Posts Tagged ‘chalk’

Wrong Info – Farrow & Ball

October 10, 2019


In the instruction sheet, the manufacturer addressed a number of things that can go amiss when hanging wallpaper. One of these is the potential for the white substrate to peek out from the seams, especially as the wallpaper dries and shrinks a tiny tad.

One common solution is to color the edges of the paper. This is exactly what the manufacturer is suggesting on the instruction sheet.

The only problem is, they specifically tell you to use oil pastel crayons.

THIS IS VERY BAD. There are a number of substances that will stain wallpaper – and oil is one of them. Lipstick, cooking oil, hair cream, candle wax, a potato chip, and even the oils in one’s hands will all cause a blotch on wallpaper.

So it’s very bad to use oil pastels. Yes, they may do a good job of covering over the white edge of the substrate. But, sooner or later, the oils in the pastels will leach their way into the wallpaper, creating a stain that cannot be washed off or removed.

(For the record, permanent markers (Magic Marker, Sharpie) cannot be used either, because they will also bleed into wallpaper. There are a whole lot of other substances that cause stains … but that is a topic for another blog post … )

The correct alternative is to use artists’ chalk pastels. Some friends of mine use water-based paint, and some use colored pencils.

Dark Papers – Visible Seams

September 10, 2019


Wallpaper is paper, and when paste is applied to the back, the paper gets wet and expands a little. When it hits the wall, it dries – and often that means it will shrink, even if just a tad. That will leave minute gaps at the seams. If the paper is dark and the wall or the substrate are light , you will most likely see white gaps at the seams.

Some manufacturers combat this by printing dark patterns on a darker substrate. This is what you see in the photo above. But it also helps to color the edges of the wallpaper with a corresponding color of chalk. (You can’t use ink, because ink will bleed and discolor the wallpaper.)

Sometimes you can go back and color in the seams with hobby paint or chalk, which sounds simple but actually takes some technique and finesse, to color the areas adequately and avoid staining the paper.

Painting the wall the color of the paper is a thought, but not as feasible as it sounds, because wallpaper wants to stick to wallpaper primer, not paint. And I’ve seen paint lift off the wall when the wallpaper dried and put tension on it – so, not using that trick again.

Paint with a clear wallpaper primer over it is another idea – but it adds an extra day (or two) and more labor and material costs.

What I did in this case, was to try different pasting methods. This wallpaper, from the Historic Homes Collection by Thibaut, is pre-pasted and engineered to be run through a water tray to activate the paste on the back of the paper.

This method works super with most of their colors. But, because the water tray adds a lot of moisture to the wallpaper, the amount of expansion and then shrinkage results in tiny gaps at the seams – not a big deal with a white or light-colored wallpaper. But with this black paper, it was showing too much white at the seams. Yes, a 1/64th” is too much, when you are looking at white between black.

So instead of running the paper through the water tray, I experimented with pasting the back of the paper. I knew this method would allow the paper to expand less, dry faster, and shrink minimally.

But wallpaper that has a thin layer of pre-paste on the back does not respond well to the installer applying paste to the back on top of the pre-paste. You are greeted with a thick, dry, gummy mess that is hard to manipulate on the wall.

There were also a lot of bubbles and blisters under the surface. Yes, you can be assured that these will disappear as the paper dries – but it sure makes you nervous while you are looking at them!

Spraying the back of the paper with water from a mister didn’t work, either, because the spray bottle spread water unevenly, water sloshed onto my work table, and there was nothing to enhance the “stickiness” of the manufacturer’s pre-paste.

After experimenting, what worked best was to apply paste to the back, full strength, and then quickly spritz the back with water and roll it around, to thin down the paste I had just applied, and to add enough moisture to activate the pre-paste.

The wallpaper strips with this pasting concoction were thick and muddy and difficult to maneuver, but the drier paste did lock down at the seams more quickly. I didn’t have issues with shrinking or gapping seams after I started using this pasting method.

Cole & Son Colors the Edges

August 22, 2019

Dark papers are always a little scary, because if they are printed on white stock, when the paper dries and shrinks a tad, there is always the chance that a teeny bit of white will show at the seams. Some companies minimize this by printing on a dark stock – but that is rare.

Another thing you can do is take chalk or water-based marker and color the edges of the paper. It works pretty well, but is time consuming.

This company – Cole & Son – went one better, and made sure that ink from the surface got onto the edges of the paper as well. So there are no white edges to peek out at the seams.

In addition, because they printed on a non-woven material, which is made of synthetic fibers and is dimensionally-stable, it won’t shrink when it dries, further reducing the chance of getting gaps at the seams.

Clever Wine Crate Pattern for Outside a Wine Room

July 24, 2019


In the top picture, out of sight to the right is a walk-in wine room. The homeowner has loved this pattern for years, and finally found a place to put it – right adjacent to the wine room!

The wine case pattern is by Brunschwig and Fils. Unlike the other papers by B&F that I have hung, this one is a vinyl, with a slightly embossed surface (the lines between the boxes are slightly indented). It has a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand. Unlike most hand-trimmed papers, this one had no trim guide marks, so I had to wing it on where to place my straightedge.

The paper backing soaked up paste quickly, and each strip was nearly dried out by the end of the booking time, so I ended up rolling a little paste on the wall where the seams would fall, to augment. Once it was on the wall, the paper adhered nicely.

The floor was unlevel, and so the paper ran crooked along top of it, making it look like the bottom row of boxes was running downhill. To level out this bottom line, I used my straightedge and a razor blade to cut off the bottom “boards” along the black line. I trimmed the strip to 1/2″ high. See 4th photo. I used a piece of artist’s chalk to color the cut edge, so white would not show along the top.

Then I appliqu├ęd the strip over the bottom of the paper on the wall, butting it up against the baseboard. Wallpaper paste won’t stick to vinyl (it’s too slick), so I used special adhesive on the area of the overlap.

In the bottom photo, you can see how nice and even the bottom line looks.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. The home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Similar Color, But More Uplifting Pattern

June 29, 2019

The original wallpaper in this rear powder room / pool bathroom of a home in the Memorial Villages neighborhood of Houston was very dark blue with tiny black dots on it – from a distance, it looked like a solid color. It was an interesting pattern, but didn’t have personality of its own, so needed artwork to set it off.

This new pattern is very similar in background color, but the upward-moving foliage, accented by the beautifully painted hummingbirds, add a whole lot of movement and character to the room.

The leaves are a shimmery metallic champagne sort of color, and the hummingbirds have a mesmerizing iridescence; they almost look like photographs.

The stained glass window, which had been a bit of an odd duck – mostly because of the baseball in the center – became an asset when the wallpaper went up, because the colors of the birds miraculously matched the colors in the window.

Because the dark paper was printed on a white substrate, I used chalk to color the edges, so that white would not peek out at the seams.

This paper is by Harlequin, a British company. It is on a non-woven backing, and could be hung by the paste-the-wall method, or, as I did, by pasting the paper. It was nice to work with, but it could be creased easily, which would have made it difficult in a room that required more turns and intricate cuts and objects to trim around.

The wallpaper 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.

Turbulent Intertwined Arboreals

March 16, 2019


I love this pattern. It’s swirly and ominous and woodsy and fun all at the same time. I hung it in the black and white colorway not long ago. It’s very similar to “Daintree” by Thibaut – As I like to say, for every cool pattern, there is someone making a knock-off.

This one is by York, one of my favorite brands, and is in their Dwell Studios line. It is a non-woven material, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method or the paste-the-paper method (I used the latter). Non-woven does not expand, and can be hung immediately after pasting (as opposed to having to sit booked for a few minutes). I colored the edges of the paper with chalk before pasting, so the white backing would not show at the seams.

This went in the powder room of the same MidCentury Modern house as my three previous posts. The walls were equally unplumb, and the ceiling off-level, so it’s good that the pattern was forgiving.

Birds on Black Wallpaper by Witch and Watchman

March 2, 2019


This very cool wallpaper pattern looks almost photographic. The design has depth, and look at those eyes! – you feel like you are being drawn into the jungle.

The paper was pricy, so, to cut down on the number of rolls needed, the homeowner ran chair rail around the middle of the room, and had the paper applied to the top 5′ only. She painted the bottom an almost-black purple (it’s way darker than the photo shows), and the ceiling got the same paint, too.

The room will be finished with a sort of mosaic, three-dimensional, leaded-glass mirror – that lights up!

Tucked into a large powder room, this is a bold, gutsy look that not every home is ready for. But it’s perfectly suites to this Montrose (Houston) couple!

My second black paper in two days, I again used artist’s chalk pastels to color the edges, so the white substrate would not show at the seams. I tried different install methods, but this non-woven material worked better and had less shrinking when I pasted the wall (rather than the paper).

This is a perfect example of “If you love it, nothing else will do, so find a way to make it happen.” The homeowner saw this pattern and went nuts over it – then went nuts when she learned the price. I suggested that she search for similar patterns by other companies … but nothing grabbed her like this one. After a few months, she came back to her original choice. Eliminating the bottom portion of the room helped bring the price down.

The paper is by Witch & Watchman, and is called “Folia.” It comes in other colorways, but nothing is nearly as dramatic as this “Dark” option. Their patterns are pretty cool. I’ve hung a similar jungle-themed design, but it had cute furry animals on it in addition to the birds – with the same piercing, luring eyes. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/how-many-birds-in-the-forest/

After 30 Years, It’s Time for an Update

December 19, 2018


These homeowners were updating their 30-year old home in Sugarland. To the dining room and hallway, they added crown molding at the top and wainscoting with block-and-panel molding at the bottom. Fine moldings add a real touch of elegance.

But the wife has a bit of a renegade spirit, and really likes the new “industrial modern” decorating style. So it was time for the ’90’s era faux-finish wallpaper to go – along with the border which you can just see a tidbit of it peeking out from under the new crown molding.

The new wallcovering choice is a small “flame” textured vinyl in a steely grey/taupe/gold color. It perfectly pulls together the industrial modern light fixture and the classic paneling.

The cut edges of the textured vinyl, along with the sheen of the material, really reflect light and bounce it around the room.

Like most solid-colored wallcoverings with no pattern, with or without a texture, this selection was subject to some color differences between strips. The dining area with 5′ high walls went up with a very homogenous look. Ditto one wall of the 8′ high hallway to the right. But another wall in that same hallway showed some differences between strips.

To minimize these differences, I tried various things.

First, I made sure to hang each strip sequentially, as they came off the bolt. That would reduce color variations, if the ink had gotten lighter or darker as the printing process went on at the factory.

I colored the edges of the vinyl with chalk of a matching hue, so that if a “high” area of the textured vinyl butted up against a “low” area of the next strip, the white edges would be covered with a matching color.

Next I tried reversing every other strip. This means you hang one strip right-side-up, and the next one upside-down. This ensures that one edge of the paper is being hung against itself, so, if there is a color difference, it is gradual instead of abrupt. Difficult to explain, but it makes sense if your mind’s eye can follow it through.

Interestingly enough, reversing every other strip worked quite nicely on the dining room walls, as you see in the photo. But in the full-height walls to the right, reversing the strips resulted in paneling. So there I hung all the strips right-side-up – and it looked great.

But on the far wall, no matter if I hung right-side-up or reversed, you could see differences between the strips (last photo). I replaced one strip once, and another I replaced twice – but never really loved the way it turned out. On some of the other seams, even though I had colored the edges with chalk, the white vinyl still showed. At some point, you just have to say, “This is how the product is.”

This is also why you discuss this with the homeowner before starting the project – and hopefully before she makes her decision to purchase this product. In this case, the homeowner was originally looking at grasscloth – and that product would most likely have had much more noticeable color differences.

Lighting has a lot to do with it, too. Strong light, filtered light, incandescent or LED, light straight-on or light from an angle, all put their thumbprint on how the wallpaper looks.

This wallpaper pattern is by York (one of the homeowners is originally from York, Pensylvania!), 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.

Updating a ’60’s Dining Room – But Staying True to Mid Century Modern

November 1, 2018

I love all things vintage, and have a keen fondness for old wallpaper in particular. So it really hurt to strip off this beautiful (albeit kitschy) mural – the original installed on one wall of a dining room in this 1960 home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The new homeowners, a young couple, had a more modern vision for the look of their home. This very whimsical “Franz” design feels both modern and mid-century at the same time. And, it perfectly mirrors the thin linear gold lines of the chandelier.

The wallpaper is by a company I had not heard of before – Half Full. It is based in California, and their products are reasonably priced. Unlike many “boutique” manufactures, the company was able to provide sensible product information over the phone, and I was pleased with the quality of their wallpaper.

The surface was printed with a clay-coated ink, and the substrate felt like a pulp material. Installation instructions called for a typical vinyl adhesive, and standard booking times. The material – particularly the edges – did tend to dry out a little too quickly, but a little additional pasting helped with that. There was no detectable shrinkage. I do wish they had printed this black design on a dark substrate, because, even though I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, the white paper backing did show through at the seams just a smidgeon.

Dark Paper Bringing Brightness to a Harvey Hurricane Flooded Home

June 28, 2018


This home in the Bellaire subdivision of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017. Everything below the 4′ high water mark had to be cut out and thrown out. The homeowners loved the Mid-Century Modern vibe of their 1952 home, so, as the structure was put back together, they re-created everything as accurately as they could – baseboards, doors, cabinets, flooring – they even found a funky green refrigerator designed in the style of what I can only describe as an old Studebaker sedan.

When it came to wallpaper, they wanted something to reflect the vintage vibe. After much research, they agreed on two papers from the Bradbury & Bradbury Vintage ’20’s collection. This colorful bird-flowers-and-foliage-on-black pattern went in their sun room, which can also be called the piano room.

The ’20’s Vintage wallpaper collection is pretty new from Bradbury and Bradbury, which is out in California. This company produces historic-styled patterns from eras such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Victorian, Asian, and more, right on through into the new offerings based on designs from the “Modern Age.”

Like many higher-end or specialty and / or “boutique” wallpaper brands, this paper came with a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand (by me!). The manufacturer’s trim guidelines were spot-on, and so the edges were nice and straight, and the pattern design matched from strip to strip perfectly.

This pattern is digitally-printed on a paper substrate with a somewhat shiny surface. I found that it accepted the paste (clay paste is recommended, to mesh with the paper which is printed on a clay-coated substrate) with no protests, and, after appropriate booking time, the paper handled nicely and the seams laid down nice and flat. That slightly shiny surface also allowed me to wipe any stray spots of paste off the surface.

Because the paper was black, I did take the extra step of using a piece of black chalk to color the edges of the strips, to keep the white substrate from peeking out at the seams.

This room holds a grand piano, and is in the back of the house, where it looks out onto the patio and backyard. It gets a lot of sunlight in the daytime, and the colors in the wallpaper will really stand out, and will bring a lot of light into this very deserving home.