Posts Tagged ‘light fixture’

Grasscloth in Cypress Powder Room

February 18, 2020


The walls and ceiling in this large powder room in a newish home in the Bridgeland Creek neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) were originally a dark gold. I like dark rooms, but this one felt oppressive. It needed to be a little lighter, and to have a bit more interest on the walls.

The walls had a heavy texture, typical of new homes in the suburbs of Houston. I skim-floated the walls, then let dry overnight. The next day, I sanded the walls smooth, wiped off the dust, primed – and then was ready to hang wallpaper.

The pictures don’t adequately show the color of the new grasscloth, but we have natural brown grass color overlaid onto a really deep blue paper backing. The designer had the ceiling painted a dark, sort of murky blue, which coordinates really nicely with the blue in the grasscloth.

Lighting is funny … While I was working in the room, I had two 100 watt light bulbs; one suspended from the ceiling and one attached to where the light fixture belongs. The grasscloth just looked “normal.”

But once the room’s decorative light fixture went back up, it cast light on the textured surface in such a way that the “nubs” and knots really showed up! (see photo) The homeowner loved it!

As a note … With grasscloth, there is no pattern match, and you can also plan on seeing color differences between strips. So it’s important to plot where your seams will fall.

The electrical box, the light fixture, and the faucet were all in different vertical positions on the wall. Because the mirror would take up most of the wall behind the faucet and block the seam, I chose to center the seam on the light fixture, because it would be visible above the mirror. Well – sort of visible … as you can see, light rays from the fixture are so strong that no one can see where the seam is, anyway. ūüė¶

The room had a “floating” sink. One of the photos shows the area under the sink. This area is open to view, and, because there are so many obstacles, it is difficult and time-consuming to wrap the paper underneath and trim around all those pipes and brackets.

The grasscloth wallpaper is by York. I was pretty pleased with the consistency of the material. Although some of the strips did present “paneling” and “shading” – color variances between strips – even strips that came off the same bolt and that were reverse-hung. One strip even had a rather abrupt color change mid-way from top to bottom. (no photo)

But that’s par for the course with grasscloth, and it’s considered to be “the natural beauty of this natural material.”

The interior designer for this project is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group.

A Really Nice Vinyl Faux Grasscloth

February 8, 2020


Originally, this downstairs bathroom in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston was painted a mocha brown. It looked OK, but lacked luster and life. The homeowner envisioned more texture and color, plus a tiny bit of dazzle. She was considering grasscloth.

During our initial Sunday afternoon consultation, luckily she heeded my warnings about the problems with grasscloth – visible seams, color shading differences between strips, staining from water splashes or little ones’ hands, etc.

She chose this textured vinyl faux grass pattern by York instead. What a winner this turned out to be! Because there is no pattern that can be matched, you still see the seams. But, because the color is so homogeneous, there are no jarring shade differences. In the sink photo, note that you are seeing a shadow, not a shading of color.

The color variations within the grass-like design are more pronounced than in other brands (for instance, the Thibaut versions), and so it looks more like real grasscloth, and you can see the various colors even from a distance.

There is a pleasing texture that can be seen and felt. And, because the material is a heavy vinyl, it’s quite durable and water- and stain-resistant. What’s more, because there was no pattern to match (that’s called a random match), there was very little waste – in a room with a tad less than 9′ ceilings, I got three strips out of a 27′ long double roll bolt (usually you only get two strips).

I did follow typical grasscloth-installation techniques for this product.

Because the lack of a pattern match meant that the seams were visible, I took precise measurements and “balanced” the width of the strips in the various areas in which they were hung.

Because there was still a bit of a color difference between the right side and the left side of each strip, I also reversed the top and bottom of every other strip – a little trick that minimizes visible color differences by placing the right side, for instance, of each bolt of paper next to itself on subsequent strips. That sounds confusing, but it’s valuable trick of the trade.

The navy blue brings a welcome shot of color into the room. The gold metallic touches add sparkle, and coordinate smartly with the light fixture (not shown). The homeowner will soon trade the chrome faucet for one of brushed gold.

Patching Gap Around Light Fixture

November 8, 2019

The original light fixture had a rectangular base. The new one had a base that was barely larger than the electrical box. The electrician ended up with a slight gap on the left side of the box.

The wallpaper would most likely bridge that gap and look just fine. But since there was a slight difference in height between the wall and the base of the fixture, I wanted to close the gap to minimize chances of a visible pooch or bubble around the fixture.

I bought some drywall repair kits, and ended up using the one that had a thin aluminum mesh patch. I cut it to fit around the electrical box, using a few scraps to fill in gaps.

I then used drywall joint compound (“mud”) to smooth over the area. It took two of these skim coats, and a lot of time holding my heat gun to get everything to dry. Once sanded, it was nice and smooth.

A coat of Gardz penetrating sealer / primer, and the patched area was ready for wallpaper.

Elapsed time: Two hours.

This saved the homeowner having to hire “a guy” to do the repairs – and most likely, I would have had to “fine tune” whatever he did, anyway.

Preventing Scratches on the Light Fixtures

June 21, 2019


I’m getting ready to remove this over-the-mirror light fixture, so I can get wallpaper behind it. The screw caps were on too tightly for me to turn by hand, so I had to get a pliers to help turn them.

If the metal pliers rubs against the silver canopy of the light fixture, it’s likely to scratch the surface. Also, the teeth in the pliers could mar the round metal screw caps.

So I put blue tape on the base of the light fixture, as well as on the screw caps, to prevent the pliers from coming into contact with any scratchable surfaces.

Humidity in Bathrooms – Not Good for Metal Light Fixtures

June 7, 2019


This is the same bathroom that showed the curling / delaminating wallpaper seams, probably caused by humidity.

This photo is of the base of an over-the-mirror light fixture. See the little dots? I believe these are specs of rust starting to work their way out through the finish. Most likely also caused by humidity.

Keep heat and A/C systems running, limit steamy showers, keep the exhaust fans on, and keep doors open!

A Screwy Curiousity

May 8, 2019


Light fixtures come with the proper mounting plates / brackets, to attach them to the electrical box in the wall. The plates come with the correct fasteners to attach them to the holes in the electrical box.

So why then, when installing two wall sconces, did the electrician use FOUR DIFFERENT screws to attach the plates to the boxes?

I can only guess that he didn’t cover the drain in the sink, then dropped the screws down the drain, and then went digging for any old screw or bolt that he had lying around in the back of his pickup truck.

Sloppy, Lazy Painters

February 16, 2019


Here we are in the master bathroom of a brand newly built home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Before I put the charcoal-colored wallpaper up, this wall was originally painted white. Somewhere along the line, after the wall light sconces were put up, the painters came to add paint to the wall.

They didn’t bother to remove the sconces, or even to put protective blue painter’s tape around the metal base of the sconces. They also were not able to “cut a neat line” with their brush.

Consequentially, as you can see, they got paint slopped onto the bases of all four of these new-and-expensive light fixtures. Not shown, but the glass shades of the fixtures were dotted with scores of paint drips and splatters.

None of this was very noticeable while the wall was painted black. But now that the new dark wallpaper is in place, it’s very easy to see the white paint slopped around the light fixtures.

I hope the homeowners can live with the ring of white paint on the bases of their light sconces. If not, I’m just betting that any attempt made by these guys to clean or remove the paint from the light fixtures will result in damage to the new wallpaper.

Hoping to Rectify Failure (Humidity Causes Poor Seams)

August 24, 2018

Humidity is the great enemy of wallpaper. In addition, the lower-end, pre-pasted, solid-vinyl papers with the gritty manila paper backing are not a good choice, in my opinion, in any room, but particularly not humid rooms like bathrooms. This house on the beach with irregular climate control spelled double trouble.

This home on Pirate’s Beach on Galveston Island (south of Houston) was on the beach, so was exposed to lots of humidity. In addition, because the homeowners use it only sporadically, they turn the air conditioner off or set it to a run less while they are away. This means that the home fills up with humidity. And even when the A/C is running, air circulation in this room is poor.

Metal elements such as the light fixture and screws holding things into the walls were rusted. Mildew was found behind some sheets of wallpaper. And the wallpaper itself was curling at the seams – a result of the paper backing absorbing moisture from the air, expanding, and forcing the vinyl surface to curl backward at the seams. (Read more about this on the page to the right about vinyl wallcoverings.)

Another factor for the poor performance of the original vinyl wallpaper was that the walls had not been primed, but the installer put the vinyl paper on top of new drywall. And nothing was done around the shower to protect the paper from splashing water.

I stripped off the old vinyl wallpaper, washed the walls with bleach to kill the mildew, and primed with the penetrating sealer Gardz. Once the new paper was up, I ran caulk along the top of the vanity backsplash, and all along the shower and tub, to prevent splashed water from wicking up under the paper.

The new wallpaper is a thin non-woven material that is “breathable.” No wallpaper is going to hold up under very humid conditions. But this one has a much better chance of staying nice and flat for many years.

The new wallpaper is very similar in appearance to the original, and keeps with the beachy feel of the home. It is by Brewster, in their Chesapeake Bay collection, in the Easy Walls line, and is reasonably priced. It is a pre-pasted material. I did augment the manufacturer’s paste with a .

In the photos, the paper looks blotchy. That is because it is still wet; it will be nice and white when it’s finally dry. The drying time worries me, though, because after six hours, even some parts of the first strips were not dry. This is a real indicator that the room has some serious humidity and air circulation issues.

Some Patterns are More Fun to Hang than Others

August 17, 2018


Wow! What a cool pattern, and super fun colors – I couldn’t wait to hang it!

This wild dragon and flora wallpaper on a silver metallic background went in a largish powder room in a new townhome in the north Heights neighborhood of Houston. The single guy homeowner went through a maddening number of choices before finally settling on this one. Boy, is it a great one!

The paper was a little testy to work with, though. It is a thick and stiff and somewhat spongy non-woven material which was difficult to manipulate around features like the light fixture and the vanity top. In addition, the metallic surface was very prone to creasing.

The wall-mounted light fixture could not be removed, and I knew that working the paper around it would result in visible creases. My solution was to split the strip horizontally right where it would land on the light fixture. This made it easier for me to make relief cuts and to ease the wallpaper around the fixture.

I used similar techniques in other areas of the room.

The paper is a lot more vivid and colorful than the photos show. All that teal and chartreuse and silver, and the relentless swirling tails and scales and leaves combine to make one mesmerizing room! A mirror with a wide, dark brown frame set it off.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Dwell Studios line, 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.

Light Fixtures With Small Bases Are Difficult To Work Around

August 30, 2017

Digital Image

On some light fixtures, the base is barely larger than¬†the electrical box or its¬†mounting plate, so it won’t cover any imperfections in the wall, and it’s essential that the wallpaper comes up exactly to the very edges of the mounting plate.¬† I often remove that mounting plate so the paper can go under it, which gives a neat look.

In this room, the light was changed from one fixture centered over the sink to two wall sconces.  The electrician had a hard time fitting the new boxes into the wall.  (It is much easier on new construction.)

There are a lot of things going on wrong with these sconce settings, but some are not visible and are difficult to explain.¬† It took me about an hour to figure out what was going on, and how to rectify a box that was cattywhompus in the wall – but that’s a different story.

Here you see a gap because the sconce base is too small to cover¬†the hole for the electrical junction¬†box.¬† This fixture had a larger (3/4″) gap on the other side that is not pictured.¬† ¬†In the next photo, the box is extra large, and extends out beyond the small sconce base.

I had to cover up those gaps to make a solid base for the wallpaper to hold on to.  In the case of the blue box, I had to smooth over the ridge caused by the thickness of the blue plastic against the wall (to prevent a ring from showing under the wallpaper, all around the fixture).

To bridge the gaps, I used a certain kind of paper, dunked in Gardz, a penetrating wall sealer that dries hard.  That essentially recreated the portion of wall that had been cut away.  Once that dried, I skim-floated over it with joint compound and then sanded smooth, to even everything out.

I used joint compound again to float all around the ridge on the blue box, and got a perfectly smooth wall.

Since I had been able to remove the mounting plate, I was able to get the wallpaper to fit under it, so no gaps showed around the base.  Then I reconnected the wires and rehung the sconces.

As you can see in the finished photo, it turned out great.