Posts Tagged ‘grasscloth’

Faux Grasscloth – Vinyl That Is Good In A Bathroom

December 29, 2018


Originally, this powder room in the Galleria / Tanglewood area of Houston had what I call a “ditzy” print on the walls – tiny little figures that repeated themselves all over the wallpaper like a zillion little dots lined up in rows. It was outdated and discolored, and didn’t fill the wall space well.

The new homeowner wanted something modern and serene, that would be durable in an area that’s exposed to water. This Bankun Raffia in a steely medium grey is perfect.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (read the page to the right). Nor do I like solid vinyl wallpapers (see the page to the right “Stay Away From ….). But this is one vinyl paper of which I approve.

The vinyl surface is thick and embossed with texture, so it mimics the feel and look of real grasscloth. But it has none of the color variations and shading / paneling issues or visible seams that make the real stuff so disappointing. In fact, you can hardly find a seam.

The vinyl surface is a lot more resistant to water and stains than most any other type of wallcovering. And the woven fabric backing won’t absorb humidity and curl or delaminate like the lower-end paper backed vinyls will. And that fabric backing makes this product quite durable and strong, and resistant to tears (like you see when a home’s foundation shifts and the corners twist out of alignment).

In fact, this stuff is the same iron-tough material that is used in hotels and hospital corridors, and will withstand dings and bangs and can be cleaned easily.

Being thick and stiff, it is a bit difficult to work with, particularly when turning corners. But the benefits are worth it.

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia. It is so popular, now it comes in more than 30 colors! It’s 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.

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After 30 Years, It’s Time for an Update

December 19, 2018


These homeowners were updating their 30-year old home in Sugarland. To the dining room and hallway, they added crown molding at the top and wainscoting with block-and-panel molding at the bottom. Fine moldings add a real touch of elegance.

But the wife has a bit of a renegade spirit, and really likes the new “industrial modern” decorating style. So it was time for the ’90’s era faux-finish wallpaper to go – along with the border which you can just see a tidbit of it peeking out from under the new crown molding.

The new wallcovering choice is a small “flame” textured vinyl in a steely grey/taupe/gold color. It perfectly pulls together the industrial modern light fixture and the classic paneling.

The cut edges of the textured vinyl, along with the sheen of the material, really reflect light and bounce it around the room.

Like most solid-colored wallcoverings with no pattern, with or without a texture, this selection was subject to some color differences between strips. The dining area with 5′ high walls went up with a very homogenous look. Ditto one wall of the 8′ high hallway to the right. But another wall in that same hallway showed some differences between strips.

To minimize these differences, I tried various things.

First, I made sure to hang each strip sequentially, as they came off the bolt. That would reduce color variations, if the ink had gotten lighter or darker as the printing process went on at the factory.

I colored the edges of the vinyl with chalk of a matching hue, so that if a “high” area of the textured vinyl butted up against a “low” area of the next strip, the white edges would be covered with a matching color.

Next I tried reversing every other strip. This means you hang one strip right-side-up, and the next one upside-down. This ensures that one edge of the paper is being hung against itself, so, if there is a color difference, it is gradual instead of abrupt. Difficult to explain, but it makes sense if your mind’s eye can follow it through.

Interestingly enough, reversing every other strip worked quite nicely on the dining room walls, as you see in the photo. But in the full-height walls to the right, reversing the strips resulted in paneling. So there I hung all the strips right-side-up – and it looked great.

But on the far wall, no matter if I hung right-side-up or reversed, you could see differences between the strips (last photo). I replaced one strip once, and another I replaced twice – but never really loved the way it turned out. On some of the other seams, even though I had colored the edges with chalk, the white vinyl still showed. At some point, you just have to say, “This is how the product is.”

This is also why you discuss this with the homeowner before starting the project – and hopefully before she makes her decision to purchase this product. In this case, the homeowner was originally looking at grasscloth – and that product would most likely have had much more noticeable color differences.

Lighting has a lot to do with it, too. Strong light, filtered light, incandescent or LED, light straight-on or light from an angle, all put their thumbprint on how the wallpaper looks.

This wallpaper pattern is by York (one of the homeowners is originally from York, Pensylvania!), 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.

Disguising Unused Junction Boxes

December 9, 2018


The homeowners were not going to use the box with speaker wire in the upper left of the wall, nor the phone jack next to the outlet near the floor.

So I pushed the wires back into the boxes, and just hung the grasscloth paper right over the boxes, without cutting an opening. Even though a slight bump may show, it looks a whole lot better than a blank wall plate, or an unused phone jack cover.

Grasscloth the Color of Milk Chocolate in a Kingwood Master Bedroom

December 1, 2018


This couple got married, blended their families, built a house, then got flooded by 3′ of water during Hurricane Harvey – all within less than a year…. Talk about stress!

Well, now that the home is back together, this soothing master bedroom will give them a calm and quiet sanctuary. The wallpaper went on one feature wall, behind the headboard.

This is a grasscloth wallpaper the color of milk chocolate. Although there were some minor shading issues, I was very pleased that the color of the strips was pretty consistent from strip to strip. The bottom photo shows a discrepancy in the weaving – this is not considered a defect, but “part of the inherent beauty of this natural product.”  Luckily, it was in a location that would be hidden behind the bed.  There was one more similar spot, but it was much smaller and not anything to complain about.

The name on the label was something generic like “Quality Wallcoverings.”

The material 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.

Think You Want Grasscloth?

November 30, 2018


Think you want grasscloth? This natural product is often rife with color variations between strips, or, as seen here, within the same strip. This is called shading or paneling. Or sometimes the material is a lighter color at the edges, causing an unpleasant striped effect. This photo is of a high-end brand called Phillip Jeffries.

Of course, sometimes the material is very homogenous, like the Serena & Lily brand I hung on November 28, 2018. (Look up the post in the archives on the right.) But uniform color like this in grasscloth is pretty rare.

If you are considering using grasscloth, ask me to send you my Info Pack on the product, before you make your purchase.

Serene Serena & Lily Grasscloth in a Hall Bathroom

November 28, 2018


If you’ve read my page about grasscloth (click link on the right), you know that I don’t like it much, and that it is not suited for use in bathrooms, because water can easily stain it.

This homeowner, however, had found a beautiful paper in her perfect colorway on the popular Serena & Lily website.

She bought two double rolls. Now, if I had been called in earlier, before they ordered their paper, I would have told them to order an additional bolt. Most of the time, grasscloth is not figured via the square foot, but by the strip count. Which is not as straight forward as it sounds … there are tricks to measuring for grasscloth (and any paper, really), so please don’ order any wallpaper until the space has been measured by a professional.

Back to the wallpaper – This natural grasscloth product by Serena & Lily was wonderful. It had NO color variations and NO shading. It was thinner than many grasscloth products, and was easy to work with. It turned corners well. It also bridged / disguised minor defects in the wall. I can’t remember the last time I had such a nice grasscloth product to work with.

Schumacher Acanthus Stripe in a Bellaire Powder Room

November 4, 2018


Here is an acanthus-themed wallpaper pattern worked into a stripe, superimposed onto grasscloth. The manufacturer is Schumacher, and I hung it in a powder room and an adjoining shower vestibule in a home in Bellaire. I’ve worked for this family several times over the last 20 years.

Usually, I have problems of sundry description with the Schumacher brand products; this time, there were no major issues.

Need a Little Reading Material in the Bathroom? ??

November 2, 2018


What fun wallpaper! This is very similar to grasscloth. But, instead of using natural grasses and reeds, this material is made of strips cut from magazine pages, rolled and folded into long narrow strips, and then sewed onto a paper backing. In some of the columns, you can actually read the words!

There is a similar product made from old newspapers – appropriately named “Yesterday’s News.”

I hung this in a powder room in a new, contemporary home in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner, Cristin Wells, is an interior designer http://www.wellsdesignedhome.com/ who recently moved here from Chicago (not far from my hometown of St. Louis!), and brings her sophisticated playfulness here to the Bayou City.

This product is similar to grasscloth in that the seams are very visible. So I engineered the room to have seams fall evenly spaced on each wall, which we call balancing, and which gives a pleasing effect.

In addition, the material can be shaded, or paneled, which means there can be a noticeable color difference between strips, even if they come off the same bolt. In the third photo, you see how I have rolled the paper out on the floor, to check for shading / paneling, so the homeowner will be aware of this issue, and so I can plot how and where to use the various strips.

Indeed, before consulting with me, the homeowner initially purchased two bolts of paper; when I measured the space I told her that she needed five more. The additional bolts arrived in a different run. Run and batch and dye lot numbers are important – all bolts from the same run or batch were printed at the same time with the same batch of ink, and will generally be pretty much the same shade. Papers from a different run will be a slightly different shade, and will be very noticeable if placed next to one another on the same wall. This is true even with this recycled magazine page material – see the third photo – although instead of printing with ink, the ladies who manufacture this stuff (usually in China or somewhere in Asia) are grabbing handfuls of magazine pages. As you can see, color variations are still quite possible / probable.

In addition to the 10′ high ceilings, the room had a few features that made the install tricky. One was a deeper than usual vanity, which was difficult and somewhat dangerous to reach over to access the wall. This was also a “floating” vanity, which hung suspended on the wall with a short space underneath it that wanted to be covered with wallpaper. Contorting myself under a 30″ deep vanity into a 5″ high space to stick a couple of strips of paper to a rear wall that no one would ever see questioned my sense of reason – but I could not imagine leaving the wall unpapered, so I “got ‘er done!” Sorry, no photo.

Being a contemporary styled home, the window was recessed with a 1/2″ return,. This meant that I had to bring the paper to the edge of the window, and then wrap a mere 1/2″ around an outside corner. The paper was thick and didn’t want to make this turn, and, when it did, it didn’t want to stay stuck – it kept trying to lift up. Wetting the paper helped soften it so it was more agreeable to making these turns, and in some areas I also used a razor blade to make light horizontal slits in the material, right on the edge of the corner, to reduce tension and allow it to turn more easily. Sorry, no photo.

Speaking of making cuts … This stuff was thick and hard to cut, so it took a lot of pressure and several swipes to make many of the cuts, even with a brand new razor blade. When I trimmed the material horizontally at the ceiling and floor, the strings that held the folded magazine pages to the backing were cut also, and they came loose. That meant that there was nothing holding the folded magazine pages to the paper.

It turns out that each of those horizontal strips of folded magazine pages contained about 6 layers of paper, each folded accordion-style. Threads were sewn on to hold them to the backing. But once the threads were cut, the accordion-folded papers unfurled, spread apart, and pushed away from the backing. So when you looked at the ceiling or floor lines, you saw a puffy ridge running the width of the strip.

What I ended up doing was to go up to the ceiling and then down to the floor edges, gently pry apart the fanned layers, and use wallpaper paste to adhere them to one another. I had to get sufficient paste behind each of the six layers, for the entire 3′ width of each strip, press them back together, hold them until the adhesive tacked up – all without getting any paste on the paper or on the ceiling.

All of the above added a lot of time to this job, and I didn’t leave until 9:30 p.m. But the room looked great when I was finished. From its initial uninspired dull grey paint job to the colorful and quite unexpected recycled magazine pages covering the walls, this powder room has experienced a major transformation.

The wallpaper is by Seabrook, which has been purchased by York. Both are wonderful brands.

Stretching the Paper to Avoid a Pattern Mismatch / Color Shading in Grasscloth

October 28, 2018


Two things about this photo. First, you can easily see the color difference between the narrow panel on the left, and the one to its right. You can also see that the color of the grasscloth darkens 2/3 of the way down the middle strip.

This variation in color is normal – even expected – in grasscloth, and is called “shading,” or “paneling.” It’s referred to as the “inherent beauty of this natural product.” But, personally, I don’t care for it.

Read my informative page to the right, to learn more about grasscloth.

Another thing to note … this corner is the last corner in the room to be papered. Virtually always, this last corner ends in a pattern mis-match – which can jar the eyes. So I placed it up over the door, in the least conspicuous space I could find.

Indeed, since the distance between the motif on the final strip did not sync with that on the first strip, the pattern was going to end up with a floral stem being split in the corner, leaving half of the greenery visible and half cut off. I didn’t want any cut off flower stems.

So I “grew” the paper. The distance between the flowers was supposed to be 5″. I used some scraps of paper to cut a strip 3.5″ wide, and another 4″ wide. This gave me an expansion of 7.5″ – wide enough to bridge the final distance without cutting off any flowers, but not wide enough for the eye to detect that the spacing was not exactly as the artist originally plotted.

The pattern is “Acanthus” and the manufacturer is Schumacher.

Calming Faux Grasscloth on a TV / Fireplace Accent Wall

October 16, 2018


If you’ve read this blog for long, or if you’ve read my informative page on grasscloth to the right, you know that I am not a fan of this material. So when clients want texture and an earthy, organic feel, I suggest some alternatives.

One of my favorite alternatives to real grasscloth is this textured vinyl product, called Bankun Raffia, made by Thibaut. It has none of the visible seams, shading, paneling, or color variations of the real stuff. What’s more, it is strong and durable, just about tear- and water-proof, and it is stain resistant.

The homeowner wisely chose this product to use as two panels flanking the fireplace wall (which is also the TV wall). The faux grasscloth adds warmth and texture and subtle color. It will hold up well against daily use, and it will be easy to remove when they are ready to redecorate.