Posts Tagged ‘geometric’

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.

Geometric Bedroom Revisited

February 11, 2020


I hung this silver-on-grey geometric print on an accent wall in a master bedroom in a newish contemporary styled home 4-5 years ago, and was back yesterday to look at some more projects that this young couple wants done in their home. They were gracious enough to let me take a few photos.

The home is in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston.

Little Boy’s Bathroom Finished Today

January 25, 2020


Continuing the West U job I started Tuesday (see previous posts), today I papered the little boy’s room. I hung the original diamond geometric a few years ago, but the new homeowners have a younger family and wanted different wallpaper.

The son zoomed in on this design because it reminds him of his beloved Legos building blocks.

Notice the difference in feel between the two patterns. The diamond pattern (which makes me thing of old movie spotlights) takes center stage. But the new selection is a small, tight pattern that settles into the background and covers the walls in more of a textured look.

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.

Butterflies in a Child’s Bathroom

January 23, 2020


Re my previous post, here is a bathroom in a strong black-on-white geometric that I hung just a few years ago. A new family with younger kids has moved in, and wanted something lighter and brighter.

This fluttery butterfly pattern went in the guest bathroom, which is attached to the little girl’s bathroom (Jack & Jill set-up).

The pattern is subtle; it shows up better in person than in my photos.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their Ecochic 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.

The home is in West University Place (Houston) – and just so happens to be right down the street from Dorota!

Revisiting Two Rooms From A Few Years Ago

January 22, 2020


I hung these two geometric prints in two upstairs bathrooms in a contemporary home in West University Place (Houston) in June 2017. A few short years later, the homeowners moved away.

The new homeowners have younger children, and want something more age-appropriate.

So today I am stripping off my own work. Keep posted to see what the new look will be!

Flooded Home is Finally Finished, and a Moroccan Trellis is the Finishing Touch

July 20, 2019


I’ve worked for this family several times over the last 25 years. Unfortunately, their home overlooking Braes Bayou (south central Houston) was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. The original home was torn down (along with my beautiful wallpaper ! 😦 ), and a new, raised home was built. Today I hung wallpaper on an accent wall in the dining room.

Photo 1 – the wall as the contractor left it

Photo 2 – the wall after I have primed it

Photo 3 – finished

I don’t like true grasscloth due to the visible seams and very noticeable color variations between strips, and also it’s propensity to stain easily. (Read my page to the right.)

The product pictured above is a fantastic alternative to real grasscloth. It is paper, superimposed with a vertical string material, so it has the texture and dimension that people are liking these days. The grass design is printed on (not real grass fibers), and this keeps the color uniform, so no abrupt color differences between strips.

The pattern can even be matched from strip to strip, making the seams pretty much invisible. You also have the option of not matching the pattern, to give a look similar to real grasscloth. Even then, the consistence of this design and color make it pretty impossible to tell where the seams are, if you are standing even three feet away.

In addition, the material has been treated, so it is somewhat resistant to stains.

I’ve hung this faux grass a good number of times, but this is the first time to hang it with the trellis design. The homeowner likes to mix modern with traditional, hence the geometric pattern with the antique furniture and chandelier. She also hunted for something that would meld nicely with the color of the paint on the woodwork. I like the look a lot.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and I believe in the Grass Effects book. It 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.

Light-Hued Geometric Updates a Hollywood Bath in West U

June 8, 2019



The kids are grown and gone, so it’s time for an update to this bathroom. The original black & white floral wasn’t bad, but perhaps a bit outdated. And most of the seams had succumbed the curling and pouching that happens when you use the lower-end pre-pasted paper-backed solid vinyl wallpapers in humid rooms – like two teenaged girls showering. 🙂 Besides all that, Mom wanted a fresh new look for her empty nest.

I stripped the paper and prepped the walls – both of which took a lot more work than expected, and way more detail than you want to read here. The install also took a long time … Let’s just say it was way after dark when I finished and went home.

The room had its share of complicated elements. But also working with a geometric print requires a lot of extra steps, to keep the design elements plumb and aligned with the ceiling and woodwork (which are not necessarily plumb), and to keep the pattern matched up as it turns corners – most of which are wonky.

Also, it took a certain amount of plotting and measuring to have the pattern look uninterrupted as it played out above and then below the chair rail.

This paper is in the SureStrip line by York, and is one of my favorites to work with. It is a thin non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage to the walls when it’s time to redecorate. It’s pre-pasted, which means that there is a thin layer of dry adhesive on the back, that is activated by water – you can use several methods to do this. SureStrip is always a nice, cooperative paper to hang, and on the wall, it performs well over time.

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.

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. 🙂