Posts Tagged ‘mirror’

Updating from Decorative Paint to Beautiful Wallpaper

November 18, 2020

The walls in this small entry in a pretty original condition 1935 home in the Montrose / Upper Kirby neighborhood of Houston had been painted by an artist with a wide stripe pattern in deep orange and gold, with a darker wash over the surface. It was probably done in the ’90’s, and was a good look then.

But the new homeowner never loved it. As for me, I think the look is too modern to suit the era and style of the home, and also the colors have a sort of dirty cast to them. After living there several years and focusing on career and raising kids, the homeowners were finally ready to bring a new concept to the entry.

The first photo shows the existing wall finish. The white stuff is my smoothing compound, which I have started to apply over the lightly-but-irregularly textured walls.

The next photo shows the walls sanded smooth, vacuumed and then wiped free of dust, primed with a wallpaper primer, and ready for wallpaper.

In the “after” photos, note that the dark or blotchy areas are simply wet with paste or water, and will disappear as the paper dries.

This is a particularly pretty pattern that suits the room well. There is a slight Chinoiserie / Asian feel to the design. And the grey is a good colorway for this home’s d├ęcor. I love the arched moldings that frame the passageways to both the living room and the dining room. Typical adorable 1930’s architecture!

The wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was pretty nice to work with, but did tend to dry out even before the booking time was up, so presented a bit of a challenge in that respect.

In the distant shot, you can make out a sort of hourglass figure in the branches and vines. I plotted the placement so a full “swoop” would display over the doors.

And also so the “hourglass” would play out down the center of the main wall, as shown in the photo. This will look nice as the vines and flowers gently surround the chest of drawers and oval mirror when they are placed back into the room.

Thibaut Aster – Affordable Alternative to Schumacher Feather Bloom

October 7, 2020


One-of-a-kind would describe this powder room in the West University neighborhood of Houston. You walk down two stairs to get into the room, marble tile covers the bottom portion of the walls, the ceiling is low, the ceiling slopes, and there is a curved wall on the left, as well as a 5″ high space under the sink – what I call a torture chamber for wallpaper hangers.

The homeowner contemplated grasscloth (not a good choice in a “wet” room, and especially for a family with young children – read my Grasscloth page on the right). She really liked Schumacher’s “Feather Bloom” pattern on grass. But when I made my initial consultation visit, I advised that the 36″ high and 36″ wide scale of the pattern was too large for her small, chopped up powder room. And grasscloth is prone to color variations between panels. On top of that, the Schumacher is insanely expensive.

Thibaut to the rescue! Their “Aster” design is an obvious riff on “Feather Bloom.” But it’s a smaller scale, so suits this room much better. It’s on stringcloth, a man-made material, so no worries about shading or color discrepancies. There is a light protective coating, so a bit more resistant to stains. And the string gives the product the textured look and feel that people are loving these days (see close up photo). Best of all, the Thibaut version is way more affordable!

The homeowner has a small, round, gold mirror with a fluted edge that will look fabulous placed in the “bull’s eye” of the aster flower over the sink.

The once bland all-grey room now has color, texture, movement, and a whole lot of drama!

Textured Faux Crocodile in Montrose Powder Room

October 1, 2020


From flat and white to textured and black, this powder room took a trip to the wild and exotic. The embossed vinyl wallpaper mimics the look of crocodile hide.

I centered the design on the sink wall, so the pattern would frame the mirror evenly. Then, since the toilet wall is the first thing you see when you enter the room, I thought it would look nice to have the pattern centered on that wall, too. Usually, you can only balance the pattern on one wall, and after that, the design has to fall sequentially as it works its way around the room. But I did some engineering, and figured a way to place the pattern in the center of the toilet wall, too.

The material is an unusually thin and flexible embossed vinyl on a thin non-woven substrate. It’s my second time in this year to hang this, and I like it a lot – much better than most non-wovens, which can be thick and stiff and can bruise easily.

Non-wovens have some fiberglass in their content and do not expand when they are wet with paste, nor do they shrink as they dry. They can be hung immediately after pasting – or you can use the paste-the-wall method. Non-wovens are designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This is in the SuperFresco line by Graham & Brown, one of my preferred manufacturers. You don’t need a retailer, because this can be bought directly from the G&B website.

The home is new build, contemporary in style, in the Montrose area of central Houston.

Mirror Tar Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

June 18, 2020



The owner of this newish home in the Woodland Heights (Houston) had her handyman remove the powder room mirror and its surrounding built-in wooden frame. Mirrors are often adhered to the wall with mastic, a tar-like substance. When the mirror comes off, some of the tar residue invariably remains.

In the top photo, you can see where removing the mirror took the blobs of mastic along with it, as well as round sections of the drywall. But there are small smudges of tar still remaining on the wall.

The problem is that tar (among a lot of other substances) will bleed through wallpaper (as well as paint, and a lot of other materials).

There are stain blockers like my beloved KILZ Original Oil Based, BIN shellac based, or others, that are designed to block these stains. But I don’t trust them. For water, rust, blood, wood sap, etc., yes. But for oil-based substances like tar, I want more assurance. The best way to prevent bleed-through is not to cover the stain, but to remove it.

So I take a Stanley knife and cut into the drywall and then peel up the top layer of drywall, taking along the offending tar residue.

So now the dangerous tar is gone. But you’re left with torn drywall. This is bad for several reasons. For one thing, you have an uneven surface that will look bad under the new wallpaper (or paint). And since the top, protective layer of drywall is gone, any moisture (such as from wallpaper paste or from latex paint) will penetrate into the torn paper layer – which will swell and cause bubbling.

All of which looks pretty bad under wallpaper or paint.

So I used the product Gardz to seal the torn drywall. It is formulated to soak into the paper; then it dries hard and acts as a sealer and moisture-blocker. It won’t block stains, but it will prevent moisture from penetrating the paper and causing bubbling.

Once that was dry, I skim-floated over the entire area with joint compound. It looks rough in the photo, but once it’s dry, I’ll sand it smooth. Then I’ll give it another coat of the penetrating sealer Gardz. See last photo. Once that is dry, I’ll cover it with a coat of Roman’s Ultra Prime Pro 977 wallpaper primer, when I prime the other walls in this powder room.

All of these various products do take a while to dry, especially the joint compound as thick as I applied it. So I went to this job site a few days before the install date, to do the initial prep, so it would have plenty of time to dry before I come back for the final prep and wallpaper hang.

Shimmery Dragon Glass Bead Wallpaper on Bedroom Accent Wall

June 5, 2020

Just about everything in this gal’s new home is glimmer, mirror, crystal, and sheen. So no question that the accent wall in the master bedroom should be the same.

This design is printed on a pearlescent silver background, and features swirling dragon motifs made of tiny real glass beads. Viewed with light coming from an angle (window on the south wall, for instance, or a bedside table lamp), the wallpaper has a real glitter effect.

The wallpaper is by Osborn & Little, and is in the line by designer Matthew Williamson. It is a vinyl-covered non-woven material, and can be hung by either the paste-the-wall method or the paste-the-paper method (which is what I opted for).

The home is in the Braeswood / Meyerland / Braes Heights / Willowbend / Willow Meadows neighborhood of south west Houston. This area was heavily devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The home sits right on the Buffalo Bayou, and was built after that disaster, and situated quite high up.

Sparkly Pink for a Little Girl’s Bathroom

June 4, 2020


Everything in Mom’s room has a bit of shimmer, mirror, crystal, rhinestone, or sheen. The little girl’s room is no different – except add in a large dose of pink.

So this pink damask wallpaper pattern with its highlights of silver glitter are the perfect compliment for two accent walls in her bathroom.

One was the mirror wall over the sink (not pictured) and the other was the recessed alcove wall behind the toilet.

This is an embossed (textured) vinyl product on a paper substrate, by Royal House. The home is right along Braes Bayou, in the Braes Heights / Stella Link area of Houston.

Dark, Sparkly, Faux Cork in Spring Branch Powder Room

April 1, 2020


No good pictures of this, folks – you had to see it in person to get the full effect.

But the textured vinyl wallpaper had the appearance of a charcoal-colored cork material – with a few silvery sparkles tossed in here and there.

The homeowner wanted a snug, dark powder room. But not cave-like. This paper did the trick beautifully. It is dark, but with the large mirror and the light grey vanity and cararra marble countertop, there were plenty of light colored accents to offset the dark.

This was a new, open floor plan, contemporary styled home in the Spring Branch neighborhood of Houston. The vinyl material will be resistant to water and stains. The non-woven substrate had a lot of fiberglass content – I could see the strands! – so it will be easy to strip off the wall when it’s time to redecorate. In addition, the material does not expand when wet with paste, needs no booking time, and can be hung with the paste-the-wall method. I preferred to paste the paper.

This wallpaper pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings, 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.

Toiletries, Cleaning Products Damage Wallpaper

March 17, 2020


You might have to enlarge the photo to see the tiny spots on the wallpaper – they are much more visible in real life.

The tiny spots were caused by the homeowner using hairspray. And the water stain in the corner is surely the result of the housekeeper letting cleaning solution pool up on top of the tile.

No airborne anything when you have wallpaper!

If you are going to use hair spray, stand in the tiled shower. Spray the Windex onto your rag, not onto the mirror. No aerosol air freshener.

Even if the product does not hit the wall directly, tiny droplets will hang in the air and can then work their way to the walls, eventually causing staining.

Finding the Center of the Pattern

March 12, 2020


This wallpaper pattern by Thibaut has a viny hourglass stripe design. These sorts of designs look best when centered over a focal point in the room. The problem becomes – WHERE is the center of the design?

In the photo, I have laid out two rolls of paper on the floor so I can see the full pattern repeat, both vertical and horizontal.

I’ve placed 3′ long yardsticks along the outer edges of the design, which are long enough to span a full pattern repeat.

With these in place, I can use a shorter ruler to find the mid-point between them. This will tell me where the center is (at the tip of my pencil), in between the two colored vines on the paper.

However, these vines are not printed in the center of the strip of wallpaper.

So, after finding the midpoint between the two vines, I have to calculate where it sits relative to the edge of the wallpaper.

Keep in mind that this point will land a different distance from the left edge of the wallpaper than it does from the right edge.

Next, I need to find the center of the focal point on the wall. And then determine where the right or left edge of the wallpaper strip should be placed, so that the center of the paper falls at the center of the wall.

You have just read the condensed version.

The full version also includes things like:

`width of strip and how it will land on the wall relative to where seams will fall

`expansion of paper and movement of pattern after wet paste hits the paper

`if the pattern is actually symmetrical as it is placed on the strip.

`if the pattern is not symmetrical (which this example is not – meaning that the vertical lines are not mirror images of each other), where is the best place to find a midpoint, so it will appear symmetrical when placed on the wall

`if elements on the wall are symmetrical. In this case, the light fixture was placed off-center on the mirror. So – do you center the wallpaper design on the light fixture (a dominant element) or on the mirror (a more significant element in relation to the wall).

`lots more

I invested an hour and a half finding the center point of the pattern at its narrow point, the center of the pattern at its widest point, the median of these two mid-points, the distance the median fell from either edge of the wallpaper, then the center point of the mirror, of the light fixture, factoring in 1/2″ expected expansion, and which was more dominant – the light fixture or the mirror.

In the end, I decided to center the pattern on the mirror. This meant that as the pattern fell vertically down either side of the mirror, it was fairly uniformly placed.

This was good.

But what I didn’t like is that this meant the vines over the top of the light fixture didn’t straddle it exactly perfectly. They landed in the center of the mirror, but not in the center of the light fixture.

I shouldn’t have stressed over any of this, though. Because, despite all my rolling out and careful measuring and plotting, it turns out that the viney pattern is neither symmetrical nor mirror-image.

So, no matter how I placed it on the wall, it was never going to straddle a center-placed plumb line evenly.

That’s not to say that my hour and a half plotting time was wasted.

The design still looks a lot better as I placed it – relatively centered on the mirror and light fixture, as compared to if it had just been thrown up without regard to either.

Bottom line – the homeowners don’t notice little nuances of a swoopy vine off-center by 3/4″ of an inch or so… at least not on a wild swirly pattern like this.

They’re looking at huge flowers, comic birds, bold color, and wild, daring designs.

When all is said and done, the bathroom looks fabulous.

Marker Bleeds Through Wallpaper – Prevention

February 19, 2020


Whoops! Whoever hung the mirror used an ink marker to indicate where the hooks would go. Ink bleeds through wallpaper – and paint and other substances, too.

I had not seen the stains on the painted wall before I started to smooth the walls. But, as you can see, in just a few hours, it worked its way through my rough skim-float, then after this was sanded and primed, the ink bled through again.

KILZ Original oil-based primer / sealer / stain blocker is my solution for this. I don’t trust any latex or water-borne products.

No “after” picture, but I daubed a fingertip full of KILZ on top of each green spot, and am confident that the stain will not come through the new wallpaper.