Posts Tagged ‘kitchen’

Faux Grasscloth / Textured Stringcloth on the Backs of Bookshelves

September 9, 2018


The homeowner wanted to use texture and color to warm up her very large kitchen / breakfast area. This faux grasscloth on the back of a pair of bookshelves that flank the fireplace was the perfect solution.

The shelves are high, and they are deeper than most, which made accessing the top areas difficult – and a little dangerous. So I borrowed the painters’ 3′ ladder, and was able to reach where I needed to.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (click the link to the informative article on the right of this page). So I try to steer clients toward alternatives. This product is about my absolute favorite! It has a realistic grass pattern, and it can be matched from strip to strip, so you never see the seams. The color is consistent, so you don’t have the paneling effect that comes with the real stuff. And it is covered with a vertical stringcloth material, which provides the texture that homeowners are seeking these days. And it’s reasonably-priced.

Wallquest is the manufacturer, and it’s in their EcoChic line. 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.

The home is in the Fall Creek area of northeast Houston, off Beltway 8 and Hwy 59.

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A Kaleidoscope of Mid-Century Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright – Wild

July 7, 2018

What a fun pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury, in their newish line of “Atomic Age,” Mid Century Modern, in the theme of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright!

The young couple that bought this mint-condition, Mid-Century home in the Medical Center / Reliant Stadium neighborhood of Houston is way crazy about the modern look, and wanted an accent wall in the kitchen breakfast nook to both play up that theme, as well as bring color into the room.

There are four bright orange molded plastic “mod” chairs that will ring around that round table.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope. The wallpaper is custom made, but is not outrageously expensive. It comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. (Do a search here for pics and more info on this process.) The paper is normally hung vertically, but the homeowners liked the design better run horizontally (called railroading in wallpaper terms).

It took a lot of trimming, plotting, planning, and engineering, plus plenty of time with the laser level (see second photo), to get the pattern matched correctly and then laid out on the wall so everything lined up perfectly. I also took steps to keep as much paste off the woodwork and shutters as possible. Yeah, it wipes off relatively easily. But always best to keep it off in the first place.

My Favorite Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper

May 29, 2018


This breakfast and kitchen area in a 26-year old townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston was originally papered with a very small print on a darkish brown background. It served its purpose for two decades, but the homeowners were ready for a change.

They originally considered grasscloth, but after hearing my opinion on the real stuff (read “Grasscloth – Info Pack” page on the right), they opted for this fine faux material instead. I love this particular product because it uses vertical strings to create the textured feel that people like, as well as has a printed grass design in the background. Because it’s machine-printed, the pattern can be matched, so there are no visible seams like with real grasscloth. There also is no paneling or shading (variations in color between strips, or even within strips, even when they come off the same bolt) that are common with real grasscloth.

I have another couple using this same material in another month or so, in their entry.

I do have to say that this time, there was one strip that did panel – it was a slightly different shade from the one next to it, even though it came off the same bolt. This was disappointing, because I promote this brand specifically because you do not expect that. Anyway, I always have people order enough that we can cover a situation like that, so there was plenty of paper to remove that strip and replace it with one with better color.

This wallpaper is by Walquest, in their Grass Effects book, in the Ecochic line. 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.

Repairing Damage from Hurricane Harvey

April 27, 2018


This home in the Champions Forest area of north Houston received flood damage after Hurricane Harvey. The bottom 2′ or so of drywall had been cut out and replaced by the restoration contractor. The only thing is, the new drywall was recessed back about 3/8″ from the existing drywall. Even though this was near the floor in the niche behind the refrigerator, the homeowner didn’t want to have a difference in wall height, nor a mis-match in the wallpaper pattern.

So I used joint compound (“mud”) and drywall seam tape to bridge the gap and to float out the discrepancy. It took three coats, and several sandings, plus a sealing primer, but the finished wall is pretty even and smooth. (2nd photo)

There wasn’t enough left over paper to replace the whole alcove, so I used scraps to piece in the bottom area. Rather than make a straight horizontal cut 2′ above the floor, it’s less eye-catching to have the patched areas run along a feature of the design, such as the vines and branches in this pattern. (3rd photo)

Once the new strips were smoothed into place (4th and 5th photos), the patched areas are virtually undetectable.

Sometimes people complain about having left over wallpaper. But here’s a good example of why you should. (last photo) This homeowner had kept all her leftovers in their original wrappings and in their original box, in a climate-controlled environment (not the garage or attic), and she had what was needed to make this repair (and several others around the room that are not shown here).

Stay Away From Paper-Backed, Solid Vinyl Wallpapers

December 6, 2017

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Solid vinyl wallpapers are often marketed as “kitchen and bath” papers, because they are somewhat more washable than other types of wallpaper, and because splashed water will run right off the vinyl (plastic) surface.

However, I find just the opposite with these solid vinyl papers, particularly the pre-pasted, lower-priced ones.

The seams generally never look great to begin with. Then the porous paper backing tends to absorb moisture, such as humidity in a steamy bathroom. When the paper absorbs moisture, it expands, and when it expands, it has nowhere to go but to push away from the wall – causing a curled seam. Often the top vinyl layer even starts to delaminate from the paper backing.

This is not a “loose seam,” and it cannot be “reglued.”

Humidity is a factor, but so is improper wall prep. Usually, when there are curling seams like this, the previous installer neglected to prime the walls, and just hung wallpaper on top of the bare drywall.

In the two photos with paper curling away from the top of the baseboards and from the top of the granite countertops, it is not sticking because the surface beneath it is slick – overspray of gloss paint from the woodwork, caulk used around the top of the backsplash. Again, a primer would have prevented this.

I also like to run a bead of caulk around the top of the backsplash, to prevent splashed water from being wicked up under the cut edge of the wallpaper, which would cause curling.

I have blogged a number of times about curling seams due to crummy paper-backed, pre-pasted solid vinyl wallpapers. Choose some key words and do a Search here to read more.

Metallic Cork Married With Earthy Cork Breathes New Life Into A ’70’s Living Room

October 13, 2017

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This 1967 home in a unique neighborhood in Pasadena (Houston) is like a time capsule. It’s a little larger and nicer than the typical ranch-style houses of that era. And just about everything in it was original when my clients bought it … terrazzo floors, dental crown molding, upholstered wall panels in the dining room, diamond paned windows, French Provincial painted iron stairway railing, heavy pleated drapes, and much more.

The homeowners love the look and want to preserve as much as possible. But they also want the home to live a little more modern, and they want it to work with the lifestyle of their young – and very busy – family. They’ve already done a fabulous redo of the kitchen that still respects the era and feel of the home’s bones.

Now it’s time to update the living room. Enter – wallpaper! They used the same grey-brown, wood-look floor tile that they put in the kitchen. They kept the chair rail molding that runs around the room. A sliding barn-style door was custom made to divide the living room from the dining room, and it immediately became the focal point of the room.

Wallpaper was the next element … The couple wanted something earthy, yet elegant, and it had to meld with the vintage theme of the house.

They fell in love with a dark brown cork wallcovering enhanced with metallic accents called Enchanted Woods, by Phillip Jeffries. Whoops! – that brand is crazy expensive! My source (below) found them something nearly identical, but at a much more reasonable price. This dark brown material was used on the bottom 1/3 of the walls, below the chair rail. I was able to railroad this product (run it horizontally, instead of vertically), which eliminated seams. (Sorry, I did not get any photos of this.)

For the upper 2/3 of the wall space, they went with a silver metallic cork wallpaper embellished with a classic damask pattern in white. This is a classy, traditional look jazzed up by a luscious shimmery sheen.

The husband was worried that the dark cork at the bottom of the walls would visually occlude the barn door. At first, I tended to agree with him. But once the cork went up, it was clear that the door still stood out as a dominant feature in the room. Furthermore, it was apparent that the dark band of brown cork was needed all around the room, to balance the visual heft of that massive sliding barn door and to bring continuity to the remaining three walls.

As for the upper 2/3 of the walls, there is no question that the barn door stands out against the silver and white damask cork wallpaper. In addition, the natural texture of the cork coordinates nicely with the stained wood of the door.

Cork wallpaper, especially the metallic colors, is pretty popular right now, and I’ve hung a fair amount of it. But this room was the most challenging. Cork is thick and stiff, and does not want to turn corners (In fact, the instructions say you should not attempt to turn outside corners, but should, instead, cover the corners with wooden molding.), nor is it easy to fit around intricate moldings, and it will give a lot of argument when you try to bend it into a small, tight spot. This room had many of those features!

There was one wall that had two trim-less windows that had reveals (and outside corners) to be covered with the cork material, plus four points of wainscoting trim to cut around, as well as two sections of drapery valances to manipulate the stiff material up and under and into. This wall alone took me 4 1/2 hours to paper!

The rest of the room was easier, but still had its challenges. The cork material is thick and stiff and won’t push tightly against moldings or into corners, which means you have to work extra hard and make several cuts before it will sit snugly against the molding or corner. When trimming around intricate moldings (like the edges of the chair rail), you can’t see or feel where the cuts should be made, so you have to inch your way along, taking a bit here and a sliver there. I estimate that each of the six chair rail edges took me at least 15 minutes – each.

The metallic sheen made it difficult to see the pattern, so it took longer than usual to plot and cut strips.

Cork wallcovering is pretty thick, and you have to expect that the seams will show, just as they do with other natural materials, such as grasscloth. Depending on where you stand in the room, the seams on this product are either invisible, or fairly noticeable. I think the seams could have been better – I have a feeling that the manufacturer’s trimming blade was set at a bit of an angle, making a beveled cut. A perfectly straight cut, or even a slightly reversed-bevel, would perhaps have been less noticeable. Still, this is part of the look of the natural material, and not considered a defect. To be honest, unless you’re looking at a particular seam from just a certain angle, you won’t even see a thing – except the beautiful pattern, color, and shimmer.

The dark brown cork is by Monarque, and the upper cork in the silvery damask pattern is by Thibaut. Both papers 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.

Over the last few years, I have papered three other rooms for this family. Now that the wallpaper in the living room is up, they are on to other things – furniture, drapes – and then on to update / decorate other rooms. As I left tonight, the mom assured me that I would be back at some point, to paper another room.

Untextured Faux Grasscloth in a Kitchen

July 22, 2017

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The kitchen and breakfast area of this ’70’s era kitchen are quite typical of the ranch style homes that were popular at that time. I have papered about a million of them. 🙂

The first photo shows the breakfast area stripped of three previous layers of wallpaper, primed, and ready for its new look. The second photo shows the same corner with the new wallpaper up on the walls.

It’s a subtle, quiet, restful look, with a bit of rustic tossed in.

The “rustic” comes from the grasscloth-look to this wallpaper. But it’s paper, not real grass, and it’s not the new three-dimensional stringcloth that I have been loving lately. That stringcloth faux grass product was too pricy for this homeowner’s remodel budget.

So she chose this instead. This is a wonderful alternative to real grass products. It is uniform in color so you don’t have the horrible shading and paneling and color variations that are inherent with real grasscloth. Even better, it has pattern that can be matched, so you can’t see the seams.

It does have a bit of texture from its “raised ink” printed surface, which is pleasing, but very minimal.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Sure Strip line (I love the stuff!), and is a non-woven material that is meant to easily strip off the wall years later when it’s time to redecorate. It’s thin and hugs the wall nicely, and dries nice and flat and tight against the wall.

The paper 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.

Blue Goes With Grey – But Not Always

July 2, 2017

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In 2002, I hung this small blue floral print in the kitchen / breakfast area of a 1950 home in Riverside (Houston). The homeowner inherited the house from her grandmother, and she loves the vintage style and has kept her decorating pretty much true to the theme – including the floral wallpaper.

But a water leak changed all that. Damage was extensive enough that it made sense to remodel the entire kitchen. So new tile and granite came in. As much as the homeowner loved the blue flowery wallpaper, it didn’t go with the new grey-hued surfaces. So new wallpaper was called for.

As you can see in the third photo, the new pattern coordinates much better.

The homeowner has bought paint and wallpaper from Dorota at Southwestern Paint (see below) for many years, and she knew she could trust her to find the right paper. Sure enough – She told Dorota about the kitchen remodel and sent pics of the granite and tile, then made an appointment to visit in person. When she got to the store, Dorota walked over to her library of wallpaper books, chose one, opened it up, and pointed to this pattern. “This is what you need,” she said. And she was absolutely spot-on. The selection is perfect with the granite, the tile, the updated room, and even works beautifully with the older home.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their Ecochic collection, a series that I like a lot, and it 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.

Rusted Drywall Corner Bead – Bad News for Wallpaper

March 28, 2017

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I have just stripped wallpaper off this wall. The outside corner of the drywall shows a lot of rust along the metal corner bead. This is fairly common in humid bathrooms, but in this case, the room is a kitchen.

This is a big problem, because rust will bleed through wallpaper (and paint, too), creating a stain on the surface of the new finish. Other materials can cause staining, too, such as grease, ink, smoke, water, wood sap (knot holes), crayon, lipstick, etc.

But it’s easy to fix. A good sealer / stain blocker will seal off the rust (or other staining agent) so it will not leach through the new decorating material.

I like oil-based KILZ Original (not latex). But it’s noxious stuff, and will make you high if you breath the fumes. I wear a chemical respirator when I apply it, and ventilate the room well.

There are other water-born products that are made to block stains that are not as likely to kill brain cells. 🙂 If you are interested in trying one of these, ask your paint store professional (meaning, a true paint store with knowledgeable staff, NOT a box store with rotating employees) for recommendations.

Cute Wallpaper – But It’s Time To GO!

March 24, 2017

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This striped wallpaper design with coordinating topiary border was very cute, yet sophisticated – back in the ’90’s.

The homeowner is a realtor, and is up-to-date on decorating trends. She is ready for something more modern in her kitchen and breakfast room.

I stripped off this wallpaper today, and, most likely, the homeowners will prime and then paint the walls, rather than rewallpaper.

The home is in Tanglewood (Houston).