Posts Tagged ‘home office’

William Morris Design in Home Office

April 25, 2020


Here is a home office in an 1895 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The walls and woodwork have been painted a near-navy blue.

This rhythmical, stylized, organic design by William Morris is true to the era, when W.M. was a fore-runner of the Arts & Crafts movement.

The blue color in this room, along with the hues in the wallpaper, beautifully tie in with the colors of the dining room across the hall (see previous two posts).

This wallpaper is by Morris & Co., and is printed on a traditional (read: old fashioned) “pulp” substrate. It’s somewhat delicate, but I do like the material.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Finishing Touch to an Exercise Room Remodel

April 3, 2020


This is a detached room with separate entrance adjoining a home in the Rice Village neighborhood of Houston. It could be use as a home office, but the lady of the house has claimed it as her private space, complete with exercise equipment and large TV. 🙂

She was originally looking at a Farrow & Ball pattern, but after I explained my disappointments with the quality of that brand (do a Search here), I was pleased that she changed to this design by a more reliable company.

This pattern is called “Bananas,” and is by Graham & Brown. They are one of the first companies to start using a non-woven substrate, which they put their vinyl top layer onto. They’ve created a really nice product.

The substrate has a lot of fiberglass, rendering it dimensionally-stable, meaning that it won’t expand when wet with paste nor shrink when it dries. It will also strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate.

In this case, I used the paste-the-wall method, which you can do with the non-wovens, and which saved me lugging in my huge work table.

In the third photo, I have cut my strips and placed them along the wall in the odd-even order in which they will be hung. Before I start, I will re-roll the strips backwards, so the backing is facing out. This helps reduce the “curl” or “memory” of the paper that wants to retain it’s rolled-up shape. And it helps keep the surface of the paper from bopping into the pasted wall. I secured the rolled-up strips with elastic hairbands from the dollar store.

Pasting the wall is a very clean way to work, because no paste gets onto the moldings or ceiling, and no paste sticks to the excess paper that is trimmed off at the ceiling and floor – less mess to clean up.

In the fourth photo, I have positioned my first strip with the design centered in the middle of the wall, using my red light laser level as a guide to keep the strip plumb.

Tall Walls and Awkward Spaces

March 28, 2020


This home office in a new, contemporary home in the Sunset Terrace / West University neighborhood of Houston has walls that were nearly 11′ high. In addition, there were bookcases and desks that I had to lean over in order to reach much of the wallspace.

My solution was to bring my 6′ ladder in addition to my usual 5′ ladder. By placing the shorter ladder on top of the desk counter, I was able get close enough and high enough to do the wall behind the desk.

I’m not quite 100lbs, so my weight and its distribution on the counter was not a worry.

To reach the area over the bookcases to the left, I had to do a combination of balancing on the 5′ ladder, and stepping onto the very top of the 6′ ladder, then leaning precariously, and placing a foot onto the shelves – without putting too much weight, because they were not securely attached.

You can be sure that I had to keep mindful of my center of gravity, how close the ladder was to the edge of that counter, how far I had to reach, how much backward torque that placed on the ladder, how stable the ladder was on its surface, and a whole lot more – all while also concentrating on getting the paper straight, trimmed, and smooth on the wall.

From Dining Room to Home Office

December 4, 2019


The previous owners used this as a dining room, but the new homeowners are a young family that need the space for a home office / toddler’s playroom. They wanted a bolder pattern than the original soft clouds, but were happy to stick with the black and white color palette.

Once I got the original paper thoroughly soaked with a sponge and clean water, the paste reactivated and it stripped off the wall easily and with no damage.

It did reveal a previous wall treatment – a stenciled diagonal foliage pattern.

It also revealed a lightly textured wall. I don’t like these bumps showing under the new wallpaper, so I used a trowel and “mud” (drywall joint compound) to smooth the wall.

After sanding smooth, vacuuming up the dust, wiping dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and then priming, the new wallpaper could go up. I used a laser level to center the design on the wall.

This wallpaper pattern is in the Magnolia Home collection- yes, good old Joanna Gaines. It is by York, and is in their SureStrip line.

It is pre-pasted and goes up easily and cleanly, and is a delight to work with – one of my favorites. SureStrip is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

The home is in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston.

3-D “Rivet” Squares on Grasscloth in a Home Office

October 25, 2019


Phillip Jeffries’s “Rivets” pattern is popular and trendy. The wallpaper I hung today is Thibaut’s response to it.

Thibaut’s version offers the same texture and appeal of real natural fiber grasscloth, as well as three-dimensional squares that unite to form larger squares.

Thibaut’s version Union Square is better because:

1.) Less expensive

2.) Better color consistency (fewer paneling and shading issues)

3.) Squares form a more muted secondary pattern, so it’s much easier to live with (the pattern doesn’t hit you in the eye every time you look at a wall)

4.) Squares are positioned on the strips so the installer can easily manipulate the pattern to accommodate un-plumb walls and un-level ceilings.

5.) For similar reasons, the installer can “tweak” the design a bit to ensure favorable placement of the squares (to eliminate having to cut through any of the squares, or bend them around a corner). Read below.

6.) When it’s unavoidable to have to cut through the squares, the Thibaut 3-D material is much easier to get through with a blade or scissors than the PJ or the Schumacher products.

7.) The bolts are marked in the order they came off the printing press (see photo), so you can hang strips sequentially, to minimize shading and paneling (do a search here on those terms).

8.) Thibaut provides clear tips on how to work with natural materials and what to expect with the finished outcome.

9.) Thibaut offers to replace material lost to working around defects, and they will also reimburse an installer for (part) of his labor, if a product is defective.

10.) Other points which are escaping me right now. But suffice it to say, despite its grand reputation, Phillip Jeffries products are often extremely difficult to install, and disappointing in appearance, and customer service is basically, “We never had this problem before – it must be the installer’s fault.”

Thibaut, on the other hand, researches what it takes to make a good product, does test hangs, and, if there is a problem, Thibaut actually listens to feedback from us installers.

In the window photo, I did some tweaking to get the rivets to line up exactly over the middle of the window. It took some further tweaking to position the squares so they would march down either side of the window at the same distance from the edge.

How did I accomplish that? After much measuring and plotting and a few practice strips, I widened the distance between two sets of squares over the center of the window – by a full inch. 4.5″ instead of 3.5″ is a big difference, yet it is barely noticeable. What is more important is that the squares going down either side of the window are all 3/4″ from the edge.

This home is in the Briar Park neighborhood of Houston – interestingly enough, right next door to another home I papered a year or so ago, and a block away from another home I where I hung paper in the powder room and have more bathrooms to paper coming up … In fact, I have put wallpaper in a whole lot of homes in this one tiny neighborhood. Near Beltway 8 / Sam Houston Tollway and Briar Forest.

The interior designer is Layne Ogden of Layne Torsch Interiors.

Historic Hummingbirds Pattern in Home Office

August 22, 2019

“Before,” this first floor home office in a home in Bellaire (Houston) had a pretty color on the cabinets, but felt empty and blah. “After,” the dark wallpaper really sets off the cabinets, and gives the walls definition and personality.

The wallpaper also went in the area below the counter top – I wanted to take the photo before we lost daylight.

This Hummingbird pattern by Cole & Son is over 100 years old. It’s printed on a non-woven substrate, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method or by pasting the paper (which is what I did).

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.

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.