Posts Tagged ‘silk’

Lotsa Color, and a Nice Faux Silk

April 16, 2020


I have worked for this couple in their charming 1929 bungalow in West University (Houston) several times since the 1990’s. They definitely are not people to go with the all-white or all-grey or minimalist trends that are popular today. These folks like COLOR!

The dining room walls were originally upholstered in a botanical print on blue (which the homeowner did himself, and did a mighty find job of, too). So the room never was bland white. ๐Ÿ™‚ But now, 20 years later, they were ready for an update.

Their contractor removed the fabric and then skim-floated the walls smooth. Usually I have to go back and re-smooth the walls … but this guy did a really good job, and I was able to simply prime, and then hang the paper.

This is a vinyl product named “Wild Silk,” and is by Thibaut. It’s much more stain-resistant and durable than real fabric. Unlike real silk and other natural materials like grasscloth, this product has a pattern match. This means that you are not going to see each separate panel or visible seams, like you do with real silk. So the walls have a much more homogeneous and pleasing look.

The challenge lay with the old house and its un-plumb walls and un-level ceiling and window/door moldings. Since the ceiling was not level, if I hung the wallpaper true to plumb, then it would start “tracking” off-kilter at the ceiling line, and appear to be running either uphill or downhill. This effect was further complicated by the way the pattern ran along the window and door frames.

I decided to keep the pattern parallel to the ceiling molding line. This meant letting it go crooked along the door and window frames, if that’s how it turned out. The ceiling line was more visible and more important.

Since the pattern was tracking off-kilter, I used a razor blade and a straightedge to trim off a wedge-shaped chunk from one side of the wallpaper. This forced the pattern to move up (or down). After a few strips, I had tweaked it enough that the design was moving straight across under the crown molding.

Even though the strips were not hanging plumb, it looked wonderful along the ceiling line. This “silk” pattern was very accommodating of that. If it had been a design with a prominent motif that the eye wanted to see marching straight across the ceiling AND straight down along a door frame, it would have been much more difficult to pull off – maybe impossible.

Going around the window (no pic) was even more complicated. Because I was tweaking the three strips above the window to follow the crown molding, and also the three strips below the window – and you can’t guarantee that these will all adjust at the same rate. So getting the strip to the left of the window (no pic) to match up with the strips above AND below the window would be pretty impossible.

So I was extremely pleased when the pattern on all these strips did match up, within about 1/16″.

This is a vinyl material and was somewhat difficult to push tightly into edges and corners, and to cut through. I was glad that I didn’t have intricate decorative moldings to cut around. I used orange chalk to color the edges of the material, to keep the white substrate from showing at the seams.

I love the way the salmon color coordinates with the painted trim. Who paints door moldings orange??! THESE people do – and I highly applaud it! No boring all-white rooms in this house!

The look is bold, but surprisingly warm. The orange moldings against white walls would have been jolting. But with the salmon colored wallpaper, the whole effect is unified, inviting, and invigorating!

From Grey to Golden – Delightful Dining Room

December 14, 2019


This dining room accent wall started out the typical suburban taupe/grey color, with even the ceiling painted the same color. The homeowner thought the room looked cold before.

Accentuating this focal wall with a special silk-look wallpaper really brought appeal to the room, and the warmth the homeower was seeking.

The wall will be finished with an oval mirror, and distressed sconces, which will tie in nicely with the weathered-look chandelier.

The remaining walls, as well as the area below the chair rail, will be painted. I suggested picking a color that compliments, rather than matches, the wallpaper color. This will enable the papered wall to stand out, with it’s mottled colors and warm feel.

The wall will then fade into the background, allowing the mirror, sconces, and buffet to take center stage.

This wallpaper is by Designer Wallpaper. It is a traditional paste-the-paper product, and was nice to work with. It went better when I pasted, booked, and then dipped the edges into water before bagging, which helped prevent the edges from drying.

The home is in Kingwood, a northeast suburb of Houston.

Why Not To Put Natural Materials Where They Will Get Splashed

November 10, 2019


Here is a silk stringcloth that has been in a powder room for several years.

Stringcloth is a natural fiber, and is prone to staining when things get splashed on it. A bathroom is a particularly bad place for a delicate material like this, because of the likelihood of being splashed by water or other.

Grasscloth is another natural material that is best hung in rooms where nothing will touch or splash on it.

Calming Blue Silk on Bookshelf Backs – Schumacher

November 9, 2019


This is a somewhat nubby silk fabric mounted on a non-woven backing. The soft blue coordinates nicely with other elements in the room, and makes a lovely backdrop for the books and decorative items that will fill the shelves.

Silk wallcoverings are much like grasscloth, because the pattern cannot be matched. You will see all the seams. And there will be color variations and irregularities. This is all expected with these natural materials.

I was pleased with this one, because it was fairly homogeneous in color.

I used the paste-the-wall installation method. Silk, like grass, stains easily, so you have to keep your hands clean and dry, and don’t let any paste get onto the surface or ooze out at the seams.

The manufacturer is Schumacher, and the interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design. She works primarily in the Heights, Oak Forest, and Garden Oaks, and mostly does new builds or whole-house remodels.

A Few Small Issues With Schumacher Silk

November 9, 2019


Whoops! Someone at the factory got fingerprints on the wallpaper. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily, this was in the first foot or so of material, so I was able to cut it off and discard it without losing too much.

In the second photo, look just to the right of the pencil and you will see a band of darker colored material. Maybe the rollers at the factory pressed a little harder in this area – who knows?

This is part of the manufacturing process, and it’s part and parcel with natural materials like this silk. It is not considered a defect.

This silk was 36″ wide, and the strips I needed were 29″ wide. So I was able to trim off this darker band and use the part that was more homogeneous in color.

If I had needed the full 36″ widths, there would have been faint darker horizontal bands running the full height of each strip. Again, not a defect; just the nature of the beast.

The manufacturer is Schumacher.

Wildly Colorful Wallpaper

October 11, 2019


Looking for something innovative, unique, and hit-you-in-the-face colorful? The top photo is of a page from a magazine at my clientโ€™s home today. I donโ€™t remember the name of the magazine, but it was geared toward women, vegetarian, artsy, bohemian, avant-garde, free-thinkers, world travelers, trend setters, tree huggers, etc. Every page in the Homes section was awash in pattern and color.

The top photo shows custom-sized murals from backtothewall.co.nz

The second photo is of a de Gournay silk mural hand-painted in China. Plan on spending $500-$2000 per panel for a mural of this caliber, plus additional charges for installation. But rest assured, there are plenty of more affordable options being offered by other companies.

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.

A Nice Faux Silk

June 19, 2019


Recently, I’ve had a number of young client families interested in silk wallpaper. For their bath or powder rooms.

Silk is beautiful, and certainly creates a calming mood. But it is also highly stainable. Which makes it a bad choice for rooms where it may be splashed with water, sprayed with toiletries, or touched by peanut butter and jelly-stained hands.

There are faux product that make good alternatives, though. The lower-end paper-backed vinyls are not a good option, due to issues with seams (do a Search here).

Today I at Dorota’s store and she showed me this new product, from Thibaut, in their Texture Resource Volume 6 collection. It’s vinyl, so it’s extremely resistant to water and stains, and the backing is a synthetic non-woven material, which will not absorb moisture and curl at the seams like the lower-end vinyls do.

Dorota works in a Benjamin Moore store near the Rice Village. By appointment: (713) 520-6262.

Wallpaper in March 2019 Issue of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

March 5, 2019


The first picture is the most exciting. Murals have exploded in popularity these days, but they’re not the traditional palm-trees-hanging-over-a-white-sandy-beach photo. The pink floral mural looks like a very traditional hand-painted silk, most of which are very expensive. These days, there are all sorts of digitally-printed knock-offs, which are very reasonably priced. The other three murals are examples of more contemporary designs. Since many companies are printing digitally, their murals can be custom-sized to fit your specific wall. (Remember to have the paperhanger measure before you order – we know how to measure better than homeowners. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

The second and third photos accompany an article about decorating with house plants. I am tickled that they chose wallpaper as a backdrop for these rooms.

The last photo shows a bedroom papered with an abstract palm leaf pattern – which just happens to be yellow – the magazine’s feature color of the month.

Phillip Jeffries “Wish” Silk Adds Quiet Drama to a Dining Room Wall

February 21, 2019


The homeowners of this newish home in the Bellaire / Braes Heights / Willow Meadows area of Houston like it’s serene, monochromatic look. But they wanted something with more color and eye appeal on this focal wall in the dining room.

They chose this tone-on-tone 4-panel mural by Phillip Jeffries, screened on silk on a paper backing. The soft and whimsical design is called “Wish” – remember when you were a kid and blew the fluffy seed pods off of dandelion stems?!

A mural is pleasing to the eye, in part because it is one scene, and doesn’t have the repeating design motifs that a typical wallpaper pattern has.

I particularly like the way the design mimics the look of the chandelier. These are little things that visually pull the room together. And the homeowner did it without hiring a decorator!

The silk material was bonded to a thin paper backing. The first day, I primed the wall and then hung a liner , a special paper that will cushion the silk wallpaper and provide extra “grab” to hold the seams in place. I let that dry overnight, and hung the mural the second day.

The mural comes in a set of four panels. Each panel came 36″ wide, but there was a selvedge edge that had to be trimmed off by hand with a straightedge and razor blade, reducing the width of each to 33″.

This wall’s width required 21″ of a fifth panel. The mural is printed so that the left side of Panel 1 matches up with the right side of Panel 4. So the homeowners simply needed an additional Panel 1 (which became the fifth panel, last on the right), to cover their wall.

The mural was 11′ high, but this home’s wall was only 9′. So I rolled all the strips out on the floor and plotted out which were the most important design elements to keep, and which we could afford to lose. I cut off about 16″ from the top, and another 8″ or so from the bottom.

Silk is a natural material, and so there are color variations between panels, and even within the same panel. I hate these color variations in grasscloth, but in this silk material, I think they enhance the look. It looks like there are real strips of silk fabric laid on the wall – and that’s exactly what there is! In the close-up shot, you can even see nubs of the silk fibers here and there.

This wallpaper pattern is by Phillip Jeffries, 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.