Posts Tagged ‘university’

Pretty Hydrangeas in West U Powder Room

June 11, 2021

Top photo – before

Second photo – after

Next photos – close ups

The homeowner loves the way the gold fixtures (toilet paper holder, lights) work against the dark backdrop.

Even under the floating vanity!

The home is in the West University neighborhood of Houston. The wallpaper is by Rifle Paper, which is made by York – one of my favorite brands. It is simply called “Hydrangeas.”

This is a “paste the wall” “non-woven” paper – made of synthetic materials instead of wood and cotton and traditional paper. There are many advantages to non-woven wallpapers. I’m not sayin’ they’re better – just that they are different.

Doing the Opposite Today – Removing Wallpaper

September 30, 2020

The large medallion on soft lavender on all walls of this large bedroom worked well for this gal for many years – but now that she’s an older teen, it was time for an update.

So instead of putting wallpaper up, today I took it down.

Most people think that stripping wallpaper is difficult. But if the walls were prepped properly, and if the paper was hung properly, and if the proper removal steps are followed, it should all go well, with minimal damage to the walls. See my link at right, on how to strip wallpaper.

The most important thing is to separate the top, inked layer of paper from the backing / substrate layer. I find that wetting this top layer with a sponge and plain water helps strengthen the fibers, so the top layer can be pulled off in larger strips.

In the second and third photos, you see how the purple layer has been stripped off, leaving the white backing attached to the wall. This top layer has to be removed, because it has an acrylic (or vinyl) coating, and will not allow water to pass through it.

The next step is to soak the backing with plain water and a sponge (see photo). No chemicals, no additives – just plain warm water. You will have to reapply water several times. The idea is to let water soak through this backing layer, to reactivate the paste underneath. Once that paste is good and wet, it should release from the wall. Sometimes you have to gently scrape the backing from the wall. But in my case today, once that paste was reactivated, the substrate layer came away from the wall in full, intact sheets. Easy peasy!

One photo shows my “dull” 3″ stiff putty knife. I call it “dull,” because it’s old and beaten up. But it’s really rather sharp. I use it to carefully get between the inked top layer of wallpaper and the bottom substrate layer. And then I use it to gently scrape wallpaper from the wall.

In my case today, the previous installer had done a superb job of hanging the wallpaper. He applied a primer before hanging the paper. That primer helped make this whole removal job go well, and it protected the walls from damage.

The family will need to apply a stain blocker to prevent any residual paste from causing the new paint from crackling or flaking off. Once that’s dry, the walls can be textured and / or painted. The room’s resident told me that she is planning to go all white.

This home is in the West University area of Houston.

Textured Vinyl Faux Grasscloth in West U Powder Room

February 28, 2020

The homeowner waited 13 years to do away with the classic damask wallpaper in the powder room of their home in the West University neighborhood of Houston. That’s what happens to your plans when you buy a home and get sidetracked by kids, career, community, yada.

There was nothing wrong with the original gold damask pattern, but it was dark and it didn’t suit the homeowners’ taste. They were originally looking at grasscloth – but, luckily, listened to my many reasons to avoid that material (see page link at right).

They took my suggestion and went with this textured vinyl faux woven grasscloth by Thibaut called Bankun Raffia.

This material has the texture and depth of color that people are loving these days, but is (mostly) free of the color variations and fragility of real grasscloth.

Bankun Raffia is a commercial-grade material, so it is resistant to dings, splashed water, stains, fingerprints, and little boys with bad aim. 🙂

It’s harder to work with than regular wallcoverings, because it is thick and stiff and hard to cut and hard to make turn corners or work into tight spaces.

The finished look is tailored and serene, and a lot brighter. In the photo with my finger, you can see the textured surface and fauxed color application.

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 She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

The Atomic Age Comes to a Small Master Bathroom

December 24, 2019

This small master bath in a newly-renovated 1935 home across from Rice University (Houston) has a black & white checkered floor and a shiny black tiled shower (no pic). The homeowner wanted to move up a couple of decades in decorating theme, and so chose this fun space-age pattern. Now the room is ready for the George Jetson family to move right in! (All the Baby Boomers know whom I’m talking about.)

The wallpaper is by Spoonflower, comes pre-pasted (water-activated), and was pretty easy to work with. The hard part was keeping all those horizontal dashes lined up, in a house with mega wonky walls due to foundation issues and to just plain old Father Time.

Vintage Home, Antique Furniture, Classic Wallpaper

December 22, 2019

This week I have the pleasure of working in a charming 1930’s house that is right across the street from Rice University (Houston). The owners are super lovely people. I have hung paper for them in two other homes, over nearly 25 years.

The house has been kept pretty much in its original condition. The homeowners love the look and are accentuating that with their collection of antique furniture. The history of this burlwood bedroom suit dates back to 1900.

The trellis damask pattern is a classic that is true to the period, and will never go out of style. The color is a super perfect compliment to the bedroom furniture.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpapers, and was a joy to work with. Nice and flat, held tightly to the wall, no shrinking at the seams as it dried, malleable when I needed it to be.

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 She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Industrial Modern Comes to West U

March 23, 2019

The first photo shows this master bedroom in the West University neighborhood of Houston after I have smoothed the bottom portion of the wall below the chair rail and primed.

A softer, yet slightly industrial look is brought by the ostrich skin-looking wallpaper, in a color that coordinates nicely with the wall paint. Note the intermittent horizontal lines.

The wallpaper is by Arte. It is 36″ wide, is sold by the yard, and comes in one continuous bolt, this one being 22′ yards. It is a non-woven material. It was nice enough to work with. I pasted the paper, but it could have been hung by pasting-the-wall instead.

It has a high fiberglass content – and I can attest to that, because by the end of the day, my fingers had been stabbed many times.

That fiberglass makes it easy to strip off the wall later, and also makes it “dimensionally-stable,” meaning that it doesn’t expand when it gets wet with paste, and won’t twist or warp while you are working with it.

“Fantasia” in a West U Playroom

January 31, 2019

“Fantasia” is a fanciful – yet soft – pattern for this toddlers’ playroom in the West University neighborhood of Houston. The homeowners decided to have this put on just one wall, but the tone-on-tone hue is soft enough that it would work well on all four walls without being overwhelming.

This wallpaper pattern is by Boras Tapeter, a Scandinavian company that features a lot of whimsical designs. It was a non-woven material, and I hung it using the paste-the-wall method … although I think it would have worked a bit better if I had pasted the material.

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 She is great at helping you find just the perfect paper! Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Old House / Crooked Walls / Straight Paper / ??

March 23, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Who can expect the walls in a bungalow built on gumbo soil in the Houston Heights back in the 1920’s to be straight and plumb? These walls sure weren’t.

In the first photo, you see the tree motif running pretty evenly along the door frame and the shower tile from ceiling to wainscoting. But on the opposite wall (sorry, no photo), the door frame and tile were both off-plumb, so the wall was less like a rectangle and more like a trapezoid. That meant that the white tree trunk started out at the ceiling about 1/2″ away from the tile, with about 1/2″ of navy blue along it’s left edge. But by the time it dropped a mere 5′ to the wainscoting, the white tree trunk was running crooked and disappearing into the white tile, with no navy blue showing at all.

The eye really notices variances like this.

I needed to get some navy blue showing again, along the left side of that tree trunk.

This non-woven wallpaper was too stiff to manipulate or maneuver into a plumb position, and a cut-and-overlap would have been very visible on this thick material. So I tried something else.

In the second photo, you see where I have cut out a part of the pattern motif, which includes the white tree trunk and some of the navy blue area to the left of it. I then trimmed this piece so that it had 1/2″ of navy blue showing to the left of the tree trunk. Next, I appliquéd this piece over the tree, in the spot where it would have been if the wall had been plumb.

Some leaves of the tree got cut off or obscured by this appliqué. But that is much less noticeable than a disappearing navy blue line. The trick I used maintains that navy blue line to the left of the white tree trunk. My trick ensures that the eye sees a uniform width of navy blue from ceiling to wainscoting. This is much less jarring to the eye. And it makes the wall look plumb – even though we all know that it has not been plumb since about, oh, since about the 1940’s.

The wallpaper is by Brewster, in their A Street line, and was bought from the Sherwin Williams store in the Rice Village on University.

Perky Trees in a Shared Bathroom

March 23, 2016

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

“The decision to go with wallpaper was a hard-sell,” said the husband. His previous knowledge of wallpaper was the flowery sort of stuff that your grandmother had. But the wife wanted some pattern and color for this bathroom that is share by a pre-school girl and an adjoining guest bedroom, in their remodeled 1920’s bungalow in the Houston Heights. She found this fun tree design at Sherwin-Williams.

Once the paper started going up, Hubby was sold!

Originally, the walls were all white, plus white wainscoting on the lower 3′ and white tile on the mirror wall. Clearly, the wallpaper brought personality and fun, and a bit of color to the space.

The couple was originally debating leaving two short walls that flanked the mirror wall painted white. During our initial consultation, I pointed out that that would leave too many disparate elements in the room – paint, tile, paneling, mirror, wallpaper. I suggested they put the wallpaper on all the walls, including bringing it onto those two walls that surrounded the mirror wall. It turned out to be the right choice. (Sorry – no photo.)

I also plotted the pattern placement so that both of those walls mirrored one another, and both had a half inch of blue space between the trees and the tile, and the trees on both walls were at the same height. It’s something you would not consciously notice when looking in the mirror, but your mind’s eye would sense that the area is equal and balanced.

This wallpaper is by Brewster, in their A Street Prints line. It is a non-woven material and a paste-the-wall product. The homeowners bought it from the Sherwin Williams store on University in the Rice Village – the store I deal with the most. It was nice to work with, but, like many non-woven wallpapers, it was stiff and somewhat argumentative when turning corners or doing detailed work like cutting around intricate moldings.

Sometimes It’s Not the Paper – It’s the Overall Effect

October 31, 2014

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image
I have to admit, when I first saw this paper rolled up in the package, I wasn’t excited about it. But as I began hanging the paper, I began to like it more and more. I realized that, in some rooms, it’s not the PATTERN that is important, but the way the wallpaper pattern and color fit into the OVERALL EFFECT of the room.

This wallpaper design is by Candice Olson for York Wallcoverings, and was purchased at Sherwin Williams on University in the Rice Village. It’s on a non-woven substrate, and should hold up very well over the years, and then, when time to redecorate, it is made to strip off the wall easily. I hung it in a large powder room in Bellaire. It replaced a very plain dark charcoal paper, and, boy, did it brighten it up!

The whole room was redone, including new tile floor, new vanity and natural stone countertop (the water spots will disappear as it dries, by the way, and they will have countertop sealed to prevent future spotting, and the caulk at the outer edges of the backsplash will dry clear), shiny chrome faucet and towel bars, and a cool modern style chrome light fixture.