Posts Tagged ‘subtle’

From Dark and Dated to Light and Livable

December 17, 2022

Oh, my! – I hung lots of these chintz florals, ” satin ” look (the design of the dark green at the bottom of the wall), and dark colors back in the ’90’s . Sure enough – this home was built and wallpapered in 1994.
IIt’s still a good look, IMO, and the homeowner still likes it. But she’s just gotten tired of it. So – time for an update !
She also decided to eliminate the chair rail , so the new wallpaper will go ceiling to floor . Here you see some damage to the drywall where the chair rail molding was removed .
What a change! Now the room’s look is quiet and fresh .
The buffet , topped with a decorative mirror , will go on this wall . That’s why I centered the pattern in between the windows , so it will fall evenly on either side of the furnishings .
I also plotted so that a full “Moroccan lantern” (that’s what this style of trellis pattern is called), would balance out between the crown molding and the window molding. There were several of these 12.5″ high areas all around the room, so this placement of whole “lantern” motifs gave the room a pleasing look.
It also worked out that the lanterns were evenly placed and kept whole between the crown molding and the baseboard. See the second following photo to see what I’m talking about
As a note – just this one window wall took me about five hours to measure , calculate , and hang . Getting the pattern to go over, around, and under the two windows , and still line up and match correctly , took some time and futzing. The material was thick and stiff , and a bit tricky to fit into corners and trim around the decorative window molding .
In the foreground you see my work table area . The homeowner has let me put protective padding on her dining room table and then set my work table on that. This saves space and allows plenty of room for my ladder and other tools as I work around all four walls.
So that I could center the pattern on this wall , I had to start hanging my first strip in the middle of the wall. I was lucky this time, that the pattern was centered exactly on the edge of the wallpaper roll . Sometimes (as in the one I did yesterday – see previous post ) the center of the design motif is a to the right or left of the edge of the wallpaper . This, naturally, means you’ve got to do more measuring and plotting and double-checking , to be sure the center of the design falls down the center of the wall .
Back to the photo above … that dark block on the right side of my work table is my laser level. It’s shooting a perfectly plumb red line onto the wall. Here I’m lining up my first strip of paper butted against this red line .
Switch topics … Back in 1994, the original installer did a very nice job of hanging the wallpaper. But … he didn’t prime the new drywall first. That lack of primer / protective layer means that the wallpaper will actually bond to the drywall. I tried, but was unable to get the existing wallpaper off . Eventually, you need to factor in time , damage to the wall , paste residue left on the wall, and take a different tac if called for.
So I skim-floated over the seams , so they wouldn’t show under the new paper , and also floated over the damaged drywall where the chair rail had been removed . Sanded smooth , and then primed the patched areas as well as the original wallpaper, with Roman Ultra Prime Pro 977 . This stuff will adhere to the light acrylic (slick) surface of the original wallpaper, as well as protect it from moisture from my paste on the new wallpaper. ( Moisture could cause the underlying original wallpaper to expand , creating bubbles that will look bad, or loose areas that will pull away from the wall, creating a bubble or pocket.)
My primer is also lightly pigmented, so it helps block out the dark color and busy pattern of the original wallpaper . This particular new wallpaper is quite opaque , but not all of them are, so a pigmented primer is important , IMO .

Left corner of the buffet wall. Here you can see how the lantern motifs are placed between ceiling and floor.
The background has a lightly mottled effect, that mimics grasscloth a bit, and also adds more depth and warmth than just a plain solid color .
Been havin’ more than a fair share of defects lately, especially this week. This paper had on both front and back sides, incidences of these black flecks . They seemed to be maybe charcoal , so I wasn’t too worried about their black bleeding through to the surface , like ink or any oil-based substance will do.
Most of them were embedded in the material itself, so could not be wiped off , nor dug out with a razor blade . Some I had to cut around and discard the affected paper. Others were so small as to not be noticeable once the paper was up on the wall and all the furniture and artwork was back in the room.
There was also one 3′ section of wallpaper that had an odd streak or arc running across it. It wasn’t ink . It was more like some kind of compromise to the substrate . I noticed it was I was pasting the back of the paper . I turned it over and, sure enough, you could see it a little on the surface. (see photo in previous post) It’s the kind of thing that was subtle, but would catch your eye when looking at the wall from a distance . It was minor , but I discarded that strip . Good thing I have the homeowners purchase a little extra wallpaper .
The manufacturer is Designer Wallcoverings , which is a good quality brand (aside from the printing defects I described earlier ). It was a non-woven / paste the wall material , which is pretty user-friendly . It will strip off the wall easily and in one piece when you redecorate . Stain-resistant , and ” breathable ” in humid conditions .
The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston . Dining room installer

Textured Faux Grasscloth on Master Bedroom Accent Wall

December 9, 2022

Before. I’ve skim-floated the textured wall , sanded it smooth , wiped off the residual dust , and then primed with Roman Pro 977 Ultra Prime wallpaper primer . Now we’re ready for wallpaper !
Done! Just a bit of texture , and a little neutral color to add some warmth to this large , mostly-grey , master bedroom . Oh – and some subtle sparkle . See following photos .
It looks like real grasscloth . But it’s a faux! To help these homeowners avoid the disappointing color variations and low durability of real grasscloth , I encouraged them to consider textured vinyl products that recreate the look and texture of the real stuff , but without the drawbacks. Please click and read my link to info about grasscloth on the right of this page.
Real grasscloth , and the fauxes , as well, have visible seams (very minimal issue with the fauxes). So it’s important to balance the strips , so you have equal widths of panels as you traverse the wall. In other words, you don’t want five 36″ wide strips and then one 20″ wide strip.
And you’ll want to center those strips on the wall. Position them so you have an equal number of equally-sized strips on both the right and left sides of the wall.
Another design concept is to not have a seam fall down the center of a wall. Rather, it just feels better aesthetically to have the strip straddle the center line .
Here I’m hanging my first strip, having already calculated where the center of the wall is, the center of the wallpaper panel is, measured over to where the seam should fall, and then placed the red line of my laser level so it will guide where I should butt the edge of the wallpaper against.
That’s my Bosch laser level gizmo sitting on the top of the headboard, shooting its red light beam onto the wall.
Another shot. I’m using the vertical light beam ; the horizontal beam is not relevant in this install .
This textured vinyl material does a pretty darned good job of recreating the look and feel of real grasscloth . This photo is from about 6′ away.
A closer look. Note the bit of silver shimmer in the background , that adds a luxe look to the overall effect .
The wallcovering is by York , one of my preferred brands . It’s on a non-woven backing , which has many advantages over traditional paper-papers. It’s breathable , stain-resistant , will strip off the wall easily and in one piece with minimal / no damage to the wall when it’s time to redecorate .
It can be hung by the paste-the-wall method (which is what I did today) or the paste the paper technique (which I use most of the time).
I felt that the seams laid down better and had less ” rebound ” edge curl from factory trimming than many of the heavier vinyl faux non-woven backed materials I’ve worked with. In other words, I liked this product pretty much!
this particular material was also thin and flexible , so it was easy to work with and manipulate if needed.
The home is in the Spring Branch area of Houston.

Shimmery Trees on Back of Bookshelves

December 8, 2022

Before – living room in Spring Branch ( Houston ). I’m in the process of priming the backs of these bookshelves , so the wallpaper will adhere to the semi-gloss enamel paint .
Done. Simple , subtle , but makes a statement .
The shelves will be replaced, and decorative items will be set on them.
Close-up . A light black background with beautiful glimmering gold trees and branches. The pattern is dispersed evenly across the paper, making for a homogeneous look.

Called Luminous Branches , this wallpaper is made by York . It’s a thin , flexible non-woven material . I hung it easily by pasting the wall , rather than by pasting the paper . When it’s time to redecorate , it will strip off the wall easily and with no damage to the wall surface . Nice stuff!

Grasscloth on Several Bookshelves Today

May 12, 2022
Home office work station niche primed and ready for wallpaper.
Done. Grasscloth comes 36″ wide, and this niche was about 39″ wide, so it required two strips, both trimmed down to 19.5″ wide. Generally, design-wise, you try not to put a seam down the center. But in this case there was no other viable option. This seam was practically invisible.
In the photo, the seam is a little to the right of center. You always see the seams in grasscloth, and this is about as perfect as it gets.
The homeowner, who is an interior designer, did a superb job of finding a grasscloth that’s murky blue hue coordinates perfectly with the color of the cabinetry.
Unfortunately, I don’t know the manufacturer of this material.
Close-up showing the texture.
Twin bookshelves flanking the fireplace wall in the family room, primed and ready for wallpaper.
Grasscloth has been installed. It’s nice to not have the shelves in place – so much easier to get that paper up!
Bookshelf niche on the right.
Bookshelf niche on the left. Note the slight shading and color variations . These are typical of natural products like grasscloth, and are not considered a defect. As the manufacturers say, these variations are ” part of the inherent beauty of these natural materials .”
Shelves will go in these niches and decorative items will obscure these slight imperfections.
TV room bookshelf niche. Yes, t’was I who swiped the smiley face and the horse head into the primer. 🙂
Done. This niche is a tad less than 36″ wide, so only one strip was needed, hence, no seams. Any color variations you see are due to shadows.

Close-up.
Closer-up. Scissors for perspective. These days, people are loving the subtle texture and warmth of grasscloth , paperweaves and other natural materials .
The manufacturer of the grasscloth in both the family room and TV room is Schumacher . The home is in the far west area of Katy , a suburb west of Houston.

Stormy Texture on Master Bedroom Accent Wall

December 12, 2020

This homeowner is all about glitz and sparkle and glitter, and originally she sought something of that ilk for the accent wall behind the headboard in their master bedroom. But she realized that if she toned down the wall, then the other aspects of the room (furniture, bedding, artwork) would stand out more.

So she went for this. I think it looks like roiling storm clouds rolling across the room. There is just enough glitter to make the wall sparkle in a subtle glow.

The pattern is by Exclusive Wallcoverings. It is an embossed (textured – see close-up shot) vinyl on a non-woven backing. I used the paste-the-wall installation method.

In the “before” photo, you see me rolling out the bolts to get a bead on the design, as well as the pattern match and placement, and measure out and cut my strips.

With PTW, it works best to roll your strips backward (from bottom up, and with the substrate facing out). Then, when you take these to the pasted wall, there is little chance of paste getting on the face of the wallpaper.

The home is in the Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Sophisticated Look With White-Washed Metallic Cork

May 24, 2019


I’ve hung lots of metallic cork wallpaper (do a search here), but this is the first time I’ve seen one with a white-wash over the surface, and that has a plaid / stripe sort of design worked in. It’s quite becoming!

The white paint tones down the sheen of the dark gold metallic inks, so you get a bit of glam, but are not overwhelmed. And the crosshatching effect brings a whole new dimension to the look, adding texture and warmth – sort of like a man’s suit fabric.

I was afraid the striped effect would be very evident, but it’s really very subtle and pleasing. And it did a good job of disguising the seams, so there is virtually no paneling or shading like you would have with most natural material wallcoverings.

Of course, this accent wall has only two full-height seams, and the product could look quite different if you had it spread across a larger wall or room. Still, I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

This is on one wall of a living room in a 1939 house in the Rice University / Medical Center area of Houston. It is by Brewster, 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.

Subtle Pattern, Shimmer Brighten a Dining Rooom

June 17, 2018


This dining room in the Oak Forest neighborhood of Houston was originally painted grey, and the walls pretty much blended in with the paneling and window moldings. Boring. The wife wanted something a little more dramatic – but the husband wasn’t going for it. So they found this wonderful compromise.

The pattern is so subtle that it can’t be seen in the two distant shots. But you can see how the lighter color is brightening up the room, and how the contrast between the walls and trim show off the pretty moldings in the room.

It’s a pearlized silver ink on a white ground in a triangular geometric pattern. This pattern is meant to be a background, rather than stand on its own. There will be some large artwork, or perhaps a showy mirror hung on the walls, which will become the main focus.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Interestingly, this house is an exact clone of a home a few blocks away, where I hung wallpaper last year – yes, in the dining room!