Posts Tagged ‘modern’

Former Dorm Room Goes Farmhouse Modern

February 14, 2019

This large bedroom in an addition to a 1934 home in the West U neighborhood of Houston wasn’t actually a dormitory, but it was home to two boys throughout their childhood. Now that the boys are grown and gone, the homeowner wants to make this into a spare bedroom that feels snug, yet chic.

She’s going for something of the Farmhouse Modern look. Instead of shiplapped wood on the ceiling, she chose wallpaper that mimics the look – and is much more affordable.

This wallpaper is by York, in their Joanna Gaines “Magnolia” line. It is a pre-pasted light non-woven material in their SureStrip line, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. I like this product a lot. And today I appreciated its extra strength, because I did have to reposition the first two strips quite a bit.

I’m running the strips across the ceiling the short way, from right to left (see top photo). This means that the brown stripes that represent the gaps between the wood planks will run parallel to the long wall you see on the right of the photo.

Theoretically, I should have been able to line the paper up along that far wall. The problem became quickly apparent, though – that the two walls (all four walls, in fact) were woefully out of square with one another. That meant that if the paper was hung parallel to the far wall, the brown line would go off-track as it moved across the long wall on the right.

My first strip, hung parallel to the far wall, was so out of wack with the wall on the right, that I knew that if I continued, that brown line would march very off-parallel away from the wall on the right. That is a 34′ long wall, and very visible when you are standing in the room, so it was important to keep the brown line as parallel as possible. This would have been easy if my strips had been running parallel to the wall. But since I was running the paper in the other direction across the ceiling (perpendicular to the long wall), it was very difficult.

I pulled the first strip off the wall, repasted it lightly to keep the paste activated, put it in a plastic trash bag to keep it damp, and took a new tack.

The distance between the “boards” was 6″. I wanted the first row of boards to look as wide as the other boards, but I needed some play in order to accommodate irregularities in the wall on the right, as well as potential tracking off-kilter. So I decided to have the brown line fall 5″ away from the long wall. That left this row of “boards” only an inch narrower than they should have been, which would not be very noticeable to the eye.

I took a ruler and measured 5″ out from the long wall on the right. Then I took a straightedge and drew a line connecting the marks, to give me a guide line that was parallel to the long wall. Because the long wall was not nearly straight, this line was not exactly 5″ from the wall in every spot. But it was good enough to serve as a guideline for where I wanted my brown line to fall.

Then I went and got that first strip of paper that had been cooling its heels in the plastic bag, along with Strip No. 2, and got them onto the wall. I used my pencil line as a guide to position that brown line. Since you can’t get a very accurate placement with just one 20.5″ wide strip of wallpaper, having the two strips together helped to ensure that the brown line was running along the pencil line. Still, I had to remove and reposition both strips several times, until I got them on my target.

All this is hard enough when you’re working on a wall, but on a ceiling, without the help of gravity holding your paper in place and keeping it free of twists and wrinkles, plus that same gravity trying to pull the paper down around your head, it was quite the feat.

But once I got those two initial strips properly positioned and smoothed, the subsequent strips followed nicely, and the brown line marched along the pencil line beautifully.

In the third photo, you’ll notice that only half the ceiling is done. This is because the homeowner had a little confusion between double and single rolls, and how this particular vendor describes its product, and consequently ended up ordering only half as much as was needed. 😦 I will have to come back and finish later. 😦

I don’t like stopping in the middle of a wall, because wallpaper goes up better when you put a wet strip next to a wet strip, and they can be manipulated together at the seams. But this is a large room, and I wanted to get as much done as possible, to shorten the time needed when I come back later to finish. The vendor promises that they will supply the same run number.

The next post on this room will show the finished ceiling, as well as a thin, tailored, textured woven fiber in chocolate brown that is going on the walls.

As a side note, I have worked in this home for this lovely family several times years ago. The last time I was here, their daughter was an infant. I asked how she was doing today, and was told that, “She’s out running errands, driving Mom’s car.” !!

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From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019


Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). It 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.

Bright and Fun Powder Room in West U.

January 27, 2019

Originally, this under-the-stairs powder room in a home in West University Place was papered in a very dark, very traditional pattern. The homeowner lived with it for 18 years, and finally made the change yesterday to this bright pattern with lots of movement and cheer. The countertop is also new, and adds to the lightness and modern feel of the room.

The wallpaper is by Baker Lifestyle, and is a non-woven material, which is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. It is also a little more resistant to water splashes and stains than a paper. Non-wovens can be hung using the paste-the-wall method, but I prefer to paste the paper, which gives more pliability and also ensures that there will be paste holding the paper to the wall in that narrow space behind the toilet!

The interior designer for this job is Gisette Leathers, of http://www.theleathers.com/

Poor Photos of a Beautiful Room Trasformation

January 8, 2019


This is a handsome wallcovering, but unfortunately it’s best to see it in person, because it simply doesn’t photograph well. It’s real cork, stained a dark chocolate brown, with glittering flecks of silver in the background. The true beauty of it is revealed when light from the chandelier hits it, which is what I tried to show in the third photo.

The chandelier is stunning in itself, because it came from South America, having belonged to the homeowner’s grandfather. Sorry – that didn’t photograph well, either. 😦 I think it’s cool how the elegant, traditional light fixture works well with the modern style of the wallpaper and the rest of the house.

This natural cork wallpaper went in the powder room of a new contemporary style townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer for this job is Elizabeth Maciel.

The wallpaper is by Monarch, 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.

Faux Grasscloth – Vinyl That Is Good In A Bathroom

December 29, 2018


Originally, this powder room in the Galleria / Tanglewood area of Houston had what I call a “ditzy” print on the walls – tiny little figures that repeated themselves all over the wallpaper like a zillion little dots lined up in rows. It was outdated and discolored, and didn’t fill the wall space well.

The new homeowner wanted something modern and serene, that would be durable in an area that’s exposed to water. This Bankun Raffia in a steely medium grey is perfect.

I am not a fan of real grasscloth (read the page to the right). Nor do I like solid vinyl wallpapers (see the page to the right “Stay Away From ….). But this is one vinyl paper of which I approve.

The vinyl surface is thick and embossed with texture, so it mimics the feel and look of real grasscloth. But it has none of the color variations and shading / paneling issues or visible seams that make the real stuff so disappointing. In fact, you can hardly find a seam.

The vinyl surface is a lot more resistant to water and stains than most any other type of wallcovering. And the woven fabric backing won’t absorb humidity and curl or delaminate like the lower-end paper backed vinyls will. And that fabric backing makes this product quite durable and strong, and resistant to tears (like you see when a home’s foundation shifts and the corners twist out of alignment).

In fact, this stuff is the same iron-tough material that is used in hotels and hospital corridors, and will withstand dings and bangs and can be cleaned easily.

Being thick and stiff, it is a bit difficult to work with, particularly when turning corners. But the benefits are worth it.

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia. It is so popular, now it comes in more than 30 colors! It’s by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Updating a ’60’s Dining Room – But Staying True to Mid Century Modern

November 1, 2018

I love all things vintage, and have a keen fondness for old wallpaper in particular. So it really hurt to strip off this beautiful (albeit kitschy) mural – the original installed on one wall of a dining room in this 1960 home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston.

The new homeowners, a young couple, had a more modern vision for the look of their home. This very whimsical “Franz” design feels both modern and mid-century at the same time. And, it perfectly mirrors the thin linear gold lines of the chandelier.

The wallpaper is by a company I had not heard of before – Half Full. It is based in California, and their products are reasonably priced. Unlike many “boutique” manufactures, the company was able to provide sensible product information over the phone, and I was pleased with the quality of their wallpaper.

The surface was printed with a clay-coated ink, and the substrate felt like a pulp material. Installation instructions called for a typical vinyl adhesive, and standard booking times. The material – particularly the edges – did tend to dry out a little too quickly, but a little additional pasting helped with that. There was no detectable shrinkage. I do wish they had printed this black design on a dark substrate, because, even though I used chalk to color the edges of the paper, the white paper backing did show through at the seams just a smidgeon.

Modern Master Bedroom – Accent Wall

August 13, 2018


This large master bedroom in a new home near the West U neighborhood of Houston looked might snazzy decked out with its furniture and accessories from High Fashion Home. Yet it pretty much looked like a showroom – lacking warmth and individuality. Wallpaper on just one accent wall changed all that!

This fun design is unusual because it’s horizontal rather than the more typical vertical. It is by Designer Wallpapers. It is a thick and fairly stiff non-woven material, and could be hung by the paste-the-wall or the paste-the-material methods. In this room, I used a little of both. (The paper behaved better when pasted, but when going around the windows, to avoid getting paste on them, I pasted the wall.)

This wallpaper 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.

Swirly “Priano” Wakes Up a Tiny Powder Room

August 4, 2018


Here is a tiny powder room squeezed under the stairs in a nicely updated large home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner wanted the powder room to match the feel of the more modern rest of the house – while coordinating with the dark blue tile floor. This swirly leaf pattern does all of that – and it visually pushes the walls away, while adding fun movement to the tiny room.

I don’t usually like wallpaper on ceilings, because I think it crunches the ceiling down on you. But here in this diminutive powder room, I think that papering the ceiling was the best design option. When a ceiling is papered, only one corner where the wall meets the ceiling can have the pattern matched (see top photo), and the rest will result in a mis-match. So it’s preferable to find a wild pattern like this, where any design mis-match in the corners will hardly be noticeable.

This room was particularly tricky, because the bottom-side-of-the-stairs ceiling came down not only at a slope, but at an angle. You can kind of see this in the fourth photo. The third shot shows the ceiling in the process of being hung.

“Priano” is a popular wallpaper pattern by Serena & Lily. Their papers are always a joy to work with, and they have cute patterns, too!

What’s extra cool is that I hung this pattern a few months ago, and the homeowner ended up with twice as much paper as she needed. (The old single roll / double roll conundrum. A good reason to always check with me before ordering your paper.) I was able to hook the two gals up, and some of the excess paper was sold to the new client, quick and easy.

Overlaying Modern and Traditional

July 20, 2018


The original red wallpaper in this tiny under-the-stairs powder room in a classically styled 1917 home in the Rice University area of Houston was fine enough. But it darkened the room, it didn’t suit the new homeowner’s taste, and it had become stained (see water splashes around the faucet handle on the right.)

The second photo shows the room after the old paper has been stripped off, little areas of the walls have been patched, and primer has been applied.

The new orange animal print on a white background greatly brightens the room. I love the gutsy way this homeowner has combined a modern pattern with old-world features, such as the elegant gilded mirror and the engraved gold tone towel ring and toilet paper holder (not shown).

She’s included contemporary elements, too – note the modern art hanging over the toilet. She also found a beautiful hand towel embroidered in bright orange with the family name’s initial. These little details are the crowning touch!

This homeowner is a friend of another gal I did wallpaper for a couple of times, who lives a few blocks away. I love it when people pass my name back and forth!

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

A Kaleidoscope of Mid-Century Modern, Frank Lloyd Wright – Wild

July 7, 2018

What a fun pattern from Bradbury & Bradbury, in their newish line of “Atomic Age,” Mid Century Modern, in the theme of architect and designer Frank Lloyd Wright!

The young couple that bought this mint-condition, Mid-Century home in the Medical Center / Reliant Stadium neighborhood of Houston is way crazy about the modern look, and wanted an accent wall in the kitchen breakfast nook to both play up that theme, as well as bring color into the room.

There are four bright orange molded plastic “mod” chairs that will ring around that round table.

The pattern is called Kaleidoscope. The wallpaper is custom made, but is not outrageously expensive. It comes with a selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand. (Do a search here for pics and more info on this process.) The paper is normally hung vertically, but the homeowners liked the design better run horizontally (called railroading in wallpaper terms).

It took a lot of trimming, plotting, planning, and engineering, plus plenty of time with the laser level (see second photo), to get the pattern matched correctly and then laid out on the wall so everything lined up perfectly. I also took steps to keep as much paste off the woodwork and shutters as possible. Yeah, it wipes off relatively easily. But always best to keep it off in the first place.