Posts Tagged ‘grasscloth’

Hidden Trap Doors Covered With Wallpaper

December 2, 2017

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The top photo shows where a cut-out was made in the wall, to allow the plumbers to have access to the bathtub pipes inside the wall. The chunk of drywall they cut out has been replaced, and you can see around that the original wallpaper, which is a green grasscloth. Around that, the grasscloth has been painted tan.

The second photo shows another wall with a hinged door that allows access to some attic space behind. Let’s hope that whatever electrician or A/C guy who needs to crawl through there will be thin and trim!

The homeowners had to live with this access door in the middle of their new baby’s nursery wall. The wall was to be wallpapered, and they wanted the door to disappear as much as possible. When I got there, there was about a quarter-inch gap all around the trap door. Instead of trimming the wallpaper to the wall and to the door, which would have left a dark 1/4″ gap showing all around, I trimmed close to the trap door, and left just that little 1/4″ bit of wallpaper “flapping loose.”

You can still see the door, but it’s fairly well camouflaged, and looks much better than before.

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Grasscloth in a West Houston Study

November 17, 2017

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This couple wanted the textural look of grasscloth for their study, in a newish home near Cross Creek Ranch and Cinco Ranch, a bit southwest of Houston. The pattern they chose is a medium-fine grass in a pretty uniform color. With fine grass, you don’t notice as much the mis-match of the fibers at every seam.

The grass fibers have been sewn onto the front of the wallpaper. But the black backing is less homogenous, and exhibits variations in its color. These are the horizontal differences in color that you see in the pictures.

Some of these color variations spill onto the surface of the material, too. These can be especially evident as swathes of darker colored dye on the outer edges of the wallpaper. (See photo)

Overall, this product looks very good. People who like grasscloth love the texture of the natural material. And they like the “organic look” of visible seams, mis-matched pattern (there is no pattern to match!), and the color variations at the edges and within the strips.

I believe the manufacturer of this grasscloth is York.

If You Buy Grasscloth, Expect To See The Seams

November 12, 2017

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Grasscloth is popular right now, but buyers must be aware that, because there is no pattern that can be matched, all the seams will be visible. In addition, color variations are to be expected.

The top photo shows a slight color difference between two strips. This is called shading or paneling. This is not a defect. It is considered “part of the inherent beauty of the natural material.”

The second photo shows a lighter colored line that often appears at the far edges of the grasscloth strips, due to irregularities in the dying process. This can often be minimized by trimming off the edges of the material. But sometimes the lighter area extends beyond the area that can be trimmed off. And if you trim off too much, you will have narrower strips, and may well run out of paper before you finish the room.

The bottom photo shows a seam where the lighter colored edges were successfully trimmed off, and a nice butted seam resulted.

The Fifteen-Hour Foyer Install – Whew!

October 29, 2017

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This was one of the most difficult installations I’ve ever done. Many reasons … The grasscloth came un-trimmed, so I had to trim off the selvedge edge by hand for every strip. This is tedious and time-consuming enough with paper, but with grasscloth it’s harder because you have to press hard to get through the thick material. The room itself presents some time-eating elements, namely the intricate molding above the columns, and it takes time (like 20 minutes each) to cut the paper neatly into the curves. There were six of these curved points, plus four angled blocks in the center of the arches.

I told the homeowner to buy 10 single rolls. But the design studio where she bought it told her 8. So she bought 8 – and we were short. So I had to save every scrap, plot and plan, and spend extra time cutting and piecing slivers of left over paper, so we would have enough to do the areas over the arches. I also had to fudge on the pattern match, in order to have enough paper to do the whole room. This pattern is forgiving, so it’s not noticeable.

But the main difficulty was the extreme thickness of the gesso-like material on the paper. It was virtually IMPOSSIBLE to cut through. I mean, on the side of one doorway, on a 6′ drop, I spent a full 30 minutes, pressing with all my strength, and went through a good couple of razor blades, just to trim off the excess paper. Every other cut was equally difficult. Where the razor blades would not cut it, I used my $50 Japanese high technology scissors – which I am sure needs to be replaced after the workout it got last night.

The paper was also uncooperative when it came to wrapping it around two inside corners. It took a lot of work and heavy pressing on it with a special metal plate tool I have, just to get it to look nice and tight in the corners.

Other inside corners where the material was cut, there were small gaps between the thick layers of gesso. All of these were at the top of the walls, so were not very noticeable.

This room should have taken me about five hours to hang, if it had been a regular wallpaper. This couple was kind enough to let me work late to get the room finished. However, I was stunned when I finished, loaded up my van, and got in the driver’s seat – I had not realized how very late it was at night.

This product is by Schumacher. As usual, their quality control was poor. The homeowner had to send back the entire first batch, due to the gesso being smeared. There was one section in the new batch that was messed up, too.

The finished room does look great, though, and the thick texture adds a unique and warm look to this West University entryway. I plotted the pattern so that it would fall in the center of the archway that’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door.

Me In Action

October 22, 2017


A client just sent me this photos from 2014, of me stripping outdated “ribbon” pattern wallpaper, and replacing it with a calm, finely textured grasscloth.

Silvery Grasscloth Accent Wall in a Powder Room

October 15, 2017

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The décor in this home in Bellaire is a sort of modern rustic, somewhat heavy, Spanish-influenced blend. The powder room originally had a nicely done faux finish, and it served well for 17 years. The interior designer had that painted over with a single color, and then had me hang this silvery material with natural colored grass on one accent wall behind the vanity.

It updates the room, adds just a touch of dazzle, and blends nicely with the stone sink and rustic vanity, and the new stone floor.

The interior designer for this job is Pamela O’Brien of Pamela Hope Designs.

Metallic Cork Married With Earthy Cork Breathes New Life Into A ’70’s Living Room

October 13, 2017

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This 1967 home in a unique neighborhood in Pasadena (Houston) is like a time capsule. It’s a little larger and nicer than the typical ranch-style houses of that era. And just about everything in it was original when my clients bought it … terrazzo floors, dental crown molding, upholstered wall panels in the dining room, diamond paned windows, French Provincial painted iron stairway railing, heavy pleated drapes, and much more.

The homeowners love the look and want to preserve as much as possible. But they also want the home to live a little more modern, and they want it to work with the lifestyle of their young – and very busy – family. They’ve already done a fabulous redo of the kitchen that still respects the era and feel of the home’s bones.

Now it’s time to update the living room. Enter – wallpaper! They used the same grey-brown, wood-look floor tile that they put in the kitchen. They kept the chair rail molding that runs around the room. A sliding barn-style door was custom made to divide the living room from the dining room, and it immediately became the focal point of the room.

Wallpaper was the next element … The couple wanted something earthy, yet elegant, and it had to meld with the vintage theme of the house.

They fell in love with a dark brown cork wallcovering enhanced with metallic accents called Enchanted Woods, by Phillip Jeffries. Whoops! – that brand is crazy expensive! My source (below) found them something nearly identical, but at a much more reasonable price. This dark brown material was used on the bottom 1/3 of the walls, below the chair rail. I was able to railroad this product (run it horizontally, instead of vertically), which eliminated seams. (Sorry, I did not get any photos of this.)

For the upper 2/3 of the wall space, they went with a silver metallic cork wallpaper embellished with a classic damask pattern in white. This is a classy, traditional look jazzed up by a luscious shimmery sheen.

The husband was worried that the dark cork at the bottom of the walls would visually occlude the barn door. At first, I tended to agree with him. But once the cork went up, it was clear that the door still stood out as a dominant feature in the room. Furthermore, it was apparent that the dark band of brown cork was needed all around the room, to balance the visual heft of that massive sliding barn door and to bring continuity to the remaining three walls.

As for the upper 2/3 of the walls, there is no question that the barn door stands out against the silver and white damask cork wallpaper. In addition, the natural texture of the cork coordinates nicely with the stained wood of the door.

Cork wallpaper, especially the metallic colors, is pretty popular right now, and I’ve hung a fair amount of it. But this room was the most challenging. Cork is thick and stiff, and does not want to turn corners (In fact, the instructions say you should not attempt to turn outside corners, but should, instead, cover the corners with wooden molding.), nor is it easy to fit around intricate moldings, and it will give a lot of argument when you try to bend it into a small, tight spot. This room had many of those features!

There was one wall that had two trim-less windows that had reveals (and outside corners) to be covered with the cork material, plus four points of wainscoting trim to cut around, as well as two sections of drapery valances to manipulate the stiff material up and under and into. This wall alone took me 4 1/2 hours to paper!

The rest of the room was easier, but still had its challenges. The cork material is thick and stiff and won’t push tightly against moldings or into corners, which means you have to work extra hard and make several cuts before it will sit snugly against the molding or corner. When trimming around intricate moldings (like the edges of the chair rail), you can’t see or feel where the cuts should be made, so you have to inch your way along, taking a bit here and a sliver there. I estimate that each of the six chair rail edges took me at least 15 minutes – each.

The metallic sheen made it difficult to see the pattern, so it took longer than usual to plot and cut strips.

Cork wallcovering is pretty thick, and you have to expect that the seams will show, just as they do with other natural materials, such as grasscloth. Depending on where you stand in the room, the seams on this product are either invisible, or fairly noticeable. I think the seams could have been better – I have a feeling that the manufacturer’s trimming blade was set at a bit of an angle, making a beveled cut. A perfectly straight cut, or even a slightly reversed-bevel, would perhaps have been less noticeable. Still, this is part of the look of the natural material, and not considered a defect. To be honest, unless you’re looking at a particular seam from just a certain angle, you won’t even see a thing – except the beautiful pattern, color, and shimmer.

The dark brown cork is by Monarque, and the upper cork in the silvery damask pattern is by Thibaut. Both papers were bought at below retail price from 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.

Over the last few years, I have papered three other rooms for this family. Now that the wallpaper in the living room is up, they are on to other things – furniture, drapes – and then on to update / decorate other rooms. As I left tonight, the mom assured me that I would be back at some point, to paper another room.

Painting Grasscloth is NOT a Good Idea

September 2, 2017

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This room was originally wallpapered with an olive green grasscloth. Then, perhaps to “update” the room before putting the house on the market, the grasscloth was painted over with tan paint.

Folks, this is a bad idea. For one thing, it just looks bad. Look at the second picture. The paint is dull and lifeless, and takes away the depth and natural look of the grasscloth material.

Secondly, it makes the material virtually impossible to remove. The paint soaks into the fibers, congealing into one hard, solid, stiff mass. Pulling this stuff off the wall took about the most physical strength that I have ever had to use to strip wallpaper.

The pity is that they could have simply taken a few steps to properly remove the grasscloth.

Silver Cork Wallpaper in a Galleria-Area Water Closet

August 15, 2017

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This water closet in the master bathroom of a newish home in the Galleria area of Houston was originally papered with an olive green grasscloth, which was then painted over with flat, boring, tan paint, as you see in the top photo. It was bad enough as it was, but when the homeowners renovated the bathroom and changed to a sleek, modern look, that painted grasscloth just hurt to look at it.

The wife loves this silver cork wallpaper by Thibaut Designs. In fact, last year I hung the same thing in their downstairs powder room.

The cork, with it’s bright metallic surface, brought a whole lot of light and life to the enclosed, window-less room. It looked better than I anticipated, and we all were amazed at how large and vibrant the room became.

Because the room had some curved walls, I railroaded the paper (hung it horizontally instead of vertically), and that proved to be a good choice. It also used a little less paper.

The wife loves this paper so much, she is thinking of putting it in a third space in their home – an accent wall in the master bedroom.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at below retail price from 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

Untextured Faux Grasscloth in a Kitchen

July 22, 2017

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The kitchen and breakfast area of this ’70’s era kitchen are quite typical of the ranch style homes that were popular at that time. I have papered about a million of them. 🙂

The first photo shows the breakfast area stripped of three previous layers of wallpaper, primed, and ready for its new look. The second photo shows the same corner with the new wallpaper up on the walls.

It’s a subtle, quiet, restful look, with a bit of rustic tossed in.

The “rustic” comes from the grasscloth-look to this wallpaper. But it’s paper, not real grass, and it’s not the new three-dimensional stringcloth that I have been loving lately. That stringcloth faux grass product was too pricy for this homeowner’s remodel budget.

So she chose this instead. This is a wonderful alternative to real grass products. It is uniform in color so you don’t have the horrible shading and paneling and color variations that are inherent with real grasscloth. Even better, it has pattern that can be matched, so you can’t see the seams.

It does have a bit of texture from its “raised ink” printed surface, which is pleasing, but very minimal.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Sure Strip line (I love the stuff!), and is a non-woven material that is meant to easily strip off the wall years later when it’s time to redecorate. It’s thin and hugs the wall nicely, and dries nice and flat and tight against the wall.

The paper was bought at below retail price from 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.