Posts Tagged ‘lotus’

Farrow & Ball Difficult Paper – Taming the Beast

September 13, 2020

Farrow & Ball is not among my favorite wallpaper manufacturers. For starters, they coat their wallpaper with their paint, instead of ink like every other manufacturer in the world uses.

Paint is not a good substitute for ink. It flakes, it doesn’t apply evenly so if you are standing at the right angle, you can see unevenness in the ground (background color). Plus, it burnishes with even the lightest brush stroke across it. Do a Search here to read my previous posts about this.

Look at the first photo, and you will see what we call gaps and overlaps. This happens when the trimmer blades at the factory are wobbly and / or dull, resulting in edges that are not cut straight. Thus, when two strips are butted together, you end up with some areas gapping and some areas overlapping.

Also, the seams like to give argument to staying down tight against the wall. Again, so a Search for previous posts about this.

This “Lotus” install was a little less problematic than my experiences with other patterns. The gaps and overlaps due to poor factory cutting were still present.

But the burnishing was less of an issue, because this pattern has so much printed area that there was not a lot of ground exposed to my smoothing brush.

I also found a way to get the seams to lie down better. For starters, I used a bit more paste (their special brand of powdered cellulose paste), than usual, and that wetted the paper out better, which made it want to hug the wall better.

Next, I found that if, before hanging each strip, I rolled a thin layer of paste onto the wall under where the seams would fall, the edges of each strip would grab the wall and lie down more tightly and uniformly.

In the second photo, you can see my laser level marking the vertical line where I will run my roller of paste.

Most British manufacturers are printing on the newish non-woven substrates, which offer many positive features. Farrow & Ball, however, continues to use the traditional British pulp. When coated with their paint (instead of ink), this stuff tends to be pretty thick and stiff. The thickness adds a bit to the visible seams as seen in the top photo.

Also, once the paper becomes wet with the company’s cellulose paste, it becomes quite flexible and delicate. Meaning that it can be difficult to cut, as it often drags along even a brand new razor blade, leaving jagged edges. It tears easily. And, while unbooking, it sure felt like some of the strips were so weak that they wanted to break in two.

All in all, this install went well. But I sure would prefer if F&B would get with the rest of the wallpaper world and print on a better substrate, as well as ditch the paint in favor of good, reliable ink. And outfit their factory with some straight and sharp trimming blades.

Farrow & Ball Lotus in River Oaks Master Bedroom

September 12, 2020

“Lotus” is a very old and very popular pattern by the British paint and wallpaper company Farrow & Ball.

It comes in several colors, but for all four walls in a large bedroom in the River Oaks neighborhood of Houston, the homeowner wisely chose this muted light tan-on-white.

It coordinates beautifully with the newly lightened and refinished floors, and the woodwork.

The material has an interesting gesso-like texture, which you can see in the last photo. It kind of makes the walls look like an artist’s painting.

First Wall of Farrow & Ball “Lotus” – Five Hours

September 11, 2020

Re previous recent posts, here is the first wall of this large master bedroom, hung with Farrow & Ball’s historic and popular “Lotus” pattern.

I hate to confide this, but, honestly, between setting up my equipment, cutting the strips, and hanging the six long and five shorter strips, this one wall took FIVE HOURS.

It’s one of those things that is easy to look at, but difficult to accomplish.

Hurdles were:
~ centering the pattern over and around the door
~ starting with a short strip over the door and getting it perfectly centered, as well as keeping both outer edges perfectly plumb
~ working with walls, door frame, and crown molding that were not plumb or level

It doesn’t sound all that hard. But for me, it took a lot of time.

I’m glad that I invested the time, though, because the perfectly balanced pattern falling down both sides of the door is the first thing you see when you enter this room.

Farrow & Ball “Lotus” Wallpaper

September 11, 2020

Getting ready to hang some Farrow & Ball brand “Lotus” pattern wallpaper.

This company is a class outfit (albeit not great quality, IMO, for many reasons).

Look at how slickly they’ve wrapped each bolt of paper, as well as protected the ends from being banged up during shipping. And then placed the whole kit and kaboodle in snazzy custom-fit cardboard boxes.

They provide you with instructions, along with different scale pictures of the design.

Balancing the Design

August 2, 2020

With some wallpaper patterns, it often looks best to plot where the design element will fall on the wall, both vertically and horizontally. In the top photo, I planned to have the “lotus” motif line up with the center of the wall horizontally (so it would align with the block paneling beneath it, and also look good behind the buffet, which will be placed in the center of this wall).

I also measured and planned ahead so that the lotus motifs would be distributed along the height of the wall evenly, without being chopped off at either the top or the bottom. The bottom, or the part just above the wainscoting, was most important, because it’s at eye level.

The wall with the buffet was important. But the wall with the window was also screaming for symmetry. I wanted either side of the window to be mirror-images. This took some doing.

Because I had centered the pattern on the buffet wall (to the left in the top photo), every other strip in the room would have to fall as it came off the roll, leaving no control over placement of the lotus design. Yet I still wanted that mirror-image.

But – I had a plan. And – in great part due to the forgiving layout of the room and the very short (2″) height of the wall over the entry door – I was able to fudge things and nudge things, and get the window wall to be symmetrical, and still have an invisible kill point at the last pattern join.

Too complicated to explain here, but I was very pleased to give this family this dining room with a nicely balanced and symmetrical wallpaper pattern lay-out.

See previous posts for info re pattern and interior designer.

Farrow & Ball Branding, Sequence

March 13, 2018

Farrow & Ball (who manufacturers the “Lotus” wallpaper design in my previous posts), is a British company, and they do things properly and meticulously. I liked their labels and the trademark design on the box their paper comes in. The box is corrugated cardboard and cushioned to prevent damage to the edges of the wallpaper rolls.

Each roll is individually wrapped, too, with it’s own sticker. Going further, note that each of those bolts is numbered, indicating the sequence in which it was printed. The idea is that each strip of paper should be hung sequentially. This will minimize any color differences related to ink as it works its way through the press.

Farrow & Ball “Lotus” in a Woodland Heights Dining Room

March 11, 2018

Look at the transformation of this bland dining room!

The pattern could be overwhelming if it were to go from floor-to-ceiling. But here, on just the 4′ above the wainscoting, it’s fun and cozy at the same time. This is a popular pattern, and it can be hung right-side-up or upside-down, depending on your preference.

This home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Rachel Goetz. I love her look, which is sophisticated, yet open and airy, but tweaked to be very livable for families with kids. The wallpaper is called “Lotus,” and is by Farrow & Ball, and was bought from Dorota at Southwestern Paint near the Rice Village. Call before heading over. (713) 520-6262.

Wallpaper Once Again In Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

November 11, 2017

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Quote from the magazine: “An oversize pattern makes a small room look larger, says designer Erin Hedrick. Though large, the leaf-shape motifs on this wallpaper (Lotus by Galbraith & Paul) don’t overwhelm because they let a lot of the cream background show through.”

It’s a cute pattern that works well in this powder room, and a number of my clients have chosen similar themes. I would have tried to center the leaves, though, so they would frame the mirror equally on either side, and also land smack in the center behind the faucet.

This is the October 2017 issue.

Lotus Leaf Wallpaper

August 19, 2016



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I am grateful to the home ower, for the first two photos. And apologies for my own bad photos – this was very dark paper in a room with poor lighting. In reality, the wallpaper is gorgeous – a very deep and rich teal with a sheen to it. And what’s extra cool is that the texture comes from lotus leaves!

The homeowner loves green, and she wanted a texture for the wall behind the bed in her master bedroom in Montrose (Houston). She was originally considering grasscloth, but after getting my “lecture” warning about shading and paneling (color variations inherent to grasscloth), she searched further, and came up with this unique and dazzling paper. The top photo shows you a bit of the texture, and just a hint of the deep teal color.

The material was difficult to work with. As with most natural materials, I was sure there would be gaps here and there at the seams, so I stripe the wall with paint to match the color of the wallpaper (Photo 2). The lotus leaves on the surface were dyed very dark, but they were attached to a light colored substrate, so Photo 3 shows the deep blue and deep green oil pastel crayons I used to color the edges of the paper, so white would not show at the seams.

As with many dyed wallcoverings, the ink was not stable, so I ended up with hands the color of the paper.

The instructions said this was a paste-the-wall product. I had my doubts, but used that method for my first two strips. Not good. The backing was not non-woven material, but paper, and it soaked up paste like crazy, to the point where there was nothing left on the wall to hold the paper up.

In addition, after I had the first two strips up and looking good, I looked back and saw puckers at the seams. The backing had soaked up paste, absorbed moisture, and expanded, which caused the pouches at the seams.

I ended up taking those two strips off the wall and repasting them, then rehanging. I had to be gentle, because the wet backing could be fragile and delaminate from the surface. Since both strips were already trimmed, I had to carefully line them up at the ceiling and baseboard, while moving the second strip every so slightly to the right, to relieve the stress on the seam and eliminate the pouching.

Because the paper backing appeared to be what is typically used with grasscloth (which is generally pasted on the back), and because of the expansion when wet with paste, it was obvious that this product was not suited for paste-the-wall and dry-hanging. Someone at the factory got his instructions mixed up!

My solution was to roll out each strip and lightly sponge the backing with a damp sponge, then let that sit to absorb moisture and expand a bit, while I rolled paste onto the wall. Because I knew the backing was thirsty, I used more paste than I had with those first two strips.

This proved to be the answer, and the remaining strips stuck to the wall nicely, and there was no more puckering at the seams.

There were, however, a lot of areas at the seams that did not want to lie down. I had to do a lot of repasting and reworking the seams. This is not good, because overworking can cause burnishing, and can even push paste out from under the seam, and which could cause the seam to open up over time.

As noted on the instructions, some of the lotus leaves were fatter than others, so there were areas at the seams that were thick butting up against areas that were thin, which made it look like the seam was popping open, even though it was nice and tight to the wall.

O.K., let’s see what else happened with this stuff … It was thick and stiff, and difficult to press tightly against the ceiling and baseboard, and therefore difficult to get a nice, tight horizontal trim. The vertical trims where the paper met the corners of the wall were even more cantankerous. The material didn’t want to fold into the corner, and it was difficult to cut perpendicular to the grain of the material, even with a brand new razor blade. Manipulating the piece so it I could trim it and so it would fit nicely into the corner resulted in some abrading of the dye from the surface, as well as some minor blemishes on the surface. It’s no wonder that the manufacturer said to not wrap corners, but to cut the material and start each wall with a new strip.

Another problem was that the moisture from the paste, and also from my light sponging with water, could soak through the material and loosen the adhesive holding the lotus leaves to the paper backing. In other words, the leaves could delaminate from the backing. Even though I worked quickly to avoid over soaking, I did have a few areas that bubbled or delaminated. (They could be repasted and re-adhered.)

I hung this on one accent wall with no obstacles. But I would definitely not want to hang it on all the walls in a powder room, for instance, or where I’d have to cut around corners or a pedestal sink or intricate carved moldings, or the like.

Bottom line: I’m glad I got the experience of working with this material. But I’m not 100% happy with the way it turned out. The manufacturer should work out some kinks, and should provide correct installation instructions. The homeowner, though, doesn’t see these little things that I see, and she is quite ticked with her deeply-hued, uniquely-textured, accent wall in her bedroom.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Designer Series, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.