Posts Tagged ‘grey’

From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019


Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). 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.

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Basket Weave Wallpaper Pattern on a Bedroom Accent Wall

August 14, 2018

For this accent / feature wall of Grandma’s bedroom in a very contemporary new home in the West U. area of Houston, the homeowner wanted something fun but not too edgy (Grandma’s gonna sleep in there, after all! 🙂 ). Plus she wanted to pull in colors from other rooms, particularly navy blue, as well as coordinate with the tufted headboard (grey) and upholstered bench (navy). And a little Asian flavor wouldn’t hurt.

Here’s a pattern that fills the bill! The hatch design is reminiscent of a woven bamboo mat. The navy background coordinates with the bench, as well as fabrics in other rooms of the house, and the grey and silver accents work perfectly with the tufted headboard. The design is contemporary, but not overwhelmingly so. Its surface is vinyl, but it has a velvet-like feel, and I believe it will help absorb sound, too.

The homeowner took my recommendation and visited Dorota (read below), who helped her track down this perfect fit!

The material is non-woven, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall technique. The backing and edges of this dark paper were white, so I ran a chalk pastel crayon along them to disguise the light color.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, 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.

Most of the furniture and accessories are from High Fashion Home near downtown Houston.

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!

Wallpaper – Lots of Wallpaper – In Flea Market Décor Magazine

May 22, 2018

I know that the current interior design craze is HGTV’s Joanna Gaines / Fixer Upper look, with vast open rooms, white and grey on every surface, and uncluttered spaces. But there are plenty of people out there – me emphatically included – who like the feel of walls around us, love color, love all things vintage, love to collect, and love to look at our collections. At Christmas, my brother gifted me with a subscription to Flea Market Décor magazine, and, boy, was this a perfect fit! If you like old stuff, retro stuff, imperfect stuff, beat-up stuff, quirky, fun, colorful, funky, junque, thrift stores, and flea markets – go check out this magazine!

Anyway, I am always thrilled to see wallpaper in magazines, and the spring 2018 issue of Flea Market Décor had lots of it.

Note the use on all walls of a living room, and one accent wall of two different bedrooms. Bold patterns and receding patterns. Some paper was used to highlight panels in a door, the butterflies were captured in a large frame over a bathroom vanity, and a bright pink pattern accents a desk area.

You will notice vintage and retro furniture. Many of the rooms use recurring color, pulled from the wallpaper and used again throughout the room. Even though there is a lot of “stuff” in the rooms, the repetitive use of the same color keeps the look cohesive.

Some of the rooms are funky, and some are sophisticated and even elegant (the peacock feathers). All of them feel warm and inviting, and they definitely express the homeowner’s personality and individuality.

Etched Forest Mural in a Baby Girl’s Room

January 4, 2018

Wallpaper - Mural - Etched Forest Close Up


No pink dollies for this baby girl (still a few months away!). This foresty mural is far more interesting. The “etched” appearance of the design brings to mind an old-world lithograph, and adds depth to the image. The green and gold colors are muted, and coordinate with the mom’s planned color scheme of grey, taupe, and dusty rose.

The first photo shows laying the mural out on the floor, to be sure the panels match, and to be sure they are in the right sequence. This also allows me to check dimensions of the mural against those of the wall, and to plot placement of the design.

This mural is from Europe. It came in 8 panels, and was custom-sized to fit the wall. It was a non-woven material, and was installed via the paste-the-wall method. This particular material was stiff and felt even brittle. I wasn’t thrilled working with it, but once it was up on the wall, it will be fine.

I hung this in a baby girl’s nursery in a home in West University (Houston). The manufacturer is Rebel Walls.

Bringing Dull Grey to Life

November 26, 2017


This homeowner in the Galleria / Highland Village area of Houston is from Madrid, and had this wallpaper in her home there. She loved it.

When the family moved to Houston, she brought the paper with her. Well, first there was a detour to London, England, to pick up the paper from where it is made.

The new house is beautiful, but it was dark, with lots of grey and grey-based colors everywhere. The kitchen even had a wall painted in chalkboard paint – an oppressing mass of solid black.

The new wallpaper, called Madam Butterfly (by Designers Guild), adds a happy feel of uplifted cherry buds and blossoms, and a cherry color palate of both light and bold pinks.

The colors work together beautifully. There is just enough pink to compliment the grey cabinets, without being too cartoonish or girly. The design looks like swoops of water color paint – like a Japanese painting. And I love the upward movement of the tree blossoms.

In addition, the adjoining rooms all have accents of the hot pink color, from sofa pillows to artwork to vases to a divine hot pink divan sitting center stage in the family room.

Blue Goes With Grey – But Not Always

July 2, 2017

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In 2002, I hung this small blue floral print in the kitchen / breakfast area of a 1950 home in Riverside (Houston). The homeowner inherited the house from her grandmother, and she loves the vintage style and has kept her decorating pretty much true to the theme – including the floral wallpaper.

But a water leak changed all that. Damage was extensive enough that it made sense to remodel the entire kitchen. So new tile and granite came in. As much as the homeowner loved the blue flowery wallpaper, it didn’t go with the new grey-hued surfaces. So new wallpaper was called for.

As you can see in the third photo, the new pattern coordinates much better.

The homeowner has bought paint and wallpaper from Dorota at Southwestern Paint (see below) for many years, and she knew she could trust her to find the right paper. Sure enough – She told Dorota about the kitchen remodel and sent pics of the granite and tile, then made an appointment to visit in person. When she got to the store, Dorota walked over to her library of wallpaper books, chose one, opened it up, and pointed to this pattern. “This is what you need,” she said. And she was absolutely spot-on. The selection is perfect with the granite, the tile, the updated room, and even works beautifully with the older home.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their Ecochic collection, a series that I like a lot, and it 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.

How the “Hot Mess” Turned Out

April 18, 2017

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After I spent a day getting these walls into good shape (see previous post), came the fun part – hanging the paper.

This was a Moroccan lantern style geometric pattern, in yellow on grey. The homeowner loves geometric designs, and she searched hard to find something in this style that would compliment the granite countertop in that came with the powder room in her family’s new home.

This pattern does all that very nicely.

The home is in Fleetwood, in west Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by Brewster, in their A-Street Prints line. It is a non-woven material and is intended to be a paste-the-wall installation, but I find that pasting the material is a better method, for many reasons.

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.

Gunmetal Metallic Cork Wallpaper

January 26, 2017
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The room was too dark, and likewise the paper, to get any good photos. But this is a beautiful charcoal / gunmetal grey cork wallpaper with flecks of gold that I hung on one large accent wall of a new townhome in the Bellaire / Meyerland / Renwick neighborhood of Houston. I’ve hung this or similar several times, but in the brighter silver colorway. For a single man, I like this version better.

The homeowner commented that he thought the paper made the room look bigger. I hear this a lot with patterned paper, especially in small rooms like powder rooms. But it’s good to hear that people also find that a textured wallcovering visually enlarges a room, too.

The interior designer for this job is Chris Breining of Christopher Design, Inc. The wallpaper is by York, and is in the Candice Olson line.

More Durable Alternative to Grasscloth

December 1, 2016
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This couple wanted a textured paper, rather than a busy pattern, for their powder room in a newish home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. After spending several months looking at options, and also seeking my input, they decided on this. The design is meant to look like grasscloth, but to me, it has much more of a sleek, modern look, all of which is enhanced by the slivery grey color.

What is extra nice about this selection is that it is a scrim (fabric) backed vinyl material, and will hold up to water splashes and dings quite nicely; real grasscloth, and even paper wallpaper products, cannot say the same. Because it is meant to mimic grasscloth, there is no pattern to be matched, and so the seams are more visible than with other patterns. But this product did not have the paneling and shading problems that plague real grasscloth, so the seams really are barely noticeable.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, from the Texture Resource line, pattern # 5834, and was bought at a 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.