Posts Tagged ‘houston’

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.

Navy & White Schumacher – Finishing Touch to a Harvey Flooded Home

March 27, 2020


Still not completely finished fixing major damage caused by the devastating flood of 2017, this young couple in the Pearland area of Houston has done virtually all the repairs themselves – and done a mighty fine job of it, too…. Way better than most of the work done by “professionals” that I have seen in “Harvey homes.”

With many details still unfinished, the homeowners wanted just one room that would be done. The lady of the house loves this navy and white fauna/botanical print by Schumacher. She envisioned it on just the back wall of the powder room – the room that everyone sees when walking through the first floor.

You get two strips of paper out of one double-roll bolt, and the wall was 2.5″ wider than two strips of paper. Since Schumacher is expensive, the homeowners decided not to buy another bolt of paper to cover those 2.5 inches, but instead to “float” two strips of paper in the middle of the wall, and then use their DIY skills to build a frame around it.

The frame will be painted a very dark blue. I hate to fall back on the overused term “pop,” but that is exactly what the blue frame will do … It will make the wallpaper pop against the white walls, and also stand out from other design features in the home.

Scroll back a few days and you will see my encounters with a very difficult navy and white paper, also by Schumacher. This one was totally different.

The bird design I worked with today was printed with good quality inks on a non-woven substrate. N-W’s have a degree of fiberglass in their content, and thus are “dimensionally stable.” Among other positive features, they do not expand, and thus you have no wrinkling or waffling or puckers.

This paper went up very nicely.

Although, in two of the photos, true to reputation, you can see printing defects. Just par for the course, if you buy a Schumacher product

When the homeowner saw the finished job, she almost broke down into tears – one room finally complete and pretty and all reminders of the flood gone.

It was an honor to help this couple get to this one small milestone.

Girl’s Nursery – Last Job Before CoronaVirus Shut Down

March 25, 2020


Most work in the Houston area shutters at midnight. I was delighted that I was able to squeeze in this one accent wall, for a baby girl who is to arrive soon.

Top pic shows the room in its original all gray state. The walls were textured, so I troweled on a layer of skim-coat to smooth them. In the second picture you see my three fans (plus the ceiling fan and the home’s A/C system cranking away), working to dry the smoothing compound.

I killed a whole Texas Highways magazine while it was drying. Once dry, I sanded the wall smooth, vacuumed up dust, wiped dust off the wall with a damp sponge, and primed.

This wallpaper was a non-woven material, and could be hung via the paste-the-wall method. I usually prefer to past the paper, for many reasons, but in the case of a simple accent wall like this (and because it was easier than lugging my 7′ long work table and trestles up the curved staircase), pasting the wall was a better option.

Once the strips are cut, I roll them up backwards and secure with an elastic hairband. See photo. This helps get rid of the “memory” of the paper, so it does not want to stay tightly curled up. It also keeps the front of the paper away from the paste on the wall, which helps keep everything clean during installation.

The walls in this room (in the whole house, the husband tells me) are pretty darned off-plumb. I used a few tricks and kept the pattern straight along the ceiling line. But, since I started by hanging my strips true to plumb, by the time the paper reached the corners and the adjoining un-plumb walls, there was no way to avoid the pattern being uneven from ceiling to floor. Kinda hard to see in the photo, but there is about 3/4″ difference in width from top to bottom.

Luckily, once you stand back, that crookedness is not all that noticeable.

Although the paper is mildly pink, the muted color and more sophisticated geometric design don’t scream “baby’s room.” This is a look that will grow with the little girl into her teen years.

This wallpaper pattern is by Engblad & Co., a Scandinavian company, and 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.

The home is in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Schumacher Pyne Hellyhock

March 22, 2020


We don’t call this company “Schitmacher” and “Poomacher” for nothing … With so many quality substrates and inks out there, and so many other companies making top-notch papers, why, oh WHY does Schumacher continue to use outdated materials and methods – especially when they’re crappy?!

The wrinkles here are referred to as “waffling” or “quilting.” This is caused by the wallpaper backing (substrate) absorbing moisture at a different rate from the ink on the front. This moisture causes the substrate to expand more than the ink, which creates wrinkled areas.

I had this problem with the Bibliotheque I blogged about last week. But that was not as severe, mostly because the inked area covered most of the paper.

In this Pyne Hollyhock, most of the ink is concentrated down the center of the strip, leaving large un-inked areas along the outer edges.

I was able to smooth out many of the smaller wrinkles in between the blue flowers. Others may disappear when the paper dries.

But the blank / white areas had wrinkles so big that they would not be smoothed out. See third photo. The other thing is, because this white area was twisting and warping so dramatically, you can bet that the edges of the strip will not butt up properly with the next strip.

Sometimes you can double cut (splice) seams that are not butting up correctly. But since this paper also presented the huge wrinkles, it still is gonna look bad at the minimum, and have large gaps at the worst.

A liner might help (do a Search here), but I doubt it would tame the worst wrinkles, especially at the edges. In addition, it adds more material cost and at least another day’s labor.

I did a couple test strips, employing different approaches with each. Such as dampening the front before pasting to even out the moisture distribution. Booking for extended lengths of time. Booking and then opening and repasting. Different smoothing techniques. I even got out the heat gun to speed up drying to see if the wrinkles would flatten.

But I never got a result that I felt was acceptable. And certainly not what this family deserved, nor worth the price they paid for this so-called high-end brand.

It’s not often that a paper beats my butt, but I did end up throwing in the towel on this one.

Too bad, because the homeowner and interior designer really love the pattern, which is one of Schumacher’s most popular. Right now, it’s undecided if they will see if one of my buddies wants to tackle it, or if they will choose something else.

This was to have gone in the dining room of a newly renovated home in the Woodland Heights of Houston.

Serena & Lily “Feather” In Boy’s Bedroom

March 20, 2020


I like Serena & Lily papers, and their “Feather” is one of their most popular. Here it is in navy in the bedroom of a young boy in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

The room presented some challenges, but the pattern was accommodating. It took a whole lot of time, but when I finished, it looked great.

The 4-square house was built about 1920. In the ensuing years, the house has shifted. Which is a nice way of saying that the floors and ceilings are not level, and the walls are not plumb.

I started to center the pattern on a plumb line between the two windows. But a plumb line is plumb, and the window moldings were not, so the wallpaper pattern would have started going crooked along the windows and ceilings. So instead of lining my first strip up against a plumb line, I carefully placed it to straddle an area equidistant between the two windows.

This took a lot of measuring, a lot of repositioning, and a lot of trips up and down the ladder. And, yes, I even had the strip in place, trimmed, and done – and then realized that it was a tad off. So I pulled it off the wall and moved it over by a scant 3/16 of an inch. The effort paid off, because, as you can see in the first photo, the design is perfectly centered between the two windows, from ceiling to floor.

The next full strip hung to the right of the window on the right (no photo). This wall was way off-plumb, and was shaped more like a trapezoid than a rectangle. My job was to keep the pattern looking straight along the window frame on its left, as well as straight along the door frame to its right.

The only way I could do this was to slice the strip apart vertically, cutting along the vertical “stripes” in the design. Then I aligned the pattern to the left and right moldings. In between, I overlapped the “stripes,” distributing the discrepancy in widths between the sections. In this way, I accommodated for more than an inch of difference in width between the top and bottom of the wall. This did create a slight vertical ridge under the stripes, but it was disguised by the stripes themselves. And a little difference in thickness of the wallpaper looks a whole lot better than a crooked pattern.

To the right of that was a wide closet door. I hung the three strips over the door, and the pattern was placed perfectly. Yet when I stepped back and looked at it, the design looked horribly crooked.

I finally figured out that the ceiling and door moldings were not perfectly perpendicular to each other. In fact, there was a full 3/4″ difference in height between the left and right side of the area. This trapezoid shape was causing the strips to look crooked, even if they were not.

Again, my solution was to cut the paper apart vertically along the “stripes,” and overlap as needed, to make my strips look plumb.

I employed this trick as needed in other areas of the room.

The design itself was very helpful. The vertical “stripes” were not straight, so nothing had to be exactly-dactly straight or plumb. And the “V”s at the top of the wall were also irregular, as were the positioning of the diagonal lines, so I had flexibility in how high or low to place my pattern.

Throwing another wrench into the works was the fact that we had two different runs to work with (do a Search here to learn about that), plus one double roll bolt that was defective and could not be used, which meant I had to figure out how to make 10 rolls cover 12 rolls’ worth of wall space.

Another obstacle was placing the wallpaper against the stained shiplap wall – without getting paste onto the rough, un-cleanable wood. And let’s not forget to mention the “industrial” metal pipe that hung 1/2″ from the wall I was papering.

I used two tricks for this. One was using my Boggess blue cut tape to protect the wooden wall. The other again involved using the trim-along-the-stripe-and-overlap-new-strip-as-needed technique. Too intricate to explain, especially without photos. But it was a good trick and the perfect solution to ending the paper at the wooden wall.

Sounds complicated. It WAS! It took me 10 hours (3+ hours per wall) to get these 10 single rolls up.

When all was said and done, though, the room looked fantastic. All ready for the young boy to move in!

Other parts of the room have a heavy “industrial modern” look – exposed pipe, weathered metal light fixtures, unpainted original shiplap wood. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Dopey Place to Leave Shoes!

March 19, 2020


This week I’m working in a house in the Houston Heights that has been completely updated. The floors were just refinished and sealed, so workers are requested to not wear shoes in the home.

But don’t you think the workmen would set their shoes TO THE SIDE OF THE DOOR, instead of right where everyone needs to walk through?

Powerful Storm Clouds – Cole & Son Nuvolette

March 14, 2020


“Nuvolette” by the British manufacturer Cole & Son is a very popular pattern – but not every room can handle such a strong design. This bedroom in a new townhome on the far west side of Houston is large enough to contain the storm clouds – which will cover all four walls. Talk about drama!

The dark floor and dark woodwork help ground the pattern. The homeowner has a background in interior design, and I can’t wait to see what furniture, bedding, window coverings, and accessories she outfits the room with.

The pattern match is very tricky, and you have to plot everything carefully and confidently before you cut anything. The product comes packaged as an A-B 2-bolt set. On the label it’s noted that one pattern match is straight across, while the next strip is a drop match.

So, essentially, this has a multiple-drop pattern match , played out across four strips of paper – but with even more complicating factors tossed in. It’s a real brain-banger to plot out! I’ve hung it twice, and both times was lucky enough to have a large open area where I could spread out the A and B bolts, and then plenty of time and a distraction-free environment to get my head around the pattern match.

In the picture, you just see a nicely fit-together set of panels. But getting them to that point did take a good bit of engineering! (Especially since “someone” opened the shipping box and removed several of the bolts from their original packaging, so there was no way to tell the A bolts from the B bolts.)

Like most of Cole & Son’s wallpaper, this was a non-woven material. This stuff has a high-fiberglass content, and thus does not expand when it gets wet with paste. This allows you to get accurate measurements that won’t change when the paper is pasted. It also allows you to paste a strip and hang it immediately (no booking time), and takes the pressure off of having a booked strip over-expanding while you fiddle with hanging a difficult strip.

It went up pretty nicely. Tomorrow I will hang the remaining two walls.

The pattern is in the Fornasetti line by Cole & Son, and 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.

The Reading Room – Brunschwig & Fils “Bibliotheque” in a West Houston Powder Room

March 13, 2020


Why are people drawn to books in bathrooms??

Oh, well, it’s a common theme – and a bit of a tongue-in-cheek, wink-wink joke.

Either way, this one came together gorgeously.

I don’t usually like dark woodwork or ceilings, but in this case, the deep black / eggplant color works dramatically with the wallpaper.

The color is rich and saturated, and the ink has a beautiful matte finish – one glance and you know that this is a high-end and classy material.

The home is in the far-west side of Houston.

Holy Cow! – Wow!!

March 7, 2020


As I like to say, you can get away with a lot of drama in a powder room. Here is proof!

The new home is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston. The wallpaper is by Marimekko. It is a non-woven material, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method or, the method I prefer, paste-the-paper.

This wallpaper 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.

Bringing Color and Life to a Garden Oaks Dining Room

March 6, 2020


This family bought a new home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston, and then lived for a year with dull, lifeless walls in the dining room – all the while craving color and personality. Finally, the husband had a chance to tackle the textured walls (see previous post), and shortly thereafter, I came along.

This print is fun but not cutesy or trendy. And – while monochromatic, it adds a whole lot of color to the once-bland room.

Printed on a non-woven substrate, this product could be hung using the paste-the-wall method, or the paste-the-material method, which is what I did, for many reasons. It went up very nicely.

This wallpaper pattern is by A-Street Prints, and 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.