Posts Tagged ‘unlevel’

Compensating for Crooked Walls

July 17, 2018

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

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 🙂 ) 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 – but 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.


Fudging the Kill Point to Fool the Eye

May 26, 2018

My two previous posts dealt with a wallpaper pattern of stacked blocks in a room with crooked, unplumb walls and an unlevel ceiling. Besides keeping the pattern level, and having all the horizontal lines match in all four corners (note my pencil guide-line near the top of the wall in the first photo), it was important to keep the blocks all the same size. Or at least make it look like they are all the same size.

A kill point is the last corner or join in a room – where the last strip meets up with the first strip. This almost always ends in a pattern mis-match. So you try to hide it in an un-obvious corner. This room, however, had no hidden corners, and no good place for the kill point.

So I decided to put it over the door. It took some work to keep those gold lines at the same height all the way around the room. The pencil line you see near the top of the first photo helped with that.

But I also wanted to keep the boxes all about the same width. The manufacturer had set the width at 21.” But as the design worked its way around the room, the final space (over the door) was going to end up at 24.5″ wide. I could make that last block 24.5″ wide, if I spliced in a bit of scrap paper. But that would throw off the pattern match a bit, and those 3.5 extra inches of width would be likely to catch the eye.

So I decided to “shrink” that last panel over the door instead, but by only about 1,” which would be less detectable to the eye.

To “shrink” the last panel to 20,” I would have to some inches elsewhere. I decided to add it in the corners.

When you hang wallpaper around inside corners, you cut the paper in the corner, allowing 1/16″ or 1/8″ to wrap around the corner. Then the new strip of paper overlaps that thin wrapped area. Obviously, a small amount of the wallpaper pattern / design is lost in the process.

If I have plenty of paper, I can cut a new strip in such a way that the pattern will match pretty much perfectly. With a design like these blocks, I would measure what the width of each block was supposed to be (21″), and then cut the new piece so its width, when added with the width of the existing half-block, would work out to 21.”

I also have the option of making the new half of the block a little wider or narrower. I measured carefully around the room, and figured that if I “grew” the blocks in each of the four corners by about 1,” by the time the paper worked its way around to that final strip over the door, that 3.5″ gap would be gone, and I’d have an excess of about 3/4.” A difference in width of 3/4″ is much less noticeable than a strip that is overly wide by 3.5,” so I decided to go with that.

I spliced the two strips together at the point where they met, and then appliquéd on one portion of vertical gold line (which had been cut off during the splice).

The photograph’s angle distorts the size and shape of the blocks a bit, but, from a distance, they all look very much like they are the exact same width. Ditto for the blocks in the corner in the original post.

Getting A-head

January 26, 2018

I plotted the layout of this pattern to have the leopards’ heads be at the top of the wall, just under the crown molding. This worked nicely for the first three walls. But due to unplumb walls and a very unlevel ceiling, as the wallpaper strips moved from left to right across the four subsequent walls, these poor leopards got their heads got cut off.

I cut new intact heads from scrap wallpaper, and appliquéd them onto the cats’ chests. A little snipping and trimming was needed to get the various body parts to line up.

The leopards’ necks are a little shorter than when they started out. But that is much less disagreeable than half-heads. 🙂 From 9′ down on the floor, all the eye can see is that the animals’ heads are lined up perfectly under the crown molding.

Squiggly, Jocular Geometric in a Front Entry

August 5, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Life at home will never be too serious when walking through the front door is this fun!

The homeowner is the mother of a toddler and a newborn, and she chose this light-hearted pattern for the entry of their beautifully renovated and updated 1958 ranch style home in the Spring Branch area of Houston. Originally, the entry felt small and unwelcoming, and the walls had a heavy texture that was, well, it was icky.

I smoothed the walls, which took a long time, mostly waiting for the smoothing compound to dry, before I could sand it smooth and roll on a primer.

This playful pattern looks like someone took a grey Sharpie and drew star flowers and squares on the wall. It really expanded the space visually. The entry is now something fun and inviting to step into.

Since the entry can be seen easily from the living room and the great room and kitchen, it interjects a playful mood into the rest of the house.

This wallpaper pattern is from the Sure Strip line by York, one of my favorite brands, for many reasons. I like the “raised ink” texture to the paper. The thin paper will dry flat and hold tightly to the wall. Yet the material was developed so that, when it comes time to redecorate, it should strip off the wall easily and in one piece, with no damage to the underlying surface. On top of all that, it comes pre-pasted, and is very nice to work with.

Even though I was battling a regimented pattern in a room full of unlevel ceiling, un-plumb walls, and crooked corners, the finished project turned out fantastic.

This wallpaepr was bought at below retail price from 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.

More Geometrics in a West U Bath

June 6, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

This is the same house in West U. where I hung a black & white geometric yesterday in a Hollywood bathroom. Today the black & white theme is moving across the hall to the guest bathroom. This is sort of diamond pattern, with strong lines in black on white, and interspersed with tiny silver dots inside the diamond shapes. To me, these dots resemble the pixels used in comic book artwork, and while I worked, I could not stop thinking about super heroes. 🙂 Another cool thing is that the upward-moving “V” shaped legs of the “X” motifs look to me like the searchlights used by 20th Century Fox to promote their movies.

This wallpaper was lovely to work with. It is a thin paper product, it clings tightly to the wall, and is pliable and easy to manipulate. Although the label is pictured, it’s not clear who the manufacturer is. But it was bought from 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.

This home is contemporary in style, and has some small (1/2″) returns that fold into the doorways, that needed to be wrapped with wallpaper. See the 4th and 5th photos. Features like these are quick and easy to look at, but time consuming to put wallpaper on – especially on the edges that held the door hinges – four per door. Between the three rooms I papered in this home, there were 21 of these narrow returns that had to be covered with wallpaper.

Other challenges in this room were unplumb walls and an unlevel ceiling line, coupled with a strictly regimented wallpaper pattern. I used a few tricks to make the pattern look straight, even thought it went off-kilter in some places.

The finished room looks fantastic. Personally, I’m more of a traditionalist. But I have to say that I really like this bathroom – super heroes and all. 🙂

Geometric Charm in a Hollywood Bathroom

June 1, 2017

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Here is a Jack & Jill bathroom in a newish home in the West University neighborhood of Houston. The two outer sink rooms received wallpaper, and the middle tub-and-toilet room remained with its coat dark chocolate-grey paint.

The house is contemporary in style, and the homeowners have outfitted it with clean-lined furnishings in brown tones that are crisp yet still give off a sense of warmth and personality. This popular hexagonal wallpaper design in black-on-white further warms up the room, without feeling cluttery.

You are looking at two different sinks in two different rooms. Plotting the layout so that the design falls exactly centered on both the faucets and the light fixtures takes a lot of time, math, engineering, fiddling, and redoing, but the result is sooo worth the effort, because of the balanced look.

Not all the aspects of this installation went as smoothly, though, mostly due to unplumb walls, unlevel ceiling, and other construction shortfalls, coupled with a rigid and unforgiving wallpaper pattern. I don’t have photos, but with lots of patience, and by pulling a lot of tricks out of my hat, your eye would never notice any of the crooked walls or potential pattern mis-matches.

Another beautiful room!

This wallpaper pattern is by A-Street Prints, a British company. It is printed on a non-woven substrate, and uses the paste-the-wall installation technique. It was bought at below retail price from 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.

Soft Toned Map Mural for a New Baby’s Room

December 13, 2016
Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

Digital Image

These new parents-to-be chose not to know the gender of the baby ahead of time. Mom loves this cute wall mural map, and so she picked this neutral color for the baby’s nursery accent wall.

The mural was custom made to fit the wall. It came in four panels, each being 40″ wide. That’s a little wider than is comfortable for me to handle easily, but I came up with some tricks that made it manageable. It’s a somewhat heavy vinyl on a canvas type backing, and will be durable in a child’s room.

I was not 100% happy with the seams, as some were not cut straight and so there were a few “gaps and overlaps,” and there were areas where the seams did not lie as flat as I would have liked. But those are things that I notice, but most other people don’t. Once you stand a few feet back, all you see is the cute animals and the countries they come from.

I hung this in a newish home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Interestingly enough, a few days later, I visited a home where the new parents-to-be had chosen the exact same mural, but in a different color.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In both these cases, the homeowners measured the wall on their own and ordered the mural before calling a paperhanger. The result is that both custom made murals were too small. The homeowners didn’t realize that you need to add about 2″ on EACH SIDE of the mural, to allow for trimming at the ceiling and floor, and to accommodate for unplumb walls and unlevel floors and ceilings.

In the case of the mural pictured above, the husband had allowed a few inches on either side, and there was a wee bit of wiggle room on the height, so we ended up with about 3/4″ of gap at the bottom, between the mural and the baseboard. It’s so small that they will probably leave it alone.

In the other home, where the mural was made to the exact dimensions of the wall, there will probably be a wider gap at the bottom, and possibly on other sides, as well. They may need to get some decorative wood molding to fill in the gap.

Morale: Always call the paperhanger BEFORE your order your paper.