Posts Tagged ‘vintage’

Arts & Crafts Style Frieze in Heights Bungalow

January 21, 2023
Dining room before. This bungalow in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston is very true to the Arts & Crafts / Craftsman period. This style featured straight , clean lines , nature , and muted colors that mimicked those found in nature . The homeowner is a retired woodworker / carpenter and did much of the millwork you see here.
Done. The teal green is actually a little more muted than the photo shows.
From another angle.
Close-up. This wallpaper pattern is called Fir Tree .
A frieze is a wide wallpaper border , usually run around the middle or top of a room . The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury . They specialize in period-inspired patterns from past eras, such as Victorian , Arts & Crafts , Oriental , Modern Age / Mid Century Modern , and more.
Bradbury prints on stock that’s about 28″ wide, and this border is about 13″ wide. So Bradbury prints two borders side-by-side , and then you need to use a straightedge and razor blade to cut them apart .
Although the border came about 13″ wide, the space between the beams was only about 11.5″ . So we were going to lose about 2″ . I consulted with the homeowner. He really wanted to see the copper metallic pine cones. We also felt the trunks of the trees were important design elements . We decided that the pattern could afford to lose more from the top , which would permit more of the tree trunks to show, all the while preserving those pine cones.
Here I am trimming 2″ off the top, so the overall height of the frieze is now 12″ . That will fill the space between the beams, and also allow a little bit to tuck down below the bottom beam (there is a gap between the wall and that beam).
The room was really dark , the wallpaper was dark , and my straightedge was casting a shadow where I needed to trim. So I grabbed my Big Larry flashlight from my toolbox and was able to see where to trim.
Bradbury uses inks that are quite delicate , and can be scratched or marred simply by brushing with my smoother brush , or my plastic trapezoid squeege smoother tool . Metal – like a trim guide or scissors – will also leave marks on it . Here I’ve wrapped tools in microfiber towels and baby socks , to soften contact with the wallpaper .
Bradbury inks and substrates can be finicky, and it’s important to use the paste recommended by the company for the particular colorway that you’re hanging . In this case, I had to use clay – based paste .
The inks and substrate aren’t always compatible , so when you add wet paste to the back , it can cause the substrate to absorb moisture and swell , while the inks on the surface are holding tight. This will result in wrinkles , warps , and bubbles on the surface . We call this quilting or waffling .
One trick is to lightly sponge clean water onto the inked surface. This will allow the surface to absorb moisture and expand hopefully at the same rate as the backing , hopefully eliminating wrinkles and bubbles .
On this install , I still had problems with uneven expansion . And with the paper drying out before I could get an entire strip up on the wall. So, while I was pasting the back, I also sprinkled a little water on the back and mixed it in with the paste . This did seem to even out moisture , and also help the material remain moist and workable during the installation .
In addition, I also had trouble with the edges of the paper drying out before I could get a full strip up on the wall. Part of this was because it’s winter time and the furnace was blowing hot air into the room and drying out the paper. My counter-attack was, again, to sprinkle a little water onto the back, to hydrate the material more. Also, once I had pasted a strip and rolled it up (see below), I dipped the edges into about 1/8″ of clean water. And then wrapped the pasted material in a plastic trash bag and allowed to book for a few minutes before hanging . This is standard procedure with wallpaper. Actually, what worked better was to paste, book, bag, and then just before hanging to dip the ends into water. This seemed to keep everything wet and workable better and longer.
Despite all this, some small bubbles did remain in the paper. As the paper dried, though, they flattened out.
When you book a strip of wallpaper, customarily you fold the top 1/3 down and the bottom 2/3 up. This keeps paste from smearing all over everything, and makes each strip shorter and easier to handle. And allows you to get the top section of the pattern lined up with that on the previous strip , before unfolding the bottom section and working that against the wall.
But it’s a little different handling a narrower border that’s maybe 12′-15′ long. What I do to make this manageable is to book the material in accordion pleats . See photo. Then I can unfold just a small section, work it into place, and then move along the strip, smoothing just a small section at a time against the wall.
Actually, with this install, I positioned my sections against the wall temporarily, to get the whole 15′ strip up there. And then went back and smoothed each section against the wall, working out bubbles and warps , and ensuring that the frieze was pressed tightly against the wall at both top and bottom .
There were four strips around the top of this dining room. On each strip I used a different install method. By the time I was done, I had learned how the material wanted to be treated.
The homeowners are in love with this period-authentic look for their vintage bungalow. The husband said it was like Christmas, because they had waited for so long to have this room completed, and now it’s finally finished and beautiful!

Period-Correct Arts & Crafts Frieze in Dining Room

December 21, 2022

Before. Walls painted with a deep, murky teal blue. I’ve measured the width of the border and then applied my wallpaper primer 1/4″ narrower than the border. That’s the white you see around the top of the room.
I love the way the teal / blue walls coordinate with the green in the border (a tall , vintage border like this is called a frieze ). Painting the walls the same color as the border would have been too much, IMO. Plus, you can never get the color exactly perfectly the same – so it looks like what I call a “near-miss.” Better to opt for complimentary colors , as this homeowner did. The color in some of the leaf detail also coordinates with the avocado green in the adjoining living room – you can see a snatch of this color at the far left of this photo.
The camera is making this color brighter and greener than it actually is, but you get an idea of the design . Once the Victorian era faded away, the Arts & Crafts movement came to be in the very early 1900’s , with less fru-fru and more nature , clean lines , whimsy , and stylized designs .
The home also has furniture and decor that hark back to this time period .
The pattern is called Apple Tree Frieze , and comes in several colorways .
The manufacturer is Bradbury & Bradbury , in California. They are the go-to company for 19th & 20th century historic patterns . Delicious stuff on their website!
Bradbury can be tricky to install, so not for novices . Different colorways can call for different adhesives / pastes , so be sure to read the instructions before starting .
The bungalow home in the Houston Heights dates to 1920 (possibly earlier) which is just smack in the middle of the Arts & Crafts decorating style .
I hung another period-correct border in this room for this family 10 years ago. Now they’ve done some updating with new colors and, of course – a new wallpaper border frieze . It was a pleasure to be back and help bring new life to the place!

Working Safely Over a Bathtub

November 30, 2022
This vintage tub is super cool , and period-appropriate to this 1926 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston . But if you need to get wallpaper on the walls around and above it, it’s really tricky . A ladder won’t fit in the tub , nor straddle it, and might damage it as well.
So I keep this handy piece of plywood in my van . It’s a standard 2’x4′ size, and 1/2″ thick. That’s thick enough to distribute and hold my weight, but still light enough that I can carry it into homes and up staircases .
It’s been sanded and then primed with white KILZ , to look a little nicer bringing into my clients’ homes, and also to reduce the chance of it leaving a mark on surfaces .
The board is a perfect size for placing over various types of bathtubs or other items – as long as their top is flat. Note that I have cushioning and non-slip material between the board and the tub.
In this case, I’m also using a one-step Rubbermaid step stool to boost my height.
This might look a little scary, but it’s all actually very safe . I just need to be sure that my weight is distributed over the tub, and not over that unsupported section on the right.
The stool does add a little more interest to the balancing act. But it’s all doable and safe if you just pay attention to your weight and movements. It did help that this family gave me plenty of peace and quiet while I was working .

Renovation Uncovers Vintage Wallpaper

November 22, 2022
I love all things vintage , particularly the early 1900’s – 1940’s . So it was a thrill and an honor to help decorate this 1926 home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston .
The homeowners revere their new abode , too, and carefully maintained the character of the home during the renovation, while still adding updates that facilitate life in a modern world .
They also preserved many of the original features , and created a sort of ” shrine ” near the back door.
This framed wallpaper sample is one of those.
I love these old papers, and have a growing collection of my own.
Back in the day, the ship-lapped walls were covered with cheesecloth – like fabric , which was tacked to the wood . The wallpaper was pasted and then applied over that.
You can see some of that fabric peeking out at at the top of this sample .
Just about every room had a border running around the top, below the ceiling , as seen in this example.
This was stylish through many decades , so it’s difficult to tell what era this particular paper is from. To me, this looks like the 1950’s – but it could be as early as the 1920’s .
Borders were still popular into the 1990’s , but wider. I’ve hung bunches of them!
This ” history wall ” also included keys , mailbox parts , invoices written in fountain pen , hinges , and other cool old memorabilia .

Artsy Display for Old “Junk”

November 16, 2022
My clients live in a 1930’s home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. They’ve done an exceptionally nice renovation / restoration of the home , taking care to retain much of the old-style character, along with many of the original features.
Instead of chucking vintage door and window hardware into the trash, they’ve placed these hinges and latches – even old nails – into attractive glass apothecary and mason jars.
Now these old-house treasures have become works of art!

Retro Look in Kitchen

July 8, 2022
Breakfast area before
Breakfast area after … with my work table set-up still in the middle of the room.
Kitchen sink / window area before.
Finished
This fruit-and-floral motif is a very retro look, which was popular in the 1950’s – early 1970’s . The background looks like linoleum tiles – very period-appropriate.
Close-up.
Exclusive Wallcoverings saw the current interest in retro / vintage looks, and designed this very appropriate pattern.
This was a thin and very flexible non-woven material , and was a delight to work with.
As are all non-wovens, this is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate.
To install , you can paste the paper or paste the wall .
This home is in the Lexington Woods area of Spring , ( north Houston ).

Romantic Vintage Look Rose Bedroom Accent Wall

June 26, 2022
Textured wall has been skim-floated smooth , primed , and ready for wallpaper .
This pattern is called Smoky Rose and also London Rose . Both are appropriate!
Charcoal on an off-white background . Up close, it looks like water color strokes.
The wallpaper is by House of Hackney . Most of their wallpapers are the user-friendly non-woven material. This one surprised me being a British pulp. This is a rather old-fashioned basic paper material with no protective coating. It’s brittle when dry and gets soggy when wet with paste, making it tear easily or to drag when the razor blade runs across it. Definitely takes a different approach during installation .
I was lucky enough to have hung a pulp just the day before, so was in good practice!
Although not resistant to stains and tricky to work with, I do like the matt finish and how the paper dries tight and flat to the wall.

Authentic 1920’s Wallpaper!

November 26, 2021

Across the street from where I was working today (in the Houston Heights), this 1925 home was being renovated. I walked myself over to drop off a business card.

I gasped when I saw some vintage wallpaper in a trash pile on the soon-to-be living room floor. I love these old papers, and have a growing collection.

The guys working inside were friendly, and were happy to let me take some scraps. This chunk is from the original kitchen (which, after the home is expanded, will become the living room). It’s probably the most cheerful and animated pattern in my collection.

Back in those days, a loosely-woven fabric (often mistakenly referred to as cheesecloth or muslin) was tacked to the ship-lap walls, and the wallpaper was pasted and hung on top of that. The seams were overlapped.

The ink colors hold up amazingly well over the years. But that cloth backing, and the wallpaper itself, don’t fare as well.

This kitchen wallpaper easily separated from the cloth backing, and the old paper was delicate and brittle. Even with attentive handling, my piece split in two just walking a few yards to my van.

I got it home in one piece (well, really in two pieces). I hope to find a was to affix this to a secure backing, so it can be preserved.

I’m afraid that it won’t hold up to the moisture and stress of pasting, even using with old-fashioned wheat paste. And that spray adhesives might not hold, or may stain the old paper fibers.

I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I feel very lucky to have this!

Client Using Salvaged Wood for Flooring in Renovated Heights Bungalow

October 7, 2021

This home in the Heights area of Houston is being enlarged, renovated, and saved from the wrecking ball! The homeowners are using the original features where they can (reworking original windows, for instance), and in other areas are using vintage items salvaged from other area homes.

I love that they have found flooring that will work in this entryway. I don’t know what the plans are … they may have the boards sanded down to bare wood, stained, and sealed. Which would give a mighty nice and formal look to the home.

But I wouldn’t mind one iota if they kept the planks as-is, sealed them, and left this cool, funky, colorful, shabby-chic mosaic on their entry floor.

Modernizing One More Space

March 16, 2021

Dating to 1946, this small bungalow is not as “vintage” as most homes in its Riverside neighborhood of Houston. The homeowner opened up the public areas and completely renovated the kitchen, bringing the home to a fresh, contemporary feel. Adding stylish wallpaper to the small, boxy entry was the finishing touch.

This modern pattern is by Carl Robinson, a British designer. It is a traditional paper, instead of the non-woven material that many European brands are printing on. It was nice to work with, i thin and hugs the wall tightly, and will adhere well for years to come.

The entry is visible from the living room, so this small room makes an impact on the rest of the house. The homeowner positively squealed with delight when she came home and saw the finished room!