Posts Tagged ‘ceiling’

Notice Anything? – Wonky Wallpaper

January 9, 2020


When I first looked at this picture in Better Homes & Gardens magazine’s December 2019 issue, I wondered why the installer had not positioned the circle motifs so they landed at the top of the wall.

Then I looked closer, and realized that he probably had – at a starting point in another part of the room. If you look at the crown molding line, you notice that the pattern is moving up the wall from left to right.

Often this is because of unplumb walls and/or unlevel ceiliing lines. But I looked closer and saw that the pattern is also crooked as it runs down the side of the window. Again, this could be because the whole house – walls, ceiling, doors, and windows – has shifted out of plumb (foundation issues – if you live in Houston, you know all about that!).

If the installer hung his paper true to plumb, it will always look crooked in house that is not plumb.

Sometimes, there are tricks you can do to make a pattern look straight, even if the house is wonky. Almost always, they involve pattern mis-matches in corners or at seams.

So it’s a toss-up as to which is the lesser of the two evils – pattern getting chopped off as it travels along the ceiling and moldings, or pattern mis-matches at the seams.

What I probably would have done in this case would be to position a half-circle at the top of the wall. This way, if the pattern starts tracking up or down, you don’t readily notice if the half-circle is a little taller or shorter, as compared to the top of a circle getting sliced off.

Crazy Off-Level Ceiling Line

January 8, 2020


The bubble is supposed to be in the middle of the two black lines. That indicates that the horizontal surface (ceiling, in this photo) you have placed the level against is, indeed, level.

Well, this one ain’t even CLOSE to being level.

That means that it will be impossible to keep a specific wallpaper design motif at the top of the wall all the way around the room. Not a big deal on this particular pattern, because it’s wild enough that no one is going to notice. Whew!

Really High Walls

January 3, 2020


The walls in this bathroom are over 12′ high. I could not reach the ceiling – especially where I had to lean over the vanity and the linen cabinet – with my 5′ or 6′ ladders. So I had to bring in my 8′ ladder.

Even with the super-high ladder, it is still tricky and potentially dangerous to hang wallpaper here – especially reaching to the corners over the vanity and cabinet.

In addition, the bottom feet spread almost 5′ x 3′, which makes it difficult to maneuver in a small room like a bathroom. Not to mention that it’s heavy.

So while working so high up and on a tenuous structure, it’s crucial to pay attention to your reach, weight, weight distribution, torque / backward tension, pressure you’re putting on the wall while hanging the wallpaper, etc., as well as to have a very quiet and interruption-free setting, where you can concentrate on getting the wallpaper up and staying safe.

Recent Magazines With Wallpaper

December 18, 2019


December 2019 issues of:

Victoria –

First two photos, bold color and classic jardiniere in a very traditional dining room setting.

Southern Living –

3rd photo. Mural on dining room walls. I believe this is the Etched Arcadia pattern that I have hung (and loved) several times. (Do a Search here to see previous posts with this pattern.)

4th photo. A “man cave” done with dark wall treatment and a lighter, tight textured pattern on the ceiling.

5th photo. Large honeycomb wooden lattice on ceiling, small print on walls. The wallpaper is by Iksel, a high-end British company, and one that I visited when the Wallcovering Installers Association took a Tech Trip to England in 2017 (do a Search here). This paper is expensive and the design is well-suited to the room. Yet the pattern is, well, nothing really special about it. If someone were looking to recreate this look on a budget, it would be very possible to find something similar at a more pocketbook-friendly price.

6th photo. Boy’s room, showing interesting use of color between walls and wood.

7th photo. More adventurous use of color, on ceiling and walls. The paper is by Quadrille, which is notorious for being difficult to hang. (Do a Search here to read my experiences and comments.) Again – for every cool pattern by a high-fallutin’ designer brand that hasn’t researched how to make compatible inks and substrates and good quality paper, there are other main-stream companies making similar designs, that will perform better and hit your wallet more easily.

Tanzania Leopard Spots in Grandkids’ Bathroom

November 21, 2019


Here is a really popular pattern by Thibaut that I have hung a good number of times. This is the first time that it came in vinyl, though. (It’s usually paper.) Do a Search here to see other rooms I’ve put it in.

The vaulted area is the rear portion of the ceiling. The homeowner and I discussed painting the “beam” dark brown – I think she should.

The 10’+ high, steeply vaulted ceiling with its weird angles and narrow crevices was difficult to get wallpaper on. Once done, it looks great.

The homeowner wanted something cute and ageless, because the grandkids will use this bathroom. It’s on the third floor of a townhouse in the Galleria / Tanglewood neighborhood of Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, called “Tanzania,” 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.

You Can’t Make the Pattern Match if the Corners are Wonky!

September 8, 2019

Here I am holding my 2′ level against a wall, trying to determine if the walls are plumb and if the corners are square.

See the air bubble in the vial? It’s supposed to be smack in the middle of those two black lines. As you can see, it is nowhere near there!

That means that the walls and corners are way out of plumb – and the floor and ceiling were, too.

And that means that there is no way you can keep a wallpaper pattern straight along the ceiling or floor line, and no way you can match the pattern perfectly in the corners – and if you do, the pattern will track off-kilter along the ceiling and floor.

In this case, the homeowner is well aware of the movement in the walls and foundation of this house – there are lots of areas where cracks have formed and been repaired – over and over again.

She’s understanding, and is OK with a little imperfection in the pattern match, and even anticipates that the walls will eventually crack (and take the wallpaper along with them).

Wallpaper Warming Up Rooms in August 2019 Southern Living Magazine

July 19, 2019


The first is called “Indian Flower” by Jasper, and I hung this very pattern a few months ago in a dining room.

The blue & white floral is called “Dianthus Chintz” by Soane Britain.

Third photo – the wallpaper’s on the ceiling! It’s “Santa Barbara Ikat” by Schumacher.

Blue powder room features Meg Braff Designs’ “Little Egypt.” Serena & Lily has one very similar to this. I love their paper, and it’s at a much lower price-point.

The horizontal (railroaded) stripe is a take on the current trend for exposed shiplap wood.

Last photo shows Clay McLaurin Studio’s “Santiago” in a very feminine bathroom.

Note that most of the wallpaper patterns you see in photo shoots like this are going to be higher-end products. Like I like to say, for every expensive company making an enviable design, there is someone else making a knock-off at a more affordable price.

See my page to the right for where to buy wallpaper in Houston.

Historic “Lafayette” Bird Pattern in Galleria Area Powder Room

July 12, 2019


With a black granite floor, a black toilet, a dark wood vanity, and a dark granite countertop, adding black wallpaper to this under-the-stairs powder room seemed like a bold venture. But the gutsiness paid off – the finished room looks fantastic. And there is nothing dark or brooding about it.

In fact, the light color of the birds, along with the uplifiting feel of the vertical foliage in the design work together to give the room light and movement. Ditto the new paint color on the ceiling.

Sorry there is no photo, but this room, which is tucked under the stairway, has a deeply sloped ceiling. Originally, the homeowners considered papering the slope and the flat ceiling areas, too. But I told them that would make the room far too dark and closed-in. I suggested they pull a color from the wallpaper and dilute it to what I call a “whisper color” – almost white, but with just a whisper of color.

They could have gone with a light shade of tan (birds’ wings), green (plants), purple (birds), or salmon (birds, flowers). After consulting with the gal who sells the wallpaper (read below), they decided on a pale orangey-pink shade. I love the choice!

The ceiling does not look “pink.” Yet the hint of peachy pink adds warmth, while all the while pulls your eye up and adds a feeling of openness and even joy.

Fourth photo – the tan paint from the original faux finish wall treatment wrapped around onto the top of the backsplash. Once the dark paper went up, I didn’t want to have a gold stripe running around the top of the backsplash. So I used artist’s craft paint and a small brush to paint it black, to blend in with the granite backsplash. Once the wallpaper was up, to protect both the paint and the bottom edge of the wallpaer, I ran a bead of clear caulk along the top of the backsplash. This will prevent splashes of water that land on top of the backsplash from being wicked up under the paper – which could cause curling.

This historic “Lafayette” wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and dates back to the 1800’s. In fact, it is 2″ narrower than most wallpapers, and I’m told that that is because it is printed with the same engraved rollers as were used back then. It’s a raised-ink printing process, and the material is pre-pasted. I experimented with a couple of pasting techniques, and found that the old-fashioned method of pulling the strips through a water tray resulted in even saturation and activation of the paste, and the flattest seams.

This paper 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 (inner loop Houston). (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.

Better Homes & Gardens Magazine Features Wallpaper, June 2019

June 6, 2019


This popular pattern is called “Queen of Spain” and is by Schumacher. In addition to the horizontal stripe formed by the droplet motifs, it has a vertical stripe pattern – but you need a larger wall to see that design play out.


You can get away with a really bold pattern in a small powder room. If they could have gotten a better shot inside this small room, you could see the full effect of this fun design.


Look closely – the wallpaper is on the ceiling. I believe this is “Channels” by Kelly Wearstler, another popular pattern.


Can’t say I love wallpaper on a ceiling, especially such a bold pattern and wild color – I think this cramps down the ceiling and closes in the room. Your thoughts?


This small background pattern behind the headboard is by Quadrille.

All of these papers pictured are higher-end brands. If you like the look but are on a budget, there is always something similar at a lower price. See my “Where to Buy Wallpaper” page to the right.

Man-Tailored Linen/Stringcloth/Grasscloth in a Former Boys’ Room

February 23, 2019


This large 2nd floor room in a 1934 home in the West University neighborhood of Houston was home to two boys, who took it on a 20+ year ride through crayons, toy cars, sports, school projects, first dates, college entrance forms, and professional careers. Now that the sons are grown and gone, Mom is calling the room her own. She got rid of the dorm look and is going for something calming and sophisticated, with a farm-house twist.

On the ceiling, I hung wallpaper that looks like ship-lapped wood… Joanna Gaines “Magnolia” book by York, in their SureStrip line.

To augment that, the homeowner chose another York pattern, this soft brown / charcoal linen weave stringcloth. It’s a textured material that resembles the fabric of a man’s tailored suit.

It’s beautiful with the wood plank look on the ceiling, and creates a snug, cozy feel in the large room.

I wasn’t happy with the quality of the product. See my previous post about the mismatches at the seams.

In addition, the material was thick and difficult to trim, and difficult to turn around corners. But worse, whatever backing the manufacturer used sucked up paste like the dickens. I pasted the back and booked according to directions. Yet when I went to hang a strip, it didn’t want to stick to the wall. There was virtually no paste on the back … it had all been sucked up into the backing, leaving little on the surface to hold the strip onto the wall. The strips also had a lot of memory, and wanted to keep curling up.

Although the instructions said the substrate was paper, I believe it was a non-woven material. That means it was dimensionally-stable and didn’t need to book or sit for any period after pasting. I tried various installation techniques and finally settled on lightly misting the back of each strip with water , rolling it up and letting it sit for a few minutes while I rolled paste onto the wall (not the back of the paper). Then I applied the paper to the wall.

The misting relaxed the paper and stopped the curling, and also made the material more pliable. Pasting the wall made sure that paste was there to hold the paper to the wall, instead of letting the thirsty substrate soak it all up.

Even so, this has been a difficult install. The paper is thick and hard to trim, and there are issues with the seams that do not make me happy (see yesterday’s post). I worked an 8-hour today and only got two walls done. So I have to go back tomorrow, and the job will take a day longer than I had planned for.

The wallcovering is made by York. I usually like their products, but, like I said, I am a bit displeased with this stuff. The homeowner, however, loves it.