Posts Tagged ‘heights’

Soft Geometric in Bedroom Niche

June 23, 2019


This is an alcove leading into a master bedroom in a new townhome in the Houston Heights. This niche is recessed between bookshelves on either side, and above.

The geometric pattern adds a modern touch, and the soft color promotes the feel of calm relaxation. Brass sconces will be mounted over the electrical boxes, and the homeowner has a settee that will be placed in the center.

This was a non-woven wallpaper, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method.

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Wallpaper in Flea Market Décor Magazine, June/July 2019

May 26, 2019


It’s always nice to see wallpaper featured in home décor magazines. What’s extra cool is that I hung that wild and bold floral pattern a year or two ago in a home in the Houston Heights that was featured on their home tour. It’s from Anthropologie.

Do Bubbles Mean Trouble?

May 20, 2019

The walls in this dining room in a historic house in the Houston Heights had received many coats of paint over its 100 years. The latest was a coat of what appeared to be flat latex paint. Since this is not a suitable surface for wallpaper, I applied a wallpaper-specific primer.

I was surprised to see that, a few minutes after I rolled on my water-based wallpaper primer, blisters appeared.

I thought they would disappear as the primer dried, but they did not.

Obviously, the moisture in the primer was soaking into some of the layers below it, and causing something to expand and “off-gas”, which created the bubbles.

I switched from my wallpaper primer to a penetrating sealer called Gardz (also water-based) – and the same thing happened. (The Gardz dried so glossy that I feared the wallpaper would not stick to it, so I went back to my original Ultra Prime by Roman’s.)

Once the primer was good and dry, I used a stiff putty knife to knock off the high points of the blisters. The areas were not perfectly smooth, but they were OK for use under this particular wallpaper.

I’m doing some research, and am hoping to gain insight as to why this blistering happened, so I’ll know how to prevent it in the future.

Leopard Spots Across a Heights Dining Room

April 27, 2019


The original incarnation of this dining room in a nicely renovated bungalow in the Heights neighborhood of Houston, with its medium-grey walls (the first photo shows the room after I applied my white wallpaper primer), was classic and bordered on elegant. But that look did not suit this young couple.

They wanted something more youthful and fun, and also a background that would set off their collection of “somewhat wild and colorful” artwork.

Thibaut’s ‘Tanzania’ wallpaper pattern in chocolate brown on a very light tan background fills the bill perfectly. Note how the dark ceiling plays off the walls.

Soft Mattress Ticking Stripe in an All-White Bathroom

April 24, 2019


With just paint on the upper walls, this all-white bathroom was simply … too white. The addition of a soft stripe, in the shape of a classic mattress ticking pattern, was just enough to add some warmth and definition to the space.

While I like the pattern, I am not fond of the material, nor the brand. Norwall is one of the lowest-priced manufacturers out there, and … you get what you pay for. This is a solid vinyl wallpaper with a paper backing. The vinyl surface sounds attractive to homeowners, because it is a tad more stain resistant than other papers, and because it repels water.

The bad news is that humidity (such as when someone takes a shower, or splashes water on a seam) tends to find its way behind the seams and into the paper backing. That paper then swells and pushes away from the wall, causing the seams to curl.

Over time, the vinyl top layer can actually separate (delaminate) from the paper backing, leaving curled seams that cannot be reattached.

In addition, the seams are always a little “pouched” when the paper is installed, and never lie completely flat. It’s also common for this material to bubble or blister as it dries … I call it “burping” … or more properly termed off-gassing as the air released by the drying paste tries to find an escape but is trapped by the vinyl surface. So you have to keep going around the room chasing out bubbles. Really small ones usually disappear as paper dries.

Type in key words and use the Search feature here (upper right corner) to read my previous posts about these topics.

This was the first time I’ve encountered a Norwall solid vinyl paper-backed product that was not pre-pasted. Maybe the manufacturer has figured out what made it’s wallpaper so crap…py… er… disappointing. To be honest, the paper I worked with today (which had to have adhesive applied by hand/paint roller) went up with fewer problems than usual. There were still blisters, and still seams that were not as flat as they should have been. But overall, it was better than I expected.

Only time will tell how this product stands up to humidity in a family bathroom.

This is a new-but-classic-looking home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Timorous Beasties, Papillion de Nuit

April 20, 2019

Say it in French and it sounds beautifully exotic. In reality, they’re moths.

This rhythmic pattern by Timorous Beasties went in a powder room in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. Note the brick and wooden accents in the room.

Whereas most wallpaper patterns repeat either every strip or every other strip (half-drop), Papillion de Nuit has a quarter-drop pattern match, which means that the pattern repeats itself every fourth strip. It’s extremely difficult to figure out and to keep properly placed on the wall, especially when every motif is identical.

In addition, the powder room had some challenging features of its own. The whole job took me about 14 hours! It looks great, though.

It’s made of fiberglass-based non-woven material. This can be installed via the paste-the-wall method, or by pasting the paper (which is what I generally do). Some features of this material is that it is designed to be stripped off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate, and that it is dimensionally-stable and won’t expand or stretch when wetted by the paste.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Timorous Beasties Ruskin Floral – A Trying Pattern Match

April 18, 2019


Timorous Beasties makes some unusual wallpapers, with most of them including animals or insects in the design. It’s cool stuff!

This particular pattern, called Ruskin Floral, was more than a bit of a challenge to plot and hang. The manufacturer said there was no pattern match, but just a subtle impression in the textured background that could be matched if you wanted to, but was not necessary. They also said that this pattern match came at something like every 56″. And that it was a quarter-drop match (pattern motif repeats at the same height in the strip every fourth strip).

All of this info was wrong. It turned out that the tree branches in the design did match across the seams. And the pattern repeat was more like 36″, instead of 56″. And, yes, you could have matched the design as a quarter-drop – but it looked better as a traditional half-drop (repeats every other strip).

But what was most unexpected was that the design had these areas of darker foliage that appeared mid-way through the bolt. In every photo that I saw on the manufacturer’s website or on-line, only the picture of the sparse tree branches was pictured (what you see at the top of the wall in the top photo). Even though I rolled out several feet of each bolt on the floor, I had no idea that there was this other area of colorful and full foliage and insects, which you see at the bottom of the wall in the top photo.

I plotted and got my first strip in the center of the wall, and then pinned the second strip next to it. Once I stood back, I was able to see that the foliage got darker and fuller as it dropped closer to the floor. I had not anticipated that.

With 13′ high walls and 13′ long strips, and 33′ on each bolt of paper, there were 20′ more feet (one more strip) left on each of those two first bolts.

But when I pulled more paper from the bolt and pinned it temporarily to the wall, matching the background tree branch motifs, this new strip, which had started from the middle of the first bolt (the first 1/3 of the bolt was now on the wall), was full of colorful foliage – which did not meld well with the sparser tree branch area on the first two strips that were now on the wall.

If I hung this new strip next to the two existing strips in the center of the wall, I would have had two sparse tree branch areas in the center, and then a stripe of darker, fuller foliage directly horizontal to it.

At first, I was going to go this route, because it made the best use of the number of rolls we had (two strips from each double roll). I planned to put two strips of darker foliage next to the two strips of lighter tree branches.

I also contemplated taking off the two center strips (the ones with lightly leafed foliage) and replacing them with ones that had more color and fullness. But I realized that if all the pictures I had seen of this pattern showed the sparse areas, then that’s what the homeowner had seen, too, and she probably was not expecting to see the very dark and full and busy heavily-patterned area, especially not at the top center of her accent wall.

Even more compelling – we didn’t have enough paper for me to rip off and discard two 13′ high strips.

I spent about an hour and a half contemplating various possible options.

Just then, the interior designer walked in – and she was just in time. Two sets of eyes are better than one. By then, I had a number of strips pinned to the wall, to see how the pattern could be played out. She didn’t like my idea of hanging two sparse strips, flanked by two heavily pattered strips – she thought it looked top-heavy, especially over the windows.

We fiddled some more, knocked around various options, and finally concluded that, even though the bed would be obscuring much of the fuller pattern, the wall looked better with the sparse area up high, and the fuller floral area near the floor.

I studied the 33′ long bolt I had rolled out on the floor, with the lighter area at the top, the fuller area in the center, and then tapering off to a lighter area toward the end of the bolt. Our decision meant that I could get only one strip of paper out of each double roll bolt.

The problem with that was that I needed 10 strips, but only had 8 bolts. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

The next issue was that quarter-drop pattern repeat. And that sloped ceiling, which also effected the way the pattern hit the wall. If I used the paper the most economically, and matched the first tree branches as they came off the roll, then that quarter-drop pattern match would have started marching diagonally up and across the wall, and then dropped down again, 7′ to the right. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a look that would play out better on a larger space, such as a full dining room, not one accent wall in a bedroom.

(Quarter-drop pattern matches are very hard to get one’s head around, and way more than I can get into here, but suffice it to say – they lead to a lot of head scratching and a whole lot of wasted paper.)

After more fiddling, I realized that the pattern was printed on each bolt exactly the same; in other words, the design was more like a mural. With one strip per bolt, the design was played out across alternating “A” and “B” bolts. If I ignored the sloping ceiling and cut each strip to the full height of 13,’ I could ensure that specific flowers in the darker area near the floor would hit the wall at the same height, lending a homogenous and pleasing rhythm to the pattern.

Problem solved!

But now we get back to the wall that needs 10 strips, but we only have 8 bolts of paper (one strip per bolt).

In the top photo, all the paper has been hung except that last strip to the left of the window. (There is a mirror image on the right side of the wall.) That area was about 9′ high. Since I had already taken approximately 13′ off each 33′ long bolt, I had about 20′ still left. But since that started in the center of the bolt, it was an area full of the heavier colored and printed pattern. Even though the pattern of the tree branches would match, I didn’t want to place that darker strip next to the lighter strips already on the wall. It might have looked interesting, as a sort of darker “frame” for the outer edges of the wall – but, like the interior designer, I thought it would look too dark and heavy and lopsided.

I remembered that the pattern thinned out again as it moved toward the bottom of the bolt. So I unrolled the paper down to the bottom, and then, working from the bottom instead of the top, I found the pattern match that corresponded to what was on the wall, and cut it to fit the height of the wall.

Trimmed and put in place, it looked pretty darned good. This piece (and it’s twin on the opposite side of the wall) didn’t have nearly as much dark foliage at the bottom as the other strips. At first I was going to cut some flowers out of scrap paper and appliqué them to fill in the void areas. But I realized that was getting kinda obsessive over something that few people would even notice.

It was just a 12″ wide strip, and there will most likely be furniture in front of it, and we were able to get by without having to buy two extra double rolls (which would have been different runs (see previous posts).

Getting this wall with a tricky pattern match to look good was a mix of luck, skill, mathematics, and having purchased enough paper. Always buy more paper than you think you will need.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design, and the home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Wonderful Wonderland Compliments Wooden Wall

March 1, 2019


Wow! Here’s a wonderful, cheery, playful pattern that works beautifully with the exposed shiplap wood wall in this small powder room in a nicely renovated 1920 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

It’s unusual to have an accent wall in a small room like a powder room, but the builder had left this wall’s 100-year-old original shiplap exposed (after sanding and sealing), and the family loved the warmth and texture of the wood, and it really enhanced the room. The homeowner – who is the mother of two young children – found this super fun wallpaper design that works with both the wooden wall and her spirited, youthful family.

This fairy tale-ish pattern is called “Wonderland” and is by the Scandanavian manufacturer Boras Tapeter. I really like hanging their paper. The seams are invisible, the material will resist water and little sticky fingers better than most, it’s on a non-woven substrate that is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate, and it’s thin and pliable enough to work nicely in rooms that have corners and intricate cuts and turns.

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.

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.

Longing for the Big Apple

January 20, 2019


Originally living in the heart of New York City, these homeowners “got a better offer” and moved to Houston. In a nicely updated 1925 bungalow in the Woodland Heights, life for these two has changed for the better – but the wife still reminisces over the view she had out her skyscraper office window back in NYC.

She found this really cool wallpaper design, which depicts hundreds and hundreds of New York buildings, from tall to gigantic, from the 1800’s to the 2000’s, with many styles of architecture tossed into the mix.

Where did this cool and sentimental wallpaper go? … In the laundry alcove. But it’s not tucked away in the rear of the house … this laundry room is in the main hall leading through the house – which means that this fun and sentimental wallpaper is on view every time anyone walks through the house.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Sure Strip line. It is a thin, easy to manipulate non-woven material, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and with minimal damage, when it’s time to redecorate. This is one of my favorite brands, because it’s easy to work with, doesn’t tear or crease, it doesn’t shrink and gap at the seams, it’s easy to remove, and it will stand up to humidity, such as will exist in a laundry room.