Posts Tagged ‘home office’

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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Wallpaper in Midwest Living Magazine – Don’t Try This at Home!

July 10, 2018

While I’m happy to see another magazine promoting wallpaper in a decorating feature, I have to say that there is some abruptly alarming misinformation being passed along in the May/June 2017 issue of Midwest Living. In a story about revamping a home office (pg. 46), the homeowner strayed “from convention, saving time and money by painting directly over the grass-cloth wallpaper.”

Folks, this is a horrible thing to do! You might “save time and money” now, but when it comes time to get that mass of hardened painted fiber off the wall, you will have a dickens of a time, and most likely tear the wall to shreds in the process. $$ to get the wall repaired and intact again.

In addition, and more important for the immediate use, painted grasscloth just looks bad. As a solid color, it lacks the variations of shades that give the material its allure and appeal. Painted grasscloth, especially when painted with a flat finish paint, just looks dead.

Logistically, water-based latex paint is likely to cause the natural grasscloth fibers and its paper backing to absorb moisture and swell, creating bubbles in the material. These bubbles will not disappear when the paint dries. Any hairs or loose grass fibers will get caught in the paint, dry, and harden, usually sticking up at unsightly angles.

Gentle Texture, Soft Color on a Home Office Ceiliing

June 10, 2018


Here is the home office of interior designer Layne Torsch, of Layne Torsch Interiors, in the Highland Village neighborhood of Houston. Her look is serene and simple, but livable for today’s busy families.

The walls and furnishings in this room are plain and clean, but the addition of light texture and color on the ceiling warms things up. The material is called “Bankun Raffia,” and is by Thibaut Designs. It is a scrim (woven fabric) backed solid vinyl product that is embossed with a texture that resembles woven grasscloth. It has a two-toned color.

Read my “Grasscloth Info Pack” to the right, and you will learn that I am not fond of real grasscloth, because of the color variations. But this is one of my favorite faux grasscloth products, because of the uniformity of color and because of the water-resistance and durability of the material.

Muted Pattern Adds Dimension and Warmth to an All-White Home Office

December 8, 2017


This softly-colored, small-patterned wallpaper did a lot to warm up an all-white work space, without overpowering. In fact, it is more of a backdrop for other elements in the room, than a statement-maker in itself.

The top photo shows the first strip going up. I had to do a little tweaking to get the geometric print to look straight against the un-level crown molding and the un-plumb walls of this renovated older home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The second and third photos show how the wallpaper adds just enough color and texture to the space.  See how the door and woodwork stand out, with just a little bit of color to set them off?

The wallpaper is by Thibaut Designs, one of my favorite brands. The pattern number is T-72614.   Interestingly, this design is very similar to one by Quadrille.  Quadrille is a brand that comes with a high price tag, as well as a lot of special needs as far as installation goes.  My vote is for the Thibaut!

The interior designer for the project is Stacie Cokinos. https://www.cokinosdesign.com/ She specializes in selecting and coordinating fixtures, fabrics, and finishes in new homes and in older home renovations.

Grasscloth Wallpaper on Un-Straight Outside Corner

November 16, 2017

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Outside corners are difficult, because they are virtually always off-plumb or un-straight. Thus, trying to wrap wallpaper around them can result in wrinkles within the strip, or an un-plumb or wavery edge, which is impossible for the next strip to butt up properly against.

Obtuse angles like this one are even more onerous for the framers. This outside corner ended up being quite irregular. I knew that it would be impossible to wrap stiff grasscloth around it without having gaps or wrinkles in the strip, and that the far edge of the new strip would be wavy and unsuited to butt another strip up against.

So I gave up the idea of trying to wrap the strip around the corner. I decided to end the first strip right at the edge of the obtuse angle. And then to start the next strip at the other side of this same angle / wall.

So I cut the width of my grasscloth strip an inch wider than the width of the wall. Then I hung the strip, then took a razor blade and trimmed off the excess the paper so the strip followed the contours of the outside of the obtuse angled corner.

For the next strip on the opposing side of the corner, I butted it up against a plumb line, which left an inch on the right side hanging over the obtuse angle corner. Then I used a new, sharp razor blade to trim off the excess, so that this strip, too, conformed to the undulations of the wall.

That’s what I’m doing in the first photo. It’s a lot more tricky than it looks, because you’ve got to cut so that the edges of the two strips butt together, without gaps or overlaps, or edges that got cut off too much, and without disturbing the lay of the grass fibers on the paper backing (meaning, without fraying the edges of the grasscloth or causing the fibers to run either up or down. (They should lie perfectly horizontal.)

The blue plastic tape is to keep paste off the surface of the other strip.

The finished corner is shown in the second photo. I think it turned out pretty nicely. And way better than having large wrinkles, or an edge that is too crooked to butt up against another strip of wallpaper.

I am hanging grasscloth in the home office / den / library of a new home in the Richmond / Fulshear area on the southwest side of Houston. The wallpaper is by York.

Major Transformation – From Cave-Like to Bright, Warm and Tranquil

July 15, 2017

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Wow, what a change! This home office / TV room in Southside Place / West University neighborhood of Houston, was papered in a dark-navy-on-navy stripe. In my opinion, it looked great in the room, especially above the white paneled wainscoting. But it was time for a change … in fact, the husband said, “We should have gotten rid of this when we bought the house 25 years ago.”

The navy wallpaper was hung properly, but it would not come off the wall without a LOT of time and mess (and $ ). So I prepped and sealed the walls and hung over it (see other posts). I love the 2nd photo, because it shows the new, light wallpaper juxtaposed against the original dark paper.

This material is a light tan stringcloth superimposed with a barely-there white Moroccan lantern motif. I love this as an alternative to grasscloth. It is uniform in color, has a wonderful tactile texture, and has none of the shading, paneling, color variations, visible seams, or propensity to staining and bleeding that make grasscloth so disappointing.

In addition, it is a non-woven, paste-the-wall product, and was nice to work with. The design was even perfectly centered on the 27″ wide material, and could be reverse-hung (hung upside down and still match up perfectly with the previous strip).

The new, light colored wallpaper looked super against the wainscoting, and had just enough color to stand out against the white woodwork. The sofa was a tan linen fabric, and synced with the new wallpaper in color and texture. The armoire that holds the TV is a medium wood tone, and contrasts against the light walls “just enough.” The whole overall look is relaxing.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpaper, in their EcoChic line, in a book or line called Wallpaper Effects, and 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.

Candice Olson Wallpaper in a Home Office

April 12, 2017

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This home in the far west end of Spring Branch (Houston) has the typical 60’s era ranch-style home floor plan. But the passage between the dining room and the kitchen had been walled over. Plus, the new homeowner wanted a home office. So she decided to turn the former dining room into her office.

The bottom wainscoting is painted deep navy blue. This “ink blot” pattern by Candicd Olson for York Wallcoverings is a bold and daring, but very well-suited, choice. The homeowner love it.

Once this went up in the home office, she looked at the adjoining living room with it’s painted walls and said, “I think I need wallpaper in here, too – this room is starting to look pretty blahhh.”

One photo shows my first strip centered on the wall. This makes a nice backdrop for the sofa, and other furnishings that will be moved into the room later.

This wallpaper pattern is by York Wallcoverings, and 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.

Subtle Shimmer in a Home Office

February 12, 2017
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It’s easier to find beautiful shimmery Chinoiserie murals on HOUZZ – than it is to swallow the price tag … Some of those you see pictured are very high-end, meaning, $1000-$10,000 per panel.

I suggested this homeowner go visit Dorota (read below) and she was able to find a very similar design and color that she loves, for a very reasonable price. It has just enough of the Asian look, and the flowers look like they are hand painted on. It compliments her mirrored desk and side tables, and it offers a bit of upscale shimmer, but does not overpower the room.

The soft colors blend nicely with the rest of the house. The homeowner will probably pick up some of the soft peach color from the flowers as an accent color in other areas of the room. I’m hoping she will paint the other three walls this color.

I hung this on one accent wall of a second floor home office, in a new home in the Houston Heights. It’s by Wallquest, in their Jaima Brown Home line. This wallpaper 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.

Jungle View With Vaulted Ceilings

February 11, 2017
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The ceiling of this home office on the third floor of a newish home in the Rice University / Museum District of Houston has some interesting angles and spaces. But there is no window in the room. The homeowner thought the space was stark and claustrophobic. So she came up with the idea to open up the space with a verdant foliage pattern.

The palm leaf paper went on the two large angled spaces over where the desk / computer will sit. Then a companion paper was chosen for the two smaller angled areas flanking the desk area.

I love using two coordinating papers in one space. And the green leaves really do open up the space, and bring a bit of the outdoors in.

Angled spaces like this eat up a lot of paper, so plan for a lot of waste.

Both these wallpaper patterns are by Designer Wallpapers, and were 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.

Beautiful Over Scaled Damask in a Bedroom

December 31, 2016
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Here is an example of a current trend in wallpaper designs – a traditional motif like this damask, but blown up to be very large, and in unexpected colors. This taupe-on-taupe goes amazingly well with the builder’s choice of color on the woodwork. A damask is a traditional design, but in this over scale size, it has a bit of sass, and works nicely with the room’s “modern rustic industrial” features, like the rolling wooden barn door.

The room was meant to be a home office, but this young family is using it for “Grandma’s room.” Grandma visits weekly, and the homeowner wanted her room to be inviting and spa-like. Accent colors will be a murky turquoise, with bits of lighter turquoise, which are superb spa colors.

The paper was bought from Walls Republic, and is a non-woven material and was installed with the paste-the-wall method. The house is in the far eastern edge of the Houston Heights.