Posts Tagged ‘geometric’

A Little Dazzle in the Dining Room

May 16, 2019


This is the same glam-heavy home as in yesterday’s post. Here we are, looking at an accent wall in the dining room, covered with a shimmery, metallic grasscloth superimposed with a silver metallic vertical stacked circle geometric design. The photos don’t do this paper justice – there is a lot of sparkle and sheen!

A mirrored buffet console will be placed in the center of this wall. Boy, will that set off the look!

I was pretty pleased with this product. It had virtually none of the paneling and shading and color variation problems that are common with most grasscloth wallpapers. It turned both vertical and horizontal outside corners well, and was easier to trim than most grasscloths.

I was NOT as pleased, however, with the support brackets and valance for the sliding barn door. Because they hold a whole lot of weight (just like big-screen TV’s) and are mounted deep into the wall studs, it’s often best to not remove or jack around with them. From the photo, you can’t see how complicated it is, but let’s just say that it took me TWO HOURS to hang just the one 3′ wide strip of paper over the door that went above, below, and around the various brackets, screws, and various pieces of metal that comprise the mounting mechanism. In the end, though, we got ‘er done, and it looks great.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, in the Anna French line, 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.

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Helping Crooked Walls Look Straight. Geometric Pattern

March 27, 2019

Geometric patterns are very popular right now. But one of the things I hate about them is that your eye expects to see the pattern motif march straight across the ceiling and walls … But ceilings are never perfectly level and walls are never perfectly plumb. And wallpaper itself will expand when it gets wet with paste, and can stretch out of shape, causing it to go off-kilter.

In the top photo, the wallpaper was hung butted straight up against the most visible corner, the left edge (not shown). But since that corner was not absolutely perpendicular to the corner to the right of it, this tight geometric pattern started to track off-kilter. As you see in the photo, the black line at the far right is wider at the bottom of the wall, and tapers off to nothing by the time it gets to the top of the wall.

With a geometric design, your eye wants to see that black line reproduced rhythmically all the way along the wall.

With a thin paper, I might have been able to cut vertically along the design and pull the paper into alignment with the wall on the right, overlapping the excess paper as it moved to the top of the wall. But such an overlap would have been very noticeable on this thick non-woven wallpaper material.

So I did something else. I took some scrap paper and cut appliqués of the black line design that were the same dimensions of the lines at the bottom of the wall. I then pasted them onto the corresponding spot on the right edge of the wall.

As I mentioned, this as a thick non-woven material, and an appliqué would be pretty noticeable. So I fiddled with the paper a bit, and pulled the thick backing away from the inked layer of the front. In the second photo, you see the white backing discarded on the left side of the photo.

Once the appliqués were measured, cut, pasted, and applied to the proper spot on the wall, you don’t notice that anything is not plumb. All you see is a consistent row of black lines marching vertically along the right edge of the wall.

Note that by doing this, I have moved the black line closer than it’s supposed to be to it’s parallel partner to the left of it. But the eye notices this much less than it would a fading away line on the right edge of the wall.

I’m glad that I spent the extra 45 minutes to do this to both vanity walls in this master bathroom in a nicely renovated Mid-Century Modern home in the Piney Point (the Villages) neighborhood of Houston.

Stroheim Playful Geometric – A Tough Hang Today

March 24, 2019


This colorful and playful geometric pattern went in an elevated “nook” in an open play area in a new home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. It wakes up an otherwise all-white house, and coordinates perfectly with bright artwork in the room.

The paper is by Stroheim, and was somewhat difficult to work with, especially in a room that presented the challenges it did – wide window, and four cubbyholes around three fixed built-in shelves.

First, the paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, a straight edge, and a razor blade. This is tedious and took about an hour to trim eight single rolls.

Second, any time you have wallpaper whose ink smells like mothballs, you know you are in for a tough day. The ink absorbs moisture from the paste at a slower rate than the substrate, so the paper backing puckers (called waffling or quilting). This doesn’t go away, even after booking and sitting in a closed plastic bag for several minutes – so you end up with wrinkles and blisters on the wall.

One thing that helps with this is lightly wetting the surface of the paper with a damp sponge. This allows the ink to absorb moisture, and relax at the same time the paper backing is expanding and relaxing.

You will also notice in the photo that the edges of the paper are curling toward the front. This is, again, the result of uneven absorption of moisture from the paste. Unfortunately, this continues once the paper is on the wall. I had to keep going over the seams to make sure they were down and that edges were not coming away from the wall. No matter how much paste I put under the seams, or how tacky I let the paste get, it didn’t seem to want to grab those edges.

Once the paper is good and dry, though, usually the seams lie down nice and flat, and any blisters or wrinkles will disappear.

Clay-based paste has less moisture content, and could possibly help reduce the waffling. I hate clay paste, though, because it’s hard to wipe off woodwork and off the surface of the wallpaper, and because it works its way through the paper and casts a tan tinge on the paper.

One thing that will help with issues like these is a liner paper. A liner is a plain paper of a special material that is applied to the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It’s job is to absorb moisture from the paste, which causes the paper to dry more quickly, and to “lock down” the seams quickly. So a liner has its place, but it does add an extra day of labor, plus the cost of the liner material.

Interestingly, the Stroheim instructions did not spec a liner; only a good quality wallpaper primer (which I did use). They also did not spec clay-based paste, but recommended three different types of clear pastes (vinyl, wheat, or cellulose), each of which is distinctly different and contains different moisture contents. I would think wheat or cellulose to be too thin and weak to adequately adhere this particular material.

I’ve hung plenty of their products and had no problems with waffling or curling seams; it’s clear that the company has a blanket set of instructions that they stuff into every roll, with no regard to the substrate it’s printed on or the type of ink that was used.

The other thing is, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you show up at the job site. Even if you research the brand and pattern number ahead of time, there will likely be no mention of the type of substrate or the “mothball” smelling ink. If I had known, I would probably have suggested that this homeowner use a liner. Beyond that, it’s good to have your truck stocked with a variety of primers and adhesives.

Back to the difficult room … I always say that a window like that is easy for you to look at, but very difficult for me to get paper around, at least while keeping the pattern straight and properly lined up. That’s because papers stretch and twist when they get wet with paste, and can contort out of whack. And the wider the obstacle you are working around, the more the paper can go off-kilter. So you can start perfectly lined up on the left of the window, but by the time you get to the right side, the strip coming down from the top of the wall may not line up with the pattern coming across horizontally below, and the two edges may not butt up perfectly, either.

It didn’t help that the pattern had an irregular hand-drawn look, so I couldn’t use a ruler to make sure every horizontal line was equidistant from the window molding. So that window wall took about two hours in itself.

Then there was the wall on the right, with the four cubbyholes in between the three shelves. I had to get two strips of paper on the backs of each of those cubbies, keep the seams from curling, and keep the pattern straight, continuing to four more strips on the wall to the right (the inside side of the wall you see on the right of the photo next to the door molding), so that all four of those strips would line up with one long piece coming down from the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention the extremely unlevel ceiling? This wall in itself took about three hours.

Actually, the irregular hand-drawn look of the pattern helped immensely, because the pattern didn’t have to line up exactly perfectly. Also, the way it was printed on the paper, the design motifs didn’t cross a seam, so that allowed me to raise or lower a strip slightly, to keep the pattern where I wanted it, without disrupting the look of the design. In fact, it was possible to not follow the correct pattern match, and the eye really couldn’t detect it. I could also cut strips vertically to narrower widths, to suit the area I was working in.

There were a few other tricks I pulled out of my hat, in lining up the design after coming around the window and shelf walls, to plumb up the pattern after turning a corner, and to disguise the very unlevel ceiling. The kill point (last strip meets up with first strip) turned out amazingly undetectable, with very little tweaking from me.

In the end, the nook turned out fantastic, and is ready to host children’s performances, reading marathons, or just gazing out the window.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and on whole-house remodels, and is a great resource for finding and coordinating all the details – tile, plumbing and light fixtures, rugs, furniture, lamps, accessories, paint colors, and, of course – wallpaper. 🙂

David Hicks’s “Hexagon” in a Master Bathroom – Note the Freestanding Bathtub

March 15, 2019


David Hicks’s “Hexagon” pattern by Cole & Son is a well-loved design. I’ve hung it a number of times. Here it is in a large master bathroom in a very Mid-Century Modern home in the Piney Point (Villages) neighborhood of Houston.

Just this bathtub alcove, along with two small mirror walls over the his-and-hers vanities, received wallpaper.

Just the tub alcove by itself took me over six hours to hang (six single rolls). The complicating issues were unplumb walls, unlevel ceiling and soffit, a geometric pattern that the eye wants to see marching evenly across the walls, thick stiff paper that is hard to manipulate, ink that wants to crack and flake off the paper, complicated room lay-out, and … squeezing behind that tub to put wallpaper on the walls around it!

There are some spots where the pattern match is off a bit, and some areas where the crookedness of the walls is very evident (meaning that the pattern goes off-kilter). But overall, the room turned out great.

The design is called “Hexagon,” and is by David Hicks, designer for Cole & Son, a British company who has been manufacturing wallpaper for way more than a hundred years.

It’s a non-woven material that can be hung by the paste-the-wall method, but I chose to paste the paper, which made it more pliable, and which made it easier to get paste where it needed to be when going around the window areas and behind the tub.

Same Geometric Pattern, Different Colorway

March 9, 2019


In the same home where I worked yesterday (see previous post), they are using the same small geometric wallpaper pattern in all four bathrooms – the tan in the two guest baths, and the silver in the powder room and master bathroom. These pics are of the silver colorway.

The pattern is by Anderson Prints, was not easy to work with (there will be a post about that) and was bought from Dorota (see previous post).

Shimmery Geometric in a Bellaire Powder Room (Harvey Flooded House)

November 25, 2018


I wallpapered the nurseries for this client in her two previous homes. (Don’t ask me how old the kids are now! 🙂 ) Her current home in Bellaire was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. During the rebuild, this homeowner took the occasion to freshen and update the look of her ’90’s era home.

This shiny, curvy geometric wallpaper pattern fills the bill perfectly. The soft silver color compliments the new distressed grey wood-look floor tiles, and the sheen and design play wonderfully off the new contemporary chandelier (sorry, no picture!).

I usually have a long lead time, but this client was planning to host a party early next month and wanted her paper up, so I figured it was better to stay away from Black Friday shopping and hang wallpaper instead. 🙂 The homeowner was out of town, but she was able to let me in each day via remote-access, and I had the privilege of working in peace and quiet with no distractions or worries about disturbing the family.

That peace and quiet enabled me to do some intricate things… things that make the job look better, but that the average person wouldn’t be able to put a finger on. Like I say … something that is easy to LOOK at, but that was tricky and time consuming for me to PLOT AND EXECUTE.

For instance, you will notice that the wallpaper pattern is balanced / centered perfectly behind the sink / faucet. And that funny little alcove that the toilet is recessed into (what architect thinks these things up, to accentuate the toilet with it’s own little niche?!)… It took a fair amount of engineering to lay everything out so that the pattern would fall evenly above the niche and then down either side. Then the back wall was hung, with care taken that the pattern matched up with the pattern on the header above, as well as the walls on either side.

This meant that the pattern DIDN’T match on either the right or left corners inside the niche, nor the horizontal corner at the top back. But these areas are not very noticeable. I felt it was more important to make the pattern match when it is seen by someone who is standing outside the room and walking in – which is the view you see in the photograph.

This room also had another “hidden corner” (not shown) where I elected to allow the pattern to not match. This gave me the freedom to balance / center the design on the vanity and sink, and, as explained above, in the toilet niche.

Hard to explain, and hard for you readers to follow and envision. But the end result is a room with several perfectly balanced focal points, and a really professional look. I am so happy that I was able to invest the time to pull all this together. The finished room looks amazing.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their “Designer Series.” It is a textured vinyl product on a thin, flexible non-woven backing, and was a joy to work with. It was pretty resistant to creases, and it will hold up against water splashes better than other types of paper – a good choice for this powder room. It is designed to strip off the wall easily down the road when it’s time to redecorate. I have hung this twice before, in two different colors.

This wallpaper 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.

Clean and Serene – A Small Geometric in a Powder Room

September 20, 2018


The color of this new wallpaper isn’t much different from the color it was painted originally. But the little bit of tone-on-tone pattern sure adds a lot of dimension and interest, while still maintaining a calm and serene feel.

The homeowner wanted paper on the ceiling, too. I usually don’t like pattern on the ceiling, but this one is so muted, I think it looks great.

The home is located in the Galleria / Tanglewood area of Houston. The paper is in the SureStrip line by York, in the Waverly design collection. It was nice to work with, and is thin and will hug the wall and stay nice and tight for years to come.

The paper 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.

Subtle Pattern, Shimmer Brighten a Dining Rooom

June 17, 2018


This dining room in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston was originally painted grey, and the walls pretty much blended in with the paneling and window moldings. Boring. The wife wanted something a little more dramatic – but the husband wasn’t going for it. So they found this wonderful compromise.

The pattern is so subtle that it can’t be seen in the two distant shots. But you can see how the lighter color is brightening up the room, and how the contrast between the walls and trim show off the pretty moldings in the room.

It’s a pearlized silver ink on a white ground in a triangular geometric pattern. This pattern is meant to be a background, rather than stand on its own. There will be some large artwork, or perhaps a showy mirror hung on the walls, which will become the main focus.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Interestingly, this house is an exact clone of a home a few blocks away, where I hung wallpaper last year – yes, in the dining room!

Geometric Pattern in a Powder Room – Flooded Home

May 20, 2018


This home in the Energy Corridor area of Houston was flooded during Hurricane Harvey last August. A lower section of drywall had been cut out and replaced. The contractor’s wallpaper hanger put up this identical pattern. The homeowner wasn’t pleased with the job. To be honest, the installer did a pretty good job, in a room that was very difficult to hang. There were a few minor things that could have been done differently.

But what bothered the homeowner most was that the walls had not been smoothed properly before the paper went up. With that west-facing window blasting angled sunlight into the room, those irregular surface flaws were quite obvious. See the top two photos. (You may need to enlarge them.)

I stripped off the original paper and skim-floated the walls to make them as perfectly smooth as possible. I followed with a primer. (The previous installer had not primed the walls.) See third photo for walls that are ready to go.

This room was a major bugger bear to hang. For starters, there was a large metal mirror that protruded about 4″ from the wall, that could not be removed. This was directly over a pedestal sink. (The previous installer had the luxury of hanging the room before the sink was in place.) It’s hard to explain, but the logistics of winding wallpaper around these three-dimensional objects, preventing the paper from tearing, having the ridged and unforgiving pattern match on all planes, keeping the edges plumb, and keeping the edges straight so they would butt up with the next strip, all while fighting edges of the wallpaper that wanted to curl backwards, were extremely difficult.

In addition, the corners of the room were out of plumb, which pretty much guaranteed pattern mis-matches in all the corners. On a wild floral pattern, no one would notice. But with a geometric pattern like this trellis, the eye would catch even minor mis-matches.

Compounding all of that was the fact that nothing in the room was centered. The window was not in the center of the wall, nor was the toilet – and they were not aligned with each other, either. The sink was not centered on the mirror, the faucet was not in the center of the sink, and the spout was off-set from the handle. I finally decided to balance the trellis design on the mirror, and it did fall perfectly symmetrically on either side. The kicker is that the room is so narrow that you can’t stand back far enough to appreciate all my efforts. 😦

I probably spent 40 minutes plotting how to tackle the first wall, and then a full two hours hanging the first two strips (the ones around the mirror and sink) (sorry – the room was too small to get good pics). The longer I worked, the more appreciation I had for the previous installer and the job she had done.

In the end, the walls I had prepped were smooth, and there were no objectionable bumps or gouges showing under the paper. I pulled some tricks out of my hat and got the pattern to match in the corners pretty darned well.

That window with it’s danged strong light still was a foe, though. The wallpaper seams butted together just about perfectly. Yet because of the way the edges curled back when they got wet with paste, I fought to keep them down tight to the wall. Once dried, they were nice and flat. I was pretty content. But when the sun moved and light came through that window from a different angle – some of those seams looked positively horrid! The light was casting shadows and making it look like the seams were overlapped. Yet they were perfectly flat. The inclination is to go over and over the seams with various tools and try to “force” them to lie flatter – but this can burnish or otherwise damage the wallpaper or the underlying surface. The good news is that as the sun moved, and as the louvers on the shutters were adjusted, the shadows disappeared and the seams looked good.

Let’s hope that the homeowners see this room only in the most positive light. 🙂

This wallpaper is by York Wall, one of my favorite brands. Interestingly, the paper came with the correct label, but the instruction insert was for another line made by this same company. I’m glad that I was familiar with both products, and had the sense to disregard the info that was not relative.

Workin’ On Ridding A Wrinkle

January 30, 2018


Even though this is a brand-new house, erected by a skilled custom builder, all of the walls, floor, and ceiling were off-plumb / unlevel. That’s not such a big deal when working with a wild abstract pattern or a typical floral. But when a geometric wallpaper pattern like this is applied to out-of-kilter walls, the resulting pattern match is going to be very visible.

In the top photo, the wall to the left is bowed. Trying to get a straight strip of wallpaper to fit into the crooked corner resulted in two very large (24″ high) wrinkles near the floor. That makes it difficult for my next strip of wallpaper to butt into the corner tightly, and to match the pattern, and still maintain its straight edge on the right side. This edge has to stay straight, because subsequent strips of wallpaper will be butted up against it.

My solution was to make some vertical “relief cuts,” following along the design motifs (top photo), from the baseboard up to the point where the wallpaper begins to torque out of shape. Because the wrinkles were so big, I had to make two vertical cuts, instead of just one, to ease the resulting pattern mis-match out over several inches, so it would be less noticeable.

When smoothed back into place, you could not see any pattern mismatch at all. (second photo)