Posts Tagged ‘stiff’

Serena & Lily’s “Fallbrook Cut Leaf” Wallpaper in West Houston Powder Room

September 8, 2020


Sego palm fronds is what this pattern reminds me of. Serena & Lily call it “Fallbrook” or “Cut Leaf,” depending on where you’re looking. No mind – it’s a fresh, crisp look with a lot of movement and fun.

I hung this in the powder room near the rear entrance and breakfast area of the home of a young family in the Energy Corridor area of west Houston.

Usually Serena & Lily prints on paper, and I am a great fan of that product. But this is the first time I’ve encountered a non-woven material from that company. I can’t say that I loved this stuff. It was quite stiff, and very translucent.

Lots of manufacturers are starting to print on non-woven. There are many benefits of that material – but it has to be a good non-woven. If S&L is moving in this direction, I hope they will do some research and networking and come up with a better substrate to print on.

Serena & Lily Wallpaper Too Translucent

September 8, 2020


I guess that Serena & Lily is starting to print on non-woven substrates. I am not a fan (see yesterday’s post).

Besides being very stiff and uncooperative, this material is very translucent. As you see in the photo, the leaves of the second layer of wallpaper are clearly visible through the top layer.

This means that it’s likely that color imperfections on the wall will show through. New Sheetrock, for example, with its grey drywall interspersed with bands of white joint compound. Or hanging this product on a dark painted wall will result in a “dirty” cast underneath the paper, and will not yield the bright, crisp white look that S&L is known for.

As a primer, I like Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime, which is a white-pigmented primer, and an ideal choice under thin, see-through material like this. But it is not a heavily-pigmented primer, so there is still the worry that the finished walls will not look as bright as they should.

I do hope that S&L will improve this product. There are tons of nice non-wovens available, so let’s hope they do some research and come up with a better substrate.

Candice Olson Goes Earthy In The Heights

May 1, 2020

Usually, you expect Candice Olson wallpaper designs to be full of glitz and shimmer and glamour. In both theme and sheen, this one is much more earthy.

This is the main living area of a beautifully and respectfully renovated 1895 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. Like most contemporary re-dos, the walls in this home are mostly white. The original-to-the-house fireplace was getting lost in that sea of white.

To the rescue comes this chocolate-brown wallpaper pattern with 3-D raised-ink impressions of Queen Ann’s Lace flowers. To keep with Candice Olson’s “glam” vibe, the stems are printed in gold ink. The dimensional quality of the ink syncs with today’s trend toward textured materials.

The dark hue really makes the fireplace stand out, yet the white flowers keep the look from being foreboding, and tie into the white used in the rest of the room.

I love the way the nature design and earthy color add an organic element to the room.

This wallpaper is made from a very sturdy non-woven material, which has a high fiberglass content. In fact, you could readily see the fibers, especially when the material was torn. Which was quite hard to do, because one selling point of the non-woven materials is their strength and durability.

These papers are made to stay intact and strip off the wall easily and in one piece, when it’s time to redecorate. They also do not expand when wet with paste, which means there is no booking time or delay between pasting and hanging. And your measurements will be accurate.

Non-wovens also offer the option to paste the wall instead of the paper. Although, in most circumstances, I prefer to paste the paper, for many reasons. Although this material is thick and stiff, it was not difficult to wrap it around the corner to the right in the photo.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos, of Cokinos Design, and her jobs are mostly in the Heights area.

The wallpaper manufacturer is York.

Something’s Buggin’ Me

September 29, 2019


The doors of this laundry room open to the upstairs hallway of a busy young family in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The mom wanted to see something more cheery than a drab painted wall.

The butterflies and beetles on this wallpaper have an iridescence that brings an almost life-like quality to the look.

This was a thin but stiff non-woven material, and I used the paste-the-wall installation method. The stiffness made it a bit hard to work with, and it was prone to creasing, and also was difficult to fit in closely to the curves of the molding on top of the cabinets.

If it had just been a flat wall with nothing to trim around (cabinets, molding, ironing board door), the paper would have worked better. OR, the manufacturer could have just used a more flexible substrate.

This wallpaper is by Clarke & Clarke, a British company.

Washable, Kick-Proof Wallpaper

March 10, 2019


The builder of this contemporary styled home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston included two large islands with seating areas – but neglected to address the issue of people scuffing the flat white paint with their shoes, or the pets splashing water and food onto the wall.

The homeowners needed something durable that would stand up to dings and that would be washable, too.

To the rescue is this heavy, solid-vinyl wallcovering in a sort of faux grasscloth design in a silver metallic color. It has a slight horizontal texture to it. The substrate is non-woven (not the cheapie paper backing that can be problematic in humid areas).

The paper went up beautifully on the flat backs of the island kick-area, and on the inside corners (required some vertical cuts to allow the paper to bend in the corner). But wrapping the thick, stiff material around the outside corners (see top photo) was not going well. The material simply was too thick to lie down tightly to the corners.

So I called in the Great Persuader – my trusty heat gun. With a little heat applied to both sides of the corners, and working it with my plastic smoothing tool, the vinyl conformed quickly and laid down neatly and tightly.

This is one of the few papers that is actually durable, resistant to dings, and washable. It will hold up well against human kicks and sloppy pets.

This vinyl wallpaper is by York Wall, 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.

From Fussy Victorian to Serene Home Office

February 10, 2019


Originally, this front bedroom in a 1925 bungalow in the Houston Heights was wallpapered in a dark green and red floral. It was lovely, and went beautifully with the home’s vintage vibe.

But the new homeowners (who have lived here many years, but are just now getting around to decorating this room) want to use this room as a home office, and they wanted something lighter and more modern. In the top photo, you see me stripping off this floral paper.

They were considering grasscloth, but, after reading my warnings about that product (see the page link to the right), they decided to avoid the color variations, staining, and fragility of that material, and instead went with a sort of faux grasscloth – this textured vinyl in a silvery grey color.

The color of the new paper goes perfectly with the gray paint on the woodwork. The paper has vertical lines in a striped pattern, as well as subtle horizontal shading that mimic real grasscloth, but in a more controlled and pleasing way. The commercial-grage vinyl is thick and durable, and will withstand bumps, splashes, and stains way better than most other types of wallcoverings.

On my end, though, the vinyl material was very difficult to work with. It is thick and stiff, and it is on an Osnaburg woven fabric backing, which is much like canvas. It takes a really sharp razor blade and a lot of strength to cut through it.

And because it is so thick, it’s very difficult to get it pressed up tightly against woodwork – so when you trim against the ceiling, doors, or baseboard, it’s very likely to get a gap that lets the wall behind it show. I have a special trim guide that makes a “fat cut,” which helps eliminate that gap.

Because the wallcovering is made of vinyl, it traps moisture behind it, so when the paste behind it dries, there is nowhere for the moisture to go, so you get off gassing – which is a nice way of saying that the paper “burps” and creates bubbles. I had to continually go back and chase bubbles out of the drying paper.

The design has a textured raised vertical stripe pattern. I had cut my first several strips with the intention to start hanging. Then I started measuring the wall, plotting the layout, and counting stripes. They were not laying out properly across the wall. After studying the paper’s pattern for a while, I realized that the stripes on the ends of the paper would not be spaced correctly – unless paper was trimmed off the edges of the wallpaper strips.

By removing 2.5″ from the edge, the stripes would be spaced correctly. I could trim this 2.5″ off, using my work table, a ruler, and my 6′ straightedge.

But the manufacturer’s trimming roller had left a slight beveled edge where it cut the paper. Since my hand-cut edge would be straight up, you would see an odd junction where my straight cut met against the manufacturer’s beveled cut at each seam.

So the only option for a very smooth seam was for me to trim some off both edges of the wallpaper. This worked out to 1.5″ off one side and 1″ off the other. Which was complicated further by the fact that some of the bolts of wallpaper were 1/4″ – 1/2″ narrower than others. So much for quality control at the factory!

But what this meant to me was that I had to carefully measure the width of each bolt of paper, compare that to the rhythm of the stripes crossing the paper horizontally, and determine how much to trim off each edge, in order to have the stripes be spaced correctly across the room.

In real life, most people are not going to notice a spacing difference of 1/2,” or even 1.” Especially in a room with very dim lighting and tons of shadows, and a pattern that is difficult to see in the first place.

But since I had to trim the paper’s edges anyway, it just made sense to trim it so that the spacing of the stripes fell as perfectly spaced as possible.

Try as hard as you may, hand-trimming wallpaper, especially thick, heavy, fabric-backed vinyl, is not as accurate as what they do at the factory. Thus there is always the potential for slight gaps or overlaps at the seams. With a thin paper, it’s possible to stretch and manipulate the material to make a good seam. But with this thick vinyl, I expected to see these gaps and overlaps. However, I was amazed that the vinyl was more malleable than expected – every single seam melted together perfectly.

Although the specs said that the trimmed paper would be 25″ – 26″ wide, by the time both edges were trimmed off and the stripes spaced as they should be, the paper was actually only 24″ wide (give or take an extra 1/4″ or so). Lose 2″ on each of eight strips going across a wide wall … and that can screw up your engineering of the wall and your plans of the number of strips needed and how many bolts of paper will be required.

All of this fiddlin’ and futzin’ took a lot of time, and I was only able to trim and hang paper on two walls each day. So, with prepping the walls and hanging the paper in this … it was something like a 16 single roll room… it took me a full three days. Which is what I had planned on, so we stayed right on schedule.

There was no brand name, so I don’t know the manufacturer, but the label said “JL 8008.” This commercial-grade paper is available in the 27″ width (which is what I can work with) or the wider 54″ (which is more for commercial settings). 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.

Wild Wallpaper In Frames That Will Be Hung On The Wall

July 31, 2018



Here’s some really cool, custom-made wallpaper that, expectedly, costs a ton. The homeowners wanted to accentuate two rooms (dining room, master bedroom) with these patterns, but, considering the investment, wanted to be able to take it with them, should they move.

After much deliberation and investigation of backings, weight, sturdiness, etc., it was decided to mount each mural on plywood, wrap each of those with a wooden frame, and then mount them on the walls with brackets that attach invisibly to the back.

The largest one, which already has its frame attached, and which you see in the top photo, measures about 7′ x 7′, and weights 80 pounds. Imagine getting that thing up two flights of stairs!

The top photo shows the large mural finished. It consists of two panels spliced in the middle. It was trimmed in place to fit inside the gold frame you see around it.

The second photo shows the smaller mural being laid out. It will be applied to the board you seeing lying on the floor in the third photo. The plywood board has been sealed with KILZ, to prevent knotholes from bleeding through, sanded smooth, and then primed with a wallpaper-specific primer. I used Roman’s Pro 977 Ultra Prime.

These wallpaper panels are custom-made to fit the project’s dimensions, and have a few extra inches “bleed” area on each side to allow for trimming and adjusting for wonky walls. The bordering silver area will be trimmed off, as will an inch or so of the printed area on each side of the mural.

On the smaller, dark mural, someone forgot to add an extra inch for the top and bottom, so the mural was centered as perfectly as possible, but a little bit of the white plywood peeked out on both the top and bottom. Don’t worry – a black frame will be constructed to cover the edges of the plywood, and it will have a lip (rabbet) that will cover this teeny gap.

The last photo shows one page of the instruction sheets, which includes drawings from the manufacturer detailing the layout and dimensions of each mural. The large mural came in two panels, which had to be overlapped in the center, carefully matching the pattern, and then double cut, or spliced.

Double cutting involves overlapping the edges of the two strips of wallpaper, while carefully matching the pattern. Then you take a straight edge and a brand new, very sharp razor blade and cut through both layers of paper. This paper was very thick, so I had to press really hard to get through both layers in one sweep. You want to avoid making multiple cuts if possible.

To keep from scoring into the plywood below (and it’s even more important if you are cutting on a wall made of drywall and / or many layers of paint and primer), I put a strip of polystyrene plastic on the plywood surface to keep the razor blade from cutting into the bottom surface. Once the double cut is made, the excess wallpaper, as well as the polystyrene strip, are removed, and the two edges of wallpaper smoothed into place. This makes for a very perfect seam.

All this takes a lot of time. It would be really cumbersome in a larger or more complicated room. But protecting the subsurface is important, because, once the wallpaper starts drying, it shrinks a little and pulls taught, and if the surface below is not intact (due to a cut from a razor blade, or from something else like dust on the surface or layers of incompatible materials such as old oil based paint covered with latex paint), these layers can come apart (delaminate), and the wallpaper seams will pull apart. This is not the paper “coming loose,” and it cannot be “glued back.” It is actually layers of the wall delaminating.

Anyway, back to today’s project, and, sorry, a little out of sequential order, but all important information. These panels were to be hung on the walls, but had not been hung yet. This allowed me to do them flat on the floor, which I think was easier. The instructions said to paste the paper, but that was extremely difficult because they were much wider than my work table. I didn’t want to crease or damage the material. Most non-woven products can be hung by pasting the wall, so that’s what I opted to do. Except, in this instance, they were laid out on the floor. 🙂

The material was a thick non-woven on a mylar plastic, and was very thick and somewhat difficult to work with. In addition, the panels were much wider than normal wallpaper, and hard for me to manipulate. I was glad that the interior designer was hanging around and was game for helping me position these pieces.

As I said, the material was thick and stiff, and no matter how hard I pushed or what extreme tool I used (metal plate), it would not press tightly into the corners of the gold frame enough for me to get a satisfactory cut – meaning that there was a slight (1/16″ – 1/8″ gap between the material and the frame. No matter… The interior designer was easy going, and said she will add a small piece of molding to the inside of the gold frame, to cover any gap, as well as to prevent the thick material from curling up. On the smaller, dark mural, the black frame to be constructed will include a lip (rabbet) that will cover the open edge and help hold it down, as well as cover the outside edge of the plywood panel.

This gutsy wallpaper is made by Calico, a husband-and-wife team out of New York City that is just a few years old – not many people have this stuff – and even fewer have the balls to put it on their walls!

The interior designer for the project is Elizabeth Maciel, and the location is a newish home in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston.

Textured, Metallic Glamor in a West U. Powder Room

May 27, 2018


This beautiful wallpaper features an abstract foliage design with the texture of gesso in a soft aqua color on a shimmery silver background. Something with this much glamor is by Candice Olson, of course. 🙂

The second photo shows you the raised texture, which is much like gesso used in art paintings. I hung this in a powder room in West University, Houston.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, and is a fairly stiff, non-woven material. It was made more pliable by pasting the paper (rather than the alternate installation technique of pasting the wall). It is designed to strip off the wall later in one intact piece, with minimal damage to the wall.

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.

Etched Forest Mural in a Baby Girl’s Room

January 4, 2018

Wallpaper - Mural - Etched Forest Close Up


No pink dollies for this baby girl (still a few months away!). This foresty mural is far more interesting. The “etched” appearance of the design brings to mind an old-world lithograph, and adds depth to the image. The green and gold colors are muted, and coordinate with the mom’s planned color scheme of grey, taupe, and dusty rose.

The first photo shows laying the mural out on the floor, to be sure the panels match, and to be sure they are in the right sequence. This also allows me to check dimensions of the mural against those of the wall, and to plot placement of the design.

This mural is from Europe. It came in 8 panels, and was custom-sized to fit the wall. It was a non-woven material, and was installed via the paste-the-wall method. This particular material was stiff and felt even brittle. I wasn’t thrilled working with it, but once it was up on the wall, it will be fine.

I hung this in a baby girl’s nursery in a home in West University (Houston). The manufacturer is Rebel Walls.

Ogee Petals Wallpaper Pattern in a Powder Room

February 7, 2017
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“Ogee” means double continuous “S” pattern. This wallpaper pattern sure has them! It is also reminiscent of flower petals, and so has been called “Petals” in some of its incarnations. I hung the glass bead version a few months ago. https://wallpaperlady.wordpress.com/2016/10/30/swoopy-trellis-of-glass-beads-brightens-a-powder-room/ This no-bead paper was not as difficult, but it still was a tedious install.

My before shot disappeared, and so did my prep shot, so please just enjoy the pics of the finished project. Note the careful centering of the pattern on both the sink faucet. This was very time consuming, because I had to start with the strip to the left of the one over the sink, and carefully plot the width of the pattern and the rate of expansion of the wet paper; I won’t go into explaining it here, but I think it was well worth the 45 minutes it took to accomplish. The pattern is also centered nicely over the toilet.

The strip to the right of the mirror also took about 45 minutes, thanks to un-plumb walls, bowed walls, stiff unyielding paper, and more, in order to get the pattern to match at points both above and below the mirror, all the while keeping the right edge plumb, and straight enough for the next trip to be able to butt up against.

In the close-up shot, you see a slight pattern mis-match at the seams. The manufacturer had a mis-print issue, which was more noticeable in some rolls than others. I followed paperhanger protocol, and matched the pattern where it would be seen at eye-level, and I let points above and below fall out of match as they happened. Once the job was finished, I took some brown craft paint and a VERY tiny paint brush, and colored some of the mis-matched areas, to make them less noticeable to the human eye. It looked great.

I also ran a bead of clear caulk around the top of the backsplash, to prevent splashed water from being wicked up under the paper (which could cause curling).

This wallpaper pattern is by A-Street Prints, which is made by Brewster. I hung it in the powder room of a new home in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston. It is a non-woven material, and it is meant that you paste the wall, rather than pasting the wallpaper.