Posts Tagged ‘color variations’

Working Around Shading in Cork Wallpaper

February 16, 2021

The homeowners originally sought grasscloth for this accent wall in the home office. But I talked them out of it, due to the unpleasant shading and color variation issues (click on the page to the right to read more). I showed them a sample of this white-washed cork wallpaper, and they were immediately smitten.

The previous time I hung this, the material was very homogeneous in color.

But this time, it was immediately evident that there was a darker band running down the left half of the roll, and a lighter band along the right side. Note that this is not considered a defect (even though it is obviously a problem stemming from the factory). It is considered part of the “inherent beauty of these natural materials.” Meaning, you can’t return it and expect to get your money back.

Cutting strips as they come off the roll and hanging them next to each other will result in abrupt color differences between strips – as you see in the top photo. One way to minimize that is to hang every other strip upside down, so you are then putting the dark side next to it’s dark counterpart on the previously hung strip.

In this case, because the darker areas were so dark and wide, this would have resulted in the wall having a striped look. Not what the homeowners were shooting for.

The wall was exactly 12′ wide, and the material is 3′ wide, so we needed four strips to cover the width of the wall.

We had three double-roll bolts. Each 24′ long bolt will give you two 9′ strips. Thus we needed two double rolls to cover this wall. That left us with one bolt in excess.

That turned out to be a good thing – having extra paper. The color shading was bad in one bolt, noticeable in another bolt, and the third bolt was pretty homogeneous in color.

I rejected the bolt with the worst shading. Thank goodness the client ordered a little extra paper! The bolt with the second-worst shading, I discovered that if I rolled it backwards, the shading was less severe in the inner portion.

So I took two strips off this bolt from the inside-out.

So now that gave me two strips from the first roll that were pretty homogenous. Plus two strips from the second bolt that were passable.

How to keep the color as uniform a possible across the 12′ wide wall?

II knew I wanted to place the two strips from the first, “best” bolt in the center of the wall. If I hung one right-side-up, and the next one up-side-down, keeping the darker area toward the center, the color differences would be less noticeable.

But I still had to cover 3′ width on either side of those two center strips.

One strip equaled 3′ width. So one 3′ wide strip on either side of those two center strips.

One plan, I contemplated cutting each of those the two 3′ (36″) wide strips from the second bolt into 18″ widths. Hang one right-side-up and the other upside-down. That would break up any color variations into less noticeable panels.

Only problem was, then there would be two 36″ wide chunks of material in the middle, flanked by two 18″ wide chunks on either side. I thought that would be too inconsistant, visually.

It would look better to keep all the widths the same, at 36.”

The two strips I had taken off that second double roll bolt had some shading issues, with the left side being darker than the right side. I reasoned that it would be less noticeable if the darker, shaded area, was toward the outer corners – sort of as if sunlight or furniture or window shutters were casting shadows.

So I plotted to use a full 36″ wide strip on either side of the center strips. I would position them so that the lighter side of each strip was toward the center – toward those two originally-placed strips. This meant placing one right-side-up and the other one upside-down.

Thus the darker edge of the strips would be situated toward the corners of the wall – a logical place for shadows and light to play tricks on the eye.

That’s what I ended up doing. And the finished wall does really look very homogeneous!

Yes, I am quite guilty of over-thinking way more than I should. But I think the client deserves the best look possible. And, to be honest, all this plotting and engineering is a big part of the fun of hanging wallpaper!

Tailored and White-Washed Cork Wallpaper – Home Office

February 13, 2021

During the pandemic, the man and wife are both working from home … in the same improvised home office … and getting on each other’s nerves. The lady of the house decreed it’s time for the guy to move out!

So they commandeered the home’s original living room and are turning it into an office for him.

They wanted something to warm the look of the four all-white walls, while maintaining an air of professionalism and business, and at the same time being a choice that could transition to another use, once the pandemic ends and the room no longer needs to serve as an office.

This white-washed cork wallpaper with flecks of gold is the perfect choice for an accent wall behind the man’s desk.

As with all natural material wallpapers, you can expect shading and color variations between and even within strips. This one turned out pretty homogeneous.

I don’t have information on the brand or manufacturer. The material is natural cork, which is applied to the paper backing in bocks approximately 6″ square. It comes 3′ wide x 24′ long, and is a paste-the-material product.

The rather contemporary home is located in Bellaire (Houston).

Softening A Heights Dining Room; Wonderful Faux Grasscloth

November 21, 2020

The original dark paint was bold and beautiful. But the homeowners wanted something softer and textured. They listened to my “rant” about color variations in grasscloth (see link at right), and chose this embossed vinyl replica instead.

They couldn’t have chosen better!

We were worried about the usual very visible vertical seams in grasscloth, and how they would juxtapose with the vertical boards in the wainscoting at the bottom portion of the walls. The spacing between the boards did not sync at all with the width of the wallpaper. If the seams in the paper were visible and did not coordinate with the vertical elements below, it would have ended up a very visually confusing room.

Luckily, and very surprisingly, this material turned out to be wonderfully homogeneous, and the seams are virtually invisible.

What you do see is the is the very soft, muted texture and warm color that envelope the room. I like to say that this sort of pattern emulates a finely tailored man’s suit.

That last photo is distorted a bit, so ignore those wavy, swirly lines.

This wallcovering is by Warner, in their Textures VII, Grasscloth Resource book, on page 32, a lightly embossed (textured) vinyl on a scrim (woven fabric) backing, and is a random / reverse pattern match (meaning, there is no pattern to match).

It comes either 26″ wide or 52″/54″ wide. Lil’ ol’ me can’t wrangle that extra-wide stuff, so I asked the homeowners to buy the 26″ option.

This type of vinyl is way more resistant to dings and stains than most traditional wallpapers. The scrim backing also makes it easy to strip off the wall later, and with minimal damage to the wall. The embossing adds just a touch of texture.

Best of all, because it is man-made instead of a natural material, there is none of the displeasing shading and color variations that are so prevalent in real grasscloth.

The home is a relatively new build in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Thibaut Aster – Affordable Alternative to Schumacher Feather Bloom

October 7, 2020


One-of-a-kind would describe this powder room in the West University neighborhood of Houston. You walk down two stairs to get into the room, marble tile covers the bottom portion of the walls, the ceiling is low, the ceiling slopes, and there is a curved wall on the left, as well as a 5″ high space under the sink – what I call a torture chamber for wallpaper hangers.

The homeowner contemplated grasscloth (not a good choice in a “wet” room, and especially for a family with young children – read my Grasscloth page on the right). She really liked Schumacher’s “Feather Bloom” pattern on grass. But when I made my initial consultation visit, I advised that the 36″ high and 36″ wide scale of the pattern was too large for her small, chopped up powder room. And grasscloth is prone to color variations between panels. On top of that, the Schumacher is insanely expensive.

Thibaut to the rescue! Their “Aster” design is an obvious riff on “Feather Bloom.” But it’s a smaller scale, so suits this room much better. It’s on stringcloth, a man-made material, so no worries about shading or color discrepancies. There is a light protective coating, so a bit more resistant to stains. And the string gives the product the textured look and feel that people are loving these days (see close up photo). Best of all, the Thibaut version is way more affordable!

The homeowner has a small, round, gold mirror with a fluted edge that will look fabulous placed in the “bull’s eye” of the aster flower over the sink.

The once bland all-grey room now has color, texture, movement, and a whole lot of drama!

Soft Grasscloth in West U. Powder Room

August 19, 2020


I papered this powder room about 15 years ago when the homeowners first moved into the house. Somewhere along the line, that paper was removed, and the room was painted plain white. The look was fresh – but cold.

Now the homeowner was ready for a change, seeking texture and warmth. This grasscloth by Thibaut fills both bills perfectly.

The photos skew the color – the wallpaper is actually an off-white, leaning toward soft tan. The weave has just enough texture to be visible, but is not overly coarse or rough.

I was pleased that there was no issue with shading, paneling, or color variations, as is often the case with grasscloth.

This wallpaper was bought from Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet. Talk to Sarah, who is in charge of the wallpaper department. (713) 520-6262.

Warming Heights Living Room With Faux Grasscloth

August 7, 2020


Top photo – you’re looking at a living room in a beautifully renovated 1910 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The bottom 3/4 of the walls are clad in beautiful white board-and-batten paneling. I skim-floated (smoothed) the upper 2′ of wall space a few months ago – and, due to construction delays, the poor family has been living with these uninspiring grey walls ever since.

Today I was able to finally get their paper up on the wall. This is an embossed vinyl faux grasscloth product by York. It is good quality, and the close-up shot shows that it does a good job of mimicking real grasscloth in texture and design. Unlike real grasscloth, because this material is vinyl, it will be resistant to stains. And because it’s man-made, there won’t be the sharp color variations from strip to strip.

However, like real grasscloth, this particular product does not have a pattern match (some by other manufactures, like Thibaut, do have a pattern match). No pattern match means that you will see a visible pattern break at every seam, every 27″ apart.

The homeowner knew immediately that she would not be happy with that. So she suggested running the material horizontally instead of vertically (called “railroading”). The width of the wallpaper accommodated the height of the wall space wonderfully, and we had just enough yardage to cover each of the four wall areas without having to splice any paper.

Another benefit is that, with the “grass” in the design directed vertically, it correlated nicely with the vertical paneling below.

And … the room has special tiny LED lights running along the top of the wainscoting. When turned on, they light up the wallpaper in a beautiful way. If the texture had been running horizontally, those lights would cast some really disconcerting shadows. (Remember when you were a kid and held a flashlight under your chin?!)

The true colors don’t show up well in the photos. This material mixes strands of murky blue, navy, mossy green, and gold. These colors coordinate sooo nicely with the deep blue ceiling, the navy paint in the adjoining dining room, and the tiles in the era-accurate fireplace.

The wallpaper manufacturer is York. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. She works mainly in the Heights area, and mostly on new builds or whole-house renovations.

Wonderful Stringcloth Alternative to Grasscloth

July 23, 2020

Color Variations in Background

June 10, 2020

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Look closely and you can see vertical stripes of color variations in the background of this wallpaper. It was very minor, though, and blended somewhat with the vertical flower stems, and was not visible from a distance.

Fabulous Fake / Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper

April 10, 2020

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These young homeowners of a new townhome in the Houston Heights were originally considering natural grasscloth for this 35′ long wall in their kitchen / dining / living room. I told them of my disappointment with grasscloth’s visible seams, shading, paneling, and color variations (do a Search here). I was happy when they took my suggestion of this faux grasscloth alternative.

This is a printed horizontal grasscloth pattern on a paper substrate, with a vertical stringcloth material on top. The strings give the paper the texture that people are loving these days. But unlike real grasscloth, this product is more stain-resistant and durable. And it has a pattern that can be matched from strip to strip, so, unlike the real stuff, you don’t see the seams. (See photo) And there is virtually no shading, paneling, or color variations (do a Search here on those terms).

The end result is a beautiful, textured, homogeneous, warm and cozy living space.

The bull-nosed (rounded) corners on the windows gave me some argument and took a lot of time, but turned out great.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and in their Grass Effects book. 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.

Balancing Grasscloth Panels

January 18, 2020


Because grasscloth does not have a pattern that can be matched, the seams are always visible. And, due to the characteristics of natural materials, the strips will have color variations within themselves. This means that you will distinctly see each individual panel on the wall.

Because each panel is noticeable, walls usually look better if each panel is the same width. In other words, on a wall 14′ wide, it looks better to have five strips that are each 33.5″ wide, rather than four strips that are 3′ wide and one that is 2.’

In addition, grasscloth invariably comes with edges that have been abraded during shipping. On top of that, it’s common to have color issues at the edges – either a light band, or a dark band, or irregular bands of shading along the edges.

For that reason, many paperhangers trim the edges off both sides of each strip of grasscloth. This allows the installer to trim the width to fit the wall’s dimensions, it gets rid of most of the damage caused by shipping and handling, and it reduces the shading that the manufacturer’s dye process may have left along the edges.

If you study the photo closely, you will see that all these panels are the same width.

And, while some jagged color variations do appear along some of the edges, it is not pronounced, as the darkest areas have been trimmed off.

There is still a color difference between the three strips on the right and the four strips on the left – but that is just the nature of grasscloth and its manufacturing process

As you can imagine, all this measuring and plotting and trimming takes extra time. If you’re like me and like math and geometry and logistics, hanging grasscloth can be a whole lot of fun!