Posts Tagged ‘stairs’

Little Giant – Cool Ladder

September 6, 2021

This accent wall in a Houston dining room is a little taller than I can safely reach with my 6′ ladder. Rather than run home and dig out my 8′ number, the homeowner set me up with their Little Giant.

I was glad for this experience, because I have heard my colleagues talk about these handy, adjustable ladders. It worked out pretty darned nicely!

It’s as high as my 8 footer, but the leg spread is much less, so it fits into tighter places and does not carry you so far away from the wall you want to work on. It also folds into different configurations, and can even be used on stairs.

One unexpected benefit is that you can straddle the top, which gives you a unique work position and access. It’s also amazingly stable … you can really toss your weight around, and over-reach (don’t tell OSHA!), and it won’t shift or jiggle.

The only disadvantage for lil’ ol’ me is that it’s fairly heavy. While I was able to move it around as needed in this small space, I doubt that I could carry the thing any distance, or set it up, by myself.

Thibaut Aster – Affordable Alternative to Schumacher Feather Bloom

October 7, 2020


One-of-a-kind would describe this powder room in the West University neighborhood of Houston. You walk down two stairs to get into the room, marble tile covers the bottom portion of the walls, the ceiling is low, the ceiling slopes, and there is a curved wall on the left, as well as a 5″ high space under the sink – what I call a torture chamber for wallpaper hangers.

The homeowner contemplated grasscloth (not a good choice in a “wet” room, and especially for a family with young children – read my Grasscloth page on the right). She really liked Schumacher’s “Feather Bloom” pattern on grass. But when I made my initial consultation visit, I advised that the 36″ high and 36″ wide scale of the pattern was too large for her small, chopped up powder room. And grasscloth is prone to color variations between panels. On top of that, the Schumacher is insanely expensive.

Thibaut to the rescue! Their “Aster” design is an obvious riff on “Feather Bloom.” But it’s a smaller scale, so suits this room much better. It’s on stringcloth, a man-made material, so no worries about shading or color discrepancies. There is a light protective coating, so a bit more resistant to stains. And the string gives the product the textured look and feel that people are loving these days (see close up photo). Best of all, the Thibaut version is way more affordable!

The homeowner has a small, round, gold mirror with a fluted edge that will look fabulous placed in the “bull’s eye” of the aster flower over the sink.

The once bland all-grey room now has color, texture, movement, and a whole lot of drama!

Crazy Install – Underside of Stairs

February 28, 2020


You are looking upward at the undersides of five stairs that make up most of the ceiling in this West U powder room. You’ve gotta wonder why the builder didn’t just have the Sheetrockers drywall over it.

Well, either way, the workmanship in rocking in all these surfaces was incredible.

Equally incredible was ME getting wallpaper onto them! 🙂

It’s a lot more complicated than it seems, looking at it from the comfort of your cell phone screen. I won’t go into all the many factors, but each of the five stairs took me about an hour.

Silvery Pearlized Faux Bois in a Very Complicated Powder Room

February 10, 2017

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This under-the-stairs powder room has a LOT of challenges: angles, nooks, turns, and a pedestal sink, not to mention those odd “columns” running through the ceiling. The homeowner wanted all surfaces covered, so I suggested a non-directional pattern. This faux bois fills the bill, because it looks virtually the same right side up or upside down. She also likes the “faux bois” (fake wood) look, and really loves the shimmery, silvery, pearly sheen of the silver-on-white colors.

So the pattern suits the room, and the homeowner loves the color; unfortunately, the paper itself was a true test.

This wallpaper is one of the newer non-woven materials, and it is intended that the installer paste the wall, rather than paste the wallpaper. However, this paper is thick, stiff, unmalleable, and creases easily. All this works fine on a flat accent wall. But problems arise when you try to paste a thick, stiff, unmalleable, easily-creased paper onto the walls of a very complicated room.

What makes a room complicated? Corners, angles, steep angles, ceilings, light fixtures that cannot be removed, and weird “beams” that appear to serve no purpose other than to madden the paperhanger. Oh, and let’s not forget that pedestal sink. This 12 single roll powder room (6 bolts) took me 12 hours to hang.

This was a paste-the-wall material, but I found that pasting the paper instead made it more pliable and workable. Most strips required multiple relief cuts, so I could work the paper against fixtures and into corners without creasing it.

The first strip I attempted to hang was around the pedestal sink, and then moving into the corner to the right. The paper simply would not allow me to manipulate it into position, and the ensuing struggle resulted in creases, cuts, blemishes, gaps at the seams, and all sorts of unacceptable results.

So I ripped that strip off and started over.

To get around the sink with minimal relief cuts or stress on the paper, I trimmed the strips vertically, to cut them into two narrower, more manageable sections. All other handling was done slowly and carefully, to put as little stress on the paper as possible, and to minimize the potential of creasing. It was still difficult to fold the paper into corners and trim.

Matching the pattern was difficult, because the silvery sheen of the ink combined with sun coming in through the windows and harsh lighting in the powder room made it virtually impossible to see any part of the pattern, much less match one jagged bit of tree bark on the wall to it’s counterpart going onto the ceiling.

The “beams” built into the ceiling, and the recessed areas behind them, were very difficult, too. The stiff paper didn’t want to bend around or stick to the slightly un-straight edges. Wrapping certain areas with wallpaper meant that other adjoining areas could not be covered with the same strip, so they had to be patched in – difficult to explain, but trust me, it was tedious, time-consuming, and took a lot of plotting and planning before any approach could be begun. Oh, and wrestling with cantankerous bull-nosed edges around the door.

In the end, the room looks great. The few mismatched areas and other imperfections just blend in with the wild pattern and shiny ink, so you don’t even notice them.

Next time, though, I will encourage the homeowner to get not only non-directional pattern, but a paper that is thin and pliable.

I hung this in the powder room of a newish home in the Museum District / Rice University area of Houston. This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, in the Anna French line, is called “Surrey Woods,” and 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.

Crazy-Making Undersides of Staircase

August 12, 2015

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Thank goodness the designer agreed with me to NOT paper each of these four boxes, on the ceiling of an under-the-stairs powder room. Usually, the undersides of the staircase is finished off with a sloped ceiling.

Wallpapering a sloped ceiling is relatively easy. But if I had had to put wallpaper on each of these 3-strip wide, 2-sided, curving boxes built around the individual stairs, it would have taken a good couple of hours, not including the prep.

The interior designer instead had a painter put gold paint on the boxes, which will look fabulous with the wallpaper – more pics tomorrow!

Doing the Step Dance

May 26, 2015

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Dang these “modern” style homes, with their sunken living rooms and half-stories! I set my table up in the living room, and had to climb up five stairs to get to the powder room. Then back down five stairs to my pasting table. That is five steps up and five steps down – plus climbing up my ladder – for every strip of wallpaper in this 10-single roll powder room. Whew!