Posts Tagged ‘pattern match’

Flooded Home is Finally Finished, and a Moroccan Trellis is the Finishing Touch

July 20, 2019


I’ve worked for this family several times over the last 25 years. Unfortunately, their home overlooking Braes Bayou (south central Houston) was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. The original home was torn down (along with my beautiful wallpaper ! 😦 ), and a new, raised home was built. Today I hung wallpaper on an accent wall in the dining room.

Photo 1 – the wall as the contractor left it

Photo 2 – the wall after I have primed it

Photo 3 – finished

I don’t like true grasscloth due to the visible seams and very noticeable color variations between strips, and also it’s propensity to stain easily. (Read my page to the right.)

The product pictured above is a fantastic alternative to real grasscloth. It is paper, superimposed with a vertical string material, so it has the texture and dimension that people are liking these days. The grass design is printed on (not real grass fibers), and this keeps the color uniform, so no abrupt color differences between strips.

The pattern can even be matched from strip to strip, making the seams pretty much invisible. You also have the option of not matching the pattern, to give a look similar to real grasscloth. Even then, the consistence of this design and color make it pretty impossible to tell where the seams are, if you are standing even three feet away.

In addition, the material has been treated, so it is somewhat resistant to stains.

I’ve hung this faux grass a good number of times, but this is the first time to hang it with the trellis design. The homeowner likes to mix modern with traditional, hence the geometric pattern with the antique furniture and chandelier. She also hunted for something that would meld nicely with the color of the paint on the woodwork. I like the look a lot.

This wallpaper pattern is by Wallquest, in their EcoChic line, and I believe in the Grass Effects book. 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.

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Chinese Hand-Painted Silk Mural

June 27, 2019


Here is some delicious stuff! This is silk wallpaper, hand painted in China with these beautiful bird, butterfly, and botanical motifs. Look at the close-up shots to see the gorgeous paint detail.

There are some historic companies who make these murals, like Zuber, Gracie, Fromental, and de Gournay, and they can run $500-$1200 per panel. (This wall took seven panels.) But my client found another manufacturer who was way more reasonable. http://www.worldsilkroad.com/

The mural was custom-sized to the homeowners’ wall. The studio added 2″ to the top and bottom, and a little more to each side, for trimming, and to accommodate walls that are not perfectly plumb and ceilings that are not perfectly level. (Never order a mural to the exact dimensions of the wall, and always best to have the paperhanger measure before ordering.)

There are a lot of things that make an install like this much more complicated than a traditional wallpaper. For starters, the silk can easily be stained by just about anything … wallpaper paste, water, hands. So it’s important to work absolutely clean. You will NOT be able to wipe off any errant bit of paste. The paper also had a half inch “bleed” of excess paper along the edges that had to be trimmed off by hand (no photo).

The material was thicker than expected, wanted to stay curled up as it had been in its shipping tube, and the backing was very absorbent, which meant that it sucked up paste and was almost dry by the time it was finished booking and got to the wall… So it required extra paste on the edges to get them to stick tight, while, once again, taking care to not get any paste on the surface of the paper.

The company provided precious little information. Well, actually there was information, but it came in Chinesnglish, and, bless their hearts, was virtually indecipherable. The company was very responsive, but, unfortunately, was unable to provide adequate information about paste recommendations, booking time, was a liner spec’ed, if the substrate was paper or non-woven, if the silk had a protective coating, and even whether or not the goods had to be hand-trimmed or came pre-trimmed. There was a lot of other mysterious content on their instruction sheet that ended up best being disregarded.

So I used common sense and traditional installation methods, and it turned out great.

In one photo, I am rolling out the panels, to be sure they are in the correct sequence. Even though the manufacturer had told me the panels were pre-trimmed and ready to butt on the wall, while rolling them out, I discovered that if I did that, the pattern match would be off. This is when I discovered that 1/2″ had to be trimmed off one side of every strip.

This also meant that each strip would be 36″ wide, rather than 36.5″, so my measurements and layout calculations had to be revised. This was particularly important because that first area to the left of the window was barely more than 36″ wide – and I didn’t want to end up having to piece in a 3/8″ wide strip of this delicate material.

Two other pictures show some crinkles in the material. I believe these happened at the factory or during shipping, because the same defects appear in two consecutive panels, at the same position. They were both up high, and, once the material got wet with paste, expanded a little, and then applied to the wall, these flaws were not detectable.

The last photo shows what you should expect from hand-painted products. They probably had one guy working on Panel 6, and another working on Panel 7, and each probably had a different size paint brush, and possibly their stencil (or whatever they use) was a bit off. Either way, this mis-match is not considered a defect, and is part of the beauty of a hand-crafted mural. There were really only two areas that matched this poorly, and they were both low toward the floor. In the upper areas where branches crossed the seams, the pattern matched very nicely. Really, it’s quite incredible that their precision can be as good as it is.

I’ve never worked with this brand before, but overall, I was pleased with the quality and the installation. You can find the manufacturer by Googling World Silk Road. It comes from England, but is made in China. (Gee…. why can’t they have one of those British guys translate the installation instructions?!)

This mural went on one accent wall in a master bedroom of a home in Idylwood, a small, idyllic, and very desirable neighborhood of 1930’s and 1940’s homes on Houston’s east side. The homeowners love vintage as much as I do, and are keeping most of their home true to its original state.

City Scape Zig Zag Lines

April 26, 2019


I love this headboard. The homeowner and his father-in-law made this from scratch, and they made the bed frame, too. I think it’s supposed to look like rough ship-lapped wood … but to me, it looks like the skyline of a major city.

Realizing that the dark navy paint on the accent wall behind the headboard was flat and boring, the couple went to Dorota (read below) and found this fun and lively wallpaper pattern. It echoes the shape of the headboard, while adding a modern, urban edge to the room. And I think it looks like a city skyline!

Note that this pattern very much resembles one by York, in the Candice Olson line, which I have hung a number of times. I guess there is nothing wrong with a company riding the tide of trends, and making a knock-off of a proven design winner.

This is in a master bedroom in a newish townhome in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston. My photo of the label didn’t turn out (Note to self: Always check your phone’s photo log before leaving work for the day.), but I can tell you that the manufacturer is Designer Wallpapers.

The material is a crisp, stiff, medium-weight non-woven material. This stuff has a fiberglass content, so it does not expand when it becomes wet with paste, and it also is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This material would have been more flexible if I had pasted the paper. But since this was one solitary accent wall, with no corners or toilets or sinks or windows to cut around, and since I didn’t feel like lugging my 7′ long and 30lbs table up the three flights of stairs to the master bedroom, I chose to paste the wall.

Because it was a dark paper adhered to a white backing, I used artist’s chalk to color the edges of the strips, so that the white backing would not peek out from the seams.

After cutting the non-woven strips, I roll them up backwards, with the colored surface rolled up inside, and the top coming off the roll first, and then secure it by wrapping an elastic hairband around it. This way, after paste is spread on the wall, when I climb up the ladder with the paper and unroll it, the printed surface will not come in contact with the paste on the wall.

Pasting the wall is a clean way to work, because no paste gets on the woodwork or ceiling, so there is nothing to wipe off. And the excess paper that is trimmed off at the ceiling and baseboard has no paste on it, so it’s clean and won’t stain anything it might fall onto.

The paper went up nicely, and the seams were positively invisible. Oddly enough, because the paper was supposed to not stretch or expand, I did have a little trouble with the pattern match dropping – the pattern matched at the top of the wall, but as you followed it down the 9′ high wall, the pattern began to rise. In order to accommodate this, I had to lower the pattern and allow a slight mis-match at the top of the wall, which permitted me to have a perfect pattern match at eye-level.

Also odd, since the paper was supposed to not expand, even though I hung my first strip against a plumb line (laser level beam), as it moved down the height of the wall, the pattern started to track to the right. As subsequent strips were hung, the paper became more and more off-plumb, until I reached the far left corner, and it was out of whack by more than half an inch from ceiling to floor.

If this had been some wild floral pattern, it would not have mattered. But with a rigid geometric pattern, and especially a vertical one like this, and on a dark background, even with a mere 1/8″ discrepancy, you’re going to notice when things get crooked.

Since the paper is not malleable, I was not able to stretch it into plumb. But I was able to pull a few tricks out of my hat to make it look like the paper was perfectly parallel to that left wall. I didn’t take photos, so no sense in my trying to explain it here. 😦

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallcoverings, 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.

Timorous Beasties Ruskin Floral – A Trying Pattern Match

April 18, 2019


Timorous Beasties makes some unusual wallpapers, with most of them including animals or insects in the design. It’s cool stuff!

This particular pattern, called Ruskin Floral, was more than a bit of a challenge to plot and hang. The manufacturer said there was no pattern match, but just a subtle impression in the textured background that could be matched if you wanted to, but was not necessary. They also said that this pattern match came at something like every 56″. And that it was a quarter-drop match (pattern motif repeats at the same height in the strip every fourth strip).

All of this info was wrong. It turned out that the tree branches in the design did match across the seams. And the pattern repeat was more like 36″, instead of 56″. And, yes, you could have matched the design as a quarter-drop – but it looked better as a traditional half-drop (repeats every other strip).

But what was most unexpected was that the design had these areas of darker foliage that appeared mid-way through the bolt. In every photo that I saw on the manufacturer’s website or on-line, only the picture of the sparse tree branches was pictured (what you see at the top of the wall in the top photo). Even though I rolled out several feet of each bolt on the floor, I had no idea that there was this other area of colorful and full foliage and insects, which you see at the bottom of the wall in the top photo.

I plotted and got my first strip in the center of the wall, and then pinned the second strip next to it. Once I stood back, I was able to see that the foliage got darker and fuller as it dropped closer to the floor. I had not anticipated that.

With 13′ high walls and 13′ long strips, and 33′ on each bolt of paper, there were 20′ more feet (one more strip) left on each of those two first bolts.

But when I pulled more paper from the bolt and pinned it temporarily to the wall, matching the background tree branch motifs, this new strip, which had started from the middle of the first bolt (the first 1/3 of the bolt was now on the wall), was full of colorful foliage – which did not meld well with the sparser tree branch area on the first two strips that were now on the wall.

If I hung this new strip next to the two existing strips in the center of the wall, I would have had two sparse tree branch areas in the center, and then a stripe of darker, fuller foliage directly horizontal to it.

At first, I was going to go this route, because it made the best use of the number of rolls we had (two strips from each double roll). I planned to put two strips of darker foliage next to the two strips of lighter tree branches.

I also contemplated taking off the two center strips (the ones with lightly leafed foliage) and replacing them with ones that had more color and fullness. But I realized that if all the pictures I had seen of this pattern showed the sparse areas, then that’s what the homeowner had seen, too, and she probably was not expecting to see the very dark and full and busy heavily-patterned area, especially not at the top center of her accent wall.

Even more compelling – we didn’t have enough paper for me to rip off and discard two 13′ high strips.

I spent about an hour and a half contemplating various possible options.

Just then, the interior designer walked in – and she was just in time. Two sets of eyes are better than one. By then, I had a number of strips pinned to the wall, to see how the pattern could be played out. She didn’t like my idea of hanging two sparse strips, flanked by two heavily pattered strips – she thought it looked top-heavy, especially over the windows.

We fiddled some more, knocked around various options, and finally concluded that, even though the bed would be obscuring much of the fuller pattern, the wall looked better with the sparse area up high, and the fuller floral area near the floor.

I studied the 33′ long bolt I had rolled out on the floor, with the lighter area at the top, the fuller area in the center, and then tapering off to a lighter area toward the end of the bolt. Our decision meant that I could get only one strip of paper out of each double roll bolt.

The problem with that was that I needed 10 strips, but only had 8 bolts. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

The next issue was that quarter-drop pattern repeat. And that sloped ceiling, which also effected the way the pattern hit the wall. If I used the paper the most economically, and matched the first tree branches as they came off the roll, then that quarter-drop pattern match would have started marching diagonally up and across the wall, and then dropped down again, 7′ to the right. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a look that would play out better on a larger space, such as a full dining room, not one accent wall in a bedroom.

(Quarter-drop pattern matches are very hard to get one’s head around, and way more than I can get into here, but suffice it to say – they lead to a lot of head scratching and a whole lot of wasted paper.)

After more fiddling, I realized that the pattern was printed on each bolt exactly the same; in other words, the design was more like a mural. With one strip per bolt, the design was played out across alternating “A” and “B” bolts. If I ignored the sloping ceiling and cut each strip to the full height of 13,’ I could ensure that specific flowers in the darker area near the floor would hit the wall at the same height, lending a homogenous and pleasing rhythm to the pattern.

Problem solved!

But now we get back to the wall that needs 10 strips, but we only have 8 bolts of paper (one strip per bolt).

In the top photo, all the paper has been hung except that last strip to the left of the window. (There is a mirror image on the right side of the wall.) That area was about 9′ high. Since I had already taken approximately 13′ off each 33′ long bolt, I had about 20′ still left. But since that started in the center of the bolt, it was an area full of the heavier colored and printed pattern. Even though the pattern of the tree branches would match, I didn’t want to place that darker strip next to the lighter strips already on the wall. It might have looked interesting, as a sort of darker “frame” for the outer edges of the wall – but, like the interior designer, I thought it would look too dark and heavy and lopsided.

I remembered that the pattern thinned out again as it moved toward the bottom of the bolt. So I unrolled the paper down to the bottom, and then, working from the bottom instead of the top, I found the pattern match that corresponded to what was on the wall, and cut it to fit the height of the wall.

Trimmed and put in place, it looked pretty darned good. This piece (and it’s twin on the opposite side of the wall) didn’t have nearly as much dark foliage at the bottom as the other strips. At first I was going to cut some flowers out of scrap paper and appliqué them to fill in the void areas. But I realized that was getting kinda obsessive over something that few people would even notice.

It was just a 12″ wide strip, and there will most likely be furniture in front of it, and we were able to get by without having to buy two extra double rolls (which would have been different runs (see previous posts).

Getting this wall with a tricky pattern match to look good was a mix of luck, skill, mathematics, and having purchased enough paper. Always buy more paper than you think you will need.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design, and the home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Disguising a Utility Box

January 21, 2019


Look closely – VERY closely, and in the upper half of the photo, you’ll see a metal utility box that has been covered with wallpaper.

This is a box for a defunct and un-used security alarm system, about 18″ square. The homeowners tried to get the box off the wall – but, despite the use of various screwdriver bits and power tools, the box would not come off.

So they were going to be stuck with a grey metal blob in the middle of their beautiful wallpaper.

Well, I thought I could do something with it. I could make it fade into the background of the wallpaper pattern.

Wallpaper won’t stick to painted metal, because it’s glossy. So I took a bit of sandpaper to knock off the gloss, and my primer Roman’s 977 Ultra Prime and coated the service box.

Then I matched the wallpaper pattern to the paper already on the wall, and covered the box with corresponding wallpaper.

This is more tricky than it sounds, because the box is 5″ deep, which created discrepancies in the pattern match, depending on from which angle you are looking. I opted to keep the pattern matched at the corner junctions rather than matching it as it would be view from a distance on the wall. That all gets too complicated to try to explain here.

The box had been primed, so it provided a good base for the wallpaper paste to stick to. But on some areas, like the edges after an outside corner, I smeared on a bit of clear adhesive caulk, to be sure the paper would hold, even under conditions of stress such as wrapping around a corner.

This whole thing took me 45-60 minutes. I am pleased with the way it turned out. From the floor, you sure would never know there is a large box sticking out of the wall.

Shimmery Geometric in a Bellaire Powder Room (Harvey Flooded House)

November 25, 2018


I wallpapered the nurseries for this client in her two previous homes. (Don’t ask me how old the kids are now! 🙂 ) Her current home in Bellaire was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. During the rebuild, this homeowner took the occasion to freshen and update the look of her ’90’s era home.

This shiny, curvy geometric wallpaper pattern fills the bill perfectly. The soft silver color compliments the new distressed grey wood-look floor tiles, and the sheen and design play wonderfully off the new contemporary chandelier (sorry, no picture!).

I usually have a long lead time, but this client was planning to host a party early next month and wanted her paper up, so I figured it was better to stay away from Black Friday shopping and hang wallpaper instead. 🙂 The homeowner was out of town, but she was able to let me in each day via remote-access, and I had the privilege of working in peace and quiet with no distractions or worries about disturbing the family.

That peace and quiet enabled me to do some intricate things… things that make the job look better, but that the average person wouldn’t be able to put a finger on. Like I say … something that is easy to LOOK at, but that was tricky and time consuming for me to PLOT AND EXECUTE.

For instance, you will notice that the wallpaper pattern is balanced / centered perfectly behind the sink / faucet. And that funny little alcove that the toilet is recessed into (what architect thinks these things up, to accentuate the toilet with it’s own little niche?!)… It took a fair amount of engineering to lay everything out so that the pattern would fall evenly above the niche and then down either side. Then the back wall was hung, with care taken that the pattern matched up with the pattern on the header above, as well as the walls on either side.

This meant that the pattern DIDN’T match on either the right or left corners inside the niche, nor the horizontal corner at the top back. But these areas are not very noticeable. I felt it was more important to make the pattern match when it is seen by someone who is standing outside the room and walking in – which is the view you see in the photograph.

This room also had another “hidden corner” (not shown) where I elected to allow the pattern to not match. This gave me the freedom to balance / center the design on the vanity and sink, and, as explained above, in the toilet niche.

Hard to explain, and hard for you readers to follow and envision. But the end result is a room with several perfectly balanced focal points, and a really professional look. I am so happy that I was able to invest the time to pull all this together. The finished room looks amazing.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their “Designer Series.” It is a textured vinyl product on a thin, flexible non-woven backing, and was a joy to work with. It was pretty resistant to creases, and it will hold up against water splashes better than other types of paper – a good choice for this powder room. It is designed to strip off the wall easily down the road when it’s time to redecorate. I have hung this twice before, in two different colors.

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.

Stretching Paper to Save a Seam

July 1, 2018


In this room, I was working from left to right. The last strip I hung ended under the air register, as you see in the top photo. By measuring and engineering, I knew that the way the next strip would fall would leave two seams in between the two doors on the right of the photo. (See last photo) But the width between those two doors was just a tad less than the width of two strips of paper, which would mean only one seam, so I really wanted to get away with that one seam, instead of two.

But if I hung just two strips between the doors, it would leave a 5″ gap over the left-hand door, between the strip on the left and the strip on the right. See top photo.

Never fear – I figured a way to bridge that gap – without screwing up the pattern match or horizontal repeat.

I found a piece of scrap paper with an appropriate design. I trimmed it so it would butt up against the strip on the left, and then overlap onto the strip on the right, with a bit of tree branch and flowers to disguise the area. Voilà! No gap! (See third photo)

This would not have worked on a full-height wall, and maybe not even on a 1′ high area over a door. But since we are talking about only 4″ or so of height, the eye never notices that the pattern is not exactly what it should be. And the rhythm of the design as it moves across the ceiling line is undisrupted – Your eye never notices that it is 5″ off.

This beautiful wallpaper is by Bradbury & Bradbury, in their new ’20’s Vintage line. I hung it in the master bedroom of a home in Bellaire (Houston), that was flooded during Hurricane Harvey.

By the way, the homeowners were talking about painting that air register a softer color to match the woodwork and blend with the wallpaper. The register had been stuck to the wall with caulk and paint, and was not removable. That blue tape is on there with a note to tell the painters to NOT put any tape on the wallpaper. Painter’s tape will pull the inked layer right off that beautiful new wallpaper. Actually, after I explained that to the homeowners, and also told them how the register would have to be deglossed with chemicals or by sanding, and then painted with paint specially formulated for metal and to withstand the condensation that happens around those air ducts, they decided to forgo painting it, and were happy to live with the color as it is. Whew!

Extra Paper Makes for Extra Nice Corners

June 7, 2018


When you go around a corner, you (usually) never wrap the full wallpaper strip around a corner. Instead, you split your strip horizontally so it will wrap around the corner a teeny bit (1/16” – 1/8” ). See top photo.

The next piece overlaps that by a hair. This means that you naturally lose a smidgeon of the pattern.

In this room, the walls were not plumb (which is true in virtually every house in Houston). So at the top of the wall, the amount of overlap was a negligible 1/16”. But by the time you got to eye level, the overlap was more like 3/8”. That’s enough to throw the pattern match off significantly. See second photo. And this was in a very noticeable corner, next to the vanity.

If I have an extra bolt of paper, I will have a few extra strips. Then I can cut a brand new strip, split it vertically, and make the pattern match pretty close to perfectly. (Sorry, no pic of the finished corner, which, BTW, did look perfect. 🙂 )

Medallion Kill Point Over A Door

February 15, 2018


When you wallpaper a room, the last corner – where your last strip meets up with the first strip – always results in a mis-match. We call this the kill point, and we try to hide it behind a door, up high, or in some other not-too-noticeable spot.

This room didn’t have any “hidden corners,” and I didn’t want the family to live with starburst medallions that were chopped in half. So I planned to put the kill point over the wide doorway leading from the dining room into the entry hall. This was a less-noticeable spot – but still, a chopped-off medallion would be very obvious.

When I plotted the layout, to get the pattern to match at the right and left corners over the doorway, there was going to be an excess (see the “pouch”) in the center of the wall. To get rid of this excess, I “shrank” the paper until it fit the expanse over the doorway.

I used a straightedge and some careful measuring to remove 1″ (or two star spikes) from each of three medallions. See third photo. When the remaining pieces were put together, you could not detect any pattern mis-match.

When it was all put together way up on top of the door molding (last photo), it all looks homogenous and balanced.