Posts Tagged ‘natural’

Need a Little Reading Material in the Bathroom? ??

November 2, 2018


What fun wallpaper! This is very similar to grasscloth. But, instead of using natural grasses and reeds, this material is made of strips cut from magazine pages, rolled and folded into long narrow strips, and then sewed onto a paper backing. In some of the columns, you can actually read the words!

There is a similar product made from old newspapers – appropriately named “Yesterday’s News.”

I hung this in a powder room in a new, contemporary home in the Rice Military neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner, Cristin Wells, is an interior designer http://www.wellsdesignedhome.com/ who recently moved here from Chicago (not far from my hometown of St. Louis!), and brings her sophisticated playfulness here to the Bayou City.

This product is similar to grasscloth in that the seams are very visible. So I engineered the room to have seams fall evenly spaced on each wall, which we call balancing, and which gives a pleasing effect.

In addition, the material can be shaded, or paneled, which means there can be a noticeable color difference between strips, even if they come off the same bolt. In the third photo, you see how I have rolled the paper out on the floor, to check for shading / paneling, so the homeowner will be aware of this issue, and so I can plot how and where to use the various strips.

Indeed, before consulting with me, the homeowner initially purchased two bolts of paper; when I measured the space I told her that she needed five more. The additional bolts arrived in a different run. Run and batch and dye lot numbers are important – all bolts from the same run or batch were printed at the same time with the same batch of ink, and will generally be pretty much the same shade. Papers from a different run will be a slightly different shade, and will be very noticeable if placed next to one another on the same wall. This is true even with this recycled magazine page material – see the third photo – although instead of printing with ink, the ladies who manufacture this stuff (usually in China or somewhere in Asia) are grabbing handfuls of magazine pages. As you can see, color variations are still quite possible / probable.

In addition to the 10′ high ceilings, the room had a few features that made the install tricky. One was a deeper than usual vanity, which was difficult and somewhat dangerous to reach over to access the wall. This was also a “floating” vanity, which hung suspended on the wall with a short space underneath it that wanted to be covered with wallpaper. Contorting myself under a 30″ deep vanity into a 5″ high space to stick a couple of strips of paper to a rear wall that no one would ever see questioned my sense of reason – but I could not imagine leaving the wall unpapered, so I “got ‘er done!” Sorry, no photo.

Being a contemporary styled home, the window was recessed with a 1/2″ return,. This meant that I had to bring the paper to the edge of the window, and then wrap a mere 1/2″ around an outside corner. The paper was thick and didn’t want to make this turn, and, when it did, it didn’t want to stay stuck – it kept trying to lift up. Wetting the paper helped soften it so it was more agreeable to making these turns, and in some areas I also used a razor blade to make light horizontal slits in the material, right on the edge of the corner, to reduce tension and allow it to turn more easily. Sorry, no photo.

Speaking of making cuts … This stuff was thick and hard to cut, so it took a lot of pressure and several swipes to make many of the cuts, even with a brand new razor blade. When I trimmed the material horizontally at the ceiling and floor, the strings that held the folded magazine pages to the backing were cut also, and they came loose. That meant that there was nothing holding the folded magazine pages to the paper.

It turns out that each of those horizontal strips of folded magazine pages contained about 6 layers of paper, each folded accordion-style. Threads were sewn on to hold them to the backing. But once the threads were cut, the accordion-folded papers unfurled, spread apart, and pushed away from the backing. So when you looked at the ceiling or floor lines, you saw a puffy ridge running the width of the strip.

What I ended up doing was to go up to the ceiling and then down to the floor edges, gently pry apart the fanned layers, and use wallpaper paste to adhere them to one another. I had to get sufficient paste behind each of the six layers, for the entire 3′ width of each strip, press them back together, hold them until the adhesive tacked up – all without getting any paste on the paper or on the ceiling.

All of the above added a lot of time to this job, and I didn’t leave until 9:30 p.m. But the room looked great when I was finished. From its initial uninspired dull grey paint job to the colorful and quite unexpected recycled magazine pages covering the walls, this powder room has experienced a major transformation.

The wallpaper is by Seabrook, which has been purchased by York. Both are wonderful brands.

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Wonder Faux Grasscloth Finishes off a Flood House Rebuild

July 15, 2018

If this room looks familiar – it should… This week I’m working in a home in the Meyerland area of Houston where I hung paper after the home was repaired following flooding during the Tax Day Flood in April 2015. This home was flooded again during 2017’s Hurricane Harvey. The homeowners wanted everything exactly the way it had been before the flood.

This paper went on one wall in the entry.

I LOVE this product! I HATE real grasscloth (read my page to the right, and do a search here to learn more), so when people even breathe the word, I steer them to this instead. This is a printed paper product, so it has a pattern that that can be matched, so you will not have the abrupt visible seams that come with real grasscloth. The color is uniform, so no worries about the disagreeable shading and paneling (color variations) that are rife with the natural grasscloth products.

And the manufacturer has attached vertical strings, which add a natural element and a textured effect that people are craving these days. It’s reasonably priced, too.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, 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.

Grasscloth Seam Placement on Off-Kilter Wall

May 15, 2018


Because of the textured nature and natural fibers of the material, all the seams on grasscloth are quite visible. So I try to place the seams in a “balanced” or evenly placed pattern on the wall. On this narrow wall that requires just one seam, I would normally put that seam in the center of the wall. However, the electrician was unable to get the light sconce in the center of the wall, so the sconce was placed a few inches to the right of center.

Dilema… Do I place the seam in the middle of the wall, or so that it falls centered on the light sconce?

After deliberating with the homeowner, we decided it would look best to have the seam align with the light fixture. Seeing it finished, I agree that this was the best choice.

Paneling / Color Variations Between Strips in Grasscloth

May 15, 2018


Because grasscloth is a natural product, you can expect color variations between strips, even when they come off the same bolt. See previous post about how the manufacturer worked to minimize this. However, color variations will still occur.

Notice the darker color of the panel on the left, compared to the one on the right. These rolls all had the same run number, which means they were printed at the same time with the same batch of ink. Even so, there will be color variations. This color difference is pretty minor, compared to what you see sometimes. This is not considered a defect, and is considered “part of the inherent beauty of this natural product.”

In this room, most of the panels were pretty uniform in color. When possible, I changed bolts in less noticeable areas, such as you see here, over a door.

Grasscloth in a West Houston Study

November 17, 2017

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This couple wanted the textural look of grasscloth for their study, in a newish home near Cross Creek Ranch and Cinco Ranch, a bit southwest of Houston. The pattern they chose is a medium-fine grass in a pretty uniform color. With fine grass, you don’t notice as much the mis-match of the fibers at every seam.

The grass fibers have been sewn onto the front of the wallpaper. But the black backing is less homogenous, and exhibits variations in its color. These are the horizontal differences in color that you see in the pictures.

Some of these color variations spill onto the surface of the material, too. These can be especially evident as swathes of darker colored dye on the outer edges of the wallpaper. (See photo)

Overall, this product looks very good. People who like grasscloth love the texture of the natural material. And they like the “organic look” of visible seams, mis-matched pattern (there is no pattern to match!), and the color variations at the edges and within the strips.

I believe the manufacturer of this grasscloth is York.

Color In Grasscloth Changes Abruptly

June 13, 2017

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Grasscloth is very popular right now, because homeowners love the texture and natural feel of the material. However, ‘natural’ equates with ‘irregular,’ and can lead to very noticeable color differences and variations in the product. Up on the wall, these can look pretty bad.

The photo shows how the color of grasscloth can change from the top of the strip to the bottom. It also shows how darker strands of fibers can be interwoven into the material, resulting in eye-jarring irregularities.

I had this homeowner buy an extra double roll bolt of wallpaper. This gave us enough extra that I could discard this strip with its ugly dark horizontal bands, and replace it with another that was more homogenous. The 2nd photo shows a wall with three strips that are pleasingly similar in color and texture.

Note that in most grasscloth installations, ‘you get what you get.’ Which is to say, if the paper comes off the roll with dark bands or defects or shading or color variations, you just have to accept it as “the inherent beauty of the natural product.”

For more info, do a Search (upper right corner) on these terms.

Grasscloth Wallpaper in a TV Room / Sunroom

April 22, 2017

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I hung a woven grasscloth in this TV room / sunroom in an older home in the Rice Village area of Houston when the homeowners first bought the house – back in 1992 ! The wallpaper was still in great condition – except for where shower pan in the upstairs bathroom had leaked, causing damage to the wallpaper below. The paper had suffered fading from the abundant sunlight in the room, too. Time for a change.

The homeowners considered other types of paper and patterns, but came back to the natural, earthy, textured look of grasscloth. Their new choice is more relaxed than the previous woven one, and has more color – although it’s all in the neutral / brown / tan scope.

I was pleased that there was minimal shading / paneling (color variations between strips) (see 3rd photo). The material has a lovely texture (last photo), and was reasonably easy to trim and position.

There was no brand name on the product label, but it was bought at below retail price from 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.

Shiny, Orange, Woven Grasscloth in an Entryway

February 9, 2017
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Here is a large art niche in an entry in a newish home in the Rice University / Museum District area of Houston. The homeowner was originally considering wallpaper for her powder room and office, but when I suggested papering this niche, she quickly agreed, seeing how it would bring color and life to the home’s entryway.

This woven grasscloth is a different take on the traditional grass product with horizontal reeds. It is also more uniform in color, with none of the shading and paneling and color variations between strips. And, because the backing appears to be a plastic material, instead of the typical paper, it has an appealing sheen.

The woven pattern hides the seams a little, but, as with all natural products like this, the pattern could not be matched at the seams, so all the seams show. After I did a little trimming and tweaking, the first seam looked pretty good. The second seam, however, looked good at the top of the wall, but started to show unpleasantly as it moved down toward the floor. This is because the grass fibers at the edge of the strip moved away from the edge, so there was a wider-than-the-eye-wants-to-see strip of orange at the edge. It showed up more in person, but you can kind of see it in one of the photos.

This is typical of grasscloth, and not considered a defect. However, since there were only two seams on this wall, the one seam that had wide spaces of orange was very obvious.

I needed three strips of paper for this 10′ high wall, and the two double rolls had already given me three. I had one 10′ strip left, which would be good to keep on hand in case of damage or repairs in the future. But I thought that a better looking seam would be more important than the possibility of replacing a strip years down the road. So I ripped off that third strip, and then I took the remaining paper and cut a new strip.

The reason the seam was visible was because too much orange was showing at the seam. It needed more of the vertical grass fiber. So I took my straightedge and trimmed the new strip of grasscloth to eliminate any orange, and to leave a vertical strip of the tan grass fiber along the entire edge. I worried that this strip of tan grass would be too wide when it butted up against the previous strip already on the wall, with its tan grass at its edge, by creating a double-width of tan grass fiber. But it ended up that the double width of tan grass was far less noticeable than the double width of orange, and the seam turned out nearly invisible. The last two photos show a distant and a close up shot.

All this fussing and futzing was called for because the wall had only three strips of grasscloth and only two seams, and because the first seam looked good, so the second seam had to look equally good. And because we had extra paper to get that extra strip out of.

But had this been a larger room with many seams, and without lots of extra paper to tear off the wall and replace with new, the homeowner would have had to live with very visible seams that showed extra widths of orange, or seams that showed double widths of tan grass fibers. If the whole room looked like this, the look would be uniform, and would not be offensive. It is what’s called, “The inherent beauty of the natural product.”

One other point about this particular product – There was a little bubbling as the paper dried. Since the material has the plasticized backing that gave the appealing sheen, that same plastic backing allows no where for air to dissipate to when the paper dries, so it “off gasses,” leaving bubbles under the paper. I was able to poke tiny holes to let the gas escape. But I prefer grasscloth that is sewn onto a traditional paper backing, because it “breathes” and allows moisture to pass through it, letting the material lie good and tight against the wall.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at below retail price from 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.

Ripples in the Tail Ends

January 17, 2017
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Here is an imitation grasscloth that I like a lot. And, when I have clients interested in the texture and natural material look of grasscloth, I try to steer then toward this. It is much more uniform in color, the seams are just about invisible, and it will not stain easily or run like real grasscloth likes to do.

When I got to the last 5′ – 6′ or so of each bolt of wallpaper, though, I found these creases and punctures running horizontally across the back of the paper.

In all probability, once the paper backing gets wet with paste, it would smooth out and lie flat on the wall, and the horizontal ridges would not be visible. But you never know that for sure, plus there is also the possibility that paste could ooze out from the punctures in the backing of the paper and onto the surface. It would be impossible to clean paste off the textured surface of this material, so you could consider that strip ruined.

I chose not to put this paper on the wall. I had the homeowner order enough paper that I could discard these two 5′ lengths of paper, and use fresh, unmarred paper instead.

This is a faux grasscloth product from a book called Grass Effects. It is a string cloth material that has the texture that people seek these days. But, because it is a man-made instead of a “natural” material, it has virtually none of the color variations, shading, paneling, bleeding, staining, or other problems of real grasscloth. I love this stuff, and I try to steer clients to consider it.

This wallpaper is in the EcoChic line by WallQuest. It can be bought below retail price from 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.

Silvery Grasscloth on Bookshelf Backs

December 18, 2016
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This homeowner has a wonderful knack for decorating, and her front sitting room in a newish home in the Rice University area of Houston is beautiful. But she wanted to add a little “oomph.”

This grasscloth did the trick. The natural material adds texture, and the silvery backing adds a little glamor without overpowering the rest of the room. And it’s a lovely background for the decorative items on the shelves.