Posts Tagged ‘historic’

More William Morris – Woodland Heights Master Bath and Closet

September 2, 2019


Here is a wonderfully renovated and updated 1925 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. It pretty much has the all-white decorating scheme going on. The homeowner wanted to inject a little warmth into the master suite, and chose this beautiful historic pattern in muted colors, by William Morris.

I put it on two opposing walls in the master closet, and on one wall in the master bathroom, directly across from the sink and mirrors. It is a fantastic compliment to the grey-veined marble counter top, and the darker grey paint on the vanity. (Sorry, no photo) And it adds the warmth and character the homeowner was seeking.

William Morris was a popular designer during the Arts & Crafts movement around the turn of the last century. His patterns are very stylized and rhythmic.

This is a British-made paper, and is printed on the pulp stock (rather than the new non-woven material that most British companies are moving to). You have to know a few tricks to working with it, but it goes up beautifully and will hold up for a good long time. It does not have any coating, however, so will be susceptible to splashes and stains.

The interior design firm for this project is Four Square Design (Laura and Sarah worked on this home). They work primarily with older or historic structures, and have saved many a beautiful home from being torn down.

Historic “Lafayette” Bird Pattern in Galleria Area Powder Room

July 12, 2019


With a black granite floor, a black toilet, a dark wood vanity, and a dark granite countertop, adding black wallpaper to this under-the-stairs powder room seemed like a bold venture. But the gutsiness paid off – the finished room looks fantastic. And there is nothing dark or brooding about it.

In fact, the light color of the birds, along with the uplifiting feel of the vertical foliage in the design work together to give the room light and movement. Ditto the new paint color on the ceiling.

Sorry there is no photo, but this room, which is tucked under the stairway, has a deeply sloped ceiling. Originally, the homeowners considered papering the slope and the flat ceiling areas, too. But I told them that would make the room far too dark and closed-in. I suggested they pull a color from the wallpaper and dilute it to what I call a “whisper color” – almost white, but with just a whisper of color.

They could have gone with a light shade of tan (birds’ wings), green (plants), purple (birds), or salmon (birds, flowers). After consulting with the gal who sells the wallpaper (read below), they decided on a pale orangey-pink shade. I love the choice!

The ceiling does not look “pink.” Yet the hint of peachy pink adds warmth, while all the while pulls your eye up and adds a feeling of openness and even joy.

Fourth photo – the tan paint from the original faux finish wall treatment wrapped around onto the top of the backsplash. Once the dark paper went up, I didn’t want to have a gold stripe running around the top of the backsplash. So I used artist’s craft paint and a small brush to paint it black, to blend in with the granite backsplash. Once the wallpaper was up, to protect both the paint and the bottom edge of the wallpaer, I ran a bead of clear caulk along the top of the backsplash. This will prevent splashes of water that land on top of the backsplash from being wicked up under the paper – which could cause curling.

This historic “Lafayette” wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and dates back to the 1800’s. In fact, it is 2″ narrower than most wallpapers, and I’m told that that is because it is printed with the same engraved rollers as were used back then. It’s a raised-ink printing process, and the material is pre-pasted. I experimented with a couple of pasting techniques, and found that the old-fashioned method of pulling the strips through a water tray resulted in even saturation and activation of the paste, and the flattest seams.

This paper 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 (inner loop Houston). (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.

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.

Warming Up a Contemporary Space

November 3, 2018


The owners of this newish contemporary-styled townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston wanted to put some impact into their entry by using wallpaper on the first wall you see when you walk in – the sloped wall in the top photo. They have some antique furniture and a special piece of art that sit in front of this wall, so chose this very classic trellis pattern in a warm cream-on-brown colorway.

They were initially considering putting paper on the backs of bookshelves in the upstairs living room, but as I walked up the stairs and saw this one recessed wall directly in view, I suggested this as a better spot for a wallpaper treatment.

The home owers quickly agreed, and decided to use the same pattern here.

The manufacturer of this very old and historic design is Thibaut.

Hummingbirds Bring Color and Life to a Heights Bedroom

April 9, 2017

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This Houston Heights home is an older bungalow that has been nicely renovated, updated, and enlarged. The outside has been kept traditional, to fit in with the historic neighborhood. But there is a slight mid-century / industrial modern feel to the new interior. Everything is very white.

The homeowner wanted some life and color in the master bedroom, and fell in love with this beautiful, cheery, historic pattern of hummingbirds on a dark background. It went on one accent wall in the bedroom.

The homeowner is thinking of pulling a color from the wallpaper and painting the walls. She’s thinking of a light green. I am all for it – no more white walls! Plus, the woodwork in will stand out better, and the room will feel cozier.

This pattern has been around for nearly 150 years, so “historic” is fitting. Thibaut makes a very similar, but smaller-scaled version, called “Augustine.” But this one is by Cole & Son. It is on a non-woven backing, and is installed by the paste-the-wall method.

“Etched Arcadia” Mural in a Powder Room

July 22, 2016
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This young family lives near Rice University (Houston), on South Boulevard, a street revered for its huge Live Oak trees that meet and canopy over the street. The homeowner wanted her traditional style home to carry on the look of this historic neighborhood. She had a vision of bringing the beloved trees into her home, while maintaining the old-world feel.

She could not have found a better choice than this mural. It combines the feel of aged trees with the look of centuries-old etchings. Because it’s a mural, the pattern plays out as one large picture, with no repeating elements.

I have done murals like this on single walls, but this is the first time I’ve put one on all four walls of a room. I have to say, the homeowner had a great eye, and the finished room is stunning.

The first photo shows how many murals come; in panels. This one was packaged as one large bolt, and I had to cut the 8 panels apart, then lay them out and line them up to be sure the pattern matched and that the sequence was correct.

The mural was 9′ high by 12′ wide (pretty standard dimensions), and the room was wider than 12′, so two murals were needed. Originally, I thought that the right side of one mural would match up with the left side of the other mural, so that the two murals could be joined seamlessly – but that was not the case.

In addition, the homeowner favored the trees more than the sky, so, since the walls were 7 1/2′ high, I opted to move the pattern up, to cut off more sky but reveal more trees. A vanity that rose 32″ off the floor further complicated the pattern placement.

Without going into mathematical or geometrical details, I spent a lot – a LOT – of time plotting the room’s layout, so that we would see more trees and less sky, and to avoid a mis-matched seam where the two murals met, and to disguise the one mis-matched corner that could not be avoided.

The pattern was forgiving, the paper was lovely to work with, and the finished room looks fantastic. This was one of my favorite projects this year.

In addition, the homeowner didn’t like the A/C vent and the exhaust fan leaving big white blobs in the middle of the wall. So I covered these with scraps of wallpaper, too. This is more tricky than it sounds, because wallpaper doesn’t like to stick to plastic or metal (too slick), and especially not metal with air blowing past it, possibly carrying along condensation / humidity. So special adhesives are called for, and you have to have a back-up plan, in case the paper detaches over time.

Also, because murals don’t have repeating pattern motifs, there were no scraps of paper that I could use to cover these objects with a matching pattern. So I found scraps that had reasonably similar designs.

In the end, I could not get the paper to conform to all of the many curves on the exhaust fan cover, so I opted to leave the outer area as-is, and just covered the inner, flat area with paper. This doesn’t totally disguise the white cover, but it sure does minimize it.

This mural is by Sure-Strip, a York brand that I love working with, and is on a thin, non-woven material, which should – “should” – strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.