Posts Tagged ‘plotting’

Meg Braff Bad Printing Job

November 15, 2022
The homeowner very much loves this simple, tone-on-tone shore bird pattern for her dining room – just the top , above the chair rail / wainscoting. Here I’m plotting where to best situate the pattern on the wall , between the chair rail and ceiling , while keeping the most important pattern elements and motifs intact . (no cutting off birds’ heads at the ceiling , nor at the wainscoting ) I’m also checking the pattern match .
It quickly became evident that the pattern match, as laid out by the factory, was incorrect . Match it at the bottom (by my thumb ), but as you move up , the pattern goes a little out of whack . This is actually not all that bad , and is considered acceptable – the industry standard allows for up to 1/8″ – 3/8″ mis-match .
Hand-trim screen-print materials such as this are particularly notable for pattern mis-matches .
For the record, they’re also known for curling edges , puckering , waffling , and other issues that make them difficult to hang , as well as questionability as to how long they’ll perform on your wall before wanting to resort to that curling at the seams .
More pattern mis-matching .
But the situation got worse . These high-end screen prints often come with an unprinted selvedge edge that has to be trimmed off by hand , with a straightedge (the blue metal thing ), a razor blade – and a steady hand.
If the trim guide marks printed on the material by the company are ” off ,” then you’re supposed to ” trim to the pattern .” This means that you find the design element on the left edge of the paper and then find the corresponding element on the right side, and place your straightedge so that your trim cuts will result in the two edges matching up perfectly. (Or at least within that 1/8″ -3/8″)
At this point, the white lines in the design – let’s call them ‘grapes’ – are abutting my blue straightedge , and should meet up perfectly with the corresponding white lines on the grapes on the opposite side of the subsequent strip of wallpaper.
But, unfortunately, with this material, that didn’t work. If I lined my straightedge up with the pattern design elements , as in the photo above this one, by the time I moved down a few feet , as you can see in this photo , the pattern begins moving away from the straightedge . The white grape outlines do not butt up against my straightedge.
The likely reason is that this material has been printed on the bias . That means that the artisan at the factory got his screens out of whompus , for lack of a better term.
” Trim to the pattern .” OK. So here I’m placing my straightedge at 1/8″ away from the ” hook ” in this design .
Still the same distance from the “hook.” But the white lines are starting to move away from the straightedge.
Here they’ve moved farther off. With this design, from a distance , you could maybe live with the white lines not meeting up perfectly.
But what you couldn’t find acceptable is that the tan area between these white elements would be growing wider diagonally as you move both up and down the wall. Look at the photo. You can see the tan area growing larger .
But it gets worse as it spreads farther … As that tan section grows wider like a “V” or a wedge as you move up or down the wall, it additionally pushes the design motifs at the top of the ceiling or at top of the wainscoting either up or down along the horizontal lines of the ceiling and wainscoting .
So not only do you get a widening tan line between each seam , you also get the birds’ heads moving up or down from where they’re supposed to be positioned below the ceiling or above the wainscoting .
I spent an hour and a half trying different placements and trimming methods . I knew the client loved this pattern and that she was willing to accept reasonable flaws in the pattern match and positioning.
But even given that, I wanted her to have a good looking dining room – not one with uneven spacing between strips, or grossly irregular positioning along the horizontal lines in the room.
I even consulted with several (five!) “high-end” installer buddies of mine. No one had a ” tip ” for making an improperly printed design fall correctly on the wall. In fact, all five of them said it couldn’t be done.
I determined that this material was unhangable.
As mentioned, I tried to find an installer buddy who could make this work and get this client’s dining room done in time for Thanksgiving dinner. But no one wanted to take it on.
I don’t know if the manufacturer will replace the paper or refund the $ spend. Manufacturers are usually keen on saying that “it’s the installer’s fault .” I can say that I’ve had similar issues with Meg Braff papers in the past.
The homeowner really loves this pattern. It’s possible – but not assured – that purchasing the same design but in a different run will yield a better factory printing job.
Just a note that printing defects , curling seams , wrinkling / quilting , and more, are somewhat common with hand-screened wallpapers . And here’s another reason why I’m happiest when clients stick with middle-of-the-road, or slightly upper priced , wallpaper options . Email me and request my Info Pack (or see the link on the right) for more information and brand name recommendations.
Sad to bow out and leave this client with an unpapered room, and no viable solution or direction . But better that than to take on something that I can’t assure will look good. I hope she tells me what she ends up doing and how all this turns out.

Two Color Rhythmic Print for Heights Breakfast Nook

September 7, 2022
Before. Grey and boring .
The built-in banquette seating has been removed.
Finished.
Closer look.
Showing the pattern centered on the wall, and with the shutters. The dimensions of the paper not corresponding well with the width of the window, along with logistics of pattern placement at the ceiling line but starting my first strip under the window all created some plotting and engineering challenges. Fun, but time consuming. But it turned out great!
The original idea was to just paper the nook area, ending at the vertical door molding. But it would have looked odd to stop the wallpaper above this doorway. So the homeowner and I decided to run the paper along the top of the doorway, and then down the left side (not shown), which dead-ends into some cabinets and the granite countertop. It looked good and was the right call.
It tickles me that this is quite obviously a riff on the very popular Strawberry Thief wallpaper pattern by William Morris , which is quite popular right now (do a Search here to see my installations of it). When a company comes up with a hit, you can be assured that a competitor will soon be making its own version of it.
The original has a lot more color, but this version is limited to just two colors. Even though there is a lot of contrast between the black and the white , the pattern doesn’t feel busy, because the design is so close and tight .
There is a lot of symmetry , repetitiveness , and balance in Wm Morris and similar styles .
I love the raised ink texture to this material .
Whoops! A slight pattern mis-match . The overall design is busy enough that small imperfections like this (as well as some color variations / shading ) are not really noticeable .
It’s odd to me that the printing defects are different in different strips / rolls of the wallpaper . You’d think that if the print roller was out of whack, it would create the same image every time it strikes the wallpaper surface. Or maybe it’s the trimmers that are off. If they had cut 1/16″ more off that left edge, we might have a perfect pattern match .
The manufacturer is York , one of my favorites , in their Sure Strip line, also one of my favorites.
It’s in the Magnolia Home collection , by, yes, Joanna Gaines , of HGTV fame with the show Fixer Upper .
SureStrip is a pre-pasted , thin , flexible , non-woven material that is easy to hang . It’s also easy to remove when you’re ready to redecorate , because it’s designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece with no damage to your walls .
installer houston birds

Black Grasscloth in West U Dining Room

August 21, 2022
Window wall before. Due to the logistics of plotting and hanging grasscloth, this one wall took me six hours. More on that in a separate post.
Finished wall with drapes replaced. The drapes compliment the slight sheen of the grasscloth material. How elegant !
Below the windows.
Below the windows .
Rounded bull-nosed edges on this entry arch . The edges are always tricky to wallpaper .
Arch done.
East corner. I stripe the wall with dark paint to prevent the white wall primer from showing in case of tiny gaps at the seams .
The southwest corner had an odd angle in it, probably due to the powder room or stairs or maybe A/C ducts on the other side of the wall. The light hits that one angled wall differently.
This photo also nicely shows the fine texture of the grass material, and the subtle sheen .
Also note that the seams in grasscloth are always visible . So good installer will take care to plot so the panels are placed in the most pleasing manner – in this case, down the center of the wall to the left. This does eat up a little (or a lot) of extra paper – the rolled up scraps you see are leftovers from this process. They can’t be used anywhere else, so will be thrown away . Planning all this is another reason to have the installer figure how many rolls / bolts are needed. Purchasing based on square footage would result in an unbalanced panel layout .
Northwest corner.
Grasscloth often has shading or paneling ( color differences ) between strips. This particular grasscloth was amazingly homogeneous in color, and I was very pleased. In fact, over this entry to the home office was the only place where there was any noticeable color difference at all. (also visible in previous photo)
Unfortunately, I don’t know the brand . But I suspect that a lot of grasscloth and other such natural materials are made by the same manufacturer – just sold under different brand names .
The home is in the West University area of central Houston .

Geometric Grasscloth in Home Gathering Area

June 29, 2022
No, this large room with sink and counters isn’t a kitchen. The family loves to entertain both family and friends, so included this “bonus” room in their new home’s plans. It’s used for both entertaining and crafting.
The wall facing you was originally painted a semi-gloss navy blue. In the photo, I’ve applied my wallpaper primer.
It will adhere to the glossy paint, and provide a matt finish for the wallpaper paste to grab ahold of.
Taking measurements and plotting the layout.
This paper has a selvedge edge , which has to be trimmed off by hand with a straightedge and razor blade. The manufacturer has not provided trim guide marks , so I am using a ruler and my eye.
The new look is so dramatically different I couldn’t resist taking a photo mid-hang. As you can see, I’ve used dark paint to stripe under where the seams will fall, to prevent any of my primer from showing through at the seams.
You can see the ceiling line starting to track upward on the right portion. More on that below.
Finished. Perfectly centered.
This is the mounting hardware for the big screen TV . I asked them to remove the TV, but we left the mounts in place. In order to support the heavy TV, they are placed quite securely into the wall , and I feel it’s best not to jimmy around with that.
Rather than have the first strip straddle the TV mount, I plotted to have my first seam fall down the middle of the wall, placing a seam in the mid point of the mount. This meant I had to hang four strips instead of three, but it made it a whole lot easier to work around the TV mount, as well as to keep the left and right edges of the grasscloth straight and plumb.
Close up showing the texture of this grasscloth material. It’s atypical to have grass cloth printed with a pattern , and I rather like the way the ink looks somewhat scratchy against the rough background.
Because it’s Schumacher, you can expect printing defects . The slight pattern match doesn’t bother me, as there were many more places along each strip that matched up perfectly. Nor do I mind the different intensity of ink on the two strips. That’s all part of the look of grasscloth.
But I wasn’t pleased with the white ink out in the middle of nowhere, as seen about 1//3 down the center of the picture. This isn’t considered a defect , and from a distance it’s not really noticeable. But it bugged me.
So I used some water-based paint and a very small brush from the craft store and lightly touched up the spots.
I also softened the mis-matched edges a bit. There’s a fine line between covering the white spots and staining the material, so use a light hand. And never permanent ink or oil-based markers or pastels.
Likewise, the ceiling line was not level, so as I moved from the mid-point out to the right, the ceiling rose above the geometric motif’s top edge, and a white line began to be visible, but only to the right of the centerpoint.
So I used the black paint to cover up that extra bit of white. This increases the width of that horizontal navy blue line from 1/4″ to about 1/2″. But from down on the floor you can’t tell, and it looks a whole lot better than having white on the right side and none on the left.
The brand is Schumacher and the home is in the Garden Oaks / Oak Forest area of Houston.
The interior designer who came up with this bold and lively look is Clayton Brooks .

The Big Easy On The Walls

March 5, 2022
West wall smoothed, primed, and ready for wallpaper.
The homeowner used to live in New Orleans, and she tells me that signs like this are very common in local convenience stores and neighborhood dives. Transplanted to Houston, these signs are very dear to her heart as a reminder of her roots – and the funky lifestyle in the Big Easy.
She wanted the signs recreated somehow to cover the walls in their newly-renovated powder room in the Houston Heights. I suggested she contact rebelwalls.com , who custom made the paper and sized it specifically to fit each wall in the room individually. I measured and made drawings, and a designer named Simon at RebelWalls laid it all out.
North wall before. This is the wall with the toilet and sink.
There were a couple of glitches, the first being that the strips were printed about 10″ longer than I requested. No biggie – I’d rather have too much paper than come up short.
But the main glitch being that I had asked for this “sign” to be centered over the toilet, which meant that the center of the sign (I used the middle fleur-de-lis) would land at 17.5″ from the wall to the left. But somehow it got printed to where the left edge of the pattern was 17.5″ from the wall … That left a whole lot of white space between the wall and the design, and also pushed the words too close to the mirror, which will hang over the sink to the right.
After careful measuring, calculating, and testing, I determined that if I used my straightedge and razor blade to take off a 12″ wide slice from the left side, the “sign” would move to the left such that its center would fall over the mid-point of the toilet.
VoilĂ ! As you see in the photo, now the words are nicely balanced on this section of wall, and will not crowd the mirror which will be hung to the right.
The rest of the wallpaper moving to the right is unprinted, so as to leave a blank slate for the mirror to hang on. Here you see that wall, and also the wall to its right. This east wall has the same sign, but in a smaller scale, sized to fit the narrower wall. It’s also placed at a different height
Graphic designer Simon used my drawings and measurements to get the words nicely centered on this wall. The area above the door to the right (not visible) is left blank.
Here is the west wall (on the right) abutting the south / window wall.
The bull-nosed / rounded edges / corners such as you see around the window are really a pain with wallpaper, especially when they go both around the sides and the top, and can lead to some impossibilities. Too complicated to get into here. But I was pleased with the way this worked out. And the placement of the pleated shades toward the front of the opening helped a lot, too.
One interesting thing to note is that the thickness of this non-woven wallcovering (along with the joint compound I used to smooth the textured wall) is enough that it narrows the space inside the window just a tad,,, and that makes it a bit tight for the shades to fit back in,,, and that opens the potential for abrading the wallpaper as the shade is raised and lowered over time.
Another point … even though the widths of the wall spaces to be covered were different, we requested that the size of the font on the “sign” lettering be the same on the west wall and the north / mirror wall, and ditto for the window wall and the door wall.
I also made sure that the “signs” started at the same distance from the ceiling. This then ensured that each “sign” would land at the same distance from the tile below it.
Synchronizing the size of the fonts as well as the spacing between ceiling and tile helps immensely to lend a feeling of unity and order to this room.
I spent a full 2 1/2 hours plotting, measuring, testing mock-ups, and going back to the drawing board, before I ever cut any paper.
Prior to that, there were two visits to the home to get measurements and kick around options with the homeowner. In addition, she spent countless communications with the manufacturer and with our specific designer.
All this futzing is important, because, with murals, there is no second chance. There’s only one of each panel, and if one gets screwed up, there are no more to pull off the bolt, like you’d have with regular rolled goods.
RebelWalls is the manufacturer. I’ve had lots of great installs with this company.
What was inside our box, including Simon’s dimensions and lay-out.
Basic installation instructions. Ours was a bit – a whole lot – more complicated, because it covered not one but four walls. In our case, it worked best to have each wall be a separate mural, so to speak.
RebelWalls includes free wallpaper paste. I prefer to use my own pre-mixed vinyl adhesive, which is SureStik Dynomite 780. Recently bought by Roman, so the name has changed to just 780.
Certain pastes have been known to ” stain ” non-woven wallpapers (areas look wet but never dry out). I think that a high moisture content in the paste has a lot to do with this. So I’m hesitant to use a powdered paste that needs to be mixed with water.
I’ll squirrel away that RebelWalls powdered paste for another, better suited job. For this home’s install, I’m sticking with my tried and true 780.
A coupla more notes.
One, this project was a study in vision, desire, anticipation, and patience. The homeowner first contacted me in July 2021. It took nearly eight months to come to fruition. Granted, they had a whole kitchen remodel in the middle, which also included an update to this powder room. But just speaking for the wallpaper, there were several site visits, many emails, and then innumerable communications with the design team at RW.
In fact, since I’ve hung lots of RebelWalls and am familiar with their process, I thought I could lay out the design. But this project of separate “sign” motifs for each wall section was taxing my skill set. Finally I laid down my pencil and paper and said, “Stop doing what you yell at your clients for doing, which is trying to do something you don’t have expertise in! RebelWalls has designers who are trained to figure all this out. So let THEM do the math and placement and calculating and layout.” So we turned it over to them, and within a short time they had it all worked out perfectly (except for those few glitches I mentioned). Their customer service was amazing.
All this was crucial to ensuring that mural pieces fit the wall perfectly and that the final product looks stunning.
I also want to mention that the RebelWalls quality is excellent. It’s a non-woven material which has many advantages (too numerous to go into here, but you can Search). The seams melt together like butter and are invisible – even on areas with all that bare white space with no pattern. On a simple accent wall, you can paste-the-wall to hang it. In this (and most) cases, I pasted-the-material, which gives more flexibility and also ensures that paste gets into hard-to-reach areas – like behind a toilet.
In addition, the non-woven material is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate.
The company offers scores of patterns, from cute to sophisticated, and, as we did this time around, can make custom creations.
Super customer service, too.

lottery , money order , checks cashed , household supplies

Pattern Placement with Prominent Poppy

December 25, 2021
Re yesterday’s post, the large red poppy is a dominant feature in this wallpaper design, and could easily steal the show. I didn’t want it at the top of the wall, as I thought it would feel top-heavy. When the homeowner mentioned that she really loves the red flower, I worked to place it prominently. I found two heights that were aesthetically pleasing and alternated the flowers between the two heights. I also centered the flower in the wall space when possible, which you can see gave a very pleasing, balanced look. None of the red flowers was cut off by a door frame or molding. The short areas over the doors coupled with the vertical foliage in the design gave me a lot of wiggle room to fudge things and play with placement. All this plotting and engineering took a whole lot of time – but I really enjoy the challenge of it all.
Gave the eye a break from repetition here by not centering the poppy.
Aquafleur in Anthrocite colorway by Mind The Gap out of Transylvania.

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!

Classic Look in Historic Home in the Woodland Heights

April 23, 2020


This large 2-story home was built way back in 1985 – a whole 12 years before the Woodland Heights (Houston) neighborhood in which it sits was platted and developed. It just underwent a major renovation, but retains most of its original details, such as floor plan, windows, moldings, flooring, pocket doors, and much more. There are several large, regal live oak trees on the property.

The homeowner chose this classic damask pattern with a weathered look for all four walls of the dining room. It perfectly suits the room.

It took me about two hours of measuring, plotting, engineering, hanging, removing, re-hanging, yada, to get the design to perfectly flank either side of the window. All that work was worth it, to have the design fall symmetrically. But the real show-stopper is the view of those oak trees through the window!

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpapers, and is lovely to work with. The interior designer for the job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. She is the go-to designer in the Heights for whole-house remodels and new builds.

I threw in a photo of my work table, just for fun.

Tune in tomorrow, to see the finished room!

Flaws of the Day – Smudges and Streaks

March 11, 2020


The smudges you see are ink from the manufacturer’s printing process. They appeared on both the right and left side of this strip of wallpaper.

It was just by chance that I saw this before I got it to the wall (because normally you’re looking at the back of the strip while you are pasting it).

There was another, faint, thumb-sized smudge on the outer 3″ of another strip. Even though it was faint, it would have stood out against this very plain background.

Again, lucky that I spotted it before pasting, and was able to save the strip by plotting to use it where the defect would be cut off by the door frame.

The manufacturer is Thibaut, one of my favorite wallpaper brands. Issues like this are rare with Thibaut.

Balancing Grasscloth Panels

January 18, 2020


Because grasscloth does not have a pattern that can be matched, the seams are always visible. And, due to the characteristics of natural materials, the strips will have color variations within themselves. This means that you will distinctly see each individual panel on the wall.

Because each panel is noticeable, walls usually look better if each panel is the same width. In other words, on a wall 14′ wide, it looks better to have five strips that are each 33.5″ wide, rather than four strips that are 3′ wide and one that is 2.’

In addition, grasscloth invariably comes with edges that have been abraded during shipping. On top of that, it’s common to have color issues at the edges – either a light band, or a dark band, or irregular bands of shading along the edges.

For that reason, many paperhangers trim the edges off both sides of each strip of grasscloth. This allows the installer to trim the width to fit the wall’s dimensions, it gets rid of most of the damage caused by shipping and handling, and it reduces the shading that the manufacturer’s dye process may have left along the edges.

If you study the photo closely, you will see that all these panels are the same width.

And, while some jagged color variations do appear along some of the edges, it is not pronounced, as the darkest areas have been trimmed off.

There is still a color difference between the three strips on the right and the four strips on the left – but that is just the nature of grasscloth and its manufacturing process

As you can imagine, all this measuring and plotting and trimming takes extra time. If you’re like me and like math and geometry and logistics, hanging grasscloth can be a whole lot of fun!