Posts Tagged ‘hall’

Sweetening an All-White Bathroom / Treating Trials

July 2, 2019



This homeowner was just trying to update her hall bathroom. She chose a new countertop, new tile, and new wallpaper. Unfortunately, some of the workmen who showed up for the job were less than stellar. I won’t say anything about the tile guys or the painters, but in the top photo, you can see how the “I can hang wallpaper” guy prepped the wall… which he proclaimed as “wallpaper-ready.”

I took down the light fixture, removed the remaining old wallpaper, and skim-floated the surface. Because the ridges in the original guy’s float job were so thick, I went there a few days early to get an initial layer of smoothing compound spread on the wall, so it would have time to dry. Then when I came back, I skim-floated the entire room. Because this second coat was thinner, it dried in a few hours (with fans, a space heater (to pull humidity from the air), and the home’s A/C unit cranking dry air through the room.)

I sanded smooth, vacuumed and wiped off the dust, and applied a coat of Gardz, which is my preferred primer for newly smoothed walls.

Mysterious tan dots worked their way through the smoothing compound and the Gardz. I didn’t know what they came from (mold, oil, tobacco, soft drink or food the workers splashed on the walls?), but I knew they would eventually bleed through the new wallpaper. So I rolled on BIN, a shellac-based stain-blocker made by Rust Oleum, to seal the wall.

This effectively sealed the stain, and the wall was nice and white after that.

A week later, I came back to hang the wallpaper. First I applied a coat of Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. For some reason, this product didn’t stick well to the BIN – which is surprising, because one reason I use this primer is because it sticks to anything, even glossy surfaces (the BIN was not particularly glossy). Look closely or enlarge the third photo, and you will see it sliding and dripping down the wall. Well, no fear. I brushed out the worst of the drips, and as the primer dried, it tightened up and clung flat and tight to the wall.

With the wall finally smooth and appropriately primed, I was ready to get that paper up on the wall. This was an old fashioned pulp paper, which the British companies were making before most of them switched to non-woven materials. I was looking forward to working with an authentic pulp paper, because it’s been a while since I’ve come across one.

But this one didn’t behave as most of them do… It was thicker and stiffer, which made trimming and intricate detail work difficult, and increased the potential for creasing (for instance, while fitting the paper into a corner at a ceiling line). And it sucked up paste and dried out way sooner than I could get a strip to the wall. So I ended up using a spray bottle to add extra moisture to the back of the paper while I was applying the paste. This did help a lot.

Some of the edges had been banged up during shipping, so some of the seams looked a little weathered. And the edges had not been cut perfectly straight at the factory, so we had a bit of what we call “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room looks great. With its sweet flowers and calming colors, the pattern reminds me of the Laura Ashley era. The blue really pops against the white woodwork and tile in the room, and the red roses are nothing short of romantic.

Such a happy turn-around, for a bathroom that started out full of trials and tribulations.

I’m not sure what the brand name is, but the label says “English Florals.” The homeowner found it on-line (free shipping!), and the cost was low – about $60 for a double roll bolt. The home is on the north side of Houston.

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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.

Down With The Old ’90’s Pattern – In With The New

February 21, 2018


This “angled brush stroke” pattern in navy on a shiny white (Mylar plastic) background was a very popular theme in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s.”

It has seen it’s day, and it’s time to go away.

I spent today stripping this paper off a Hollywood bathroom in the Bellaire neighborhood of Houston.

Stay posted to see pics of the new selection!

Trellis Pattern on Grasscloth

December 17, 2016
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This homeowner loves the texture of grasscloth, and I have already done several rooms for her in their 1930 home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. For this downstairs entry and upstairs hallway, she was originally looking at grasscloth by Phillip Jeffries. But that toney designer’s paper got mighty pricey mighty quickly. She visited my recommended source for wallpaper (read below) and found this very similar pattern by Wallquest at a much more reasonable price.

The pattern was made to be identical right side up or upside down. This was great, because with grasscloth, it’s good to reverse every other strip, so you are hanging one edge of each strip against itself, which minimizes color differences between strips, which are inherent to grasscloth. All of the full-height seams looked very nice.

Still, there were some unavoidable color differences (paneling) on some short pieces over the doors. I was able to lessen this by using a pencil to add some very light color to the halves of the lanterns that were at the seam. You can get an idea of what I’m talking about in the photo of the left edge of a door frame.

Another photo shows me using the laser level to get a perfect placement of a strip in a narrow area.

Oh, and it’s hard to explain why, but that tallest strip along the stairway’s curved wall took me over an hour, just to position and trim. It turned out great, and I was pleased that the grasscloth conformed and stuck to the curved wall very nicely.

This wallpaper is by Wallquest 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.

Soft and Dreamy

July 30, 2016
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The homeowner loves the traditional Carrera marble in her hall powder room. The marble tile creeps 1/3 of the way up the wall, and the floor has an old-fashioned hexagonal pattern made of grey and darker grey marble tiles. She saw this wallpaper pattern about two years ago and fell in love with it.

Next, she found some antiqued-brass light sconces in a formal design, that she wanted to use in the powder room.

But the previous homeowners had installed a sleek-lined dark wood vanity with a contemporary trough sink with chrome waterfall faucet. She worried that these various disparate elements might not look good in the same bathroom.

Well, here you have proof that mixing periods and metals and feels can totally work.

The grey tones in the wallpaper are beautiful against the marble, and they blend well with the chrome faucet. The straight lines of the sink meld nicely with the squares of marble on the walls.

The wall sconces fit right in, and the black shades add just enough spark to punch up the room.

This wallpaper is by House of Hackney, and was printed on the traditional pulp substrate that many British companies are known for.

Have a Seat! – Cute Chairs in a Small Bathroom

May 5, 2016
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Whimsical, beachy, colorful, and fun! This hall bathroom in the West University area was originally painted a very, very dark blue. What a difference this light-hearted chair pattern in peaches and aquas on a shimmery off-white background made!

The wallpaper was nice to work with. It is a paper product and laid flat and tight to the wall. is by Designer Wallpapers, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.