Posts Tagged ‘new home’

Tall Walls and Awkward Spaces

March 28, 2020


This home office in a new, contemporary home in the Sunset Terrace / West University neighborhood of Houston has walls that were nearly 11′ high. In addition, there were bookcases and desks that I had to lean over in order to reach much of the wallspace.

My solution was to bring my 6′ ladder in addition to my usual 5′ ladder. By placing the shorter ladder on top of the desk counter, I was able get close enough and high enough to do the wall behind the desk.

I’m not quite 100lbs, so my weight and its distribution on the counter was not a worry.

To reach the area over the bookcases to the left, I had to do a combination of balancing on the 5′ ladder, and stepping onto the very top of the 6′ ladder, then leaning precariously, and placing a foot onto the shelves – without putting too much weight, because they were not securely attached.

You can be sure that I had to keep mindful of my center of gravity, how close the ladder was to the edge of that counter, how far I had to reach, how much backward torque that placed on the ladder, how stable the ladder was on its surface, and a whole lot more – all while also concentrating on getting the paper straight, trimmed, and smooth on the wall.

Holy Cow! – Wow!!

March 7, 2020


As I like to say, you can get away with a lot of drama in a powder room. Here is proof!

The new home is in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston. The wallpaper is by Marimekko. It is a non-woven material, and can be hung by the paste-the-wall method or, the method I prefer, paste-the-paper.

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.

Bringing Color and Life to a Garden Oaks Dining Room

March 6, 2020


This family bought a new home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston, and then lived for a year with dull, lifeless walls in the dining room – all the while craving color and personality. Finally, the husband had a chance to tackle the textured walls (see previous post), and shortly thereafter, I came along.

This print is fun but not cutesy or trendy. And – while monochromatic, it adds a whole lot of color to the once-bland room.

Printed on a non-woven substrate, this product could be hung using the paste-the-wall method, or the paste-the-material method, which is what I did, for many reasons. It went up very nicely.

This wallpaper pattern is by A-Street Prints, 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.

Pretty, Scrolly Pattern for a Cypress Powder Room

August 10, 2019


The owner of this new home in the booming Towne Lake neighborhood of Cypress (NW Houston) wanted to add some “funky French country” flair to the home. For the powder room near the kitchen, she found this swirly take on a classic damask pattern. It has a pearlized finish that adds just a bit of shimmer.

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.

Timorous Beasties, Papillion de Nuit

April 20, 2019

Say it in French and it sounds beautifully exotic. In reality, they’re moths.

This rhythmic pattern by Timorous Beasties went in a powder room in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. Note the brick and wooden accents in the room.

Whereas most wallpaper patterns repeat either every strip or every other strip (half-drop), Papillion de Nuit has a quarter-drop pattern match, which means that the pattern repeats itself every fourth strip. It’s extremely difficult to figure out and to keep properly placed on the wall, especially when every motif is identical.

In addition, the powder room had some challenging features of its own. The whole job took me about 14 hours! It looks great, though.

It’s made of fiberglass-based non-woven material. This can be installed via the paste-the-wall method, or by pasting the paper (which is what I generally do). Some features of this material is that it is designed to be stripped off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate, and that it is dimensionally-stable and won’t expand or stretch when wetted by the paste.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Stroheim Playful Geometric – A Tough Hang Today

March 24, 2019


This colorful and playful geometric pattern went in an elevated “nook” in an open play area in a new home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. It wakes up an otherwise all-white house, and coordinates perfectly with bright artwork in the room.

The paper is by Stroheim, and was somewhat difficult to work with, especially in a room that presented the challenges it did – wide window, and four cubbyholes around three fixed built-in shelves.

First, the paper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, a straight edge, and a razor blade. This is tedious and took about an hour to trim eight single rolls.

Second, any time you have wallpaper whose ink smells like mothballs, you know you are in for a tough day. The ink absorbs moisture from the paste at a slower rate than the substrate, so the paper backing puckers (called waffling or quilting). This doesn’t go away, even after booking and sitting in a closed plastic bag for several minutes – so you end up with wrinkles and blisters on the wall.

One thing that helps with this is lightly wetting the surface of the paper with a damp sponge. This allows the ink to absorb moisture, and relax at the same time the paper backing is expanding and relaxing.

You will also notice in the photo that the edges of the paper are curling toward the front. This is, again, the result of uneven absorption of moisture from the paste. Unfortunately, this continues once the paper is on the wall. I had to keep going over the seams to make sure they were down and that edges were not coming away from the wall. No matter how much paste I put under the seams, or how tacky I let the paste get, it didn’t seem to want to grab those edges.

Once the paper is good and dry, though, usually the seams lie down nice and flat, and any blisters or wrinkles will disappear.

Clay-based paste has less moisture content, and could possibly help reduce the waffling. I hate clay paste, though, because it’s hard to wipe off woodwork and off the surface of the wallpaper, and because it works its way through the paper and casts a tan tinge on the paper.

One thing that will help with issues like these is a liner paper. A liner is a plain paper of a special material that is applied to the wall before the decorative wallpaper goes up. It’s job is to absorb moisture from the paste, which causes the paper to dry more quickly, and to “lock down” the seams quickly. So a liner has its place, but it does add an extra day of labor, plus the cost of the liner material.

Interestingly, the Stroheim instructions did not spec a liner; only a good quality wallpaper primer (which I did use). They also did not spec clay-based paste, but recommended three different types of clear pastes (vinyl, wheat, or cellulose), each of which is distinctly different and contains different moisture contents. I would think wheat or cellulose to be too thin and weak to adequately adhere this particular material.

I’ve hung plenty of their products and had no problems with waffling or curling seams; it’s clear that the company has a blanket set of instructions that they stuff into every roll, with no regard to the substrate it’s printed on or the type of ink that was used.

The other thing is, most of the time, you don’t know what you’re going to be working with until you show up at the job site. Even if you research the brand and pattern number ahead of time, there will likely be no mention of the type of substrate or the “mothball” smelling ink. If I had known, I would probably have suggested that this homeowner use a liner. Beyond that, it’s good to have your truck stocked with a variety of primers and adhesives.

Back to the difficult room … I always say that a window like that is easy for you to look at, but very difficult for me to get paper around, at least while keeping the pattern straight and properly lined up. That’s because papers stretch and twist when they get wet with paste, and can contort out of whack. And the wider the obstacle you are working around, the more the paper can go off-kilter. So you can start perfectly lined up on the left of the window, but by the time you get to the right side, the strip coming down from the top of the wall may not line up with the pattern coming across horizontally below, and the two edges may not butt up perfectly, either.

It didn’t help that the pattern had an irregular hand-drawn look, so I couldn’t use a ruler to make sure every horizontal line was equidistant from the window molding. So that window wall took about two hours in itself.

Then there was the wall on the right, with the four cubbyholes in between the three shelves. I had to get two strips of paper on the backs of each of those cubbies, keep the seams from curling, and keep the pattern straight, continuing to four more strips on the wall to the right (the inside side of the wall you see on the right of the photo next to the door molding), so that all four of those strips would line up with one long piece coming down from the ceiling. Oh, and did I mention the extremely unlevel ceiling? This wall in itself took about three hours.

Actually, the irregular hand-drawn look of the pattern helped immensely, because the pattern didn’t have to line up exactly perfectly. Also, the way it was printed on the paper, the design motifs didn’t cross a seam, so that allowed me to raise or lower a strip slightly, to keep the pattern where I wanted it, without disrupting the look of the design. In fact, it was possible to not follow the correct pattern match, and the eye really couldn’t detect it. I could also cut strips vertically to narrower widths, to suit the area I was working in.

There were a few other tricks I pulled out of my hat, in lining up the design after coming around the window and shelf walls, to plumb up the pattern after turning a corner, and to disguise the very unlevel ceiling. The kill point (last strip meets up with first strip) turned out amazingly undetectable, with very little tweaking from me.

In the end, the nook turned out fantastic, and is ready to host children’s performances, reading marathons, or just gazing out the window.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly on new builds and on whole-house remodels, and is a great resource for finding and coordinating all the details – tile, plumbing and light fixtures, rugs, furniture, lamps, accessories, paint colors, and, of course – wallpaper. 🙂

Change Perspective, Change Dimension

March 20, 2019


When looking at this wallpaper pattern from a reasonably close distance, it looks like elongated diamonds. But look at it in an alcove from a distance, and you see a horizontal striped effect.

A good reason to always look at the pattern in a room-set photo before purchasing, so you can see what it looks like played out on a full wall.

Either way, I like it. And it really makes this tall room look taller.

This wallpaper is by York, in their SureStrip line, one of my favorite papers to hang. It’s a thin non-woven material, is designed to strip off the wall easily and cleanly, and comes pre-pasted. This time, instead of their silly squirt bottle suggestion (which provides splotchy and inadequate coverage), or rolling diluted paste onto the back (which reacts with the pre-paste and forms a thick, gummy mess that dries too fast and traps air bubbles), I used the old-fashioned water tray method. I find this wets the paper and the paste better, and makes for a smooth surface, and the paper does not dry out before I get it to the wall (as it does when pasted the traditional way). I then rolled a thin layer of paste on the wall, to augment the pre-paste, eliminate blisters and bubbles, and reduce the chance of shrinkage.

This powder room is in a new home in the Timber Grove neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. She works mostly with new builds, or with homes undergoing major renovations. Her look is clean and open and calming … and I am seeing a little farmhouse look creeping in here and there.

What a Sexy, Dramatic Wallpaper!

November 17, 2018


This newish home in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston was plain-Jane and generic as they come, with every surface coated in tan. The cheery mother of three kids under age five wanted the home to reflect the youth and energy of the household. I am slowly transforming several spaces in this home. Keep posted!

This is the master bedroom. I say, there are not many people who have the guts to go this daring! The wallpaper pattern scale is large, the color is bold, and the design is avant-garde… It looks fantastic!

The design looks like chunks of agate that have been sliced into slivers. The color is that of malachite. It takes two strips of width for the whole pattern to play out – and that’s good, because this wall expanse is about 17′ wide.

This wallpaper pattern is by York Wall, 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.

Cute Paris Theme for Little Girls’ Shared Bathroom

October 4, 2018


Most everything in this new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is sleek and white. The homeowner wanted to add just a little pizazz to the hall bathroom shared by her two young daughters.

This Paris-themed design, with its pencil-thin lines and three-color palette is just perfect! I love the way the line drawing effect reiterates the lines in the shower’s subway tile. Charcoal grey, white, and just a touch of red are enough to brighten the room, without overwhelming the serene white color scheme. And it’s a fun design to look at. I mean, who wouldn’t love Paris – especially a Paris with a Ferris wheel?

The wallpaper is by York Wall, in their Sure Strip line, and is a pre-pasted product on a thin non-woven backing. It is designed to strip off the wall easily with no damage when it’s time to redecorate. In the meantime, it is thin and hugs the wall tightly, and the seams are practicably invisible. This brand is very reasonably-priced.

The interior designer for this project is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design. Stacie specializes in helping choose floor plans, finishes (flooring, countertops, paint colors), fixtures (faucets, lights, knobs), appliances, in new home construction and in remodel projects. Her look is fresh and clean, but very livable for modern families. She is a delight to work with.

Basket Weave Wallpaper Pattern on a Bedroom Accent Wall

August 14, 2018

For this accent / feature wall of Grandma’s bedroom in a very contemporary new home in the West U. area of Houston, the homeowner wanted something fun but not too edgy (Grandma’s gonna sleep in there, after all! 🙂 ). Plus she wanted to pull in colors from other rooms, particularly navy blue, as well as coordinate with the tufted headboard (grey) and upholstered bench (navy). And a little Asian flavor wouldn’t hurt.

Here’s a pattern that fills the bill! The hatch design is reminiscent of a woven bamboo mat. The navy background coordinates with the bench, as well as fabrics in other rooms of the house, and the grey and silver accents work perfectly with the tufted headboard. The design is contemporary, but not overwhelmingly so. Its surface is vinyl, but it has a velvet-like feel, and I believe it will help absorb sound, too.

The homeowner took my recommendation and visited Dorota (read below), who helped her track down this perfect fit!

The material is non-woven, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall technique. The backing and edges of this dark paper were white, so I ran a chalk pastel crayon along them to disguise the light color.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, 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.

Most of the furniture and accessories are from High Fashion Home near downtown Houston.