Posts Tagged ‘elements’

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!

Meg Braff Bad Printing Job

November 15, 2022
The homeowner very much loves this simple, tone-on-tone shore bird pattern for her dining room – just the top , above the chair rail / wainscoting. Here I’m plotting where to best situate the pattern on the wall , between the chair rail and ceiling , while keeping the most important pattern elements and motifs intact . (no cutting off birds’ heads at the ceiling , nor at the wainscoting ) I’m also checking the pattern match .
It quickly became evident that the pattern match, as laid out by the factory, was incorrect . Match it at the bottom (by my thumb ), but as you move up , the pattern goes a little out of whack . This is actually not all that bad , and is considered acceptable – the industry standard allows for up to 1/8″ – 3/8″ mis-match .
Hand-trim screen-print materials such as this are particularly notable for pattern mis-matches .
For the record, they’re also known for curling edges , puckering , waffling , and other issues that make them difficult to hang , as well as questionability as to how long they’ll perform on your wall before wanting to resort to that curling at the seams .
More pattern mis-matching .
But the situation got worse . These high-end screen prints often come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand , with a straightedge (the blue metal thing ), a razor blade – and a steady hand.
If the trim guide marks printed on the material by the company are ” off ,” then you’re supposed to ” trim to the pattern .” This means that you find the design element on the left edge of the paper and then find the corresponding element on the right side, and place your straightedge so that your trim cuts will result in the two edges matching up perfectly. (Or at least within that 1/8″ -3/8″)
At this point, the white lines in the design – let’s call them ‘grapes’ – are abutting my blue straightedge , and should meet up perfectly with the corresponding white lines on the grapes on the opposite side of the subsequent strip of wallpaper.
But, unfortunately, with this material, that didn’t work. If I lined my straightedge up with the pattern design elements , as in the photo above this one, by the time I moved down a few feet , as you can see in this photo , the pattern begins moving away from the straightedge . The white grape outlines do not butt up against my straightedge.
The likely reason is that this material has been printed on the bias . That means that the artisan at the factory got his screens out of whompus , for lack of a better term.
” Trim to the pattern .” OK. So here I’m placing my straightedge at 1/8″ away from the ” hook ” in this design .
Still the same distance from the “hook.” But the white lines are starting to move away from the straightedge.
Here they’ve moved farther off. With this design, from a distance , you could maybe live with the white lines not meeting up perfectly.
But what you couldn’t find acceptable is that the tan area between these white elements would be growing wider diagonally as you move both up and down the wall. Look at the photo. You can see the tan area growing larger .
But it gets worse as it spreads farther … As that tan section grows wider like a “V” or a wedge as you move up or down the wall, it additionally pushes the design motifs at the top of the ceiling or at top of the wainscoting either up or down along the horizontal lines of the ceiling and wainscoting .
So not only do you get a widening tan line between each seam , you also get the birds’ heads moving up or down from where they’re supposed to be positioned below the ceiling or above the wainscoting .
I spent an hour and a half trying different placements and trimming methods . I knew the client loved this pattern and that she was willing to accept reasonable flaws in the pattern match and positioning.
But even given that, I wanted her to have a good looking dining room – not one with uneven spacing between strips, or grossly irregular positioning along the horizontal lines in the room.
I even consulted with several (five!) “high-end” installer buddies of mine. No one had a ” tip ” for making an improperly printed design fall correctly on the wall. In fact, all five of them said it couldn’t be done.
I determined that this material was unhangable.
As mentioned, I tried to find an installer buddy who could make this work and get this client’s dining room done in time for Thanksgiving dinner. But no one wanted to take it on.
I don’t know if the manufacturer will replace the paper or refund the $ spend. Manufacturers are usually keen on saying that “it’s the installer’s fault .” I can say that I’ve had similar issues with Meg Braff papers in the past.
The homeowner really loves this pattern. It’s possible – but not assured – that purchasing the same design but in a different run will yield a better factory printing job.
Just a note that printing defects , curling seams , wrinkling / quilting , and more, are somewhat common with hand-screened wallpapers . And here’s another reason why I’m happiest when clients stick with middle-of-the-road, or slightly upper priced , wallpaper options . Email me and request my Info Pack (or see the link on the right) for more information and brand name recommendations.
Sad to bow out and leave this client with an unpapered room, and no viable solution or direction . But better that than to take on something that I can’t assure will look good. I hope she tells me what she ends up doing and how all this turns out.