Posts Tagged ‘dark’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

From Dark and Dated to Light and Livable

December 17, 2022

Oh, my! – I hung lots of these chintz florals, ” satin ” look (the design of the dark green at the bottom of the wall), and dark colors back in the ’90’s . Sure enough – this home was built and wallpapered in 1994.
IIt’s still a good look, IMO, and the homeowner still likes it. But she’s just gotten tired of it. So – time for an update !
She also decided to eliminate the chair rail , so the new wallpaper will go ceiling to floor . Here you see some damage to the drywall where the chair rail molding was removed .
What a change! Now the room’s look is quiet and fresh .
The buffet , topped with a decorative mirror , will go on this wall . That’s why I centered the pattern in between the windows , so it will fall evenly on either side of the furnishings .
I also plotted so that a full “Moroccan lantern” (that’s what this style of trellis pattern is called), would balance out between the crown molding and the window molding. There were several of these 12.5″ high areas all around the room, so this placement of whole “lantern” motifs gave the room a pleasing look.
It also worked out that the lanterns were evenly placed and kept whole between the crown molding and the baseboard. See the second following photo to see what I’m talking about
As a note – just this one window wall took me about five hours to measure , calculate , and hang . Getting the pattern to go over, around, and under the two windows , and still line up and match correctly , took some time and futzing. The material was thick and stiff , and a bit tricky to fit into corners and trim around the decorative window molding .
In the foreground you see my work table area . The homeowner has let me put protective padding on her dining room table and then set my work table on that. This saves space and allows plenty of room for my ladder and other tools as I work around all four walls.
So that I could center the pattern on this wall , I had to start hanging my first strip in the middle of the wall. I was lucky this time, that the pattern was centered exactly on the edge of the wallpaper roll . Sometimes (as in the one I did yesterday – see previous post ) the center of the design motif is a to the right or left of the edge of the wallpaper . This, naturally, means you’ve got to do more measuring and plotting and double-checking , to be sure the center of the design falls down the center of the wall .
Back to the photo above … that dark block on the right side of my work table is my laser level. It’s shooting a perfectly plumb red line onto the wall. Here I’m lining up my first strip of paper butted against this red line .
Switch topics … Back in 1994, the original installer did a very nice job of hanging the wallpaper. But … he didn’t prime the new drywall first. That lack of primer / protective layer means that the wallpaper will actually bond to the drywall. I tried, but was unable to get the existing wallpaper off . Eventually, you need to factor in time , damage to the wall , paste residue left on the wall, and take a different tac if called for.
So I skim-floated over the seams , so they wouldn’t show under the new paper , and also floated over the damaged drywall where the chair rail had been removed . Sanded smooth , and then primed the patched areas as well as the original wallpaper, with Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 . This stuff will adhere to the light acrylic (slick) surface of the original wallpaper, as well as protect it from moisture from my paste on the new wallpaper. ( Moisture could cause the underlying original wallpaper to expand , creating bubbles that will look bad, or loose areas that will pull away from the wall, creating a bubble or pocket.)
My primer is also lightly pigmented, so it helps block out the dark color and busy pattern of the original wallpaper . This particular new wallpaper is quite opaque , but not all of them are, so a pigmented primer is important , IMO .

Left corner of the buffet wall. Here you can see how the lantern motifs are placed between ceiling and floor.
The background has a lightly mottled effect, that mimics grasscloth a bit, and also adds more depth and warmth than just a plain solid color .
Been havin’ more than a fair share of defects lately, especially this week. This paper had on both front and back sides, incidences of these black flecks . They seemed to be maybe charcoal , so I wasn’t too worried about their black bleeding through to the surface , like ink or any oil-based substance will do.
Most of them were embedded in the material itself, so could not be wiped off , nor dug out with a razor blade . Some I had to cut around and discard the affected paper. Others were so small as to not be noticeable once the paper was up on the wall and all the furniture and artwork was back in the room.
There was also one 3′ section of wallpaper that had an odd streak or arc running across it. It wasn’t ink . It was more like some kind of compromise to the substrate . I noticed it was I was pasting the back of the paper . I turned it over and, sure enough, you could see it a little on the surface. (see photo in previous post) It’s the kind of thing that was subtle, but would catch your eye when looking at the wall from a distance . It was minor , but I discarded that strip . Good thing I have the homeowners purchase a little extra wallpaper .
The manufacturer is Designer Wallcoverings , which is a good quality brand (aside from the printing defects I described earlier ). It was a non-woven / paste the wall material , which is pretty user-friendly . It will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate . Stain-resistant , and ” breathable ” in humid conditions .
The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston . Dining room installer

Artemis Block – Inverted Twin of Yesterday’s Install Post

October 14, 2022
Half bath sink room primed and read for wallpaper . I have plotted where the seams will fall and striped with dark paint , to prevent the light colored primer from showing in case the seams gap a bit.
Artemis is available as a floor-to-ceiling pattern. So this partial coverage option is an innovative and fun variation on a theme .
This is the same pattern Artemis Climbing Walls as yesterday, but reversed , so the flowers go from bottom upward .
The ceilings are pretty high. The empty 5 gallon bucket is there on the counter (with non-slip cushioning beneath it) as an un-OSHA approved footrest , so I can safely reach the top corners .
Artemis is a very popular wallpaper pattern , especially in this dark / black colorway .
Manufacturer is House of Hackney .
This install was on four walls in a powder room , instead of a single accent wall. Since this comes as a 4-panel mural instead of traditional rolled goods, the layout was a little more tricky . I cut out the little mock-ups from the instruction insert, and marked them as to roughly where each panel was separated .
This is a non-woven material, and can be hung by the paste the wall method, as I did yesterday in the dining room. But today, in the small and chopped up powder room , I opted to paste the paper instead.
You will note that this pattern continues uninterrupted from one mural to the next. If you have a wide space to cover and will need more than one mural , this continuation of the design is imperative. Not all do, so check and be extra sure, before you order.
Speaking of ordering material … remember that for murals, you MUST add 2″ to EACH side – in other words, a total of FOUR INCHES to BOTH WIDTH and HEIGHT . This will accommodate trimming at floor and ceiling , and also will allow for wonky or off-plumb / level surfaces .
Better yet, have your wallpaper installer calculate for you.
Houston

Muted Texture for Galleria Area Powder Room

September 9, 2022
Primed and ready for wallpaper . The original color was a somewhat dark murky blue . The room just felt listless and small (it’s not a small powder room )
Finished. Brighter and comfortable . This isn’t a statement-making wallpaper . But it’s all about lightening up the area, and making it feel welcoming at the same time.
The light metallic accents in the pattern accentuate the color of the light sconces .
The gold also works nicely with the oil-rubbed bronze faucet and handles .
And the aqua melds nicely with the grey marble countertop .
Close-up showing the printed texture . The paper also has a light raised ink texture to it.
The design is called Tresco and is by Thibaut , one of my favorite brands . It’s in their Anna French line.
This wallpaper is a non-woven material , and can be hung by the paste the wall method . I usually prefer to paste the paper .
Non-wovens are strong and more stain resistant than other wallpapers. They are designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate .
Tanglewood houston installer

Leopards Prowl Inspired Powder Room

August 5, 2022
Vanity wall was originally textured and painted with a semi-gloss . Here it’s been skim-floated , sanded , and primed – ready for wallpaper.
Finished. There’s a cool light-up mirror that will hang on the brackets under the light fixture .
Opposite corner before.
Finished. This room wouldn’t have half the impact without the black moldings and ceiling. The homeowner said she envisioned a jewel box – all tufted and lined with velvet . Well, I’d say she nailed the look!
As the dark and mysterious wallpaper moved from left to right, the room began to take on a mood . I love the juxtaposition between a clad wall and a bare wall.
Close-up.
Detail.
The husband is handy, and I really appreciate that he removed the vanity and sink . This made it a lot faster and easier for me, and ensured better adhesion of the wallpaper around the plumbing pipes . And also eliminated stress and creases on the paper that can happen when bending and folding to work it around obstacles.
Here is the modern looking vanity that will go into the powder room .
To keep white primer from showing at the seams , I striped black paint on the wall under where each seam would fall. Do a Search here to read previous posts about this technique.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store , a scrap of sponge , and a bottle cap full of water . Do a Search here to read previous posts about the process and materials .
I also run chalk along the edges of the wallpaper, to cover up the white substrate , to ensure there will be no white peeking out at the seams . Again, do a Search on key words to learn more about this technique .
Dang it! I forgot to take a picture of the label! But this wallpaper is by York and is called On The Prowl .
It’s vinyl on a non-woven backing . The instructions said you could paste the wall for installation . But I pasted the paper, and I think with this product it’s better, because it did seem to want to expand a bit. If you paste the wall and then the paper stretches, you’ll end up with buckles at the seams or bubbles within the strips .
The material was fairly flexible , which was nice because it allowed me to “mush” the paper to conform to some pretty un-plumb walls.
Although York is one of my favorite brands , I wasn’t real crazy about this particular wallpaper. Still, it seamed up nicely, didn’t shrink, has a vinyl surface that will resist splashes and fingerprints , and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate .
This is a townhome in the Rice Military area of central Houston .

Dark and Moody Bedroom Accent Wall

August 4, 2022
The wall has been skim-floated and sanded smooth , primed , and is ready for wallpaper .
The homeowner did a great job coordinating the wall and ceiling paint with the colors in the wallpaper.
This is a room that’s made for sleeping!

At first I thought the pattern scale was too small for the large wall. But once I saw it on the wall, I really like the way it fills the space.
To me, this pattern has a sort of calico look.
Close-up shows the light texture on the paper.
This is a non-woven material, so I’m installing via the paste the wall method . Here I’ve cut and arranged all my strips in the order in which they will be hung . This is a drop match pattern , which some folks think of as A and B strips. Meaning, for instance, an orange flower appears at the top of the wall on Strip A . But the next strip, Strip B, has a yellow flower at the top. When you get to the third strip, we are back to an A and an orange flower. Next comes another B strip – and so on.
I’ve rolled the strips backward , with the top of the strip coming off first. This will prevent the printed face of the wallpaper from bumping into the pasted wall during installation .
Wallpaper often shrinks a tad when the paste dries , and this can result in very minute gaps at the seams . With dark wallpapers , it’s pretty important to take steps to prevent white from showing at these gaps. Here I’ve measured out where each seam will fall, and taken diluted black paint to make a dark stripe under each seam . I don’t make the paint full-strength, because wallpaper paste isn’t formulated to adhere to paint. I want the wallpaper adhering to the primer I’ve applied. That’s also the reason why you don’t want to roll paint over the whole wall.
Also, I have only striped some of the seam areas, and will wait until some strips are up on the wall before striping more lines. This is because wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, which can make it difficult to plot the exact width of each strip as you move across the wall.

I use acrylic craft paint from the hobby store, applied with a bit of sponge. I keep a small dish of water to dip the sponge into, which dilutes the paint a bit.
You also see a stick of chalk pastel . See next photo.
Besides the wall peeking out from behind the wallpaper seams , it’s also possible / probable that the white edges of the wallpaper backing / substrate will show at the seams. I take a stick of chalk and run it along the edges, making sure to apply from the backside, to avoid getting chalk onto the surface of the wallpaper.
Be sure to use chalk pastels and not oil pastels – oil will bleed and stain wallpaper. Some installers use liquid paint or markers – again, be sure to use water-based or acrylic , and never oil based or permanent markers .
BN Walls is the brand. Altogether, this was a pretty nice product to work with. It was thin and very soft and flexible (many non-wovens are not).
I wasn’t happy with all the seams, though. I believe the paper was cut with dull or wobbly wheels at the factory, because the edges seemed to not be perfectly straight . So I ended up with gaps and overlaps in some areas. Here you can see the wallpaper edges pouching up a bit due to excess paper.
But, as I mentioned, this material was quite flexible, so it was pretty easy to spread these edges apart an use a tool to push them apart and then down to prevent them from pouching up again. Once the paste started to dry, these areas held nice and tight and flat.
This is a townhome in the Rice Military neighborhood of central Houston .

Naked Ladies on the Walls in a Home Bar Bath

August 2, 2022
This is a powder room off a bar in a home in the Spring Branch area of Houston. The walls have wainscoting below and paneled walls above; the wallpaper is to go inside the panels.
Wallpaper primer has been applied . Because both the woodwork and the wallpaper are dark, I’ve taken care to not let my white primer get onto the woodwork, making sure to leave a 1/8″ or so gap of the dark woodwork paint. This way there won’t be any white showing at the edges.
This is a little dubious, though, because wallpaper paste won’t adhere to the glossy woodwork paint . Not too much of a worry, though, because that gap is mighty narrow and not likely to cause any adhesion problems. See recent previous post for a closer photo.
Done. Opposite wall reflected in the mirror.
From a distance, it just looks like a symmetrical design .
I centered the design on this section between the corner and the door .
I positioned the pattern so that half of it landed in the corner. Thus, looking in the mirror, between the two walls, you’ll see a whole motif.
The manufacturer colored the edges black . This greatly reduces the chances of the white edges of wallpaper showing at the seams. Do a Search to read my previous blogs on this topic.
The pattern is called Showgirls and is by Graduate Collection , out of England .

Dwunk Cwitters Wid’ Booze and Hookah in Garden Oaks Powder Room

July 29, 2022
Walls have been skim-floated and sanded smooth, primed, and are ready for wallpaper.
Done. The dark woodwork really accentuates the wallpaper; the room would not be nearly as dramatic and fun without the dark woodwork.
Eeek! Another console sink to squeeze under and behind. Just this area took more than an hour.
Some tricks I’ve learned is that you don’t have to wrestle full-length and -width strips. Here I cut the two strips behind the sink horizontally at the point where the vanity hits the wall. I hung the upper strips. Then, moving to the right, I hung the strips to the right. After I ended in the corner to the right (not pictured), I came back and hung the two short strips under the sink. So I was only wielding strips 2′ high, instead of 9′.
I also sliced one strip vertically at the point where it intersected the drain pipe under the sink. This was much easier than trying to wrangle an 18″ wide strip around the drain, two faucets, and the metal support pipes.
What are these cwitters up to??!
Close-up. The homeowner said that the family has a sense of humor , and wanted something wild and fun .
Detail.
Many House of Hackney wallpapers come as a mural , or 4-roll set. This diagram shows the layout of the four panels. You can take a second set of four panels and place it to the right (or to the left – just keep track of the sequence order of the panels) and the pattern will continue.
Each panel is about 18″ wide, so a 4-panel set gives you about 6′ of width. Panels are about 9.5′ high.
This is called Hackney Empire and is in the Midnight colorway. This is a non-woven material , also called paste the wall . I did paste the material rather than the wall, though, as it makes the paper more supple, and enables me to get paste into difficult-to-access areas – such as under and behind that console sink! Non-wovens are designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece without damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate. This HofH material was lovely to work with.

installer, houston, under the stairs

More William Morris Strawberry Thief in Houston Heights Hall Bathroom

June 24, 2022
Because I feared unstable walls in this 1920’s bungalow in this neighborhood (do a Search for previous posts), before hanging the decorative wallpaper, first I hung a non-woven liner paper on all the walls. That’s the white material you see in the photo.
The liner was hung horizontally so its seams can’t line up with the decorative paper. The idea is to disperse tension from drying wallpaper and changes due to humidity and etc., so as to deflect tension away from sketchy wall surfaces, and thus prevent delamination of multiple unstable layers deep inside the wall. Again, do a Search here to learn more.
Finished vanity area, with pattern centered on the light fixture.
Corner shot.
This colorful and symmetrical pattern is quite popular; I’ve hung it a number of times just this year.
Englishman William Morris designed wallpaper and fabrics during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
The styles then were Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts. This design reflects a bit of each.
Wallpaper expands when it gets wet with paste, and then can shrink just a tad as it dries. The liner helps prevent that, but you can still end up with teeny gaps at some seams.
To prevent the white backing from showing through, I run a stripe of dark paint under where each seam will fall.
I use matt finish craft paint from the hobby store, diluted with a little water (in the orange bottle cap) and smeared on the wall with a scrap of sponge. Use a ruler or level and a pencil to mark where you want to stripe the dark paint.
Remember to allow for that expansion as the paper absorbs moisture from the paste. Meaning, if the paper is 20.5″ wide, and expands 1/2″, you’ll want to run your line at about 21.” And make sure that your painted swath is about an inch wide.
I also run a bit of dark chalk along the edges of each strip, to prevent the white substrate from showing at the seams (no photo).
Morris & Co. makes this iconic Strawberry Thief.
Interestingly enough, most times when I’ve hung a Morris paper, it’s been a non-woven paste-the-wall material.
Today’s option was a surprise – a traditional British pulp . This is a pretty basic and somewhat old-fashioned type of substrate . Sort of like construction paper, or the pages of an old family Bible .
The paper is very fragile , and can tear easily. You have to keep using new razor / trimming blades, because the material dulls blades quickly, and when dull they will drag and tear the paper.
Pulp papers also require a soaking / booking time after pasting , to allow time for the material to absorb the paste , soften a bit, and expand . The edges of the strips like to dry out , so I’ve learned to dip about 1/4″ of the booked ends ( booked means the pasted side of the wallpaper strip is folded onto itself, bottom edge folded up and top edge folded down to meet in the middle), into a bucket of clean water.
Then it goes into a black plastic trash bag to soak and relax for a few minutes before hanging. I use this opportunity to paste the next strip.
Non-woven wallpapers have advantages, because they do not expand when wet, and therefor you can get accurate measurements. They also can be pasted and hung immediately, with no waiting time. Alternately, you can paste the wall .

Popular Rifle Paper Peacock Pattern in Houston Heights Powder Room

June 11, 2022
In this townhome, the powder room is at the top of the stairs. The homeowner wanted something lively and dramatic to catch your eye as you walk from the garage up the stairs.
The bold and bright colors against a very dark green background, and fun flower and peacock design really answer the call!
Simply called Peacock Wallpaper , this very popular design is by Rifle Paper , which is manufactured by York , one of the oldest wallpaper manufacturers in the U.S.
It’s a non-woven , paste-the-wall material, and will hold up and resist stains very nicely for years to come.
N-W ‘s are also designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece , with no damage to the wall , when it’s time to redecorate