Posts Tagged ‘chair rail.’

Metallic Cork Married With Earthy Cork Breathes New Life Into A ’70’s Living Room

October 13, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This 1967 home in a unique neighborhood in Pasadena (Houston) is like a time capsule. It’s a little larger and nicer than the typical ranch-style houses of that era. And just about everything in it was original when my clients bought it … terrazzo floors, dental crown molding, upholstered wall panels in the dining room, diamond paned windows, French Provincial painted iron stairway railing, heavy pleated drapes, and much more.

The homeowners love the look and want to preserve as much as possible. But they also want the home to live a little more modern, and they want it to work with the lifestyle of their young – and very busy – family. They’ve already done a fabulous redo of the kitchen that still respects the era and feel of the home’s bones.

Now it’s time to update the living room. Enter – wallpaper! They used the same grey-brown, wood-look floor tile that they put in the kitchen. They kept the chair rail molding that runs around the room. A sliding barn-style door was custom made to divide the living room from the dining room, and it immediately became the focal point of the room.

Wallpaper was the next element … The couple wanted something earthy, yet elegant, and it had to meld with the vintage theme of the house.

They fell in love with a dark brown cork wallcovering enhanced with metallic accents called Enchanted Woods, by Phillip Jeffries. Whoops! – that brand is crazy expensive! My source (below) found them something nearly identical, but at a much more reasonable price. This dark brown material was used on the bottom 1/3 of the walls, below the chair rail. I was able to railroad this product (run it horizontally, instead of vertically), which eliminated seams. (Sorry, I did not get any photos of this.)

For the upper 2/3 of the wall space, they went with a silver metallic cork wallpaper embellished with a classic damask pattern in white. This is a classy, traditional look jazzed up by a luscious shimmery sheen.

The husband was worried that the dark cork at the bottom of the walls would visually occlude the barn door. At first, I tended to agree with him. But once the cork went up, it was clear that the door still stood out as a dominant feature in the room. Furthermore, it was apparent that the dark band of brown cork was needed all around the room, to balance the visual heft of that massive sliding barn door and to bring continuity to the remaining three walls.

As for the upper 2/3 of the walls, there is no question that the barn door stands out against the silver and white damask cork wallpaper. In addition, the natural texture of the cork coordinates nicely with the stained wood of the door.

Cork wallpaper, especially the metallic colors, is pretty popular right now, and I’ve hung a fair amount of it. But this room was the most challenging. Cork is thick and stiff, and does not want to turn corners (In fact, the instructions say you should not attempt to turn outside corners, but should, instead, cover the corners with wooden molding.), nor is it easy to fit around intricate moldings, and it will give a lot of argument when you try to bend it into a small, tight spot. This room had many of those features!

There was one wall that had two trim-less windows that had reveals (and outside corners) to be covered with the cork material, plus four points of wainscoting trim to cut around, as well as two sections of drapery valances to manipulate the stiff material up and under and into. This wall alone took me 4 1/2 hours to paper!

The rest of the room was easier, but still had its challenges. The cork material is thick and stiff and won’t push tightly against moldings or into corners, which means you have to work extra hard and make several cuts before it will sit snugly against the molding or corner. When trimming around intricate moldings (like the edges of the chair rail), you can’t see or feel where the cuts should be made, so you have to inch your way along, taking a bit here and a sliver there. I estimate that each of the six chair rail edges took me at least 15 minutes – each.

The metallic sheen made it difficult to see the pattern, so it took longer than usual to plot and cut strips.

Cork wallcovering is pretty thick, and you have to expect that the seams will show, just as they do with other natural materials, such as grasscloth. Depending on where you stand in the room, the seams on this product are either invisible, or fairly noticeable. I think the seams could have been better – I have a feeling that the manufacturer’s trimming blade was set at a bit of an angle, making a beveled cut. A perfectly straight cut, or even a slightly reversed-bevel, would perhaps have been less noticeable. Still, this is part of the look of the natural material, and not considered a defect. To be honest, unless you’re looking at a particular seam from just a certain angle, you won’t even see a thing – except the beautiful pattern, color, and shimmer.

The dark brown cork is by Monarque, and the upper cork in the silvery damask pattern is by Thibaut. Both papers were 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.

Over the last few years, I have papered three other rooms for this family. Now that the wallpaper in the living room is up, they are on to other things – furniture, drapes – and then on to update / decorate other rooms. As I left tonight, the mom assured me that I would be back at some point, to paper another room.

Advertisements

Transforming a Stark Hallway

October 7, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This young couple in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston has a beautifully updated and furnished 1940 ranch style home. But they wanted to up the volume, so to speak, and thought that this hallway, which slices through the center of the home, would make a fine focal point.

I’ve hung this classic damask pattern twice before, and was carrying around a sample of it when I visited them for an initial consultation. They liked it immediately, and, after considering several other patterns, decided on the damask.

To make the area really special, they added a chair rail and crown molding.

It’s hard to get a good shot of a long, narrow hallway. But you can see how the color and pattern adds warmth and dimension to the space, and the lightly pearlized shimmer of the paper definitely adds a touch of understated glamor.

Since the chair rail was a main feature of the room, I positioned the pattern so that the bottom of the damask motif landed just above the chair rail. Likewise, the top of the motif sits just below the crown molding. This looks a lot better than having part of the design chopped off in mid-motif.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and was delightful to work with. 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.

In fact, the couple is going to meet with Dorota tomorrow, to choose a complimentary paint color for the bottom portion of the walls.

Here is How I Protect Woodwork While I am Priming

June 14, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image


I do a lot of skim-floating to smooth textured walls, so the wallpaper will be bump-free and have a smooth surface to adhere to. The penetrating sealing primer I like for this is Gardz, because it soaks in, dries hard, and binds the surface together. The downside is, it’s thin like water, and splashes and runs like crazy. There are tricks, like using a micro fiber roller, rolling in an upward direction, using light pressure on the roller, and paying attention to what you’re doing.

Still, splatters and drips will happen. And they can happen with other primers, too, as well as with paint or any other product you are rolling or brushing on a wall.

Most painters use a dropcloth to cover the floor. But I can’t stand the tiny “speckles” that fly off a roller and land on the shoe mold, baseboard, chair rail, or backsplash. Many people wouldn’t even notice them, but I do, and I think the homeowner deserves better.

So I protect the homeowner’s floors and countertops as you see in the 2nd photo. I put dropcloths down on the floor or counter. Then I cover the baseboards or chair rail or backsplash with an additional dropcloth, this time a thin flexible plastic-backed paper material. I use push-pins to hold it tightly against the wall, to catch any and all splatters and drips.

It takes more time and it increases my material costs, but it sure is a better way to treat the client’s home.

Hospitality, Welcome, Friendship = Pineapple in a Dining Room

December 21, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


I have to admit – at first, I didn’t like this wallpaper pattern. I thought the overall pattern of the pineapples and foliage formed too regimented of a trellis design, and the pattern would look austere and severe once it played out across the walls. But once on the walls, the pattern is perfect! I think that if the walls were floor-to-ceiling, yes, then the pattern would be too strong. But with the chair rail and wainscoting, the scale fills the upper portion of the walls nicely, and the bold black and green and gold are a good juxtaposition with the white paneling below.

Because the display cabinets on the built-in buffet are the center of attention in the room, I chose to center the pineapple pattern there. In the third photo, you see me using the laser level to get the first strip perfectly centered and plumb.

This room has a lot of decorative moldings, some of which you can see in the “before” photo, which take a lot of time to trim around. In addition, I wanted the pineapples to fall at a certain point below the crown molding and to hang at a certain point above the chair rail, and because I started on the wall with the granite countertop, which sat 4 1/2 inches higher than the chair rail, it took quite a bit of measuring and figuring and plotting to get the pattern where I wanted it … Let’s just say that that first buffet wall, plus two strips on either side, took me a full four hours.

I hung this in a dining room in Spring Branch (Houston). This wallpaper is by Hygge & West, an on-line company. The mothball-smelling inks used can cause the edges to curl, so I did fight with that to an extent during the day. Lightly sponging the surface before pasting, and striping the wall behind seams with a little paste both helped to keep the seams flat and tight to the wall.

Crooked House With An Unforgiving Geometric Pattern

September 10, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Geometric patterns are all the rage these days, and that’s fine, if all you are wallpapering is one short accent wall in a house where all the walls and floors are perfectly plumb and level.

But that is not what most home are like, and it’s not what I encountered today when I went to hang this swoopy trellis pattern by Farrow & Ball (a British company).

I chose to make the pattern look straight against the most visible element in the room – the door molding. But this meant that the pattern would start to slide up or down the wall at both the ceiling and the chair rail. The chair rail is not at eye-level, but it is very visible, so the discrepancy was very noticeable. For this post, I’ll skip the details about how I made the ceiling appear to be level, and focus on that chair rail.

Because I opted to hang the pattern parallel to the door frame, and because the door frame was off-plumb, and because the chair rail was plumb, when the pattern hit the chair rail, it was not perpendicular. With wild flowers, you would never notice it. But with this small-repeat geometric design, your eye would catch an element (like the “crowns”) moving up or down the wall by even a half an inch.

To disguise this discrepancy, as well as to put a nice focal point at the chair rail, I pulled a tromp l’oeil.” – fool the eye.

I cut a motif out of the wallpaper design – let’s call it a “crown” – and pasted it on top of the paper just above the chair rail. This gave a uniform appearance along the chair rail, and made the eye believe that the wallpaper was straight and level and plumb.

Cutting and appliquéing these crowns took a lot of patience and time, and I missed an event I was planning to attend that evening. But this one detail makes the room look so much better and finished, I knew I had to take the extra time and effort to do it.

White on Navy Geometric in a Heights Powder Room

April 3, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This small powder room in a new home in the Houston Heights has beautiful white block-and-panel wainscoting. Originally, the homeowner wanted a trellis pattern on a white background. But the gal who sells the paper (read below) suggested that a trellis might be too strongly vertical, and also that stronger color would work better to accentuate the woodwork.

The homeowner took the advice, and chose this diamond geometric print on a navy background. It was the perfect choice!

I centered the diamonds on the wall you see first when you walk into the room (toilet wall). Happily enough, the dimensions of the wall worked with the scale of the pattern, and so I was able to get tips of diamonds at both the ceiling and the chair rail lines.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, 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.

A Scratchy, Blurry Geometric Trellis On A Dining Room Accent Wall

March 30, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


The homeowners are fairly new to this house in the Shepherd Park Plaza neighborhood of Houston, and are doing lots of updates. In this dining room, they removed the built-in cabinet that was smack in the middle of this wall, as well as the chair rail molding around the middle. In the top photo, you see new Sheetrock that has been taped and floated in areas that were damaged by removing the cabinet.

To make a perfect surface, I skim-floated the wall. This eliminates hairs and grit from the drywall, and smoothed over the patched areas. I then sanded, wiped free of dust, and primed with a penetrating sealer called Gardz. The finished wall is shown in the second photo.

The homeowners found a paper that matched the colors on their walls and in their Oriental rug, and the scratchy, vague design is visible, but not at all overwhelming. I love the way that the trellis pattern mimics the carved design on the ceiling.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpaper, and was a non-woven, paste-the-wall product. It was bought from Sherwin-Williams. I made sure to center the pattern on the wall, so when they place furniture against it, the pattern will be balanced on either side.

Sometimes a Paperhanger Does More than Hang Wallpaper

July 3, 2013

Digital ImageThis powder room had a chair rail running around the middle of the room. The homeowner wanted the new wallpaper to run straight from ceiling to floor, without the chair rail.

Instead of hiring a handyman and paying the extra money (not to mention the likelihood that he would not patch and repair the damage to the wall), I told her I could remove the chair rail. So I pulled out a few tools I don’t usually use, namely a hammer and pry bar, which I keep in the van “just in case.”

The chair rail came off easily, but underneath was some torn Sheetrock, nail holes, and strips of caulk. I removed what I could, floated over the rest, sanded smooth, primed, and – Voilà! You would never know there had been anything around the middle of the room.