Posts Tagged ‘level’

Bohemian Chic in a Master Bedroom

September 3, 2017

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The walls in this 2nd floor addition to a 1950 ranch style home in west end of the Houston Heights started with a heavy texture and gloss paint.  The project was an 18′ wide accent wall in a master bedroom.

I skim-floated to smooth the wall, and it took a full day of multiple fans blowing at high speed, hitting areas with the heat gun, and alternating between cold air-conditioning and warm forced-air heat to get them to dry.

The third photo shows how they looked after sanding and priming.

The homeowners have a real eclectic taste in decorating, with lots of furnishings and accessories that are vintage, worn, quirky, repurposed, colorful, and the like.  I love this medallion pattern because it goes with the home’s aesthetic… and just look at how it matches the bedspread!

Keeping the medallions straight at the top of the wall took some tweaking, because the walls were not plumb, nor was the crown molding level.  In the end it looks great.

The wallpaper is a non-woven material and a paste-the-wall installation.  The seams were positively invisible.  The paper is by A Street Prints, by Brewster, and came from the U.K.  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.

 

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What’s It Like to Wallpaper Behind a Washing Machine?

April 19, 2017

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Originally, this laundry room had the White Wall Woes – too much of nothing. Once the wallpaper went up, the room took on warmth and a cheery personality. The homeowner, an interior designer, loved the way the pattern made the low ceilings look higher. And the color perfectly melds with the color of the woodwork.

What’s it like to hang wallpaper in a laundry room when the washer & dryer are still in the room? Well, you do a lot of reaching, squeezing, and contorting. Luckily for me, I’m small.

Because my ladder would not fit behind the appliances, I had to stand on the W & D (being careful to distribute my weight to the frame, not the center). This worked out because the ceiling was low enough that I could reach the top of the wall by standing on the W & D.

That took care of the top of the strips of wallpaper. To smooth them into place along the lower portion of the wall, I had to squeeze myself into that narrow space you see in the third photo, and work around all those hoses and wires.

This is a very nicely remodeled bungalow in the Woodland Heights (Houston), with a 2-story addition on the back. This room was in the new section, and it had about the most plumb walls and level floors / ceilings I have worked with – all important when dealing with strong straight lines such as these picture frames.

Nonetheless, I did have to pull a few tricks out of my hat, to keep the pattern looking straight around the whole room and against all the moldings.

This wallpaper is by Sanderson, a British company, and is called “Picture Gallery.” It is on a non-woven substrate and is intended to be a paste-the-wall product, but in this room with complicated cuts and narrow spaces, it was preferable to paste the material.

The interior designer (and home owner) is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. All of the jobs I have done for her have been remodels or new builds in the greater Heights area of Houston.

Interestingly enough, I’ve had a number of queries and jobs about wallpaper in laundry rooms. It must be a new trend. I think this newish non-woven material will work well in a humid room, whereas the paper-backed solid vinyls that were popular for decades are a poor choice, due to moisture getting into the seams and causing curling.

And you just have to love the idea of doing mundane housework in a cherry, pretty setting!

A Horrible Place for a Wallpaper Seam

March 29, 2017

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Often you can “fudge” wallpaper patterns, to avoid awkward or unstable placement of seams – but just as often, you cannot.

Here I could not avoid having the seam fall ONE QUARTER OF AN INCH away from the outside corner on this wall.

So why all the consternation?

First, being just 1/4″ from the corner, there is little wall space for the paper to grab onto, which raises the worry about the paper not adhering, and curling away from the wall, or, at minimal, gapping in areas.

This brand is particularly challenging, because it is known for curling at the seams, which further hinders a good, tight, flat seam.

Second, since walls are never straight or plumb, it’s hard to keep the wallpaper design evenly spaced and correctly positioned down this length of wall.

The un-plumb walls also make it near impossible for wallpaper to wrap around the outside corner without warping, which makes it difficult for the subsequent strip, which is straight, to butt up nicely against the un-straight edge.

Un-plumb corners also throw the wrapped wallpaper off-plumb. That can result in the pattern’s design “going off-plumb.” This means that the horizontal pattern won’t line up perfectly along vertical walls (like in corners).

Another thing that will happen is that the pattern motifs can start creeping either up or down from the ceiling line (un-level ceiling lines factor in here, too.)

And, lastly, because wallpaper absorbs moisture from the paste and then expands and / or warps, it’s hard to keep everything straight and plumb as it turns a corner. Which makes it hard for the next strip to butt perfectly up against it.

This wallpaper is by Hygge & West, and can be bought from their on-line website.

Hold On To Your Head! – Wallpaper Pattern Placement

March 1, 2017
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The ceiling height in this room vaulted from 8′ on the north and south walls, to 9′ on the east and west walls. In most rooms, I like to place an important design element at the top of the wall. And I like to keep design motifs intact when I can, meaning, to keep whole flamingo heads at the top of the wall. But with a pattern like this, that moves diagonally up and down the wall, there’s always going to be someone who gets his head chopped off.

I felt it important to keep whole, intact flamingo heads at the top of the main focal wall. But the two adjoin walls were visually important to the room, too, and I didn’t want to have half-heads at the top of either of these two walls. So I took some time and plotted how to keep the most heads of flamingos at the most prominent points of the room for most of the time.

In the top photo, on the right, you see the highest point of the wall in this room. From this high point, I used my laser level to drop a plumb, vertical line from the ceiling to the floor (not shown). To the left of this, you see the wall angling down to meet with the lower-height wall to its left. I took a level and used it to draw a horizontal line from where the lower-height wall / crown molding started on the left, to where this line crossed onto the beamed vertical line shot from my laser level onto adjoining wall to its right.

Then I ran a level from the crown molding you see in the second photo then horizontally all the way across the 21″ width of a strip of the wallpaper, and then also across 21″ of it’s adjoining strip. This showed me where all the flamingo heads would fall on the wall, across two strips of wallpaper.

Along this vertical line, the distance between the ceiling crown molding and the horizontal line from the crown molding on the lower-height wall was 11.5″ (with a little allowance for un-level crown molding). I wanted to avoid chopping off any flamingo heads at the level point of either the 9′ high crown molding, or at level laser point of the horizontal line running 11.5″ below the crown molding.

To determine where the flamingo heads on the wallpaper would translate onto where they would actually fall on the wall, I rolled some of the paper out on my table, and considered options of which ostrich to place at the top of the wall. I played around, slid strips up and down, and eventually found the point where the most flamngos would have their whole heads at the top of the main focal wall, and also at the top of the shorter walls on either side.

The flamingo heads on both the sitting and the standing birds on the sections over the door on adjoining 8′ walls fell a little further down below the crown molding than I would have liked (see 3rd photo), but they still looked great, they kept their heads attached to their bodies, plus they were balanced nicely between the crown molding and the top of the door frame.

All this took much plotting, measuring, calculating, and time, and it’s not something that a homeowner is going to even notice. But I was really happy that I could give this couple (and the little boy whose room this will be) a nicely-placed, well-balanced pattern, with as few cut-off heads as possible.

This wallpaper pattern is called “Flamingo,” and is by Cole & Son, a British manufacturer, 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.

Crooked Walls = Wrinkly Paper

December 3, 2016
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Walls in homes are usually never perfectly plumb, just as ceilings and floors are never perfectly level. Not a problem if you’re painting. But if you are hanging wallpaper, that wallpaper wants to hang straight, and so it wants a straight wall to hang on to.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that if a wall is crooked, bowed, or off-plumb, wallpaper will have difficulty hanging butted up against it.

In this case, I had turned a strip of wallpaper around an outside corner – very tricky for several reasons, and more so because virtually no outside corner is perfectly plumb, which compounds the trickiness. If you wrap wallpaper around a wall / corner that is not plumb / straight, the far edge of the wallpaper will likewise become bowed or un-straight. So when you go to butt the next strip of wallpaper against this one, one straight edge will not be able to find another straight edge to “marry with,” and the strips will want to gap or overlap. Not good.

So what I did was, once I got around the outside corner, I made sure that the far edge of the strip of wallpaper was plumb and straight. I used a 6′ magnesium straightedge and a 4′ level as guides.

But making the far edge of the wallpaper strip comply to plumb caused the body, or central area, of the wallpaper strip to become wrinkled due to excess material. Thankfully, this was a forgiving pattern.

What I did was, I cut along some lines of the wallpaper design motif. This created some relief, so I could ease out the wrinkles and smooth the paper against the wall. Voilà! The wrinkles and stress on the paper are gone; cuts, splices, and overlaps are invisible, and the the far edge of the paper is straight and ready to butt against the next strip of wallpaper.

Crooked House With An Unforgiving Geometric Pattern

September 10, 2016
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Geometric patterns are all the rage these days, and that’s fine, if all you are wallpapering is one short accent wall in a house where all the walls and floors are perfectly plumb and level.

But that is not what most home are like, and it’s not what I encountered today when I went to hang this swoopy trellis pattern by Farrow & Ball (a British company).

I chose to make the pattern look straight against the most visible element in the room – the door molding. But this meant that the pattern would start to slide up or down the wall at both the ceiling and the chair rail. The chair rail is not at eye-level, but it is very visible, so the discrepancy was very noticeable. For this post, I’ll skip the details about how I made the ceiling appear to be level, and focus on that chair rail.

Because I opted to hang the pattern parallel to the door frame, and because the door frame was off-plumb, and because the chair rail was plumb, when the pattern hit the chair rail, it was not perpendicular. With wild flowers, you would never notice it. But with this small-repeat geometric design, your eye would catch an element (like the “crowns”) moving up or down the wall by even a half an inch.

To disguise this discrepancy, as well as to put a nice focal point at the chair rail, I pulled a tromp l’oeil.” – fool the eye.

I cut a motif out of the wallpaper design – let’s call it a “crown” – and pasted it on top of the paper just above the chair rail. This gave a uniform appearance along the chair rail, and made the eye believe that the wallpaper was straight and level and plumb.

Cutting and appliquéing these crowns took a lot of patience and time, and I missed an event I was planning to attend that evening. But this one detail makes the room look so much better and finished, I knew I had to take the extra time and effort to do it.

Wavy Hourglass in a Powder Room

July 2, 2016
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Generally, I tell clients that, because powder rooms are small and chopped up, they look better I all the walls are papered, to keep from having too many disparate elements going on in the room. But this pattern is way too bold and energetic to work on all four walls – you would feel as if you had had three too many martinis at lunch! So I agreed with the client that papering one wall would add sufficient drama to the small room.

We were right – this pattern looks great! It has a fun sense of movement and height, plus it compliments the contemporary style the home. And you could not get a better color match with the stone countertop!

This wallpaper is by Decorline, and is printed on a thin, pliable non-woven material, and is a paste-the-wall product. It was vey nice to work with.

An interesting note – the manufacturer placed the seam so that it did not cut through any of the pattern. This helps a lot in keeping the pattern aligned and plumb and level, because, for instance, if the ceiling is not level, I can pull the wallpaper pattern up or down a little, to keep it equidistant from the ceiling and disguise any crooked ceiling lines.

Old House / Crooked Walls / Straight Paper / ??

March 23, 2016
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Who can expect the walls in a bungalow built on gumbo soil in the Houston Heights back in the 1920’s to be straight and plumb? These walls sure weren’t.

In the first photo, you see the tree motif running pretty evenly along the door frame and the shower tile from ceiling to wainscoting. But on the opposite wall (sorry, no photo), the door frame and tile were both off-plumb, so the wall was less like a rectangle and more like a trapezoid. That meant that the white tree trunk started out at the ceiling about 1/2″ away from the tile, with about 1/2″ of navy blue along it’s left edge. But by the time it dropped a mere 5′ to the wainscoting, the white tree trunk was running crooked and disappearing into the white tile, with no navy blue showing at all.

The eye really notices variances like this.

I needed to get some navy blue showing again, along the left side of that tree trunk.

This non-woven wallpaper was too stiff to manipulate or maneuver into a plumb position, and a cut-and-overlap would have been very visible on this thick material. So I tried something else.

In the second photo, you see where I have cut out a part of the pattern motif, which includes the white tree trunk and some of the navy blue area to the left of it. I then trimmed this piece so that it had 1/2″ of navy blue showing to the left of the tree trunk. Next, I appliquéd this piece over the tree, in the spot where it would have been if the wall had been plumb.

Some leaves of the tree got cut off or obscured by this appliqué. But that is much less noticeable than a disappearing navy blue line. The trick I used maintains that navy blue line to the left of the white tree trunk. My trick ensures that the eye sees a uniform width of navy blue from ceiling to wainscoting. This is much less jarring to the eye. And it makes the wall look plumb – even though we all know that it has not been plumb since about, oh, since about the 1940’s.

The wallpaper is by Brewster, in their A Street line, and was bought from the Sherwin Williams store in the Rice Village on University.

Black & White Trellis in a Heights Bungalow Kitchen

February 18, 2016
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I have not been papering many kitchens lately, so it was a treat to do this one, in a 100-year-old bungalow in the Heights (Houston). The homeowner was doing cosmetic updates, and working with the existing features, like a black & white checkered floor, black appliances, and a really cool old sink. She had a new bank of cabinets built over the stove, and added a black glossy tile backsplash around the stove, to cut down on cooking splatters that could stain the wallpaper.

The walls had seen decades of treatments, and they were kinda sketchy, so I skim-floated them to make them nice and smooth. There was nothing I could do, however, about the un-level and un-plumb walls, ceiling, and floors. With a wild floral pattern, you might not notice a crooked ceiling line. But with a rhythmic trellis, you will.

One wall was nice and straight along the ceiling line – but the other was not.

So, I had the choice of several options: I could hang the wallpaper so it would look straight across the ceiling, OR I could hang it so it looked straight against the woodwork, OR I could hang it so the pattern matched nicely in the corners.

I consulted with the homeowner, and she said, “No one will pay any attention to the ceiling line, but I would like the corners to look good.” I think she was right, that making the pattern match perfectly in the corners was the least eye-jarring, and the best way to go.

Oh, and I also called in a little help from my friend Mr. Sharpie, plus a little creative trimming and twisting and overlapping and tugging.

The wallpaper is only on a few sections of wall in this kitchen, but it makes a bold statement. And, as the homeowner said, “I love it, it fits – because I am bold, too!” (She is quite a vivacious lady!)

This is a paper wallpaper, and is not very resistant to stains. So, in the area around the dog’s food and water bowls, the homeowner will have a piece of clear Plexi-Glass cut to fit the space and then use small nails to discretely tack it to the wall. The Plexi-Glass can be easily wiped clean, and the wallpaper will be protected from stains.

This wallpaper pattern is in the Anderson Prints line by EcoChic, was nice to work with, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Faux Brick, Faux Mortar, Faux Level Ceiling

February 8, 2016
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Virtually no room or home has perfectly plumb walls, nor perfectly level ceilings and floors. Even if the wallpaper is hung perfectly plumb, if the walls or ceiling are out of kilter, it will look like the wallpaper is askew, with the design being closer to the ceiling at one end of the wall, and dropping farther away from the ceiling at the other end. So, to disguise this, I will often put an element at the top of the wall that you will not notice if it’s growing shorter or taller – for instance, a partial brick, and your eye won’t notice if it’s 3 1/2″ high at one end of the wall and 4 1/8″ high at the other.

But in this room, I wanted to have a line of mortar at the top of the wall, so it would look like a real brick wall. The ceiling line was straight along the right half of the wall, as you see in the photo, but got off-level on the left half. That meant that the bricks started falling down the wall, and the bottoms of bricks from the row above them started showing at the ceiling line.

To disguise this, I took scraps of unused wallpaper and cut thin strips of the mortar design. Then I appliquéd these over the bottoms of the bricks that I didn’t want to show at the ceiling line. Regular wallpaper paste won’t stick to this textured vinyl product, so I had to use an adhesive specially formulated to adhere to vinyl.

The finished result looked great. No dark bottoms of bricks showed along the top of the wall, and you really couldn’t notice that the mortar along the ceiling on the left half of the room was wider than the mortar on the right half.

This wallpaper is by Sunworthy, and I hung it on an accent wall in a bedroom of a teenaged boy.