Posts Tagged ‘natural’

Cushioning The Ends Of Natural Material Wallpaper

February 20, 2021

Wallpaper looks best when it arrives from the vendor with its edges just as the manufacturer trimmed them. Then you can count on it to seam up on the wall perfectly.

But it’s common for packages of wallpaper to get slammed around during shipping. This usually affects the edges, creating bashed areas that don’t look good on your walls.

Natural materials (cork, as pictured above, or grasscloth, or other natural, textured materials) – these materials are particularly susceptible to dents and fraying edges.

To nip this bud before it becomes a thorny rose, many manufacturers are placing these round protective collars (see photo) on the ends of their product, before packing for shipping.

They work pretty well. Plus, the collars themselves are made of paper, and can go into the recycling bin.

Working Around Shading in Cork Wallpaper

February 16, 2021

The homeowners originally sought grasscloth for this accent wall in the home office. But I talked them out of it, due to the unpleasant shading and color variation issues (click on the page to the right to read more). I showed them a sample of this white-washed cork wallpaper, and they were immediately smitten.

The previous time I hung this, the material was very homogeneous in color.

But this time, it was immediately evident that there was a darker band running down the left half of the roll, and a lighter band along the right side. Note that this is not considered a defect (even though it is obviously a problem stemming from the factory). It is considered part of the “inherent beauty of these natural materials.” Meaning, you can’t return it and expect to get your money back.

Cutting strips as they come off the roll and hanging them next to each other will result in abrupt color differences between strips – as you see in the top photo. One way to minimize that is to hang every other strip upside down, so you are then putting the dark side next to it’s dark counterpart on the previously hung strip.

In this case, because the darker areas were so dark and wide, this would have resulted in the wall having a striped look. Not what the homeowners were shooting for.

The wall was exactly 12′ wide, and the material is 3′ wide, so we needed four strips to cover the width of the wall.

We had three double-roll bolts. Each 24′ long bolt will give you two 9′ strips. Thus we needed two double rolls to cover this wall. That left us with one bolt in excess.

That turned out to be a good thing – having extra paper. The color shading was bad in one bolt, noticeable in another bolt, and the third bolt was pretty homogeneous in color.

I rejected the bolt with the worst shading. Thank goodness the client ordered a little extra paper! The bolt with the second-worst shading, I discovered that if I rolled it backwards, the shading was less severe in the inner portion.

So I took two strips off this bolt from the inside-out.

So now that gave me two strips from the first roll that were pretty homogenous. Plus two strips from the second bolt that were passable.

How to keep the color as uniform a possible across the 12′ wide wall?

II knew I wanted to place the two strips from the first, “best” bolt in the center of the wall. If I hung one right-side-up, and the next one up-side-down, keeping the darker area toward the center, the color differences would be less noticeable.

But I still had to cover 3′ width on either side of those two center strips.

One strip equaled 3′ width. So one 3′ wide strip on either side of those two center strips.

One plan, I contemplated cutting each of those the two 3′ (36″) wide strips from the second bolt into 18″ widths. Hang one right-side-up and the other upside-down. That would break up any color variations into less noticeable panels.

Only problem was, then there would be two 36″ wide chunks of material in the middle, flanked by two 18″ wide chunks on either side. I thought that would be too inconsistant, visually.

It would look better to keep all the widths the same, at 36.”

The two strips I had taken off that second double roll bolt had some shading issues, with the left side being darker than the right side. I reasoned that it would be less noticeable if the darker, shaded area, was toward the outer corners – sort of as if sunlight or furniture or window shutters were casting shadows.

So I plotted to use a full 36″ wide strip on either side of the center strips. I would position them so that the lighter side of each strip was toward the center – toward those two originally-placed strips. This meant placing one right-side-up and the other one upside-down.

Thus the darker edge of the strips would be situated toward the corners of the wall – a logical place for shadows and light to play tricks on the eye.

That’s what I ended up doing. And the finished wall does really look very homogeneous!

Yes, I am quite guilty of over-thinking way more than I should. But I think the client deserves the best look possible. And, to be honest, all this plotting and engineering is a big part of the fun of hanging wallpaper!

Pretty Severe Shading / Color Variations in Natural Cork Wallpaper

February 14, 2021

I’ve tacked two strips of this cork wallpaper to the wall. The obvious thing you see is the color difference between the two strips where they meet in the center of the wall.

But look more closely and you will notice that there is an abrupt shading difference between the left and right sides of each bolt. And in the strip on the left, the dark left side is even darker at the top of the bolt, than several feet down as you move toward the floor.

These effects are called shading and paneling and color variations. It’s important to note that these are not considered “defects,” but are deemed to be the “inherent beauty of the natural materials.” In other words, if you don’t like that paneled look, they are not going to give you your money back.

There are some tricks to minimize these effects when the paper is on the wall. I will delve into those in another post … at some point.

Tailored and White-Washed Cork Wallpaper – Home Office

February 13, 2021

During the pandemic, the man and wife are both working from home … in the same improvised home office … and getting on each other’s nerves. The lady of the house decreed it’s time for the guy to move out!

So they commandeered the home’s original living room and are turning it into an office for him.

They wanted something to warm the look of the four all-white walls, while maintaining an air of professionalism and business, and at the same time being a choice that could transition to another use, once the pandemic ends and the room no longer needs to serve as an office.

This white-washed cork wallpaper with flecks of gold is the perfect choice for an accent wall behind the man’s desk.

As with all natural material wallpapers, you can expect shading and color variations between and even within strips. This one turned out pretty homogeneous.

I don’t have information on the brand or manufacturer. The material is natural cork, which is applied to the paper backing in bocks approximately 6″ square. It comes 3′ wide x 24′ long, and is a paste-the-material product.

The rather contemporary home is located in Bellaire (Houston).

Disappointing Shading in York Sure Strip Wallpaper

January 13, 2021

You expect shading and paneling (slight difference in color between strips) with natural materials like grasscloth. But when a paper is made from start to finish in a factory, with inks mixed up by computer and applied by machine, you expect the color to be uniform.

Yet, in this product by York, you can see there is difference in color intensity between the right and left sides of the paper. This is not real bad, and this room does not have a lot of long seams, so the color differences aren’t too noticeable.

But if this were, for instance, a 9′ high bedroom accent wall, or a whole dining room, the color variation might be displeasing.

York, and this Sure Strip line of theirs, is one of my favorite brands. But lately, I have had good number of defects – most of them related to printing problems.

Softening A Heights Dining Room; Wonderful Faux Grasscloth

November 21, 2020

The original dark paint was bold and beautiful. But the homeowners wanted something softer and textured. They listened to my “rant” about color variations in grasscloth (see link at right), and chose this embossed vinyl replica instead.

They couldn’t have chosen better!

We were worried about the usual very visible vertical seams in grasscloth, and how they would juxtapose with the vertical boards in the wainscoting at the bottom portion of the walls. The spacing between the boards did not sync at all with the width of the wallpaper. If the seams in the paper were visible and did not coordinate with the vertical elements below, it would have ended up a very visually confusing room.

Luckily, and very surprisingly, this material turned out to be wonderfully homogeneous, and the seams are virtually invisible.

What you do see is the is the very soft, muted texture and warm color that envelope the room. I like to say that this sort of pattern emulates a finely tailored man’s suit.

That last photo is distorted a bit, so ignore those wavy, swirly lines.

This wallcovering is by Warner, in their Textures VII, Grasscloth Resource book, on page 32, a lightly embossed (textured) vinyl on a scrim (woven fabric) backing, and is a random / reverse pattern match (meaning, there is no pattern to match).

It comes either 26″ wide or 52″/54″ wide. Lil’ ol’ me can’t wrangle that extra-wide stuff, so I asked the homeowners to buy the 26″ option.

This type of vinyl is way more resistant to dings and stains than most traditional wallpapers. The scrim backing also makes it easy to strip off the wall later, and with minimal damage to the wall. The embossing adds just a touch of texture.

Best of all, because it is man-made instead of a natural material, there is none of the displeasing shading and color variations that are so prevalent in real grasscloth.

The home is a relatively new build in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Wonderful Stringcloth Alternative to Grasscloth

July 23, 2020

Lotsa Color, and a Nice Faux Silk

April 16, 2020


I have worked for this couple in their charming 1929 bungalow in West University (Houston) several times since the 1990’s. They definitely are not people to go with the all-white or all-grey or minimalist trends that are popular today. These folks like COLOR!

The dining room walls were originally upholstered in a botanical print on blue (which the homeowner did himself, and did a mighty find job of, too). So the room never was bland white. 🙂 But now, 20 years later, they were ready for an update.

Their contractor removed the fabric and then skim-floated the walls smooth. Usually I have to go back and re-smooth the walls … but this guy did a really good job, and I was able to simply prime, and then hang the paper.

This is a vinyl product named “Wild Silk,” and is by Thibaut. It’s much more stain-resistant and durable than real fabric. Unlike real silk and other natural materials like grasscloth, this product has a pattern match. This means that you are not going to see each separate panel or visible seams, like you do with real silk. So the walls have a much more homogeneous and pleasing look.

The challenge lay with the old house and its un-plumb walls and un-level ceiling and window/door moldings. Since the ceiling was not level, if I hung the wallpaper true to plumb, then it would start “tracking” off-kilter at the ceiling line, and appear to be running either uphill or downhill. This effect was further complicated by the way the pattern ran along the window and door frames.

I decided to keep the pattern parallel to the ceiling molding line. This meant letting it go crooked along the door and window frames, if that’s how it turned out. The ceiling line was more visible and more important.

Since the pattern was tracking off-kilter, I used a razor blade and a straightedge to trim off a wedge-shaped chunk from one side of the wallpaper. This forced the pattern to move up (or down). After a few strips, I had tweaked it enough that the design was moving straight across under the crown molding.

Even though the strips were not hanging plumb, it looked wonderful along the ceiling line. This “silk” pattern was very accommodating of that. If it had been a design with a prominent motif that the eye wanted to see marching straight across the ceiling AND straight down along a door frame, it would have been much more difficult to pull off – maybe impossible.

Going around the window (no pic) was even more complicated. Because I was tweaking the three strips above the window to follow the crown molding, and also the three strips below the window – and you can’t guarantee that these will all adjust at the same rate. So getting the strip to the left of the window (no pic) to match up with the strips above AND below the window would be pretty impossible.

So I was extremely pleased when the pattern on all these strips did match up, within about 1/16″.

This is a vinyl material and was somewhat difficult to push tightly into edges and corners, and to cut through. I was glad that I didn’t have intricate decorative moldings to cut around. I used orange chalk to color the edges of the material, to keep the white substrate from showing at the seams.

I love the way the salmon color coordinates with the painted trim. Who paints door moldings orange??! THESE people do – and I highly applaud it! No boring all-white rooms in this house!

The look is bold, but surprisingly warm. The orange moldings against white walls would have been jolting. But with the salmon colored wallpaper, the whole effect is unified, inviting, and invigorating!

Grasscloth in Cypress Powder Room

February 18, 2020


The walls and ceiling in this large powder room in a newish home in the Bridgeland Creek neighborhood of Cypress (northwest Houston) were originally a dark gold. I like dark rooms, but this one felt oppressive. It needed to be a little lighter, and to have a bit more interest on the walls.

The walls had a heavy texture, typical of new homes in the suburbs of Houston. I skim-floated the walls, then let dry overnight. The next day, I sanded the walls smooth, wiped off the dust, primed – and then was ready to hang wallpaper.

The pictures don’t adequately show the color of the new grasscloth, but we have natural brown grass color overlaid onto a really deep blue paper backing. The designer had the ceiling painted a dark, sort of murky blue, which coordinates really nicely with the blue in the grasscloth.

Lighting is funny … While I was working in the room, I had two 100 watt light bulbs; one suspended from the ceiling and one attached to where the light fixture belongs. The grasscloth just looked “normal.”

But once the room’s decorative light fixture went back up, it cast light on the textured surface in such a way that the “nubs” and knots really showed up! (see photo) The homeowner loved it!

As a note … With grasscloth, there is no pattern match, and you can also plan on seeing color differences between strips. So it’s important to plot where your seams will fall.

The electrical box, the light fixture, and the faucet were all in different vertical positions on the wall. Because the mirror would take up most of the wall behind the faucet and block the seam, I chose to center the seam on the light fixture, because it would be visible above the mirror. Well – sort of visible … as you can see, light rays from the fixture are so strong that no one can see where the seam is, anyway. 😦

The room had a “floating” sink. One of the photos shows the area under the sink. This area is open to view, and, because there are so many obstacles, it is difficult and time-consuming to wrap the paper underneath and trim around all those pipes and brackets.

The grasscloth wallpaper is by York. I was pretty pleased with the consistency of the material. Although some of the strips did present “paneling” and “shading” – color variances between strips – even strips that came off the same bolt and that were reverse-hung. One strip even had a rather abrupt color change mid-way from top to bottom. (no photo)

But that’s par for the course with grasscloth, and it’s considered to be “the natural beauty of this natural material.”

The interior designer for this project is Neal LeBouef, of L Design Group.

Nubby Grasscloth / Not-So-Nubby Grasscloth

January 21, 2020


Grasscloth is made from natural fibers, and you never know quite exactly what you will get from bolt to bolt, and even from strip to strip.

In the first photo, you see a lot of “nubs” or knots – where the individual grass fibers have been tied together. You also see a seam, and see how uniform this particular material is. Quite often, the seams are a lot more visible. (see previous posts)

Back to nubs … In the second photo, a strip taken from the same bolt, there are far fewer knots.

Nothing right or wrong with either scenario – just showing how the material can change in appearance, even within the same bolt.

Personally, me, I prefer the more nubby texture.

Just an aside – most of this stuff is made in China. It is made by hand. And there really are workers who harvest tall reeds of grass, lay them in the sun to dry, and then come the little ladies who sit all day and grab handsfull of the grass and knot the reeds together, so these can then be sewn onto the paper backing and turned into wallcovering.