Posts Tagged ‘crooked’

Crooked Wall

June 3, 2020


A crooked / bowed wall like this makes it difficult to match the wallpaper pattern perfectly.

Girl’s Nursery – Last Job Before CoronaVirus Shut Down

March 25, 2020


Most work in the Houston area shutters at midnight. I was delighted that I was able to squeeze in this one accent wall, for a baby girl who is to arrive soon.

Top pic shows the room in its original all gray state. The walls were textured, so I troweled on a layer of skim-coat to smooth them. In the second picture you see my three fans (plus the ceiling fan and the home’s A/C system cranking away), working to dry the smoothing compound.

I killed a whole Texas Highways magazine while it was drying. Once dry, I sanded the wall smooth, vacuumed up dust, wiped dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and primed.

This wallpaper was a non-woven material, and could be hung via the paste-the-wall method. I usually prefer to past the paper, for many reasons, but in the case of a simple accent wall like this (and because it was easier than lugging my 7′ long work table and trestles up the curved staircase), pasting the wall was a better option.

Once the strips are cut, I roll them up backwards and secure with an elastic hairband. See photo. This helps get rid of the “memory” of the paper, so it does not want to stay tightly curled up. It also keeps the front of the paper away from the paste on the wall, which helps keep everything clean during installation.

The walls in this room (in the whole house, the husband tells me) are pretty darned off-plumb. I used a few tricks and kept the pattern straight along the ceiling line. But, since I started by hanging my strips true to plumb, by the time the paper reached the corners and the adjoining un-plumb walls, there was no way to avoid the pattern being uneven from ceiling to floor. Kinda hard to see in the photo, but there is about 3/4″ difference in width from top to bottom.

Luckily, once you stand back, that crookedness is not all that noticeable.

Although the paper is mildly pink, the muted color and more sophisticated geometric design don’t scream “baby’s room.” This is a look that will grow with the little girl into her teen years.

This wallpaper pattern is by Engblad & Co., a Scandinavian company, 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.

The home is in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Measuring for a Mural – Add 2″ Extra to EACH Side

August 3, 2019


One common mistake that homeowners make when ordering custom-sized murals is that they will meticulously measure their wall to the 1/2 inch, and order the mural that size.

What they are supposed to do is to add 2″ of “bleed” to each side – a total of 4″ to each dimension.

This extra paper allows for trimming at the ceiling and baseboard (see photo), and it allows some wiggle room to accommodate crooked or unplumb walls and unlevel floors and ceilings.

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 appliquéd 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.

Cole & Son Woods in a Powder Room

November 13, 2018


This powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military area of Houston was originally papered in a darkish jungle/ethnic/animal-themed wallpaper. It was a good look, but the new homeowners wanted something brighter and fresher. Plus, the original paper had been hung over the textured walls, and the bumps were showing through.

It would have taken me two long days to strip the original paper, smooth the walls, and hang the paper. So the homeowner tackled the removal of the original paper (following instructions on my blog (see page on the right side) plus info she found on the internet), which saved her the price of a day’s labor. It also made my job a bit easier.

But this job still required a lot of prep, which took a lot of time. The homeowners were out of town (they let me into the house via remote access), and it was nice because I could work in peace and quiet, and I could stay as late as I needed.

I skimmed on smoothing compound, waited while it dried, sanded smooth, wiped off the dust, primed, and then finally hung the paper.

The pedestal sink was tricky to get around, as they always are. And the bull-nosed / rounded edges of two outside corners in the room were a challenge. Additional hurdles were crooked walls, un-plumb walls, and a ridged non-woven wallpaper material that would not bend or yield to crooked, un-plumb walls. 🙂 The pattern itself was a bit forgiving of these imperfections, and I used a few tricks to make things look straight and true.

This wallpaper design is quite popular, and I have hung it a bunch of times. It is called “Woods,” and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is printed on a non-woven substrate, and is designed to be a paste-the-wall installation – but I find that paste-the-paper is a superior method.

Best of all, the homeowner loved what the pattern and light color did for the room. The powder room is instantly brightened, and the images of tree trunks give the room a whole lot of dimension and draw you in, as if you were actually walking in a forest.

The strong diagonal repetitiveness of the tree branches usually bothers me a bit. But in this room, with each wall holding only two or three strips, the pattern is dispersed nicely and the diagonal effect is minimized. So, what you see is the forest, and not so much the trees. 🙂

It 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.

World Map – A Lesson in Measuring

August 6, 2018


Regarding the previous post about the world map … with murals, it’s always important to measure carefully before ordering. Some maps are custom made to fit your specific wall, and some come in a set size. In both cases, it’s best to have the paperhanger measure the space and tell you what to order.

When the mural is custom-sized to fit your wall, it’s imperative to add an extra 2″ to EACH SIDE of the map. This means that you will have an extra 4″ of both width and height. This will allow for trimming at the ceiling and floor and opposite ends, as well as accommodate crooked walls and unlevel floors and ceiliings.

In the case of this world map, the product came in one set size. Turns out the mural was half a foot or so taller than the wall. Good. That allows a little extra for trimming at the ceiling and floor.

But the width came out to be exactly the same as the width of the wall. Sounds perfect, huh? NOT! Because when I butted the mural up against the door frame on the right, that gave a nice, tight fit – but since that frame was not perfectly plumb, by the time the 12′ of mural reached the opposite wall, it had gone cattywhompus, and that resulted in a crooked gap at the left side. See first photo.

In addition, the ceiling was way off level. That meant that ceiling line sloped downwards and “ate up” some of the print at the top of the mural.

If I had had that extra 2″ of “bleed” area all around each side, I could have hung the map a bit off-plumb, so that the print would have lined up with the un-level ceiling. And I would have had enough to meet both the right side of the wall and the left side.

But none of that happened, so here’s what I did. I butted the mural up against the door frame on the right side of the wall. That left a gap when I got to the left side of the wall. See first photo. So I took some of the paper that was trimmed off at the floor, found some blue water that was the same color as the part of the map on the left side, and fit it in to that narrow 1/2″ gap. The pattern doesn’t match perfectly – but you don’t notice it. And it is the part of the wall that will be behind the door.

In the photos you can see that there is part of the map that extends over the tops of the doors on either side (only the right hand side and door are shown). This area extends further into the wall than the door frame molding that the mural was butted up against. This left another gap, this time about 1″ wide, over each door.

Again, I was able to take some scraps that had been trimmed off and find a piece with color and design that “kind of” blended in, and I patched those in in the 1″ gap over the doors. Again, the pattern doesn’t match perfectly, but the color and the themes do, and over the doors, no one is going to notice.

One final trick … Remember I said that the ceiling was not level, and so it was chopping off some elements at the top of the wall? Those were letters that spelled “ARTIC OCEAN.” As the mural moved across the room, and as the ceiling moved along with it, we had three-quarters of an “A” on the left, and only an eighth of an “N” on the right. (Note: If I had had enough extra height, I could have pulled the entire mural up high enough that all those letters would have been cut off. Another reason to consult the installer before ordering a mural. 🙂 )

Anyway, the eye wants to see uniformity, not letters getting smaller as you move across the room. So what I did was, I decided that those words really weren’t important at the top of the wall – especially because the corresponding letters spelling “SOUTHERN OCEAN” had been cut off at the bottom of the wall, and also because the letters were so thin and unimportant that no one was going to see them way at the top of the wall, anyway.

But if someone did look up there, he wouldn’t want to see the name of the ocean getting progressively smaller. So I took some scrap paper that matched in color, and cut small patches, and then glued these over the letters “A,” “R,” “T,” “I,”… and so on, to cover them up. I used a special adhesive that would stick to the glossy map surface.

Once they were gone from view, and the gap at the left edge filled in, no one will be able to see anything crooked on this world map!

Bottom line: Have the paperhanger measure BEFORE you order the mural.

Compensating for Crooked Walls

July 17, 2018

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Today I was to hang this cute bear wallpaper on one accent wall of a baby’s nursery.  The walls were 0ff-plumb, and the ceiling was not level, and the pattern was very plotted and symmetrical.  So let’s just say that the room presented challenges.

One thing that helped was the way the blocks of bears are printed on the wallpaper.  See Photo 1.  Unlike most wallpaper designs, the motifs did not cross the seams, so there were no elements to be matched from strip to strip.  This left me free to place the bears’ heads at the top of the wall with every strip.

Normally, when the ceiling is not level, the wallpaper pattern (the heads of the bears) would start to move up or down the ceiling, and that means that the heads would start to get chopped off horizontally.

But since this pattern did not cross the seams of the wallpaper and I didn’t have to match any parts of bears across the seams, I was able to pull each strip up to the top of the wall, and eating a uniform line (or head-count 🙂 ) at the top of the wall.  It meant that the lines of bears were not perfectly level from strip to strip – but that was not very noticeable, and was a whole lot better than seeing heads get chopped off.

The walls on either side were also not plumb.  As a test, I hung the first strip of paper butted into the corner, so it is parallel with the wall.  The second photo shows my laser level red line against the side of the paper.  If you could see above the top of the photo, that red line is butted against the edge of the paper at the top of the wall.  Yet as you move down the wall, the strip of wallpaper moves away to the left of the red level line.

I could pull the strip of paper into plumb so that it aligned with the red laser line – but that would cause a slew of bears to get their heads sliced off vertically where they hit the adjacent wall.  As well as when they got to the opposite wall.

Also, since the ceiling was not level, the bears’ heads would start marching either up or down the ceiling line, and, again, some bears would get their heads chopped off.

What to do?

I checked for plumb on both outer walls, and found that both walls were off-plumb by a fairly significant amount.  Luckily, both walls were out of plum parallel with one another.  This meant that I could hang the paper off-plumb and butted into the right corner, and it would come out on the left side of the wall nicely parallel to the opposite side (right corner).

So the pattern aligned nicely with both the right and left walls.  But since to do this I had to hang the paper off-plumb, it would also go off-level at the ceiling.  And since the ceiling was already no where near level, it was very likely that the pattern was going to track up or down that ceiling line, with a bunch o’ bears getting their heads cut off.

Here is where the placement of the pattern on the 20.5″ wide wallpaper made a difference… Because I didn’t have to match a bear’s head to a bear’s head horizontally across the seams. I could position each strip so that the tips of the bears’ ears were at the top of the wall.  (Read previous paragraphs.)

But because the ceiling was off-level by such a great degree, some of the pattern did get crooked, and so you see a couple of black feet starting to appear above the brown bear at the top of the wall (See photo 3).

But I’d rather have a few paws showing at the top of the ceiling, than have a bunch ‘o bears get chopped off vertically at the corners.  But still, I didn’t like looking at those paws hanging down from the ceiling.

The fix was easy.  I took some scrap wallpaper and from it I cut some thin strips of white paper that I then pasted over the offending paws.  Voilà!  No visible dangling paws.

AND the pattern looks amazingly equal in each corner,

This is a new townhouse in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston.

Crooked Light Switches

May 30, 2018


You would think that if you were working in a $1.5 million dollar home, you would take care and pride and precision in your job. Yet these poor homeowners are left with an electrical outlet that leans toward the right, and light switches that lean to the left.

Fudging the Kill Point to Fool the Eye

May 26, 2018


My two previous posts dealt with a wallpaper pattern of stacked blocks in a room with crooked, unplumb walls and an unlevel ceiling. Besides keeping the pattern level, and having all the horizontal lines match in all four corners (note my pencil guide-line near the top of the wall in the first photo), it was important to keep the blocks all the same size. Or at least make it look like they are all the same size.

A kill point is the last corner or join in a room – where the last strip meets up with the first strip. This almost always ends in a pattern mis-match. So you try to hide it in an un-obvious corner. This room, however, had no hidden corners, and no good place for the kill point.

So I decided to put it over the door. It took some work to keep those gold lines at the same height all the way around the room. The pencil line you see near the top of the first photo helped with that.

But I also wanted to keep the boxes all about the same width. The manufacturer had set the width at 21.” But as the design worked its way around the room, the final space (over the door) was going to end up at 24.5″ wide. I could make that last block 24.5″ wide, if I spliced in a bit of scrap paper. But that would throw off the pattern match a bit, and those 3.5 extra inches of width would be likely to catch the eye.

So I decided to “shrink” that last panel over the door instead, but by only about 1,” which would be less detectable to the eye.

To “shrink” the last panel to 20,” I would have to add some inches elsewhere. I decided to add it in the corners.

When you hang wallpaper around inside corners, you cut the paper in the corner, allowing 1/16″ or 1/8″ to wrap around the corner. Then the new strip of paper overlaps that thin wrapped area. Obviously, a small amount of the wallpaper pattern / design is lost in the process.

If I have plenty of paper, I can cut a new strip in such a way that the pattern will match pretty much perfectly. With a design like these blocks, I would measure what the width of each block was supposed to be (21″), and then cut the new piece so its width, when added with the width of the existing half-block, would work out to 21.”

I also have the option of making the new half of the block a little wider or narrower. I measured carefully around the room, and figured that if I “grew” the blocks in each of the four corners by about 1,” by the time the paper worked its way around to that final strip over the door, that 3.5″ gap would be gone, and I’d have an excess of about 3/4.” A difference in width of 3/4″ is much less noticeable than a strip that is overly wide by 3.5,” so I decided to go with that.

I spliced the two strips together at the point where they met, and then appliquéd on one portion of vertical gold line (which had been cut off during the splice).

The photograph’s angle distorts the size and shape of the blocks a bit, but, from a distance, they all look very much like they are the exact same width. Ditto for the blocks in the corner in the original post.

Finishing Touches to the Stacks of Blocks (Previous Post)

May 25, 2018


Because walls are never plumb, and because ceiling lines are never perfectly level, and because wallpaper can twist and distort once it gets wet with paste, with a pattern like in the previous post, it’s not advisable to place a key element, such as the gold horizontal line, at the top of the wall. It will begin to run crooked – either up into the ceiling, or fall down below it. So for this install, I raised the pattern so that the horizontal gold line would be cut off. This made that top block about 3/4″ shorter than the blocks below it. Not a biggie – at 10′ up, no one is going to notice this small discrepancy.

I did want to make the blocks look more homogenous, though. I thought that having a gold frame around all sides of the top blocks would make them blend in better with the other blocks all around the room.

So I used my straightedge to trim some narrow strips of the gold double-stripe out of left over wallpaper scrapes. Then I appliquéd them on top of the paper, just at the ceiling line.