Posts Tagged ‘laura ashley’

Sweetening an All-White Bathroom / Treating Trials

July 2, 2019



This homeowner was just trying to update her hall bathroom. She chose a new countertop, new tile, and new wallpaper. Unfortunately, some of the workmen who showed up for the job were less than stellar. I won’t say anything about the tile guys or the painters, but in the top photo, you can see how the “I can hang wallpaper” guy prepped the wall… which he proclaimed as “wallpaper-ready.”

I took down the light fixture, removed the remaining old wallpaper, and skim-floated the surface. Because the ridges in the original guy’s float job were so thick, I went there a few days early to get an initial layer of smoothing compound spread on the wall, so it would have time to dry. Then when I came back, I skim-floated the entire room. Because this second coat was thinner, it dried in a few hours (with fans, a space heater (to pull humidity from the air), and the home’s A/C unit cranking dry air through the room.)

I sanded smooth, vacuumed and wiped off the dust, and applied a coat of Gardz, which is my preferred primer for newly smoothed walls.

Mysterious tan dots worked their way through the smoothing compound and the Gardz. I didn’t know what they came from (mold, oil, tobacco, soft drink or food the workers splashed on the walls?), but I knew they would eventually bleed through the new wallpaper. So I rolled on BIN, a shellac-based stain-blocker made by Rust Oleum, to seal the wall.

This effectively sealed the stain, and the wall was nice and white after that.

A week later, I came back to hang the wallpaper. First I applied a coat of Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, a primer made specifically for wallpaper. For some reason, this product didn’t stick well to the BIN – which is surprising, because one reason I use this primer is because it sticks to anything, even glossy surfaces (the BIN was not particularly glossy). Look closely or enlarge the third photo, and you will see it sliding and dripping down the wall. Well, no fear. I brushed out the worst of the drips, and as the primer dried, it tightened up and clung flat and tight to the wall.

With the wall finally smooth and appropriately primed, I was ready to get that paper up on the wall. This was an old fashioned pulp paper, which the British companies were making before most of them switched to non-woven materials. I was looking forward to working with an authentic pulp paper, because it’s been a while since I’ve come across one.

But this one didn’t behave as most of them do… It was thicker and stiffer, which made trimming and intricate detail work difficult, and increased the potential for creasing (for instance, while fitting the paper into a corner at a ceiling line). And it sucked up paste and dried out way sooner than I could get a strip to the wall. So I ended up using a spray bottle to add extra moisture to the back of the paper while I was applying the paste. This did help a lot.

Some of the edges had been banged up during shipping, so some of the seams looked a little weathered. And the edges had not been cut perfectly straight at the factory, so we had a bit of what we call “gaps and overlaps.”

Still, the finished room looks great. With its sweet flowers and calming colors, the pattern reminds me of the Laura Ashley era. The blue really pops against the white woodwork and tile in the room, and the red roses are nothing short of romantic.

Such a happy turn-around, for a bathroom that started out full of trials and tribulations.

I’m not sure what the brand name is, but the label says “English Florals.” The homeowner found it on-line (free shipping!), and the cost was low – about $60 for a double roll bolt. The home is on the north side of Houston.

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Laura Ashley Border in a Bedroom

July 4, 2018
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No, not many people are opting to have borders around the tops of their walls these says. But this homeowner loves the look, and she loves the sweet charm of the Laura Ashley designs. Even though (I think) Laura Ashley stopped producing home goods a while back, this home owner was able to track down some rolls of border by shopping on-line.

Laura Ashley for English Country Cottage Charm

December 11, 2015
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Decorating themes by Welsh designer Laura Ashley were all the rage in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s, and every now and then a modern-day homeowner seeks the charm of this very British, flowered, cottagey look. Indeed, today’s client had stored this wallpaper (left over from a previous house) for several years. It was still in good condition, and hung very nicely.

I hung this on just one wall of a powder room in a large home in Sugarland (Houston). Usually I recommend papering all the rooms in a powder room, because such a small room can look very chopped up if different walls are treated differently. But this pattern has so much going on, and is so “sweet,” that putting it on all the walls might have been overwhelming. I think the homeowner made the right decision by putting it on only the wall you see when you first walk in.

This is a solid vinyl material on paper backing, pre-pasted, and the manufacturer is Imperial. Laura Ashley used to be made by another company, and required using their own special (and difficult to get) paste, or you would get horrible bubbles. This version made by Imperial was much nicer to work with.

I don’t usually like solid vinyl material on a paper backing, especially the pre-pasted varieties. In humid rooms (steamy bathrooms), it is prone to the paper backing absorbing moisture and curling back at the seams, and also the vinyl layer can even delaminate from the backing. This type of problem is impossible to repaste or repair.

I didn’t mention anything to the homeowner, though, because, well, gee – she already had the paper. It was funny, though, because she had read my information about which papers to buy and which to avoid, and she sheepishly brought up the fact that this was “one of the papers you don’t like.”

I am sure she will be fine, though. This powder room will not be subject to humidity, and I put a good primer on the wall, plus used additional adhesive to ensure a tight bond. I predict that it will hold up quite nicely.

“The Other Guy Was Cheaper, But Not as Good”

April 1, 2014

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Digital ImageWhat’s wrong with these pictures? The previous installer did not smooth the wall before hanging this pretty floral wallpaper (by Laura Ashley). He matched the pattern well, and his seams looked great. But, with the bumpy wall texture showing through from underneath, the whole thing just looks – icky.

This wallpaper was hung a few years ago. I just hung wallpaper in two other rooms in this same house. In both rooms – one a textured, painted wall, and the other a hallway with wallpaper hung over a textured wall, I insisted on smoothing the walls first, before hanging the new paper.

The homeowner is now considering repapering the walls done by the previous installer. When she brought me into the bedroom to measure the accent wall, she said, “The other guy was cheaper, but not as good.” Then she added, “He wasn’t a perfectionist like you, and I don’t think he cared as much about what he did.”

This house is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.