Posts Tagged ‘townhome’

Can We Please Ditch the Ditch?

April 28, 2019


Houston may be the 4th largest city in the nation, but many / most of its older neighborhoods don’t have curbs and gutters, but instead use ditches for drainage.

How would you like to cross this every time you need something from the van?

And why, oh why, did I stash that 50lb bucket of paste in the side door??!

On a serious note, sometimes parking issues like this (another common one is townhome complexes with shared driveways and tight quarters) make an otherwise attractive job impossible to take on.

City Scape Zig Zag Lines

April 26, 2019


I love this headboard. The homeowner and his father-in-law made this from scratch, and they made the bed frame, too. I think it’s supposed to look like rough ship-lapped wood … but to me, it looks like the skyline of a major city.

Realizing that the dark navy paint on the accent wall behind the headboard was flat and boring, the couple went to Dorota (read below) and found this fun and lively wallpaper pattern. It echoes the shape of the headboard, while adding a modern, urban edge to the room. And I think it looks like a city skyline!

Note that this pattern very much resembles one by York, in the Candice Olson line, which I have hung a number of times. I guess there is nothing wrong with a company riding the tide of trends, and making a knock-off of a proven design winner.

This is in a master bedroom in a newish townhome in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston. My photo of the label didn’t turn out (Note to self: Always check your phone’s photo log before leaving work for the day.), but I can tell you that the manufacturer is Designer Wallpapers.

The material is a crisp, stiff, medium-weight non-woven material. This stuff has a fiberglass content, so it does not expand when it becomes wet with paste, and it also is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.

This material would have been more flexible if I had pasted the paper. But since this was one solitary accent wall, with no corners or toilets or sinks or windows to cut around, and since I didn’t feel like lugging my 7′ long and 30lbs table up the three flights of stairs to the master bedroom, I chose to paste the wall.

Because it was a dark paper adhered to a white backing, I used artist’s chalk to color the edges of the strips, so that the white backing would not peek out from the seams.

After cutting the non-woven strips, I roll them up backwards, with the colored surface rolled up inside, and the top coming off the roll first, and then secure it by wrapping an elastic hairband around it. This way, after paste is spread on the wall, when I climb up the ladder with the paper and unroll it, the printed surface will not come in contact with the paste on the wall.

Pasting the wall is a clean way to work, because no paste gets on the woodwork or ceiling, so there is nothing to wipe off. And the excess paper that is trimmed off at the ceiling and baseboard has no paste on it, so it’s clean and won’t stain anything it might fall onto.

The paper went up nicely, and the seams were positively invisible. Oddly enough, because the paper was supposed to not stretch or expand, I did have a little trouble with the pattern match dropping – the pattern matched at the top of the wall, but as you followed it down the 9′ high wall, the pattern began to rise. In order to accommodate this, I had to lower the pattern and allow a slight mis-match at the top of the wall, which permitted me to have a perfect pattern match at eye-level.

Also odd, since the paper was supposed to not expand, even though I hung my first strip against a plumb line (laser level beam), as it moved down the height of the wall, the pattern started to track to the right. As subsequent strips were hung, the paper became more and more off-plumb, until I reached the far left corner, and it was out of whack by more than half an inch from ceiling to floor.

If this had been some wild floral pattern, it would not have mattered. But with a rigid geometric pattern, and especially a vertical one like this, and on a dark background, even with a mere 1/8″ discrepancy, you’re going to notice when things get crooked.

Since the paper is not malleable, I was not able to stretch it into plumb. But I was able to pull a few tricks out of my hat to make it look like the paper was perfectly parallel to that left wall. I didn’t take photos, so no sense in my trying to explain it here. ūüė¶

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallcoverings, 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.

Cole & Son Woods in a Powder Room

November 13, 2018


This powder room in a newish townhome in the Rice Military area of Houston was originally papered in a darkish jungle/ethnic/animal-themed wallpaper. It was a good look, but the new homeowners wanted something brighter and fresher. Plus, the original paper had been hung over the textured walls, and the bumps were showing through.

It would have taken me two long days to strip the original paper, smooth the walls, and hang the paper. So the homeowner tackled the removal of the original paper (following instructions on my blog (see page on the right side) plus info she found on the internet), which saved her the price of a day’s labor. It also made my job a bit easier.

But this job still required a lot of prep, which took a lot of time. The homeowners were out of town (they let me into the house via remote access), and it was nice because I could work in peace and quiet, and I could stay as late as I needed.

I skimmed on smoothing compound, waited while it dried, sanded smooth, wiped off the dust, primed, and then finally hung the paper.

The pedestal sink was tricky to get around, as they always are. And the bull-nosed / rounded edges of two outside corners in the room were a challenge. Additional hurdles were crooked walls, un-plumb walls, and a ridged non-woven wallpaper material that would not bend or yield to crooked, un-plumb walls. ūüôā The pattern itself was a bit forgiving of these imperfections, and I used a few tricks to make things look straight and true.

This wallpaper design is quite popular, and I have hung it a bunch of times. It is called “Woods,” and is by Cole & Son, a British company. It is printed on a non-woven substrate, and is designed to be a paste-the-wall installation – but I find that paste-the-paper is a superior method.

Best of all, the homeowner loved what the pattern and light color did for the room. The powder room is instantly brightened, and the images of tree trunks give the room a whole lot of dimension and draw you in, as if you were actually walking in a forest.

The strong diagonal repetitiveness of the tree branches usually bothers me a bit. But in this room, with each wall holding only two or three strips, the pattern is dispersed nicely and the diagonal effect is minimized. So, what you see is the forest, and not so much the trees. ūüôā

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.

Adding Another Space – Yaay! … Another Homeowner Bitten by the Wallpar Bug

November 11, 2018


These homeowners were so thrilled with the two accent walls I did for them in their Montrose (Houston) townhome last week, that they had me come back today and use left overs to paper this art alcove.

Even though the project involved only two 5′ strips, it took me several hours … note the perfect symmetry and balance of the pattern, both side-to-side and top-to-bottom.

It all serves as a beautiful background for the art painting and silver service. And, since it’s the same pattern and color as used in two other areas of the house, it ties the various rooms in the home together.

This classic trellis pattern is by Thibaut Designs is well over a hundred years old.

Warming Up a Contemporary Space

November 3, 2018


The owners of this newish contemporary-styled townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston wanted to put some impact into their entry by using wallpaper on the first wall you see when you walk in – the sloped wall in the top photo. They have some antique furniture and a special piece of art that sit in front of this wall, so chose this very classic trellis pattern in a warm cream-on-brown colorway.

They were initially considering putting paper on the backs of bookshelves in the upstairs living room, but as I walked up the stairs and saw this one recessed wall directly in view, I suggested this as a better spot for a wallpaper treatment.

The home owers quickly agreed, and decided to use the same pattern here.

The manufacturer of this very old and historic design is Thibaut.

Some Patterns are More Fun to Hang than Others

August 17, 2018


Wow! What a cool pattern, and super fun colors – I couldn’t wait to hang it!

This wild dragon and flora wallpaper on a silver metallic background went in a largish powder room in a new townhome in the north Heights neighborhood of Houston. The single guy homeowner went through a maddening number of choices before finally settling on this one. Boy, is it a great one!

The paper was a little testy to work with, though. It is a thick and stiff and somewhat spongy non-woven material which was difficult to manipulate around features like the light fixture and the vanity top. In addition, the metallic surface was very prone to creasing.

The wall-mounted light fixture could not be removed, and I knew that working the paper around it would result in visible creases. My solution was to split the strip horizontally right where it would land on the light fixture. This made it easier for me to make relief cuts and to ease the wallpaper around the fixture.

I used similar techniques in other areas of the room.

The paper is a lot more vivid and colorful than the photos show. All that teal and chartreuse and silver, and the relentless swirling tails and scales and leaves combine to make one mesmerizing room! A mirror with a wide, dark brown frame set it off.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in their Dwell Studios line, 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.

Compensating for Crooked Walls

July 17, 2018

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Today I was to hang this cute bear wallpaper on one accent wall of a baby’s nursery.¬† The walls were 0ff-plumb, and the ceiling was not level, and the pattern was very plotted and symmetrical.¬† So let’s just say that the room presented challenges.

One thing that helped was the way the blocks of bears are printed on the wallpaper.¬† See Photo 1.¬† Unlike most wallpaper designs, the motifs did not cross the seams, so there were no elements to be matched from strip to strip.¬† This left me free to place the bears’ heads at the top of the wall with every strip.

Normally, when the ceiling is not level, the wallpaper pattern (the heads of the bears) would start to move up or down the ceiling, and that means that the heads would start to get chopped off horizontally.

But since this pattern did not cross the seams of the wallpaper and I didn’t have to match any parts of bears across the seams, I was able to pull each strip up to the top of the wall, and eating a uniform line (or head-count ūüôā ) at the top of the wall.¬† It meant that the lines of bears were not perfectly level from strip to strip – but that was not very noticeable, and was a whole lot better than seeing heads get chopped off.

The walls on either side were also not plumb.  As a test, I hung the first strip of paper butted into the corner, so it is parallel with the wall.  The second photo shows my laser level red line against the side of the paper.  If you could see above the top of the photo, that red line is butted against the edge of the paper at the top of the wall.  Yet as you move down the wall, the strip of wallpaper moves away to the left of the red level line.

I could pull the strip of paper into plumb so that it aligned with the red laser line Рbut that would cause a slew of bears to get their heads sliced off vertically where they hit the adjacent wall.  As well as when they got to the opposite wall.

Also, since the ceiling was not level, the bears’ heads would start marching either up or down the ceiling line, and, again, some bears would get their heads chopped off.

What to do?

I checked for plumb on both outer walls, and found that both walls were off-plumb by a fairly significant amount.  Luckily, both walls were out of plum parallel with one another.  This meant that I could hang the paper off-plumb and butted into the right corner, and it would come out on the left side of the wall nicely parallel to the opposite side (right corner).

So the pattern aligned nicely with both the right and left walls.¬† But since to do this I had to hang the paper off-plumb, it would also go off-level at the ceiling.¬† And since the ceiling was already no where near level, it was very likely that the pattern was going to track up or down that ceiling line, with a bunch o’ bears getting their heads cut off.

Here is where the placement of the pattern on the 20.5″ wide wallpaper made a difference… Because I didn’t have to match a bear’s head to a bear’s head horizontally across the seams. I could position each strip so that the tips of the bears’ ears were at the top of the wall.¬† (Read previous paragraphs.)

But because the ceiling was off-level by such a great degree, some of the pattern did get crooked, and so you see a couple of black feet starting to appear above the brown bear at the top of the wall (See photo 3).

But I’d rather have a few¬†paws showing at the top of the ceiling, than have a bunch ‘o bears get chopped off vertically at the corners.¬† But still, I didn’t like looking at those paws hanging down from the ceiling.

The fix was easy.  I took some scrap wallpaper and from it I cut some thin strips of white paper that I then pasted over the offending paws.  Voilà!  No visible dangling paws.

AND the pattern looks amazingly equal in each corner,

This is a new townhouse in the Cottage Grove neighborhood of Houston.

My Favorite Faux Grasscloth Wallpaper

May 29, 2018


This breakfast and kitchen area in a 26-year old townhome in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston was originally papered with a very small print on a darkish brown background. It served its purpose for two decades, but the homeowners were ready for a change.

They originally considered grasscloth, but after hearing my opinion on the real stuff (read “Grasscloth – Info Pack” page on the right), they opted for this fine faux material instead. I love this particular product because it uses vertical strings to create the textured feel that people like, as well as has a printed grass design in the background. Because it’s machine-printed, the pattern can be matched, so there are no visible seams like with real grasscloth. There also is no paneling or shading (variations in color between strips, or even within strips, even when they come off the same bolt) that are common with real grasscloth.

I have another couple using this same material in another month or so, in their entry.

I do have to say that this time, there was one strip that did panel – it was a slightly different shade from the one next to it, even though it came off the same bolt. This was disappointing, because I promote this brand specifically because you do not expect that. Anyway, I always have people order enough that we can cover a situation like that, so there was plenty of paper to remove that strip and replace it with one with better color.

This wallpaper is by Walquest, in their Grass Effects book, in the Ecochic line. 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.

Folks – Please Read EVERYTHING, Including the Fine Print

November 14, 2017

When people first contact me, I send them an “info pack” that explains the wallpaper process and how I work. It has a lot of helpful and important information.

One point is my time frame. I am usually booked up 2-3 months, so most likely I will not be able to help homeowners who want to have their wallpaper up quickly.

Another is that I don’t work on construction sites, but prefer to install the wallpaper after all the building is over and the other workmen are done and gone.

There’s a sentence advising people that I work in¬†private residences¬†only – no businesses or commercial settings.

I also don’t work in mid- or high-rise buildings, or many other multi-unit complexes like apartments or condos. Townhome compounds with shared driveways can be difficult, too. It has to do with multiple trips back and forth to the truck, and with hauling 50 pound buckets of paste along with bulky equipment like my 7′ long pasting table, and not blocking the neighbors access to their garages.

If people would read the information I send them, they can often discern early in the game if their situation is one that I am a good match for.

Medicine Cabinet? WHAT Medicine Cabinet?

October 6, 2017

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The homeowner of this new contemporary townhome in the Midtown neighborhood of Houston didn’t want the plywood medicine cabinet standing out like a big white blob against her beautiful new wallpaper. She thought that covering it with wallpaper would help it fade into the design, and be less obvious.

She was right – the cabinet is much less noticeable now.

The cabinet is simple, but it still took about an hour to cover it with wallpaper. The wood had already been primed with KILZ, a stain blocker that will prevent any wood sap from bleeding through the wallpaper. Then I applied a wallpaper primer.

There is a seam down the middle of the door, so there is a total of four pieces of wallpaper (two on the frame and two on the door itself).

The cabinet is seen more from the left side than from the front, so I lined the pattern up so it is continuous when seen from the left side. Wrapping the design around the 3/4″ thickness of the edge of the cabinet frame caused it to not line up with the pattern on the surrounding wall.

No biggie in this case … The pattern is squiggly and irregular enough that a small mis-match of the design is not noticeable.

When I got to covering the actual door of the cabinet, I aligned the pieces so that the pattern would line up with the design on the frame, so that when you look at it straight-on (as from the toilet or shower), the pattern is visually intact. Again, even though the design does not line up perfectly with the design on the wall behind it, the slight mis-match is very minor.

The pattern match is perfect from where it’s viewed from the left side, and it is perfect where it’s viewed from straight ahead. Win-Win!

This wallpaper pattern is by York, in the Sure Strip line, 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.