Posts Tagged ‘hand-trimmed’

Chinese Hand-Painted Silk Mural

June 27, 2019


Here is some delicious stuff! This is silk wallpaper, hand painted in China with these beautiful bird, butterfly, and botanical motifs. Look at the close-up shots to see the gorgeous paint detail.

There are some historic companies who make these murals, like Zuber, Gracie, Fromental, and de Gournay, and they can run $500-$1200 per panel. (This wall took seven panels.) But my client found another manufacturer who was way more reasonable. http://www.worldsilkroad.com/

The mural was custom-sized to the homeowners’ wall. The studio added 2″ to the top and bottom, and a little more to each side, for trimming, and to accommodate walls that are not perfectly plumb and ceilings that are not perfectly level. (Never order a mural to the exact dimensions of the wall, and always best to have the paperhanger measure before ordering.)

There are a lot of things that make an install like this much more complicated than a traditional wallpaper. For starters, the silk can easily be stained by just about anything … wallpaper paste, water, hands. So it’s important to work absolutely clean. You will NOT be able to wipe off any errant bit of paste. The paper also had a half inch “bleed” of excess paper along the edges that had to be trimmed off by hand (no photo).

The material was thicker than expected, wanted to stay curled up as it had been in its shipping tube, and the backing was very absorbent, which meant that it sucked up paste and was almost dry by the time it was finished booking and got to the wall… So it required extra paste on the edges to get them to stick tight, while, once again, taking care to not get any paste on the surface of the paper.

The company provided precious little information. Well, actually there was information, but it came in Chinesnglish, and, bless their hearts, was virtually indecipherable. The company was very responsive, but, unfortunately, was unable to provide adequate information about paste recommendations, booking time, was a liner spec’ed, if the substrate was paper or non-woven, if the silk had a protective coating, and even whether or not the goods had to be hand-trimmed or came pre-trimmed. There was a lot of other mysterious content on their instruction sheet that ended up best being disregarded.

So I used common sense and traditional installation methods, and it turned out great.

In one photo, I am rolling out the panels, to be sure they are in the correct sequence. Even though the manufacturer had told me the panels were pre-trimmed and ready to butt on the wall, while rolling them out, I discovered that if I did that, the pattern match would be off. This is when I discovered that 1/2″ had to be trimmed off one side of every strip.

This also meant that each strip would be 36″ wide, rather than 36.5″, so my measurements and layout calculations had to be revised. This was particularly important because that first area to the left of the window was barely more than 36″ wide – and I didn’t want to end up having to piece in a 3/8″ wide strip of this delicate material.

Two other pictures show some crinkles in the material. I believe these happened at the factory or during shipping, because the same defects appear in two consecutive panels, at the same position. They were both up high, and, once the material got wet with paste, expanded a little, and then applied to the wall, these flaws were not detectable.

The last photo shows what you should expect from hand-painted products. They probably had one guy working on Panel 6, and another working on Panel 7, and each probably had a different size paint brush, and possibly their stencil (or whatever they use) was a bit off. Either way, this mis-match is not considered a defect, and is part of the beauty of a hand-crafted mural. There were really only two areas that matched this poorly, and they were both low toward the floor. In the upper areas where branches crossed the seams, the pattern matched very nicely. Really, it’s quite incredible that their precision can be as good as it is.

I’ve never worked with this brand before, but overall, I was pleased with the quality and the installation. You can find the manufacturer by Googling World Silk Road. It comes from England, but is made in China. (Gee…. why can’t they have one of those British guys translate the installation instructions?!)

This mural went on one accent wall in a master bedroom of a home in Idylwood, a small, idyllic, and very desirable neighborhood of 1930’s and 1940’s homes on Houston’s east side. The homeowners love vintage as much as I do, and are keeping most of their home true to its original state.

Two Pretty Blues Today

April 25, 2019


Another “all white” house gets a little personality and definition from a light dose of color and pattern. What a pleasant change!

The first three photos are Scalamandre’s “Balinese Peacock.” It came with a selvedge edge that had to be hand-trimmed off with a razor blade and a 6′ straight edge.

The last two photos are a fun elongated triangle floral stripe by Schumacher. My “after” sink photo didn’t come through, unfortunately, but the other pictures will give you an idea of the pattern.

Even though these papers are by two different manufacturers, the blue color is identical. It’s a lot brighter and prettier than my crummy camera depicts. The blue picks up hints of blue that the homeowner has in her living room (throw pillows) and in the dining room (navy blue paint above the wainscoting).

The peacock went in a small bar area off the living room, and the foliage stripe went in the under-the-stairs powder room that is right off the bar. The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston.

“Indian Flower” by Jasper Wallcoverings, Hand Trimmed Goods

April 5, 2019


The selvedge edge of this wallpaper had to be trimmed off by hand, using a paperhanger’s straightedge and a razor blade.

Once that was done, the paper could be pasted, booked, and hung, just like any pre-trimmed paper.

The manufacturer is Jasper, and the pattern is called Indian Flower. I hung it in the dining room of a home in the rapidly-developing area off the Grand Parkway and Birnham Woods, in the Spring area of Houston.

Dining in the Meadow

August 26, 2018


Such a beautiful pattern really transformed this dining room in the Highland Village area of Houston.

The homeowner started out wanting the whole dining room papered, but the material (by Peter Fasano, called “Meadow”) is crazy expensive. So she toyed with the idea of papering just the fireplace wall. Then she decided to paper that fireplace wall, and also the mirror-image fireplace wall in the living room directly across the hallway.

But as we approached the install date, she decided that she wouldn’t be completely happy unless she had what she really wanted, which was her original vision for the room – all four walls.

Now she’s crazy happy. And her husband is happy, too – he likes the wallpapered look so much that he is ready to do another room. 🙂

From my point of view, this is one of the nicest papers I’ve ever worked with. It had to be hand-trimmed to remove the unprinted selvedge, and the trim marks were spot-on. The paper took the adhesive well, and it was easy to smooth into place. It would stretch when needed, and wrinkles of excess paper could be eliminated, which helped a lot when accommodating for unplumb walls. There was minimal shrinking as it dried. It is thin and hugs the wall tightly, and was easy to turn corners.

The design is a soft black line drawing on a slightly off-white pearlized background.

A Kaleidoscope of Mid-Century Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright – Wild

July 7, 2018

What a fun pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury, in their newish line of “Atomic Age,” Mid Century Modern, in the theme of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright!

The young couple that bought this mint-condition, Mid-Century home in the Medical Center / Reliant Stadium neighborhood of Houston is way crazy about the modern look, and wanted an accent wall in the kitchen breakfast nook to both play up that theme, as well as bring color into the room.

There are four bright orange molded plastic “mod” chairs that will ring around that round table.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope. The wallpaper is custom made, but is not outrageously expensive. It comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. (Do a search here for pics and more info on this process.) The paper is normally hung vertically, but the homeowners liked the design better run horizontally (called railroading in wallpaper terms).

It took a lot of trimming, plotting, planning, and engineering, plus plenty of time with the laser level (see second photo), to get the pattern matched correctly and then laid out on the wall so everything lined up perfectly. I also took steps to keep as much paste off the woodwork and shutters as possible. Yeah, it wipes off relatively easily. But always best to keep it off in the first place.

Elephants Walk Across Twin Babies’ Nursery Wall

May 2, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Here is an accent wall in a nursery for new born twins – a boy and a girl. Instant family. 🙂 The expectant mom had seen pictures on HOUZZ and wanted to recreate the look in her babies’ room.

The top two photos show one wall, but there are two mirror-image 37″ wide walls flanking the recessed window. The wallpaper went on each wall, and the recessed walls around the window were painted metallic gold, to match the wallpaper. The walls had rounded outside corners, and the homeowner had them finished off with a piece of wood molding. I love this. See the last photo for a close up.

The homeowners had ordered their paper off the Internet before our initial consultation. If I had gotten to them first, I would have had them order more paper. As it was, we had one double roll bolt of paper to cover this 2-part wall.

Each wall section required two strips of wallpaper. With the height of their wall, and factoring in the atypically long pattern repeat of 30″, the bolt of paper would yield three strips. Not enough paper.

But I was able to make it work. Because the wall was 37″ wide and the wallpaper was 27″ wide, that first strip would cover 27″ of the wall, leaving 10″ to be covered. Since the paper was 27″ wide, if I split it in two vertically, I could get two 10″ strips from it, taking one from the right side and one from the left side.

If I positioned these four strips on the two walls precisely, I could get the job done with the amount of paper they had purchased.

The job was much more complicated than this, though. I won’t go into all the details or all the math, but things to factor in were the 30″ pattern repeat juxtaposed against the exact height of the walls, the 3″ additional paper needed at the top of the two center strips to accommodate the crown molding (see photo), the numbers the manufacturer stamped in ink on the back of the paper which would bleed through the paper which necessitated that a certain amount of paper had to be discarded, the secondary pattern – which is the diagonal movement and the rhythm of the pattern that you see from a distance (see photo), coupled with the fact that all those elephants looked alike – but were not. If one line of elephants got mispositioned – placed too high or too low – that secondary pattern’s rhythm would be thrown off.

Before I took the job, I did some calculating at home, to be sure they had enough paper. I figured that we could squeak by.

At the site, before I cut any paper, I plotted, measured, calculated – and repeated – to be sure everything was correct. I placed strips side-by-side on the floor (see photo, and thankfully this room had a lot of open floor space to do this), to be sure the pattern match was spot-on. As you can see, everything worked out perfectly.

This paper had to be hand-trimmed (see tomorrow’s post), which took additional time, concentration, and equipment. In addition, the walls were far from straight / plumb, so the wallpaper didn’t want to butt up against the new molding, nor did it meet up with the painter’s finish line under the windows. Luckily it was printed on a very malleable substrate, and I was able to twist it into position. That created wrinkles, but it was forgiving paper, and I was able to work out those wrinkles. I’m glad there were only 1 1/2 strips per wall, because the paper would not have cooperated so generously for multiple strips.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Elephant Walk” and is by Jill Malek, and was bought on-line. It comes in a small scale (pictured) and a larger scale. I hung a very similar giraffe pattern by the same company last year, also in a baby’s room. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/wavy-giraffes-jolly-up-a-babys-nursery/

Walnut SeaScape

November 12, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


This is a new build in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. I papered an accent wall in a guest bathroom in the home. Kind of unusual to do just one wall in a bathroom, because bathrooms tend to be chopped up, and it looks better to have a homogeneous treatment to all the walls. But this guest bath was large, and had a long, uninterrupted wall behind the sink / mirror. And this turned out to be perfect as a feature wall with wallpaper.

This is a dramatic wall full of color and whimsy. The manufacturer is Walnut. The paper had to be hand-trimmed, to remove the selvedge edge, which is an exacting and tedious process. See photo.

Aside from the crazy pattern match (see other post), this wallpaper was a joy to work with, and it will hold up nicely in the bathroom environment.

A Soft Backdrop Wallpaper

September 29, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Located in River Oaks (Houston), this 1940 home had been completely gutted and renovated. Now the whole house has a serene, clean, open look. The living room was originally painted a semi-gloss white. It went with the look, but was rather sterile.

Interior decorator Elizabeth Mann helped the homeowner find this wallpaper, in a soft, mossy green, with narrow vertical blocks of irregular shape and shade. It was custom made, and was sold by the yard (instead of by the roll). Like many high-end papers, it had to be hand-trimmed, to remove the selvedge edge, as you see in the last photo.

The gentle color and subtle pattern are just enough to snug up the room, and will be a wonderful backdrop for furniture and artwork.

New Wallpaper in the Wallpaper Lady’s Bathroom

May 3, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Last week, I stripped off a decade-old botanical and bird wallpaper pattern from my master bathroom, and replaced it with this “Raspberry Bramble,” by Bradbury & Bradbury (http://bradbury.com/), a California-based company that specializes in patterns true to the Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts and Victorian periods, along with some Mid-Century Modern and other designs.

This B&B wallpaper was a little tricky to work with. For starters, it has to be hand-trimmed (see photo) to remove the selvedge edge. My go-to pre-mixed adhesive is not a good choice for this material, so I chose a potato-starch paste available from Bradbury, that comes powdered and is mixed with water on-site.

This particular pattern has a lot of ink (smells like moth balls!) on the surface, and, when paste is applied to the back, the backing absorbs paste and swells at a different rate than the inked surface, resulting in wrinkles and bubbles and twists, plus the curled edges you see in the photo, which can prevent the seams from lying down properly. The moisture differential can cause the paper to continue to swell on the wall, causing wired (overlapped or puckered) seams.

I’ve hung a good amount of Bradbury & Bradbury papers, but had never encountered the degree of bubbling and curling as with this paper.

The solution to all this is to mist or damp-sponge the surface of the paper, which puts moisture on the front, and allows the front and back (wet by the paste) to absorb moisture more evenly. Then the paper is folded loosely (booked), and also rolled up like a newspaper. This helps push the curled edges back down. Then the strip of wallpaper is placed in a plastic trash bag to sit for 10-15 minutes, much longer than the booking time for most papers.

All of this took more time, but it resulted in smooth paper with flat seams.

My plan for this room is to achieve a 1700’s French chateau look, so I am also darkening and stenciling my vanity, which has a new “Noche” travertine countertop, will be hanging some frilly antique wall clocks, period artwork, a beautiful chandelier, and adding other features.

Unhappy – Visible Seams Today – But a Solution

December 9, 2015
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

I don’t often work in offices or businesses or commercial spaces, but today I did take on a job in an office park (photo 1) off Westpark & Chimney Rock in southwest Houston. It was a pipeline company that was spiffing up their offices, and everyone who worked there was positively delightful.

The wallpaper, however, was not quite so agreeable.

In the second photo, you see the painted wall before I got started. I rolled on a coat of Gardz, a clear primer. Then started hanging this small herringbone pattern by Schumacher. Although I followed the manufacture’s instructions to reverse-hang the goods (a trick to minimize color variances by hanging every other strip upside down, so you are placing the same sides of the wallpaper next to each other – it’s easier to understand if you are actually doing it, rather than typing it. 🙂 )

Anyway, as you can see in the next photo, there is a visible vertical 1/4″ wide line down each seam, between each strip of wallpaper.

I didn’t think it looked good, and the other guys working on the jobsite noticed it, too, so I called the interior designer, who called the clients. Bottom line: Although we all acknowledged that it didn’t look great, it wasn’t horrible, and besides, there would be furniture and a large painting on that wall, which would pretty much cover the white lines, as well as distract your attention to more interesting things (the oil painting).

So, they gave the go-ahead to continue hanging the paper. Still, I thought it could look better.

I was unable to remove the four existing strips, due to surface failure when attempting to pull those off the wall – Meaning, when the wallpaper, which is on a non-woven substrate, which is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to the wall, when I pulled it off the wall, some of the paint came away from the wall, too, leaving an uneven surface on the wall, which would leave dips and bumps under the new wallpaper. I had Gardz’ed the wall, so I thought the surface was stable. But if the paint beneath my primer is not sticking to the drywall, or if there are many layers of paint and they are not all compatible, or dust, or crumbling paint, or who knows what, you can have layers delaminating (coming apart), which is what I had today.

Long story short, I thought the white vertical lines looked better than crumbling walls and bumps under the paper. So I left those strips up on the wall, and focused on the remaining five strips.

Since it was a pattern that allowed it, what I did was, instead of using Schumacher’s factory cut edge, I used my 6′ straightedge and razor blades to trim off 1″ or so from either edge of each 9′ strip of wallpaper, making sure to continue the reverse-hang rhythm, while also making sure the “up” or “down” angle of the herringbone pattern lined up correctly with the pattern on the strips on either side.

This was tedious, but it proved to be the right solution. If you really looked at the wall, you could still see some of the seams, and there was still a bit of white discoloration. But the overall effect was MUCH more pleasing, and definitely worth the extra effort. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the finished wall with the hand-trimmed wallpaper.

Interestingly, if you look closely at the “before” photo (#2), you can see a faint vertical white line on the painted wall, before any wallpaper even went up.  This supports the designer’s theory that the strong fluorescent light is at least partly to blame for those white lines.

The interior designer for this job is Janet Dowlearn.