Posts Tagged ‘mural’

Faces in Unexpected Places

January 26, 2020

How’s this for something no one else is gonna have?! The homeowner of this Galleria-area home in Houston is a big-personality gal, recently divorced, and she wants her new home to reflect who she is. Everything in the house that could have glitter, shimmer, mirror, or glitz does – including the dog bed and the kitchen backsplash.

This wallpaper in the adjoining powder room (with a huge crystal chandelier!) fits right in with that new life.

This is a sort of mural, composed of rectangular panels about 3′ wide x 2′ high. It was bought on-line, and came with no information or installation instructions.

It was a paper substrate, and was meant to be butted at the seams, as opposed to overlapped, as many mural panels are. After experimenting, I found that a powdered wheat or cellulose paste hydrated the paper best, and that a little of my traditional wallpaper paste added to the mix helped hold the paper tightly to the wall and minimize shrinkage as the panels dried.

The paper curled badly when it was wet with the paste (see third photo), which made it difficult to paste it, book it, and then get it to the wall.

It also expanded a lot when it got wet – almost an inch in each direction. Uneven expansion meant that it developed large wrinkles and warps that were difficult to remove.

In addition, the walls were bowed and uneven in the corners, the walls were not plumb, the ceiling was not level, the crown molding was at different heights on different walls, and we didn’t have a lot of paper to play with.

It took a lot of work to keep the pattern matched as well as possible in the corners, to keep the pattern running at the right point below the crown molding, to eliminate the aforementioned wrinkles, to butt the panels, to minimize white showing at the seams due to the panels drying and shrinking, the paper getting saturated and tearing or dragging when I tried to trim it, and lots more challenges.

All this could have been easier if the manufacturer had chosen a better substrate to print on. But – well, hey, we’ve got a digital printer, so let’s just dig up some paper stock, print cool designs on it, and market it as wallpaper.

Actually, this material worked out pretty well in this small powder room. But I would not want to paper a large, wide wall with it.

Most companies who make murals like this, on this type of thin paper substrate, allow for the edges to be overlapped about 3/8″ at each seam. This allows the installer to make adjustments for wonky walls and ceilings, and it eliminates the gapping at seams as paper dries and shrinks. It does, however, leave a ridge along each seam where the edges are overlapped.

Overall, though, I was not unhappy with this product in this room. And working out all the challenges was mighty fun. I was glad to have a nice, quiet, empty house to do all this in. All in all, this medium-sized powder room that I had prepped the weekend before, took me nine hours to hang.

Have the Paperhanger Measure BEFORE You Order

January 12, 2020

Re the mural in my previous post, which was custom-sized to fit this wall … Folks, you canNOT have a mural sized to fit your wall EXACTLY.

Walls are never a perfect triangle. And they are never perfectly plumb, nor are the ceiling and floor exactly-dactly level.

This means that you have to allow for the pattern to track off-kilter, both horizontally and vertically. And for trimming at the ceiling, floor, and side walls. And don’t forget that the wall may be a different height at the left side of the wall compared to the right side.

The way to accommodate for this is to have a little extra paper on each side. This means ADDING AN EXTRA TWO INCHES ON EACH SIDE of the mural – a total of 4″ to the height and 4″ to the width.

In this case, the company suggested adding 1″ to each dimension. As you see in the photo, by the time I split that 1″ between the top and the bottom of the wall, I was not left with much to play with when trimming at the ceiling.

If this wall had been wider, and if the pattern started tracking downward, I might have ended up with white selvedge showing at the top of the wall, instead of the grey sky of the design.

This project worked out just fine. But, again, it would have been a safer purchase if I had visited and measured this space before the homeowners ordered their mural.

Foresty Mural on Med Center Condo Dining Room Accent Wall

January 11, 2020


Don’t you love the way this Bellewood “etched forest” look mural changes the dynamics of this dining area?! The homeowner did a super job of matching the paint below the chair rail to compliment the mural.

In the top photo, I have finished skim-floating the textured wall, and have three fans set in place to encourage quicker drying. Once it’s dry, I will sand and prime the wall.

This product comes as a 6-panel mural, digitally-sized to fit the space. This is great for this 5′ high wall, because it allows the whole pattern to be seen, whereas if it had been a stock 8′ high mural, most of the trees at the lower section would have been cut off.

The mural is called “Bellewood” and is by Rebel Walls. I have hung this several times before, so do a Search to see my previous posts.

The material is a non-woven substrate, which is tear-proof and does not expand, so it can be hung via the paste-the-wall method. This eliminates the need for my big work table, and it is cleaner and a bit quicker, too. The material is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to change decor.

Buy from Rebel Walls on-line. Remember to have the paperhanger measure before you order – murals are tricky.

Scandinavian-Feel Botanical Mural in a Guest Bathroom

December 26, 2019


The plants in this wallpaper pattern are native to Scandinavia, and are a nod to the homeowner husband’s Norwegian heritage. The bright colors and white background really brightened up the bathroom.

This product was atypical, as it was 36″ wide (instead of the typical 20.5″ or 27″). Additionally, it came as a 2-panel set mural, with an “A” and a “B” panel. It took three sets to paper this bathroom.

This was a thicker non-woven material. It could be hung by pasting the wall, or by pasting the paper. I chose to paste the paper – which makes more sense when going around pedestal sinks and behind toilets.

Even though non-wovens are virtually impossible to tear, I had to work very gently with this material, because the surface could be creased or marred quite easily, simply by folding or unfolding it.

This wallpaper pattern is called Brita. It is in the A-Street Prints line, by Brewster, 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.

Recent Magazines With Wallpaper

December 18, 2019


December 2019 issues of:

Victoria –

First two photos, bold color and classic jardiniere in a very traditional dining room setting.

Southern Living –

3rd photo. Mural on dining room walls. I believe this is the Etched Arcadia pattern that I have hung (and loved) several times. (Do a Search here to see previous posts with this pattern.)

4th photo. A “man cave” done with dark wall treatment and a lighter, tight textured pattern on the ceiling.

5th photo. Large honeycomb wooden lattice on ceiling, small print on walls. The wallpaper is by Iksel, a high-end British company, and one that I visited when the Wallcovering Installers Association took a Tech Trip to England in 2017 (do a Search here). This paper is expensive and the design is well-suited to the room. Yet the pattern is, well, nothing really special about it. If someone were looking to recreate this look on a budget, it would be very possible to find something similar at a more pocketbook-friendly price.

6th photo. Boy’s room, showing interesting use of color between walls and wood.

7th photo. More adventurous use of color, on ceiling and walls. The paper is by Quadrille, which is notorious for being difficult to hang. (Do a Search here to read my experiences and comments.) Again – for every cool pattern by a high-fallutin’ designer brand that hasn’t researched how to make compatible inks and substrates and good quality paper, there are other main-stream companies making similar designs, that will perform better and hit your wallet more easily.

Peek-a-Boo Bear for New Baby Girl’s Nursery

December 3, 2019

This design is called “Surprise.” Once I got it up on the wall, I realized why – there are only two of the cute bears, and they pop out unexpectedly from behind random fan motifs. This is the wall where the crib will be placed, and the bears will cradle it nicely, while peeping down once in a while to keep an eye on the little one.

This is a good example of why you should see your pattern choices in a room-set photo, before ordering. The mother-to-be had seen a portion of the design on the company’s website, and they also sent her a 6″ x 8″ sample. Both of these led her to believe that the bears were more predominant in the design.

Another thing to note … The 6″ x 8″ sample had a much smaller scale of “fans” and bear faces than what the homeowner received. This is because the mural is custom digitally printed to order to fit the dimensions of the specific wall / room where it will hang. So stretching the pattern to fill a full wall enlarged both the fans and the faces.

Another opportunity for me to get on my soapbox … Always have the paperhanger measure and figure what size to have the mural printed, BEFORE you order. And remember to add 2″ to EACH side of the mural, to accommodate trimming and un-level ceilings / un-plumb walls.

This company normally does add a little “bleed” area. But only about one inch – to be divided between two sides. This one-half inch at the top would not have been adequate to accommodate the un-level ceiling line in this room. Good thing I advised the homeowner to add 2″ to each side.

Even so, I had to deal with the mural the way it was printed. If this had been regular wallpaper, I would have pulled the design up to where the top of the fans met with the crown molding. But the manufacturer did not place the pattern on the panels to where I could do that, so I had to drop it a little below the crown molding.

This probably worked out for the best, because the ceiling line was not level. If I had placed the fans at the top of an unlevel ceiling, they would have worked their way off-track and you would see a sloping motif line at the top of the wall.

Since the tops of the fans had to be dropped down a little, now you see a vertical column instead of a fan top. You don’t notice a small fluctuation in the height of the column, as you would if the fan tops didn’t hit the crown molding at the same spot all across the wall.

On to more simple concepts …

This product came rolled up as one long piece, which I cut into eight individual panels, each having been printed to fit the dimensions of the wall. I spread those out on the floor of the empty room, to be sure each panel matched correctly to the next one, and to get a grasp on how the pattern would span out across the wall.

After measuring the wall and the panels, I plotted where I would place my first strip. MuralsWallpaper prints on a non-woven substrate, which can be hung using the paste-the-wall method. For one accent wall with no fancy turns or cuts, this is an ideal installation method.

To keep the surface of the paper from bopping into the pasted wall, I roll each strip backwards, with the top coming off the roll first, and secure with a Dollar Store hairband. See photo.

After the wall has been pasted (taking care to use a brush to cut paste in to the edges and corners), when I am up on the ladder, I remove the hairband and let the paper unfurl. You have to take care while positioning the strip to not allow the edges to come in contact with the paste on the wall, as this could cause dark edges or staining.

This mural by MuralsWallpaper.com went up very nicely. The finished wall looked super. It is ready to welcome the newest member of the family!

I stay pretty booked up with work, and originally wasn’t able to get this room done before the baby came. But I had a schedule change, and was able to move this job up, so the young family could get their nursery decorated in plenty of time for the baby.

I’ll bet they spend tomorrow assembling the crib and arranging other accessories for the room!

Wildly Colorful Wallpaper

October 11, 2019


Looking for something innovative, unique, and hit-you-in-the-face colorful? The top photo is of a page from a magazine at my client’s home today. I don’t remember the name of the magazine, but it was geared toward women, vegetarian, artsy, bohemian, avant-garde, free-thinkers, world travelers, trend setters, tree huggers, etc. Every page in the Homes section was awash in pattern and color.

The top photo shows custom-sized murals from backtothewall.co.nz

The second photo is of a de Gournay silk mural hand-painted in China. Plan on spending $500-$2000 per panel for a mural of this caliber, plus additional charges for installation. But rest assured, there are plenty of more affordable options being offered by other companies.

Farrow & Ball, Damaged Paper

October 10, 2019


While I’m griping about F&B, I’m including a photo of an 18″ long portion of one bolt that was severely damaged by the factory (another bolt had similar damage). This particular pattern was a sort of mural, with no repeating pattern that I could cut off and replace with more of the same pattern. In other words, I needed that 18″!

I ended up plotting the layout of the room so that this damaged left edge of the strip would end up cut off by the right side of a door frame.

“Etched” Foresty Look in a Baby’s Nursery

September 22, 2019


This “Bellwood” mural by Rebel Walls is very similar to the “Etched Arcadia” mural by Anthropologie (do a Search here to see my previous installations). Either way, this is a wonderful idea for a nursery, and a cool alternative to the usual pink flowers or dinosaurs that many parents choose.

This mom-to-be was originally uncertain about papering the 3-walled alcove (which will house the changing table) (see third and fourth photos), because someone planted the idea that it would get soiled quickly. I’m glad I convinced her to take the plunge – the room really does look better with both the accent (crib) wall papered, and the changing table nook.

This product is a mural, and came in panels that had to be hung sequentially (as opposed to regular wallpaper with a repeating pattern). No photos of the plotting involved, but you have to roll the panels out on the floor to ensure the correct sequence. I made sure to center the low part of the pattern around the changing table, so the high part of the trees cradled it on either side of the niche. I really like the way this turned out.

Additional plotting was required to plan the area over the door and then the 1 1/2″ wide space to the left of it (not shown). All this measuring and plotting has to be done before the homeowner orders a custom-sized mural like this. Another reason to have the paperhanger see the room BEFORE you order your paper.

This paper is a non-woven material, and has a high fiberglass content. That makes it easy to remove when it’s time to redecorate, but it also makes it easy to clean in the case of accidents.

So this mom should go on to change diapers with confidence, all the while enjoying the unique look of her baby’s nursery.

This home is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston.

The textured walls were smoothed by the painting company, CertaPro. Usually I insist on doing my own prep, but it worked for the homeowner to have the paint crew get the messy smoothing part out of the way. AND … I know the CertaPro guys, and I knew I could trust them to do a good job. And they did. All I had to do was apply a wallpaper primer, and then hang the paper.

Farrow & Ball Feather Grass

September 1, 2019


Farrow & Ball is a long-established British company. Here is their very unique design “Feather Grass” which I hung in a master bedroom in the country. I love the look of this pattern as you gaze out the windows to the pastureland beyond.

Farrow & Ball includes their own powdered paste, which you mix up with water. To get a smooth mix, I prefer a hand-held blender to the old-fashioned stirrer stick. Not shown is the 1-gallon bucket of cellulose pasted all ready to go.

The company sends a mock-up of what their design will look like. (The image above is from a different pattern I hung in this same home.)

Because their paper is coated with their paint, rather than ink, there can be variations in color as the printer moves through the batch of paint. So the company labels each bolt in the sequence that it came off the printer, and you are instructed to use the bolts and strips in sequence, to minimize any color variations.

This pattern is something like a mural, and comes in panels with one design per panel, rather than strips with multiple repeats of the pattern. In the photo above, I am rolling the paper out on the floor, to get an understanding of how it is laid out and how it is packaged.

Each bolt contained three panels, all rolled up together. The panels are made to fit a wall as high as 12′, so I had to cut each panel from the bolt, then trim it down to fit the 7 1/2′ high walls.

Yes, there is a lot of waste with Feather Grass. In fact, it takes a full strip to go above and below the windows and doors, even though you are throwing away the entire middle part. So, again, incredible amount of waste – I carted home a whole lot of unusable paper to toss into the recycling bin!

Before shot.

The “grass” pattern is meant to appear at about 4 1/2′ from the floor. Since you start hanging wallpaper from the ceiling, I needed to know where to place the tops of the sheaves of grass. So I drew a horizontal line around the room at the 4 1/2′ height. (enlarge photo to see the faint pencil line) This way, from up on the ladder at the ceiling, I was able to see where the tops of the grass stalks were landing on the wall. It took a few trips up and down the ladder on each strip, but I was able to get all the stalks lined up perfectly.

Finished photos. It’s a subtle colorway, so you may need to enlarge the photo to see it well.

Isn’t the overall effect lovely, with the soft misty color of the grass showing against the view of nature outside the window?!

I hung this in the country home (Chappell Hill) of a family for whom I have worked previously in their River Oaks area home in Houston.