Posts Tagged ‘custom-made’

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.

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Wild Wallpaper In Frames That Will Be Hung On The Wall

July 31, 2018



Here’s some really cool, custom-made wallpaper that, expectedly, costs a ton. The homeowners wanted to accentuate two rooms (dining room, master bedroom) with these patterns, but, considering the investment, wanted to be able to take it with them, should they move.

After much deliberation and investigation of backings, weight, sturdiness, etc., it was decided to mount each mural on plywood, wrap each of those with a wooden frame, and then mount them on the walls with brackets that attach invisibly to the back.

The largest one, which already has its frame attached, and which you see in the top photo, measures about 7′ x 7′, and weights 80 pounds. Imagine getting that thing up two flights of stairs!

The top photo shows the large mural finished. It consists of two panels spliced in the middle. It was trimmed in place to fit inside the good frame you see around it.

The second photo shows the smaller mural being laid out. It will be applied to the board you seeing lying on the floor in the third photo. The plywood board has been sealed with KILZ, to prevent knotholes from bleeding through, sanded smooth, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer. I used Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

These wallpaper panels are custom-made to fit the project’s dimensions, and have a few extra inches “bleed” area on each side to allow for trimming and adjusting for wonky walls. The bordering silver area will be trimmed off, as will an inch or so of the printed area on each side of the mural.

On the smaller, dark mural, someone forgot to add an extra inch for the top and bottom, so the mural was centered as perfectly as possible, but a little bit of the white plywood peeked out on both the top and bottom. Don’t worry – a black frame will be constructed to cover the edges of the plywood, and it will have a lip (rabbet) that will cover this teeny gap.

The last photo shows one page of the instruction sheets, which includes drawings from the manufacturer detailing the layout and dimensions of each mural. The large mural came in two panels, which had to be overlapped in the center, carefully matching the pattern, and then double cut, or spliced.

Double cutting involves overlapping the edges of the two strips of wallpaper, while carefully matching the pattern. Then you take a straight edge and a brand new, very sharp razor blade and cut through both layers of paper. This paper was very thick, so I had to press really hard to get through both layers in one sweep. You want to avoid making multiple cuts if possible.

To keep from scoring into the plywood below (and it’s even more important if you are cutting on a wall made of drywall and / or many layers of paint and primer), I put a strip of polystyrene plastic on the plywood surface to keep the razor blade from cutting into the bottom surface. Once the double cut is made, the excess wallpaper, as well as the polystyrene strip, are removed, and the two edges of wallpaper smoothed into place. This makes for a very perfect seam.

All this takes a lot of time. It would be really cumbersome in a larger or more complicated room. But protecting the subsurface is important, because, once the wallpaper starts drying, it shrinks a little and pulls taught, and if the surface below is not intact (due to a cut from a razor blade, or from something else like dust on the surface or layers of incompatible materials such as old oil based paint covered with latex paint), these layers can come apart (delaminate), and the wallpaper seams will pull apart. This is not the paper “coming loose,” and it cannot be “glued back.” It is actually layers of the wall delaminating.

Anyway, back to today’s project, and, sorry, a little out of sequential order, but all important information. These panels were to be hung on the walls, but had not been hung yet. This allowed me to do them flat on the floor, which I think was easier. The instructions said to paste the paper, but that was extremely difficult because they were much wider than my work table. I didn’t want to crease or damage the material. Most non-woven products can be hung by pasting the wall, so that’s what I opted to do. Except, in this instance, they were laid out on the floor. 🙂

The material was a thick non-woven on a mylar plastic, and was very thick and somewhat difficult to work with. In addition, the panels were much wider than normal wallpaper, and hard for me to manipulate. I was glad that the interior designer was hanging around and was game for helping me position these pieces.

As I said, the material was thick and stiff, and no matter how hard I pushed or what extreme tool I used (metal plate), it would not press tightly into the corners of the gold frame enough for me to get a satisfactory cut – meaning that there was a slight (1/16″ – 1/8″ gap between the material and the frame. No matter… The interior designer was easy going, and said she will add a small piece of molding to the inside of the gold frame, to cover any gap, as well as to prevent the thick material from curling up. On the smaller, dark mural, the black frame to be constructed will include a lip (rabbet) that will cover the open edge and help hold it down, as well as cover the outside edge of the plywood panel.

This gutsy wallpaper is made by Calico, a husband-and-wife team out of New York City that is just a few years old – not many people have this stuff – and even fewer have the balls to put it on their walls!

The interior designer for the project is Elizabeth Maciel, and the location is a newish home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

A Kaleidoscope of Mid-Century Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright – Wild

July 7, 2018

What a fun pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury, in their newish line of “Atomic Age,” Mid Century Modern, in the theme of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright!

The young couple that bought this mint-condition, Mid-Century home in the Medical Center / Reliant Stadium neighborhood of Houston is way crazy about the modern look, and wanted an accent wall in the kitchen breakfast nook to both play up that theme, as well as bring color into the room.

There are four bright orange molded plastic “mod” chairs that will ring around that round table.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope. The wallpaper is custom made, but is not outrageously expensive. It comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. (Do a search here for pics and more info on this process.) The paper is normally hung vertically, but the homeowners liked the design better run horizontally (called railroading in wallpaper terms).

It took a lot of trimming, plotting, planning, and engineering, plus plenty of time with the laser level (see second photo), to get the pattern matched correctly and then laid out on the wall so everything lined up perfectly. I also took steps to keep as much paste off the woodwork and shutters as possible. Yeah, it wipes off relatively easily. But always best to keep it off in the first place.

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

October 13, 2017

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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.

Map & Anni-Mal Mural for a Baby’s Room Accent Wall

January 15, 2017
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Here is a neutral-hued, map-and-animal mural for an accent wall in a baby’s nursery in Baytown (a distant suburb of Houston). This is a new home, and the walls had the typical builder’s heavy-ish texture. I spent the first five hours of the day smoothing the wall. The prevents bumps from marring the face of the mural, and provides a smooth surface for the paper to adhere to.

I don’t know the manufacturer of this mural, but I am not keen on their quality control. As with the last time I hung this mural (exactly one month ago), the seams were not cut straight (see photo with pencil pointing to a jagged edge), and that resulted in some “gaps and overlaps.” The seams also did not lie down as nicely as I would have liked. (See photo) The paper did lie tighter and flatter to the wall as it dried, but the slight gap between the seams remained.

In addition, we had discrepancies in the size of the mural compared to the dimensions of the wall. Please read my previous blog post about this. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/soft-toned-map-mural-for-a-new-babys-room/ For any wallpaper project, and especially for something custom-made, like this mural, always have the wallpaper installer come out and measure BEFORE you order your paper.

In this case, the homeowner measured his wall accurately, but he had not realized that 2″ should be added to EACH SIDE to allow for trimming at the ceiling, floor, and sides, and to accommodate for unplumb walls and unlevel ceilings and floors, and the twisting and warping that happens to paper when it becomes wet from the paste.

The manufacturer added 2 cm to the mural’s dimensions, but this scant amount was not enough to camouflage the sloped ceiling line, so they ended up with a gap between the paper and the ceiling, that grew from 1/16″ to 1/2″ as the mural moved from left to right across the wall. The good thing is, the homeowner is going to install crown molding, which will cover this gap nicely.

This is an adorable pattern that is popular with mothers-to-be. Plus, the mural is printed on a durable canvas-and-vinyl material, that will resist dings, tears, water, and grimy little fingers. 🙂

Soft Toned Map Mural for a New Baby’s Room

December 13, 2016
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These new parents-to-be chose not to know the gender of the baby ahead of time. Mom loves this cute wall mural map, and so she picked this neutral color for the baby’s nursery accent wall.

The mural was custom made to fit the wall. It came in four panels, each being 40″ wide. That’s a little wider than is comfortable for me to handle easily, but I came up with some tricks that made it manageable. It’s a somewhat heavy vinyl on a canvas type backing, and will be durable in a child’s room.

I was not 100% happy with the seams, as some were not cut straight and so there were a few “gaps and overlaps,” and there were areas where the seams did not lie as flat as I would have liked. But those are things that I notice, but most other people don’t. Once you stand a few feet back, all you see is the cute animals and the countries they come from.

I hung this in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Interestingly enough, a few days later, I visited a home where the new parents-to-be had chosen the exact same mural, but in a different color.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In both these cases, the homeowners measured the wall on their own and ordered the mural before calling a paperhanger. The result is that both custom made murals were too small. The homeowners didn’t realize that you need to add about 2″ on EACH SIDE of the mural, to allow for trimming at the ceiling and floor, and to accommodate for unplumb walls and unlevel floors and ceilings.

In the case of the mural pictured above, the husband had allowed a few inches on either side, and there was a wee bit of wiggle room on the height, so we ended up with about 3/4″ of gap at the bottom, between the mural and the baseboard. It’s so small that they will probably leave it alone.

In the other home, where the mural was made to the exact dimensions of the wall, there will probably be a wider gap at the bottom, and possibly on other sides, as well. They may need to get some decorative wood molding to fill in the gap.

Morale: Always call the paperhanger BEFORE your order your paper.

A Soft Backdrop Wallpaper

September 29, 2016
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Located in River Oaks (Houston), this 1940 home had been completely gutted and renovated. Now the whole house has a serene, clean, open look. The living room was originally painted a semi-gloss white. It went with the look, but was rather sterile.

Interior decorator Elizabeth Mann helped the homeowner find this wallpaper, in a soft, mossy green, with narrow vertical blocks of irregular shape and shade. It was custom made, and was sold by the yard (instead of by the roll). Like many high-end papers, it had to be hand-trimmed, to remove the selvedge edge, as you see in the last photo.

The gentle color and subtle pattern are just enough to snug up the room, and will be a wonderful backdrop for furniture and artwork.