Posts Tagged ‘design’

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.

Powerful Storm Clouds – Cole & Son Nuvolette

March 14, 2020


“Nuvolette” by the British manufacturer Cole & Son is a very popular pattern – but not every room can handle such a strong design. This bedroom in a new townhome on the far west side of Houston is large enough to contain the storm clouds – which will cover all four walls. Talk about drama!

The dark floor and dark woodwork help ground the pattern. The homeowner has a background in interior design, and I can’t wait to see what furniture, bedding, window coverings, and accessories she outfits the room with.

The pattern match is very tricky, and you have to plot everything carefully and confidently before you cut anything. The product comes packaged as an A-B 2-bolt set. On the label it’s noted that one pattern match is straight across, while the next strip is a drop match.

So, essentially, this has a multiple-drop pattern match , played out across four strips of paper – but with even more complicating factors tossed in. It’s a real brain-banger to plot out! I’ve hung it twice, and both times was lucky enough to have a large open area where I could spread out the A and B bolts, and then plenty of time and a distraction-free environment to get my head around the pattern match.

In the picture, you just see a nicely fit-together set of panels. But getting them to that point did take a good bit of engineering! (Especially since “someone” opened the shipping box and removed several of the bolts from their original packaging, so there was no way to tell the A bolts from the B bolts.)

Like most of Cole & Son’s wallpaper, this was a non-woven material. This stuff has a high-fiberglass content, and thus does not expand when it gets wet with paste. This allows you to get accurate measurements that won’t change when the paper is pasted. It also allows you to paste a strip and hang it immediately (no booking time), and takes the pressure off of having a booked strip over-expanding while you fiddle with hanging a difficult strip.

It went up pretty nicely. Tomorrow I will hang the remaining two walls.

The pattern is in the Fornasetti line by Cole & Son, 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.

Purple & Silver Transformation for Gal’s Bedroom

February 29, 2020


This 20-something gal’s bedroom is filled with glitter, sparkle, and mirrored furniture. She wanted to pull in the color purple, and, with help of my suggested source below, she found the perfect pattern, and it incorporated her favorite color, plus a bit of silver sheen thrown in!

This wallpaper went on one accent wall, behind the large, tufted headboard.

The photos are throwing off the perspective a bit. In person, you notice the circular and diamond design motifs much more than the vertical swipes. It’s a super look to finish this room.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, a good 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 Towne Lake neighborhood of northwest Houston.

Recent Magazines With Wallpaper

December 18, 2019


December 2019 issues of:

Victoria –

First two photos, bold color and classic jardiniere in a very traditional dining room setting.

Southern Living –

3rd photo. Mural on dining room walls. I believe this is the Etched Arcadia pattern that I have hung (and loved) several times. (Do a Search here to see previous posts with this pattern.)

4th photo. A “man cave” done with dark wall treatment and a lighter, tight textured pattern on the ceiling.

5th photo. Large honeycomb wooden lattice on ceiling, small print on walls. The wallpaper is by Iksel, a high-end British company, and one that I visited when the Wallcovering Installers Association took a Tech Trip to England in 2017 (do a Search here). This paper is expensive and the design is well-suited to the room. Yet the pattern is, well, nothing really special about it. If someone were looking to recreate this look on a budget, it would be very possible to find something similar at a more pocketbook-friendly price.

6th photo. Boy’s room, showing interesting use of color between walls and wood.

7th photo. More adventurous use of color, on ceiling and walls. The paper is by Quadrille, which is notorious for being difficult to hang. (Do a Search here to read my experiences and comments.) Again – for every cool pattern by a high-fallutin’ designer brand that hasn’t researched how to make compatible inks and substrates and good quality paper, there are other main-stream companies making similar designs, that will perform better and hit your wallet more easily.

Thibaut’s Taos Pattern in Heights Powder Room

November 28, 2019


Here’s a pattern that settles nicely into the background, while embracing the room with warmth and texture and a little humor.

Humor? Well, I think the little lines look something like the crinkles that people get around their eyes when they smile.

This wallpaper pattern is called ‘Taos’ and is by Thibaut Designs.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. She does fresh, clean, livable, family-oriented whole-house remodels or new builds, primarily in the Heights and Garden Oaks areas of Houston.

Textured Wallpaper for Headboard Accent Wall in the Heights

August 20, 2019


A distant shot to show you the warmth, and a couple of close-ups to show the texture.

This wallpaper went on all walls of a small vestibule leading into a master bedroom, and then on the headboard wall of the bedroom itself. The remaining walls were painted a coordinating grey color.

This is a thick textured vinyl material on a woven fabric (scrim) backing. Unlike most wallpapers, this is quite durable and stain-resistant – it’s the same type of stuff they use in hotels and hospitals, where it’s going to get banged into by carts and washed every now and then.

It is also extremely heavy. I’m betting that each double-roll bolt weighed at least 15 pounds. I could barely carry three at a time. A pasted strip 9′ long took about all my strength to lift higher than my head and position on the wall (while balancing on a ladder!).

Because it is so thick, it was hard to press tightly against the wall/ceiling junctions, so it took a little work to get a nice, tight cut. It was also difficult to cut through, so I had to press really hard, and went through a lot of razor blades, and still had to use my scissors to finalize some of the cuts, particularly to cut through some of the string backing.

My shoulders and arms are sore!

This embossed, textured pattern made a lovely, soft backdrop to the bed, and added a warmth that the paint alone could not.

The manufacturer is Thibaut. The older home has been beautifully enlarged and updated, and is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design.

Mapping Out a New Look

July 21, 2019


Here is a small vestibule (the second vestibule I’ve done this week! 🙂 ), that leads from the living room past the powder room and into the kitchen / great room, in a newish “tall skinny” home in the Houston Heights.

It’s the perfect place to add a little personal flavor. This map pattern in muted colors is perfect for this space, because, in the adjoining living room, the homeowner has some framed maps that mirror the style and color of this wallpaper. The wallpaper pulls everything together.

This wallpaper is a non-woven material, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method, or the paste-the-paper method. With the intricate door moldings requiring complicated cuts in miniscual spaces, it made more sense to paste the paper. It is by Mulberry Home (I gotta say – I think they’re knocking off the Magnolia Home brand made famous by Joanna Gaines on HGTV). It’s a British company.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works primarily in the Heights, Garden Oaks, and Oak Forest neighborhoods. Her style is fresh and open, with attention to the homeowner’s personal taste, and a dash of fun tossed in.

Soft Mattress Ticking Stripe in an All-White Bathroom

April 24, 2019


With just paint on the upper walls, this all-white bathroom was simply … too white. The addition of a soft stripe, in the shape of a classic mattress ticking pattern, was just enough to add some warmth and definition to the space.

While I like the pattern, I am not fond of the material, nor the brand. Norwall is one of the lowest-priced manufacturers out there, and … you get what you pay for. This is a solid vinyl wallpaper with a paper backing. The vinyl surface sounds attractive to homeowners, because it is a tad more stain resistant than other papers, and because it repels water.

The bad news is that humidity (such as when someone takes a shower, or splashes water on a seam) tends to find its way behind the seams and into the paper backing. That paper then swells and pushes away from the wall, causing the seams to curl.

Over time, the vinyl top layer can actually separate (delaminate) from the paper backing, leaving curled seams that cannot be reattached.

In addition, the seams are always a little “pouched” when the paper is installed, and never lie completely flat. It’s also common for this material to bubble or blister as it dries … I call it “burping” … or more properly termed off-gassing as the air released by the drying paste tries to find an escape but is trapped by the vinyl surface. So you have to keep going around the room chasing out bubbles. Really small ones usually disappear as paper dries.

Type in key words and use the Search feature here (upper right corner) to read my previous posts about these topics.

This was the first time I’ve encountered a Norwall solid vinyl paper-backed product that was not pre-pasted. Maybe the manufacturer has figured out what made it’s wallpaper so crap…py… er… disappointing. To be honest, the paper I worked with today (which had to have adhesive applied by hand/paint roller) went up with fewer problems than usual. There were still blisters, and still seams that were not as flat as they should have been. But overall, it was better than I expected.

Only time will tell how this product stands up to humidity in a family bathroom.

This is a new-but-classic-looking home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Timorous Beasties “Indie Wood” Wallpaper in a Dining Room

April 21, 2019


This is some novel stuff!

This wallpaper pattern is something like a mural, but with a little more brain-bending. It is one continuous design, with no element or motif repeating or showing up more than once in the 33′ length of each bolt.

It’s a good thing that no one was living in the house, and that furniture had not been moved in yet. Because I needed a LOT of floor space to roll out and study each bolt.

I had to compare the height of the walls and the length of each strip that I needed, to the placement of various animals in the design. This enabled me to plot where on the wall any given critter would appear, and to get as many creatures as possible on each strip, all while accommodating the homeowner’s preference for a few special ones.

I rolled the entire 33′ long bolt out on the floor, took measurements, and used blue tape to indicate the tops and bottoms of each strip. This enabled me to fiddle with various layouts and animal positions, and I could make changes if needed.

We needed 22 strips, and I was getting 5 strips out of each double roll bolt. So after I cut five strips from the first bolt, I moved on to the second bolt.

To give a more random look, I wanted the same animals (the squirrels, for instance) to be placed at different heights moving around the room. So when I started plotting my strips and cuts from the second bolt, I made sure that the creatures landed at different heights from the first bolt. That first bolt and the animals’ positions I called “A” and the second bolt and positions were “B”. I only got four strips out of the “B” bolt.

This meant that any given motif would appear at the same height on the wall only every 9th strip. This would give a pleasing, random look.

The plan was to hang all the strips taken in order from the “A” bolt first, followed by strips taken sequentially from the “B” bolt. Repeat with another “A” and another “B”, and then back to an “A” bolt again.

To be sure, I measured and marked and double-checked everything carefully before I cut anything. Then each strip was labeled … (“2A,” “4B,” etc.)

Working around the doors and windows, the room was divided into four sections. The next step was to get all those strips of paper placed in proper sequential order, standing in queue all around the room – all while figuring the center point of each of those four spaces and plotting which strips would be placed flanking the middle of that wall.

Some cool features of this pattern is that it was placed smack down the middle of the 20.5″ wide strip, which made it a lot easier to center and balance the design than if it had been placed off-center. Also, the design did not reach across any seams, so (other than plotting the height where each critter would fall) there was no pattern match. This made it a lot easier to accommodate crooked walls and un-level ceiling and wainscoting.

The dimensions of the room were also amazingly in sync with those of the wallpaper pattern. Vertically, the 82″ height of each wall / strip worked with the placement of animals on the paper, so virtually all animals were kept intact. There was only one bird who got cut in half at the wainscoting, and that happened only every 9th strip (twice in the whole room).

Horizontally the pattern worked out just as incredibly. The width of all of the walls worked out to be within an inch or two of a multiple of the width of the paper. So centering the strips / pattern on each wall resulted in a look as if the design were “framed” by the door and window moldings. Sorry, no pics.

The downside was, just by happenstance, I ended up with an extraordinary number 1″-2″ strips that had to be squeezed in. Time-consuming and PITA.

I centered the pattern on each of these four wall spaces. But that meant that the rhythm of the pattern would get screwed up as it passed over the door to the butler’s pantry, two windows, and the 12′ wide entry to the hallway.

Here again, the dimensions worked amazingly well, and so did the very accommodating pattern. In the short 10″ high areas over these doors, I was able to “fudge” the pattern by slicing strips vertically along a tree trunk, for instance, and then overlapping the two sections an inch or two, to “shrink” the strip’s width. Making an inch of width disappear from each of seven strips is barely noticeable, and maintains the rhythm that the viewer’s eye wants to see as it travels around the room. Again, sorry, no pictures.

The walls had been primed a few days before; just laying out and hanging the paper took me 12 hours.

I hung this “Indie Wood” pattern by Timorous Beasties on the top 5′ above paneled wainscoting in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. It’s made of non-woven material, and can be hung by paste-the-wall or paste-the-paper (which was what I opted to do). Non-wovens are strong and have a high fiber-glass content. They are designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. Additionally, they are dimensionally-stable – they do not expand when wet with paste. This makes it much easier to plot placement of strips and motifs.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Clever Kill Point – Eliminating a Pattern Mis-Match, Damask Pattern

January 15, 2019

When you hang wallpaper around a room, usually starting in a corner, the pattern on your last strip will never perfectly match up with the pattern where you first started. So we try to hide this in the least conspicuous place – like behind a door.

But in this room, there were no “hidden corners” that would be obscured by a door. Since all four corners were very visible, I wanted them all to have their pattern match perfectly.

So I had to find another place put that “kill point,” – where the last piece meets up with the first piece. I decided to put that over the door, a 20″ high strip. I figured that would be less noticeable than a 7″ length in a visible corner.

Sorry, for some reason, my “before” photo disappeared; it was a shot of the gap over the door where the last strip was coming to meet the first strip.

In the top photo above, I have overlapped the two strips, to see how “off” the pattern match will be. I am preparing to splice these two strips together, and will use some tricks to make that pattern mis-match less noticeable.

Next, I padded the wall with some scrap paper. This means that I placed a width of scrap paper behind these two pieces that will be spliced together. This is to protect the wall from being scored when I make my splice. You don’t want to cut into the wall when doing a splice, because, when the wallpaper dries and pulls tight, it can put tension on the wall, sufficient to cause the layers to delaminate and pull apart, creating a “popped” seam.

Next, I took a sharp, new razor blade and cut through both layers of wallpaper, using the swerving lines in the damask design as a guild – a swerving cut will be less noticeable than a straight like that cuts abruptly through the pattern.

This is tricky, because you want to cut through two layers of wallpaper, but not into or through the third layer that is being used to pad and protect the wall.

Second photo – I screwed up! For some reason, I had trouble cutting through the two layers of wallpaper. I tried twice, but each time I only cut through one layer. So I attempted it one last time, making sure to push really hard on the razor blade.

Well, now the razor blade was ready to do its job … But it was too zealous … This third attempt, the blade cut neatly through both layers of wallpaper, which is good. But it also cut through the third layer of wallpaper I had put behind everything, to protect the wall. And into the wall underneath. In the photo, you can see how the drywall was scored. This is bad.

To prevent the drying / shrinking wallpaper from tugging on those cut edges of drywall, I grabbed some special paper tape I keep in the van, and placed strips over the curved cuts in the drywall. These are very difficult to see, but the paper strips are there, in the third photo.

Then I fit the two strips of wallpaper back together, smoothing them into place over the paper tape. Then I made sure to wipe off any paste residue that was left on the surface.

Now, if those two spliced strips of wallpaper should shrink as they dry and put tension on the wall, the tension will not be on the cuts in the wall, but rather on the strips of paper. The strip of paper tape will disperse the tension over it’s 1″ width, and keep it away from the weakened areas of the cut drywall. This should prevent any delaminating of the drywall, and prevent any popped seams.

In the last photo, we are back to hiding that last seam, the “kill point.” From down below, your eye will never pick out any pattern mis-match. Mission Accomplished!