Posts Tagged ‘millwork’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

Bringing Fresh Life to a Heights Dining Room

September 20, 2020


This is the same house as in yesterday’s post, and I love the way the papers in the two near-by rooms coordinate in theme and color.

Note how the light blue color is just enough to make the beautiful millwork / moldings in this room stand out.

A geometric pattern in this dining room was more than a bit of a challenge. The wainscoting ran to slightly different heights as it went around the room. The ceiling in most sections was pretty level – but on the right side of the east wall, the crown molding ran up, and then back down again.

All of this means that the design motifs were not going to line up perfectly all the way around the room.

Even though the eye sees the pattern at the level of the chair rail most prominently, I chose to position the motifs so they hit the top of the wall with their tops intact. This meant that the bottom of the motifs were cut off when they reached the chair rail.

This ended up being a good decision, because, as already mentioned, the varying heights of the chair rail meant that the motifs would land on it at different points, anyway. Also, since so much of the room was comprised of the 5″ high areas over the doors and windows, I felt it more important to keep the motifs intact at the ceiling line.

That worked fine most of the way around the room. Except for that east wall, where the crown molding rose and dipped. The wainscoting also got off-level here. That is the second photo above.

I ended up with motifs that tracked up and down from the two moldings. That meant that the motifs became taller or shorter, or had more or less space between them and the moldings than the rest of the room. This would have been acceptable, because the homeowner was well aware of the home’s framing issues.

But I pulled a few tricks out of my hat to camouflage this. I took scrap wallpaper and cut out around the design motifs, to make them the correct shape and height to match others around the room, and appliqu├ęd them on top of the skewed motifs.

No photos of this process, sorry. But you can see in the second photo that the motifs look whole and uniform all the way across the wall.

This wallpaper is by Baker Lifestyle. It is a sturdy non-woven material. It can be hung by paste-the-wall, but I prefer to paste the paper. The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Too Much White – Insert Some Definition!

November 16, 2019


Referencing the room in my previous blog post, note how the beautiful doors and moldings in this master bathroom are lost in a see of all-white.

Once the wallpaper went up, the contrast of colors accentuated the detailing of the millwork.