. From smearing against wooden molding as the sheet is being brought to the wall.

So we wipe those bits of paste off. And most papers hold up to a reasonable amount of this wiping.

I was surprised, then, to find my terry cloth rags taking on the yellow ochre color of the Bradbury wallpaper. Some of the ink was coming off the paper and onto my rags.  Rinsing my rags sent a lot of yellow water down the sink.

Not a big deal, it happens. But if too much of it comes off, you can end up with blotchiness in some areas of the paper.

That’s why it’s important to know how much to wipe the paper, how much pressure to use, in which direction to move, and to try not to allow paste to get on the surface in the first place, especially with porous papers.

wallpaper installation houston,

Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Loose Seams

January 20, 2012

For more on this story, read previous posts.

After working through a million types of paste (a slight exaggeration), and finally finding one that worked well with the paper and did not leave staining or “dark seams,” I was happy to have the job finished, and the homeowners reasonably satisfied.

But then a few weeks later came the call: “Julie, the seams are coming loose.”

When a job is well done, wallpaper stays on the wall, usually for years and years. One of the main factors that causes paper to come loose is humidity. (And I’m sure I’ll blog on that biggie some time down the road.) But this B&B was hung in a dining room, not a bathroom, so humidity was not an issue.
I was curious to see what had happened.

When I got to the house, I saw that the paper was, indeed, coming off the wall, with large areas of the seams coming loose, even up to 3″-5″ in spots.

Looking at the back of the paper, I didn’t see paste, which is what you would see if the paste had not held tight. Instead, the paper had a thick feel, and had a thin layer of the white primer adhering to it.

I’ve seen this once before – the primer had delaminated. Meaning, that the primer had come apart in layers, leaving one thin layer on the wall, and one thin layer on the paper, held by the paste.

I have only had this happen one time before, when friends talked me into using a water-based acrylic primer. So I was very surprised to see this happen with my standard oil-based KILZ.

Since the problem was only on the bottom section of the room, which was hung with the clay paste (the upper sections, which were hung with cellulose paste were fine), my surmization is that the failure was caused by an incompatibility between the primer and the clay paste.  Indeed, I have since learned that, due to the “green movement,” polymers in oil-based primers have changed, and pastes no longer stick to them, or at least not as well.  This experience seems to bear that out, as least with respect to clay-based paste.

But to deepen the mystery, the only walls with loose seams were the east and west walls. The north and south walls, and two narrow east and west walls, were perfectly adhered.


Weird or not, mysterious or nor, the homeowners needed to have a proper looking room. So, after carefully measuring and plotting to be sure we had enough left-over paper, all the loose paper on the worst wall was torn off. There was just enough paper left to redo that wall, this time using cellulose-based Ecofix paste purchased from B&B, being careful to place the seams so they did not overlap where the old seams had been (to minimize stress on the wall, and minimize the chances of the seams pulling up – for a whole different reason, which just might be the topic of a future blog!) That took care of the west wall.

The east wall didn’t have as bad of loose seams (pardon the grammar), and we didn’t have any more paper anyway, so I worked the paste into the loose areas to readhere the paper to the wall.

This sounds like a quick fix, but is in itself tricky, because the moisture from the paste, as well as from my rags wiping the surface clean, can cause sections of the paper to swell and lift away from the wall, causing even more problems. The trick is to use enough paste to get the paper to stick, but not enough to allow moisture to wick to other areas of the paper.

This wall also had some shrinkage of the paper, which left very narrow strips of white showing at the seams. Once the paper was repasted, it stretched enough to mostly cover this. To be sure no white showed, though, I painted the wall just beneath each seam, a color that nearly matched the paper.

The replaced west wall looked good, the repaired east wall looked good enough (but I am not confident that the inner sections of the strips, which are still adhered with clay paste, will not eventually start to come away from the wall).

With the furniture placed back in the room, and people looking at the food on the dining room table instead of the walls, everything will be fine.

wallpaper installation houston

Bradbury & Bradbury Job – Paste III

December 21, 2011

Well, my fascination with the various pastes suitable for this specialty paper has faded. In fact, I am a little disappointed with the way the paper and paste worked.

The dining room walls had three sections – a bottom, a middle, and a top, all seperated by dark woodwork molding, like plate rails.

The bottom section took “Bird & Anemone” pattern, in a gold color.  (B&B calls this “Aesthetic Green.” Sure looked gold to me. Go figure.)

B&B paper is not pretrimmed; this means it has the unprinted selvedge edge still attached, like fabric. It needs to be hand-trimmed. The strips for this section were about 5′ long, which meant double cutting (splicing) on the wall. This technique involves overlapping the sides of each strip, then using a very sharp razor blade to cut through both strips, being careful not to score the wall surface beneath. Then the unprinted selvedge ends of each strip are peeled away, the seam edges butted together and smoothed down, and excess paste wiped away.

The only thing is, the clay paste did not wipe away cleanly. It left smeary streaks on the paper. Now, this is the sort of thing that I see, and many other people do not see. Still, I was not happy with the way it was looking. To make matters worse, some of the seams had come loose (not due to lack of paste, but due to the clay paste not holding).

Worse yet, there was a noticeable dark line down the length of every seam. “Dark seams,” as the manufacturer calls them.

The finished walls didn’t look awful, but they didn’t look as good as I thought they should.

For the middle section, which took strips only 34″ long, I hand cut the paper dry, before pasting and taking it to the wall. This pattern was “Claire’s Willow” in the same colorway. Trimming the edges before taking it to the wall eliminated the scenario where the paper is overlapped, so no paste got on the surface.

But still a dark line showed up along the length of each seam. Not “real” noticeable, but still noticeable, especially since this pattern is very plain and doesn’t have much pattern to hide flaws. In addition, more smeary clay paste marred the surface, impossible to wash completely off.

I tore off this first section, and retried, this time double cutting the seams. Same dark seams. I ripped it off again. In despiration, I got my trusty Romans 880 paste, which a zillion paperhangers across the nation use for the majority of the goods they install – and got even worse dark seams.

Again, I stripped off the paper and scrubbed the wall clean. Now I got my Shur Stik C-11, the ultra clear paste used for delicate fibers like silk and grasscloth. I pre-trimmed each strip, and treated them like grasscloth – taking great pains to get no paste on the surface or edges of the paper. This is tricky, because you have to get enough paste on the edges to hold the paper, but not enough to squish out when you butt and seal the seam. (Standard pasting method is to brush or roll your paste way past the edge of each strip, to ensure you get enough paste on the edges.)

This paste is very “wet” and will leave splotches all over the paper, which eventually disappear as the paper dries. Takes a little faith, but it inevitabely dries and looks just fine. Usually. But not this time. Still dark seams! Even worse, there were a few blotches that never disappeared when the paper dried.

I came to work the next day, expecting to hang the final, upper section. But I could not. The paper I had done the previous day just looked horrible.

Time for a call to the manufacturer. I phoned B&B and asked for Tech Support. The lady sounded puzzled. Turns out they don’t have an official tech support department – because anyone there can answer any question about their paper. Gotta love a company like that!

So I talked to Beverly, who is the person most knowledgeable about the paper composition and pastes. She was a wealth of knowledge. Turns out, their paper always results in dark seams when pasted with Romans 880 or the clear grasscloth paste. But there was no explanation for the dark seams when using the clay-based paste they recommended. The Sure Stik brand I used is one they recommend. As for the smears of paste left on the surface of the paper, Beverly recommended scrubbing the paper well, and following that with a dry micro fiber cloth. None of this worked, BTW.

I had to redo the section I had hung the day before, and still had the upper third of the room, plus a border to hang. The border, if you remember from a previous post, required a special dry wheat paste that is mixed with water on-site. I asked if it were possible to use this paste with the Claire’s Willow pattern. (Whenever I have hung B&B paper in the past, this type paste was always recommended, and I have never before had problems with dark seams or paste smears or poor adhesion.) Beverly said yes.

What?! When I had called B&B months before, in preparation for this job, to get their recommendations for pastes and any other special instructions, I was specifically told NOT to use this clear wheat paste. We even debated abit about it on the phone. “But I have always used wheat paste on your paper in the past.” “No, we recommend clay paste, as it is the only paste that works with our paper.” Back and forth several times, and I was specifically told not to use the wheat paste.

Now it turns out that information was incorrect. Apparently, it is possible to use this paste on any of their papers. The main reason they don’t push it is that it’s a very wet paste that leaves scary blotches until it dries, and because it’s the weakest paste used in the industry, and they want to be sure their paper stays on the wall!

OK, so I stripped off all the paper I had done the day before, scrubbed the walls, and then reprimed, to be sure no paste residue remained that could get into the new paper. I dry trimmed the strips, got out my immersion blender and mixed up the box of paste sent from B&B, and carefully pasted and hung the paper.  Much better.

But still not great. There were still dark seams – not horribly dark, but still noticable, plus occasional blotches that did not disappear as the paper dried. This was very disappointing, to say the least. We had used an immense amount of very expensive paper, taken more days than we should have, and the room didn’t look as it should.

My clients could see this, but they happen to be about the sweetest people in Texas, so they didn’t complain. I, on the other hand, couldn’t stomach the look of it, and ended up ripping off the worst wall.

By this time, we had run out of paper. (Redoing a wall FOUR times, and redoing the entire middle section twice does eat up a lot of paper!) The clients had to order more paper, in order to have enough to do the top section, and had to pay outrageous postage to have it arrive 2nd day air. Unfortunately, I was booked with other jobs, and couldn’t get back any time soon to finish the room. The poor lady was considering cancelling their Dec 23 Christmas party.
But, I live something of a charmed life.  As luck would have it, I was able to juggle around two other clients, and this made it possible to go back to finish this job the day after the new paper arrived.

For the final section, the top, the Claire’s Willow pattern went at the bottom, and the Prairie frieze went at the top. The section was narrow enough that I was able to “railroad” the paper – meaning, run it horizontally instead of vertically. This meant one long horizontal strip for each wall, instead of many many short vertical strips – I was dead set on eliminating seams, so as to prevent any more of those awful dark seams.

I used the wheat paste for both the fill and the border, and it looked just fine. At least, when I finished cleaning my brushes and packing up my table and walked out the door at 10:30 p.m. that night, all looked well. I have every confidence that it looked as good when it dried and the clients took their first peek the next morning.

Once the furniture is back in, the original 1907 chandeliere is hung, and the room decorated for Christmas, the final effect will be stunning.  I hope to have a photo to post on my website,  In the meantime, you can get a preview by going to and looking up the pattern names.