Posts Tagged ‘wainscoting’

Blue Birds Brighten a Bathroom – But Not A Good Quality Paper

June 27, 2018


The original wallpaper had fallen victim to curled seams. This happens most often with lower-end pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallcoverings, particularly in humid rooms, like this bathroom. Adding to the list of no-no’s were an improperly smoothed wall and the lack of a primer.

The seams on these papers are never great to begin with. When there is humidity, it will find its way into the seams and onto the paper backing of the wallpaper. When this backing gets wet by humidity, it expands. When it expands, it has nowhere to go but out – pushing away from the wall. This results in a curled seam. This is not “loose” wallpaper, and the seams cannot be glued back down. In many cases, the paper backing layer of the wallpaper actually delaminates (separates from) the top vinyl layer.

The homeowner loved the pattern, particularly the blue birds, and bought the same exact paper to replace the other. I stripped off the old paper, took various steps to stabilize the unsound wall surface, then skim-coated the wall to smooth it, primed, and hung the new paper.

The look is cheery and bright, and looks fabulous with the pale yellow bead-board wainscoting. The seams looked good when I left, and will pull down tighter as the paper dries.

Still, these economical pre-pasted, paper-backed, solid vinyl wallpapers are not my choice for use in any room. And this particular brand (Norwall) just about tops my list for brands to NOT purchase.

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Getting an Overview

March 11, 2018


Re the install described in my previous post, here I am rolling the wallpaper out on the floor, so I can determine the overall pattern distribution. This helps me see how the pattern will play out across the wall.

This way, I can plot what design motif I want to sit at the top of the wall, and which motif will fall just above the wainscoting – which is important because it is at eye-level. I can also plan to balance the design in the center of the wall.

Farrow & Ball “Lotus” in a Woodland Heights Dining Room

March 11, 2018

Look at the transformation of this bland dining room!

The pattern could be overwhelming if it were to go from floor-to-ceiling. But here, on just the 4′ above the wainscoting, it’s fun and cozy at the same time. This is a popular pattern, and it can be hung right-side-up or upside-down, depending on your preference.

This home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. The interior designer is Rachel Goetz. I love her look, which is sophisticated, yet open and airy, but tweaked to be very livable for families with kids. The wallpaper is called “Lotus,” and is by Farrow & Ball, and was bought from Dorota at Southwestern Paint near the Rice Village. Call before heading over. (713) 520-6262.

Blue Faux Woven Grasscloth In A New Home’s Dining Room

February 20, 2018


This homeowner was originally considering grasscloth for the dining room in her home in a new subdivision in Cypress, in far northwest Houston. I sent her my “info pack” showing the visible seams, color variations, staining, bleeding, and other problems inherent to a natural material like grasscloth (see the grasscloth link on the right side of this page). She quickly realized that she would not be happy with the look of real grasscloth.

Instead, she chose this faux product made of embossed vinyl. This ‘woven look’ pattern has the texture that people love, and the different shades of blue add depth. This paper has become quite popular, and is available in about 30 colors. The homeowner was able to find this beautiful cloudy blue, which coordinated beautifully with furnishings and accents in her home.

One option for this dining room was to paper just the top 2/3 of the walls, and then leave the part below the chair rail painted. As you can see in the second photo, this look was a little lifeless. Once paper was added to the bottom area below the chair rail, the room began to feel snug and inviting.

This wallpaper is called Bankun Raffia, and is one of my favorite alternatives to real grasscloth. The seams are invisible. There is no shading or color variation between strips. It’s extremely durable, and is also water- and stain-resistant. It’s one of the few wallpapers that is a good choice for bathrooms or areas where it might be splashed by water or touched by grimy hands.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, 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.

Noah’s Ark for a Baby Girl’s Nursery

December 24, 2017


Rooms for baby girls don’t have to be all about pink. Here’s a neutral-toned, animal-rich, Noah’s Ark-themed pattern that will grow with the child. This is just one accent wall, a very effective use of pattern, and economical, too.

The mother-to-be commented that the pattern was soft enough that it could go on all four walls of the room. I agreed. But I think it would look better, perhaps, if wainscoting were added at the bottom 1/3 of the wall, or a wooden chair rail and a slightly darker shade of paint at the bottom, and then have the paper on just the top 2/3 of the wall.

This wallpaper is by Andrew Martin, a British company, and was printed on a pulp stock substrate. It has no protective coating, so mom will have to be sure the little one keeps her hands off the paper. The home is in the Rice Village area of Houston.

Metallic Cork Married With Earthy Cork Breathes New Life Into A ’70’s Living Room

October 13, 2017

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This 1967 home in a unique neighborhood in Pasadena (Houston) is like a time capsule. It’s a little larger and nicer than the typical ranch-style houses of that era. And just about everything in it was original when my clients bought it … terrazzo floors, dental crown molding, upholstered wall panels in the dining room, diamond paned windows, French Provincial painted iron stairway railing, heavy pleated drapes, and much more.

The homeowners love the look and want to preserve as much as possible. But they also want the home to live a little more modern, and they want it to work with the lifestyle of their young – and very busy – family. They’ve already done a fabulous redo of the kitchen that still respects the era and feel of the home’s bones.

Now it’s time to update the living room. Enter – wallpaper! They used the same grey-brown, wood-look floor tile that they put in the kitchen. They kept the chair rail molding that runs around the room. A sliding barn-style door was custom made to divide the living room from the dining room, and it immediately became the focal point of the room.

Wallpaper was the next element … The couple wanted something earthy, yet elegant, and it had to meld with the vintage theme of the house.

They fell in love with a dark brown cork wallcovering enhanced with metallic accents called Enchanted Woods, by Phillip Jeffries. Whoops! – that brand is crazy expensive! My source (below) found them something nearly identical, but at a much more reasonable price. This dark brown material was used on the bottom 1/3 of the walls, below the chair rail. I was able to railroad this product (run it horizontally, instead of vertically), which eliminated seams. (Sorry, I did not get any photos of this.)

For the upper 2/3 of the wall space, they went with a silver metallic cork wallpaper embellished with a classic damask pattern in white. This is a classy, traditional look jazzed up by a luscious shimmery sheen.

The husband was worried that the dark cork at the bottom of the walls would visually occlude the barn door. At first, I tended to agree with him. But once the cork went up, it was clear that the door still stood out as a dominant feature in the room. Furthermore, it was apparent that the dark band of brown cork was needed all around the room, to balance the visual heft of that massive sliding barn door and to bring continuity to the remaining three walls.

As for the upper 2/3 of the walls, there is no question that the barn door stands out against the silver and white damask cork wallpaper. In addition, the natural texture of the cork coordinates nicely with the stained wood of the door.

Cork wallpaper, especially the metallic colors, is pretty popular right now, and I’ve hung a fair amount of it. But this room was the most challenging. Cork is thick and stiff, and does not want to turn corners (In fact, the instructions say you should not attempt to turn outside corners, but should, instead, cover the corners with wooden molding.), nor is it easy to fit around intricate moldings, and it will give a lot of argument when you try to bend it into a small, tight spot. This room had many of those features!

There was one wall that had two trim-less windows that had reveals (and outside corners) to be covered with the cork material, plus four points of wainscoting trim to cut around, as well as two sections of drapery valances to manipulate the stiff material up and under and into. This wall alone took me 4 1/2 hours to paper!

The rest of the room was easier, but still had its challenges. The cork material is thick and stiff and won’t push tightly against moldings or into corners, which means you have to work extra hard and make several cuts before it will sit snugly against the molding or corner. When trimming around intricate moldings (like the edges of the chair rail), you can’t see or feel where the cuts should be made, so you have to inch your way along, taking a bit here and a sliver there. I estimate that each of the six chair rail edges took me at least 15 minutes – each.

The metallic sheen made it difficult to see the pattern, so it took longer than usual to plot and cut strips.

Cork wallcovering is pretty thick, and you have to expect that the seams will show, just as they do with other natural materials, such as grasscloth. Depending on where you stand in the room, the seams on this product are either invisible, or fairly noticeable. I think the seams could have been better – I have a feeling that the manufacturer’s trimming blade was set at a bit of an angle, making a beveled cut. A perfectly straight cut, or even a slightly reversed-bevel, would perhaps have been less noticeable. Still, this is part of the look of the natural material, and not considered a defect. To be honest, unless you’re looking at a particular seam from just a certain angle, you won’t even see a thing – except the beautiful pattern, color, and shimmer.

The dark brown cork is by Monarque, and the upper cork in the silvery damask pattern is by Thibaut. Both papers were 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.

Over the last few years, I have papered three other rooms for this family. Now that the wallpaper in the living room is up, they are on to other things – furniture, drapes – and then on to update / decorate other rooms. As I left tonight, the mom assured me that I would be back at some point, to paper another room.

Major Transformation – From Cave-Like to Bright, Warm and Tranquil

July 15, 2017

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Wow, what a change! This home office / TV room in Southside Place / West University neighborhood of Houston, was papered in a dark-navy-on-navy stripe. In my opinion, it looked great in the room, especially above the white paneled wainscoting. But it was time for a change … in fact, the husband said, “We should have gotten rid of this when we bought the house 25 years ago.”

The navy wallpaper was hung properly, but it would not come off the wall without a LOT of time and mess (and $ ). So I prepped and sealed the walls and hung over it (see other posts). I love the 2nd photo, because it shows the new, light wallpaper juxtaposed against the original dark paper.

This material is a light tan stringcloth superimposed with a barely-there white Moroccan lantern motif. I love this as an alternative to grasscloth. It is uniform in color, has a wonderful tactile texture, and has none of the shading, paneling, color variations, visible seams, or propensity to staining and bleeding that make grasscloth so disappointing.

In addition, it is a non-woven, paste-the-wall product, and was nice to work with. The design was even perfectly centered on the 27″ wide material, and could be reverse-hung (hung upside down and still match up perfectly with the previous strip).

The new, light colored wallpaper looked super against the wainscoting, and had just enough color to stand out against the white woodwork. The sofa was a tan linen fabric, and synced with the new wallpaper in color and texture. The armoire that holds the TV is a medium wood tone, and contrasts against the light walls “just enough.” The whole overall look is relaxing.

This wallpaper pattern is by Designer Wallpaper, in their EcoChic line, in a book or line called Wallpaper Effects, 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.

Contrast, Texture, Tailored

November 4, 2016
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Here is a new-construction home in the Timber Grove neighborhood, just west of the Heights, in Houston. The home has a decidedly Craftsman feel (a design theme popular in the early 1900’s).

The TV room has dark stained wainscoting and paneling battons, which is period-correct. But all this dark is not suited to modern 21st Century living. The homeowner chose to cover the space inside the battons with a lighter-colored, textured wallcovering.

Instead of grasscloth, which can stain, be shredded by pets, or display eye-jarring color variations, the homeowner chose this faux grasscloth product – and I am all in favor!

Bunkan Raffia by Thibaut Designs is a wonderful alternative to natural grasscloth. It has the texture and motley color that people love these days, and when properly installed (reverse-hung), there are no color variations between strips. It is a strong, durable vinyl product that will hold up to splashes and dings. And it does not have the gritty manila paper backing, so no worries about curling seams under humid conditions.

The finished room, with its dark woodwork contrasting against the lighter, textured wallcovering, is crisp, tailored, and manly, yet warm and inviting. You can almost see Sherlock and Watson reclining on the tufted leather sofa, stoking their pipes and sipping sherry.

The homeowner commented on how the wallpaper brightened up the once too-dark room, while still allowing the Craftsman feel and colors to show through.

This wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut Designs, and was bought at a discounted 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

White on Navy Geometric in a Heights Powder Room

April 3, 2016
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This small powder room in a new home in the Houston Heights has beautiful white block-and-panel wainscoting. Originally, the homeowner wanted a trellis pattern on a white background. But the gal who sells the paper (read below) suggested that a trellis might be too strongly vertical, and also that stronger color would work better to accentuate the woodwork.

The homeowner took the advice, and chose this diamond geometric print on a navy background. It was the perfect choice!

I centered the diamonds on the wall you see first when you walk into the room (toilet wall). Happily enough, the dimensions of the wall worked with the scale of the pattern, and so I was able to get tips of diamonds at both the ceiling and the chair rail lines.

This wallpaper pattern is by York, and was bought at a discounted price from Dorota Hartwig at Southwestern Paint on Bissonnet near Kirby. (713) 520-6262 or dorotasouthwestern@hotmail.com. Discuss your project and make an appointment before heading over to see her.

Old House / Crooked Walls / Straight Paper / ??

March 23, 2016
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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.