Posts Tagged ‘map’

Playful World Map With Fun Animals for Baby’s Nursery

August 8, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Couples love this mural for their new baby – I’m betting it’s all over HOUZZ and Pintrest, and that’s where web surfers are finding it. This is the third time I’ve hung it, each time in a different color. The seams were much better this time, having been cut straight so there were not gaps of overlaps, and lying down better. (Search to read my previous posts.)

The mural came from Portugal, and was custom-sized to fit this accent wall in the nursery. The homeowner did the measuring, and he did a good job (as opposed to a prior install – read previous post), and the manufacturer also added a little around all the edges, to allow for trimming at the side walls, floor, and ceiling.

Now, if the homeowner had called me before he ordered that mural, I would have had him get it a little larger. The manufacturer’s guidelines allowed for a scant 1″ at the ceiling and baseboard. In a perfect world, this would be fine.

But in this room (in a beautifully renovated 1940 bungalow in the Houston Heights), the walls were not plumb, and the ceiling was not level. If I had hung the mural true-to-plumb, it would have started tracking off-kilter along the ceiling and floor lines, quickly eating up that 1″ allowance, and quite possibly ending up running out of paper at the top of the wall or at the baseboard. The same thing could happen at the corners, too. (That did happen on one of my other installs.)

Before I pasted a piece, I did a lot of measuring and plotting, to be sure I could position the mural so it would cover the entire height and width of the wall space. Much too complicated to explain. But, in a nutshell, what I did was to hang the mural off-plumb, but parallel with the un-level ceiling.

I started with the center panel, to minimize any tracking on either the left or right sides. I also made sure that the strips falling on either side of that center piece would be wide enough to reach the two wall corners, even if they hung crooked.

My strategy worked, and I ended up trimming off 1 1/4″ from the top, and 3/4″ from the bottom, on each strip. This meant that the mural was running parallel with the ceiling and floor, which was more important than being perfectly plumb. (Note: Usually you’re trimming off 2″ at both top and bottom, so today we were really cutting it close.)

Another complicating factor to this install was that, while most wallpaper widths are 20.5″, 27″, or 36,” these three mural panels were each 4′ wide. I’m 5’3″ tall, and my arm stretch is probably not a full 4,’ so handling, positioning, manipulating the pasted 9′ long strips was very difficult.

Additionally, it was important to “work clean,” because the surface is textured and it’s not easy to remove any paste that might get on the front of the wallpaper.

There’s more: My work table is 33″ wide, so pasting and booking the 48″ wide x 9′ long strips was a challenge. And the pasted strips, which I booked in accordion folds, were heavy and unwieldy.

All that mental plotting and physical gymnastics were worth it, though, because the finished mural looked fantastic, and the mom-and-dad-to-be loved it.

I have a pretty long lead time (4 months), but this couple called at the moment when another job had just postponed due to construction delays, so I had an open day and could get them done right away. That’s really good, because the baby’s coming, and the parents want to get the room furnished and decorated and ready.

I’m glad I was able to help them. 🙂

Soft Toned Map Mural for a New Baby’s Room

December 13, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


These new parents-to-be chose not to know the gender of the baby ahead of time. Mom loves this cute wall mural map, and so she picked this neutral color for the baby’s nursery accent wall.

The mural was custom made to fit the wall. It came in four panels, each being 40″ wide. That’s a little wider than is comfortable for me to handle easily, but I came up with some tricks that made it manageable. It’s a somewhat heavy vinyl on a canvas type backing, and will be durable in a child’s room.

I was not 100% happy with the seams, as some were not cut straight and so there were a few “gaps and overlaps,” and there were areas where the seams did not lie as flat as I would have liked. But those are things that I notice, but most other people don’t. Once you stand a few feet back, all you see is the cute animals and the countries they come from.

I hung this in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Interestingly enough, a few days later, I visited a home where the new parents-to-be had chosen the exact same mural, but in a different color.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In both these cases, the homeowners measured the wall on their own and ordered the mural before calling a paperhanger. The result is that both custom made murals were too small. The homeowners didn’t realize that you need to add about 2″ on EACH SIDE of the mural, to allow for trimming at the ceiling and floor, and to accommodate for unplumb walls and unlevel floors and ceilings.

In the case of the mural pictured above, the husband had allowed a few inches on either side, and there was a wee bit of wiggle room on the height, so we ended up with about 3/4″ of gap at the bottom, between the mural and the baseboard. It’s so small that they will probably leave it alone.

In the other home, where the mural was made to the exact dimensions of the wall, there will probably be a wider gap at the bottom, and possibly on other sides, as well. They may need to get some decorative wood molding to fill in the gap.

Morale: Always call the paperhanger BEFORE your order your paper.

Wallcovering for Geologists, Weathermen, and Oil Drillers

August 18, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image


Today’s job was challenging and tedious, but a whole lot of fun. The homeowners worked in the oil patch, and love these seismic charts. Some show places they have worked, and one even shows the family property! They wanted the maps to cover the walls above the wainscoting in their powder room, in a large Victorian 1904 house in Montrose (Houston).

These were real maps, not wallpaper, so I had concerns about what adhesive to use, whether the material would tear when it became wet with paste, if a razor blade would cut it – or shred it, how much it would expand when wet, whether it would shrink when dry, and if ink marks on the paper (both printed and hand-written) would bleed. The homeowners provided me with a stack of maps to experiment with.

In the first photo, the maps are spread out on the dining room table, with the maps most important to them on the left, the maps with moderately significant features in the middle, and then a whole stack of maps that could be cut up to use as filler. They had worked out a few diagrams of where they wanted certain features, and also put yellow sticky paper with notations on the maps. In addition, the homeowner and I spent a lot of time talking about the various elements of the maps and what features were most important to the couple, placement, expectations, feasibility, etc.

Keeping their wants in mind, I plotted out where to place the various maps. It’s more complicated than it sounds, because they were not all the same size (in neither length nor width), the dimensions of the walls had to be taken into consideration, filler material had to be cut to bridge gaps, and “more interesting” sections had to be placed in prominent areas (the family estate went on the back wall – the first wall you see when you walk in).

Some of the maps were very similar, and I thought the walls looked better when there was something dividing the patterns, so I cut 2″ wide strips of filler (choosing material that had a contrasting pattern) to place between maps. You can see this in some of the photos. I also liked the look of a strong line at the point where two maps met, so, if the map didn’t have a printed line at the edge, I used a Sharpie to make one. This gave a lot more definition to the edges of the maps.

I learned the hard way that – regardless, of what they look like – lines on seismic maps are not straight, they are not parallel, and they are not perpendicular. Plus, you can plan on the paper stretching and warping. So, since I was starting from the chair rail and moving up, and I wanted specific things to run horizontally along the top of the chair rail (numbers, words, lines), it was really tricky to, at the same time, get a vertical line to run upwards equidistant from a vertical line on the adjoining map.

I know that sounds complicated. It was! It’s the kind of thing that takes a lot of time and plotting and measuring and trimming, but once it’s up on the wall, all you see is “a bunch of maps – that happen to look pretty straight.” The second photo shows my table with maps, homeowners’ sticky notes, my straight edge, razor blades – and me getting ready to trim!

Walls and ceilings are never plumb, and wet wallpaper likes to twist, so we paperhangers like to say that what’s at eye level is most important. Usually, I start hanging paper at the ceiling. But in this room, with it’s paneling hitting the wall at nearly 5,’ that’s pretty close to eye level, so that became the focal point. Meaning, I plotted the design at the bottom edge of the paper to line up with the top of the wainscoting.

This looks great, but it’s awkward to position, because, while gravity works with you when you are dropping a strip of wallpaper from the ceiling downward, it is definitely working against you when you are trying to work from the bottom upward. The most difficult sheets to maneuver were the largest, which were about 40″ wide by 30″ high.

I really thought that I wanted to use a wheat or cellulose paste with this material. These are both used less commonly, and come as a dry powder that needs to be mixed with water. Wheat paste is what wallpaper was hung with decades, and even hundreds, of years ago. It hydrates the paper nicely, is slippery, and does not create much tension between surfaces when you unbook the paper.

But when I did my tests, I found that my usual pre-mixed vinyl adhesive, diluted, worked very nicely. What worked best for these maps was to lightly sponge the back with water, then roll on a light coat of paste, which I diluted by sprinkling on a tiny bit more water as I spread the paste across the back.

I was pleased that the paper didn’t tear when I unbooked it (“booking” means folding the pasted sides together, and letting it sit a few minutes to relax, absorb paste, expand, etc.). But it didn’t like being unbooked and I didn’t like wrestling with it, so, except for the largest pieces, I tried to keep the paper flat and unfolded. The maps didn’t dry out like real wallpaper tends to do, so leaving it open and unbooked was not a problem.

The maps also responded quickly to the moisture of the paste – or perhaps it was the light sponging with water before pasting that helped. But I found that the material did not need to sit or book for much time at all.

This meant that I could move along a little more quickly. And it also meant that, as long as I brushed carefully and in the right directions, there were no wrinkles or bubbles. Usually I use smoothing brush with short, stiff bristles. But on this paper, a more delicate, longer bristled brush was better. I used a plastic trapezoid smoother, too, especially on the edges.

When the material was wet, it was a little difficult to trim, because it wanted to drag and tear. But a very sharp razor blade, and either a lot of pressure or a very light hand, depending on the situation, resulted in nice, clean trim lines.

I chose to overlap the seams. I wanted to avoid double cutting, because the process of double-cutting (splicing) seams can be hard on delicate paper (tears, stretching, stress on the wall). And the paper was thin enough that overlaps would not show much at all.

See that bull’s eye in the second-to-last photo? The homeowners tell me that is very exciting to oil-patch people. It designates the highest point, and thus the exact spot where oil is to be found.

Logos like that in the last photo were also important to the homeowners. I positioned some in key areas of the room. And, when I could not make that work with the walls’ dimensions, I improvised by cutting the logo off and pasting it over a different part of the map.

Although the job was tedious, in both the plotting and the installing, it went very well, and the clients were thrilled with the finished room.

Putting Paris On The Map

February 27, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

This install worked out beautifully for both my client and myself. He had his wallpaper in-hand and was ready to have it put up, and I had had some schedule changes and had an open day. I was happy to be able to give him a three-day turn-around.

The mural is by photowall.com. The homeowners travel to Paris a lot, and one of them loves to cook, and the bright colors and map of the city called to him. The mural in the breakfast nook will inspire him while he cooks in the adjoining kitchen.

The home is in Rice Military (central Houston), and the couple is outfitting the home step-by-step, over time, with their own ideas (sans interior decorator). They are doing a fine job. The colors of this Paris map mural coordinate perfectly with the fabrics and artwork in the adjoining living room. And they are purchasing a banquette for the eating area that will be covered with a velour fabric in a dark teal that will perfectly compliment the greens and blues in the mural.

The PhotoWall company displayed the Paris map design on their website, but then was able to custom-adjust it to fit the homeowners’ wall. When doing this, it is important to add 2″ or so to each side of the mural, meaning, a total of 4″ additional height and width, beyond the actual dimensions of the wall.

Needless to say, it’s best to have the paperhanger figure the dimensions and the bleed area of the pattern to be printed, before ordering the mural. In this case, the width was good, allowing an additional 3″ of “ease” (1 1/2″ on either side of the wall). But the height allowed only 1″ of extra paper to be distributed between both top and bottom (a mere 1/2″ at top and 1/2″ at bottom) – which became much more tenuous because the south half of the ceiling line was off-level by 1/4″ over 6′ – which meant that some of Paris could be chopped off, or that some of the tan unprinted area would be left exposed on the wall.

I know, it sounds complicated. Ordering to allow a few extra inches on each side of the mural would have eliminated all this.

But the story has a happy ending, because I was able to plot the layout and position the paper so that none of the pattern was lost at the top or added to at the bottom of the wall.

This is a paste-the-wall product, which is why you see my paste brush and roller hanging on my ladder – so I can grab them easily while applying paste to the wall.

The mural fills the wall with an explosion of color that pulls in colors from adjacent rooms, the Paris theme has significance to both of the homeowners, the price tag was reasonable, and they have a kitchen and dining area that are personalized and meaningful.

World Map Mural in a Baby’s Room

July 4, 2014

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital ImageMan, I’m doing a lot of baby’s rooms lately, accent walls mostly. Today’s soon-to-be-born kiddie got a map of the world. I think maps are a new trend for babies’ rooms.

Unlike most murals, which come in eight rectangular panels, this one came in nine floor-to-ceiling strips. Since the mural was not wide enough to cover the entire wall, I had to measure carefully before priming, so the white primer would be under the map, not on top of the nice brown wall paint. 🙂

I was a little caught off guard, though, because I ASSUMED (1. Never assume! 2. Measure twice, cut once!) that because the mural came in strips rather than panels, that the strips were to be butted like regular wallpaper. I have done several like this before. WRONG. It turned out that the seams were to be overlapped, like the 8-panel murals. This means that I was losing 1/4″ on every seam. That could mean the overall width would be two inches shorter than planned – and the mural might not cover that white primer. Ark! Luckily, I had allowed for a 1″ “easement” on both the right and left sides, and that, along with the natural expansion of the paper when it got wet, was enough to bring the mural well beyond the white primer. Whew!

Another dicey thing happened on this job. I had carefully measured the height of the mural, with and without the white border and black band. I calculated that without the white band, the image itself came to 2″ taller than the height of the wall, giving me an inch of play at top and bottom, which is just about perfect because you always have to trim some off the top and bottom. So I cut off the unnecessary white border.

MISTAKE. For some reason, when I got the first pasted strip to the wall, the strip was too short! Yes, I could splice in the pieces I had cut off. But since I had gone and written the numerical sequence on each piece in Magic Marker (What’s up with THAT?… Paperhangers ALWAYS use PENCIL, never INK!), those numbers would stand out at the top of each strip.

I stood there on the ladder, wet paper partially stuck to the wall, trying to figure the best way to deal with this. What I ended up doing was to drop each strip about 1″ down from the crown molding, then take the part of the border I had cut off and place it, with the black band at the top, along the ceiling line. It was wide enough to cover the black numerals written on the paper, plus the black band nicely outlined the top of the map.

At the bottom of the wall, the black band had dropped low enough that it got cut off. This was fine with me, because, since wallpaper and floors and ceilings and moldings are never perfectly level, it would likely have gone a little cattywhompus at the baseboard and looked uneven. So I trimmed it off, then went back and trimmed those scraps right up to the black band, and then pasted them on top of the bottom edge of the map, right along the baseboard, so the black band outlined the bottom of the map. Looked super.

However, if you remember, I had also cut off the right and left white borders of the map, because I had originally plotted to have just the image showing, not the white border. But now the border was back on the top and bottom, and so was the black band, so for it all to look even and correct, the white border and black band had to go back on the right and left sides.

I never throw anything away until the job is all finished, so the border strips were still there. All I had to do was trim carefully along the outer edge of the black band, and then place the border next to the edges of the map. And since the primer had not reached out as far as this, I had to use extra paste, to ensure there would be enough to stick the paper to the thirsty, flat finish brown paint.

All this added at least an hour, probably more, to what should have been a simple job. But it just would not have looked right without those white borders and black bands in place. And this particular material lends itself to overlapping, and when it’s all nice and dry, you hardly notice it. Especially when there’s a cute cuddly baby taking center stage in the room!

The homeowner loved it, and gave me a great big hug when I left! 🙂