Posts Tagged ‘oak forest’

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. 🙂

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A Nice Faux Grasscloth for Wet Areas – But A Little Difficult to Work With

February 17, 2019


OK, well my “after” shot didn’t turn out, so all I have for you are these close-ups … which do a fine job of showing the texture of this product. It’s made of vinyl, which allows the texture to be embossed into the surface.

In a bathroom, vinyl is a good alternative to real grasscloth, because water splashing on it will not stain it or cause inks to bleed. I run caulk along where the material meets the countertop / backsplash, so that if water pools up along the surface, it can’t be wicked up into the wallpaper (which could cause curling).

This is a fairly thick vinyl on a non-woven backing, and was somewhat difficult to manipulate into areas where it needed to bend – such as pressing tightly against the ceiling or moldings when I needed to trim off excess paper. It took a lot of strength and pushing in order to get a cut that was nice and close to the corner. I just did an accent wall with few obstacles, but this product would have been difficult to work with in a room that had multiple walls to turn around, and things to cut around – windows, cabinets, etc., or outside corners to get the paper to wrap around – you’d probably need to get out the heat gun and spend a bit of time on each such turn.

I used the chalk to color the edges of the dark wallcovering because it had been backed with white material, and also because the edges themselves were a bit burnished.

The faux grasscloth is by Thibaut, and I believe is in one of their new books highlighting textured materials. The home is in Oak Forest (Houston) and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. https://www.cokinosdesign.com/

Sloppy, Lazy Painters

February 16, 2019


Here we are in the master bathroom of a brand newly built home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston.

Before I put the charcoal-colored wallpaper up, this wall was originally painted white. Somewhere along the line, after the wall light sconces were put up, the painters came to add paint to the wall.

They didn’t bother to remove the sconces, or even to put protective blue painter’s tape around the metal base of the sconces. They also were not able to “cut a neat line” with their brush.

Consequentially, as you can see, they got paint slopped onto the bases of all four of these new-and-expensive light fixtures. Not shown, but the glass shades of the fixtures were dotted with scores of paint drips and splatters.

None of this was very noticeable while the wall was painted black. But now that the new dark wallpaper is in place, it’s very easy to see the white paint slopped around the light fixtures.

I hope the homeowners can live with the ring of white paint on the bases of their light sconces. If not, I’m just betting that any attempt made by these guys to clean or remove the paint from the light fixtures will result in damage to the new wallpaper.

Gold Metallic Greek Key Pattern in an Oak Forest Powder Room

November 22, 2018


This soft gold metallic-on-white background Greek key pattern doesn’t show up well in the photos but, boy, it really changed the room! Originally a bland tan with a thick wall texture, the powder room was large – but that’s about all it had going for it.

Unlike the other patterns chosen for this home, which are quite dramatic (see previous posts), this one is serene and fades into the background. But the white background combined with the shimmer of the metallic ink add a lot of brightness to the space.

The homeowner also did a great job of coordinating colors and themes in the wallpaper with the tiny mosaic squares of glass tile backsplash around the vanity.

This wallpaper pattern is by A Street Prints. It is a thick non-woven material, and will hold up a little better to splashes and little hands than a paper-paper. It is designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. You are supposed to hang it via the paste-the-wall method, but I prefer to paste the paper. In fact, with the two rounded (bull-nosed) outside corners in the room, as well as a few other difficult features, I really needed the extra pliability that pasting the paper provides. It is prone to crease easily, so needed special care in handling.

Also, there were two full bolts / double rolls that had printing defects. See third photo. Although these defects were minor, with such a plain pattern, they did tend to be pretty noticeable. I’m glad I had enough paper to cut around them, and was able to get the room done without any jarring defects.

This paper 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.

Subtle Pattern, Shimmer Brighten a Dining Rooom

June 17, 2018


This dining room in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston was originally painted grey, and the walls pretty much blended in with the paneling and window moldings. Boring. The wife wanted something a little more dramatic – but the husband wasn’t going for it. So they found this wonderful compromise.

The pattern is so subtle that it can’t be seen in the two distant shots. But you can see how the lighter color is brightening up the room, and how the contrast between the walls and trim show off the pretty moldings in the room.

It’s a pearlized silver ink on a white ground in a triangular geometric pattern. This pattern is meant to be a background, rather than stand on its own. There will be some large artwork, or perhaps a showy mirror hung on the walls, which will become the main focus.

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.

Interestingly, this house is an exact clone of a home a few blocks away, where I hung wallpaper last year – yes, in the dining room!

Sunroom With a Wonderful Faux Grasscloth –

May 18, 2018



This den in a 1948 ranch style home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston has two full walls of glass that look out onto a beautiful, green yard. The room was originally papered in really dark green vinyl faux grasscloth – I think the idea was to coordinate the room color with the verdant foliage outside. It wasn’t working. “We’ve lived with this for 20 years,” said the husband, “and have been trying all that time to figure out what would make it look better.” Indeed, I first looked at this room in 2015. Well, three years later, the homeowners finally found something way better.

The new wallpaper is also a faux grasscloth in a textured vinyl material. I like this product much better than real grasscloth, because it is free of the visible seams, shading, paneling, and color variations that are such a disappointment with the real stuff (do a Search here for more posts / info). It is one of the few wallcoverings that are actually water-resistant and stain-resistant, and it will stand up to being banged into now and then – it’s the same commercial-grade material used in hotels and hospitals.

In addition, the scrim (woven fabric) backing, along with the vinyl surface, will provide some “give” – which is good, because this room had stress cracks in the drywall over doors and windows, and showed signs of the house shifting on its foundation, thanks to our contrary Houston gumbo soil.

The mottled color of the paper, along with the woven texture, give the feel of real grasscloth. The tan is a natural color, and it goes nicely with the view outside the window, but doesn’t compete with the scenery like the dark green paper did. The dark furniture in the room is no longer swallowed up by the dark wallpaper, and all of a sudden, the whole space is much brighter.

After 20 years, it’s a big change for the homeowners, but already, they are loving it!

This wallpaper pattern is called Bankun Raffia, and is by Thibaut Designs. 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.

Transforming a Stark Hallway

October 7, 2017

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This young couple in the Garden Oaks neighborhood of Houston has a beautifully updated and furnished 1940 ranch style home. But they wanted to up the volume, so to speak, and thought that this hallway, which slices through the center of the home, would make a fine focal point.

I’ve hung this classic damask pattern twice before, and was carrying around a sample of it when I visited them for an initial consultation. They liked it immediately, and, after considering several other patterns, decided on the damask.

To make the area really special, they added a chair rail and crown molding.

It’s hard to get a good shot of a long, narrow hallway. But you can see how the color and pattern adds warmth and dimension to the space, and the lightly pearlized shimmer of the paper definitely adds a touch of understated glamor.

Since the chair rail was a main feature of the room, I positioned the pattern so that the bottom of the damask motif landed just above the chair rail. Likewise, the top of the motif sits just below the crown molding. This looks a lot better than having part of the design chopped off in mid-motif.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and was delightful to work with. 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.

In fact, the couple is going to meet with Dorota tomorrow, to choose a complimentary paint color for the bottom portion of the walls.

“Sigourney” Wallpaper in China Seas Collection by Quadrille

June 16, 2017

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This “Sigourney” design by Quadrille is a well-loved wallpaper pattern. It comes in a large and a smaller scale. Today I hung the larger pattern.

This went in the large and sunny breakfast area of a new home in Oak Forest (Houston).

The wallpaper had a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand, before the paper could go up. The heavy inks smell like mothballs, and fight against the paper backing, causing the paper to “waffle” (pucker) and the edges of the paper to curl.

My table-trimmed seams curled and didn’t want to lie down against the wall, so I ended up double-cutting (splicing) all the seams. Double-cutting involves a lot more steps and materials than simply butting factory-trimmed seams.

So this job took a lot more time and sweat than expected, but turned out looking fabulous.

Heads In The Sand On A TV Wall

August 28, 2016
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The homeowner saw this paper and fell in love with it. She wanted it on an accent wall in the living room; a big-screen TV will be mounted on the wall.

The home has a mid-century modern vibe to it, and is in the far west section of Oak Forest (Houston). The wallpaper manufacturer is Bespoke, a British company.

This pattern is darned cute – I have hung it before, in fact. I knew it would look good on the wall, but it wasn’t until I had finished and stepped back that I got the whole picture, and grasped just how perfect this paper is for this room.

The big birds add a clever bit of whimsy to the room, and, because the design is printed with only one color, there is not a lot of busyness to distract the eye.

Personally, I think I would rather look at the wallpaper, than watch the TV. 😉

Warming Up an All-White Bathroom

July 9, 2016
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This is a nicely done bathroom in an attic conversion of an older home in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston. The homeowners loved the look, but, with white subway wall tile, white floor tile, white vanity, pale cararra marble counter top, and white wall paint, they thought the room felt cold. They were right. They were also right when they thought that a subtly-colored wallpaper would warm up the room.

This trellis pattern in grey-on-white is perfect for this room. It adds just the right definition between the wall space and the white tile and wood, while sticking with the monochrome color scheme of the room.

The homeowner originally was thinking of papering only two walls in the room, and leaving several detached walls painted white. I suggested that papering all the wall space would give a more cohesive look. She took me up on it, and once the room was finished, it was very clear that papering all the walls was the right choice.

Because the room was built into the eaves and sloping roof of the home’s attic, there were lots of vaults and angles and tricky turns to work around. These took a lot of time, and ate up more paper than a room with a flat ceiling would. The last photo shows the pile of remnants that were left after matching the pattern and cutting around the angles, doors, and vanity. It also takes extra paper to match the pattern properly in the corners. Again, I’m glad the homeowner listened to me and ordered the amount of paper I recommended.

This classic trellis pattern is by Brewster, and was bought on-line directly from the company. It is a non-woven material, and a paste-the-wall product.