Posts Tagged ‘wallpaper’

Keeping Ahead

April 23, 2019


This poor bird got his head chopped off by the window molding. I want to help him keep it!

In the top photo, you see the bird and the point where his head got cut off. On the right side, against the window molding, I am holding a head that I cut from scrap wallpaper. I’ve trimmed it to fit the bird’s body, and to look as natural as possible by sculpting it and cutting around ruffled feathers.

In the second photo, I am holding the appliqué in place. Once it is pasted and applied, even though it is far removed from what the bird is supposed to look like, the bird looks intact.

The casual observer would never notice that this bird has been altered.

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Timorous Beasties “Indie Wood” Wallpaper in a Dining Room

April 21, 2019


This is some novel stuff!

This wallpaper pattern is something like a mural, but with a little more brain-bending. It is one continuous design, with no element or motif repeating or showing up more than once in the 33′ length of each bolt.

It’s a good thing that no one was living in the house, and that furniture had not been moved in yet. Because I needed a LOT of floor space to roll out and study each bolt.

I had to compare the height of the walls and the length of each strip that I needed, to the placement of various animals in the design. This enabled me to plot where on the wall any given critter would appear, and to get as many creatures as possible on each strip, all while accommodating the homeowner’s preference for a few special ones.

I rolled the entire 33′ long bolt out on the floor, took measurements, and used blue tape to indicate the tops and bottoms of each strip. This enabled me to fiddle with various layouts and animal positions, and I could make changes if needed.

We needed 22 strips, and I was getting 5 strips out of each double roll bolt. So after I cut five strips from the first bolt, I moved on to the second bolt.

To give a more random look, I wanted the same animals (the squirrels, for instance) to be placed at different heights moving around the room. So when I started plotting my strips and cuts from the second bolt, I made sure that the creatures landed at different heights from the first bolt. That first bolt and the animals’ positions I called “A” and the second bolt and positions were “B”. I only got four strips out of the “B” bolt.

This meant that any given motif would appear at the same height on the wall only every 9th strip. This would give a pleasing, random look.

The plan was to hang all the strips taken in order from the “A” bolt first, followed by strips taken sequentially from the “B” bolt. Repeat with another “A” and another “B”, and then back to an “A” bolt again.

To be sure, I measured and marked and double-checked everything carefully before I cut anything. Then each strip was labeled … (“2A,” “4B,” etc.)

Working around the doors and windows, the room was divided into four sections. The next step was to get all those strips of paper placed in proper sequential order, standing in queue all around the room – all while figuring the center point of each of those four spaces and plotting which strips would be placed flanking the middle of that wall.

Some cool features of this pattern is that it was placed smack down the middle of the 20.5″ wide strip, which made it a lot easier to center and balance the design than if it had been placed off-center. Also, the design did not reach across any seams, so (other than plotting the height where each critter would fall) there was no pattern match. This made it a lot easier to accommodate crooked walls and un-level ceiling and wainscoting.

The dimensions of the room were also amazingly in sync with those of the wallpaper pattern. Vertically, the 82″ height of each wall / strip worked with the placement of animals on the paper, so virtually all animals were kept intact. There was only one bird who got cut in half at the wainscoting, and that happened only every 9th strip (twice in the whole room).

Horizontally the pattern worked out just as incredibly. The width of all of the walls worked out to be within an inch or two of a multiple of the width of the paper. So centering the strips / pattern on each wall resulted in a look as if the design were “framed” by the door and window moldings. Sorry, no pics.

The downside was, just by happenstance, I ended up with an extraordinary number 1″-2″ strips that had to be squeezed in. Time-consuming and PITA.

I centered the pattern on each of these four wall spaces. But that meant that the rhythm of the pattern would get screwed up as it passed over the door to the butler’s pantry, two windows, and the 12′ wide entry to the hallway.

Here again, the dimensions worked amazingly well, and so did the very accommodating pattern. In the short 10″ high areas over these doors, I was able to “fudge” the pattern by slicing strips vertically along a tree trunk, for instance, and then overlapping the two sections an inch or two, to “shrink” the strip’s width. Making an inch of width disappear from each of seven strips is barely noticeable, and maintains the rhythm that the viewer’s eye wants to see as it travels around the room. Again, sorry, no pictures.

The walls had been primed a few days before; just laying out and hanging the paper took me 12 hours.

I hung this “Indie Wood” pattern by Timorous Beasties on the top 5′ above paneled wainscoting in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. It’s made of non-woven material, and can be hung by paste-the-wall or paste-the-paper (which was what I opted to do). Non-wovens are strong and have a high fiber-glass content. They are designed to strip off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate. Additionally, they are dimensionally-stable – they do not expand when wet with paste. This makes it much easier to plot placement of strips and motifs.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Timorous Beasties, Papillion de Nuit

April 20, 2019

Say it in French and it sounds beautifully exotic. In reality, they’re moths.

This rhythmic pattern by Timorous Beasties went in a powder room in a new home in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston. Note the brick and wooden accents in the room.

Whereas most wallpaper patterns repeat either every strip or every other strip (half-drop), Papillion de Nuit has a quarter-drop pattern match, which means that the pattern repeats itself every fourth strip. It’s extremely difficult to figure out and to keep properly placed on the wall, especially when every motif is identical.

In addition, the powder room had some challenging features of its own. The whole job took me about 14 hours! It looks great, though.

It’s made of fiberglass-based non-woven material. This can be installed via the paste-the-wall method, or by pasting the paper (which is what I generally do). Some features of this material is that it is designed to be stripped off the wall easily when it’s time to redecorate, and that it is dimensionally-stable and won’t expand or stretch when wetted by the paste.

The interior designer for this job is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design.

Keeping Ahead

April 20, 2019


Re the Papillion de Nuit wallpaper pattern in my other post, I couldn’t avoid decapitating this moth at the bottom of this wall.

I’m thinking of appliquéing his body onto the wooden trim.

What do YOU think?

Update two days later … The interior designer loved the idea, so … it’s done!

The homeowner moves in in a week, and we’ll learn then what she thinks.

More Timorous Beasties – Indie Wood, Mislabeled and Correct Versions

April 19, 2019


The top photo shows the wallpaper sample the client had received and made her selection from. She had taped it to the wall in the dining room, to designate which paper was to go there. It’s an overall foliage pattern with realistic delicate birds and insects, and a pattern that matches across the seam from strip to strip.

But when I opened the shipping box, the paper that we received was a very large and bold non-repeating vertical stripe. There were large forest creatures and plants drawn in a whimsical style. The design did not cross the seams, so there was no pattern match.

Obviously, the sample the homeowner had received was not the same as what we had received.

Happily, the wild and bold forest scene is what she wanted.

Like yesterday’s pattern by the same manufacturer, this is one long mural-like design that runs through the entire 33′ long bolt without any element or motif being repeated. The pattern does not cross the seam, so there is no match – you are free to place any element of the design at any position on the wall you wish.

Of course, you want to make sure not to place the same squirrel, for example, at the same wall height on every strip, and especially not on two strips next to each other.

This will be a bit of a mind-bender to plot and lay out, and will take up a lot of space on the floor while I roll out all the bolts to get a good look at the pattern.

I’m looking forward to this challenge. Plus, the beautifully-drawn pictures and the fairy tale-like feel of the design are mesmerizing, juxtaposed with the strong pattern color and width and the swirling vertical movement. I can’t wait to see how it transforms this dining room.

More in a day or two … !!

Timorous Beasties Ruskin Floral – A Trying Pattern Match

April 18, 2019


Timorous Beasties makes some unusual wallpapers, with most of them including animals or insects in the design. It’s cool stuff!

This particular pattern, called Ruskin Floral, was more than a bit of a challenge to plot and hang. The manufacturer said there was no pattern match, but just a subtle impression in the textured background that could be matched if you wanted to, but was not necessary. They also said that this pattern match came at something like every 56″. And that it was a quarter-drop match (pattern motif repeats at the same height in the strip every fourth strip).

All of this info was wrong. It turned out that the tree branches in the design did match across the seams. And the pattern repeat was more like 36″, instead of 56″. And, yes, you could have matched the design as a quarter-drop – but it looked better as a traditional half-drop (repeats every other strip).

But what was most unexpected was that the design had these areas of darker foliage that appeared mid-way through the bolt. In every photo that I saw on the manufacturer’s website or on-line, only the picture of the sparse tree branches was pictured (what you see at the top of the wall in the top photo). Even though I rolled out several feet of each bolt on the floor, I had no idea that there was this other area of colorful and full foliage and insects, which you see at the bottom of the wall in the top photo.

I plotted and got my first strip in the center of the wall, and then pinned the second strip next to it. Once I stood back, I was able to see that the foliage got darker and fuller as it dropped closer to the floor. I had not anticipated that.

With 13′ high walls and 13′ long strips, and 33′ on each bolt of paper, there were 20′ more feet (one more strip) left on each of those two first bolts.

But when I pulled more paper from the bolt and pinned it temporarily to the wall, matching the background tree branch motifs, this new strip, which had started from the middle of the first bolt (the first 1/3 of the bolt was now on the wall), was full of colorful foliage – which did not meld well with the sparser tree branch area on the first two strips that were now on the wall.

If I hung this new strip next to the two existing strips in the center of the wall, I would have had two sparse tree branch areas in the center, and then a stripe of darker, fuller foliage directly horizontal to it.

At first, I was going to go this route, because it made the best use of the number of rolls we had (two strips from each double roll). I planned to put two strips of darker foliage next to the two strips of lighter tree branches.

I also contemplated taking off the two center strips (the ones with lightly leafed foliage) and replacing them with ones that had more color and fullness. But I realized that if all the pictures I had seen of this pattern showed the sparse areas, then that’s what the homeowner had seen, too, and she probably was not expecting to see the very dark and full and busy heavily-patterned area, especially not at the top center of her accent wall.

Even more compelling – we didn’t have enough paper for me to rip off and discard two 13′ high strips.

I spent about an hour and a half contemplating various possible options.

Just then, the interior designer walked in – and she was just in time. Two sets of eyes are better than one. By then, I had a number of strips pinned to the wall, to see how the pattern could be played out. She didn’t like my idea of hanging two sparse strips, flanked by two heavily pattered strips – she thought it looked top-heavy, especially over the windows.

We fiddled some more, knocked around various options, and finally concluded that, even though the bed would be obscuring much of the fuller pattern, the wall looked better with the sparse area up high, and the fuller floral area near the floor.

I studied the 33′ long bolt I had rolled out on the floor, with the lighter area at the top, the fuller area in the center, and then tapering off to a lighter area toward the end of the bolt. Our decision meant that I could get only one strip of paper out of each double roll bolt.

The problem with that was that I needed 10 strips, but only had 8 bolts. We’ll come back to that in a minute.

The next issue was that quarter-drop pattern repeat. And that sloped ceiling, which also effected the way the pattern hit the wall. If I used the paper the most economically, and matched the first tree branches as they came off the roll, then that quarter-drop pattern match would have started marching diagonally up and across the wall, and then dropped down again, 7′ to the right. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s a look that would play out better on a larger space, such as a full dining room, not one accent wall in a bedroom.

(Quarter-drop pattern matches are very hard to get one’s head around, and way more than I can get into here, but suffice it to say – they lead to a lot of head scratching and a whole lot of wasted paper.)

After more fiddling, I realized that the pattern was printed on each bolt exactly the same; in other words, the design was more like a mural. With one strip per bolt, the design was played out across alternating “A” and “B” bolts. If I ignored the sloping ceiling and cut each strip to the full height of 13,’ I could ensure that specific flowers in the darker area near the floor would hit the wall at the same height, lending a homogenous and pleasing rhythm to the pattern.

Problem solved!

But now we get back to the wall that needs 10 strips, but we only have 8 bolts of paper (one strip per bolt).

In the top photo, all the paper has been hung except that last strip to the left of the window. (There is a mirror image on the right side of the wall.) That area was about 9′ high. Since I had already taken approximately 13′ off each 33′ long bolt, I had about 20′ still left. But since that started in the center of the bolt, it was an area full of the heavier colored and printed pattern. Even though the pattern of the tree branches would match, I didn’t want to place that darker strip next to the lighter strips already on the wall. It might have looked interesting, as a sort of darker “frame” for the outer edges of the wall – but, like the interior designer, I thought it would look too dark and heavy and lopsided.

I remembered that the pattern thinned out again as it moved toward the bottom of the bolt. So I unrolled the paper down to the bottom, and then, working from the bottom instead of the top, I found the pattern match that corresponded to what was on the wall, and cut it to fit the height of the wall.

Trimmed and put in place, it looked pretty darned good. This piece (and it’s twin on the opposite side of the wall) didn’t have nearly as much dark foliage at the bottom as the other strips. At first I was going to cut some flowers out of scrap paper and appliqué them to fill in the void areas. But I realized that was getting kinda obsessive over something that few people would even notice.

It was just a 12″ wide strip, and there will most likely be furniture in front of it, and we were able to get by without having to buy two extra double rolls (which would have been different runs (see previous posts).

Getting this wall with a tricky pattern match to look good was a mix of luck, skill, mathematics, and having purchased enough paper. Always buy more paper than you think you will need.

The interior designer is Stacie Cokinos of Cokinos Design, and the home is in the Woodland Heights neighborhood of Houston.

Run Numbers Are Important

April 14, 2019


I hung two wallpapers today, both from Anthropologie, and in both cases, the homeowner measured and purchased paper before I had measured and figured how much to buy. In both cases, they were a double roll short. I told them that when they ordered the extra double roll, to be sure to ask for the same run number as the rolls they already had.

Unfortunately, in both instances, Anthropologie sent a different run. Probably, the guy in the warehouse didn’t get the message from the people in the order department, so he just pulled any old bolt of paper off the shelf.

Run numbers DO make a difference. As you can see in the second photo, the butterflies are clearly different colors. And in the third photo, the color difference (red flower, brown leaf) is less dramatic, but still noticeable. The white background is probably a slightly different color, too. If these strips were placed next to each other on the same wall, you would notice an abrupt color difference the full height of the wall.

So it’s important to make sure that all your bolts of wallpaper are of the same run number.

Run number, also called batch number or dye lot, refers to rolls that were all printed at the same time. The next time the manufacturer is ready to print up that pattern, he will mix up a new batch of ink – but that batch might be a slightly different shade than what was printed previously.

Because these color differences will be noticeable on the wall, it’s important that they not be used next to each other. You can use different runs on separate walls, but not on the same wall. If you are forced to use broken runs, as they are called, you’ll need to buy a little extra paper, because there will be more waste as you switch from one run to the other.

Replacing One Wall

April 13, 2019

I hung this sunburst medallion wallpaper in an entry in west Meyerland a year or two ago. Originally, there was a doorway in the middle of this wall that led into the adjoining room. The homeowners had the doorway closed off, and the opening was replaced with a new piece of Sheetrock. This needed to be covered with wallpaper.

New wallpaper could not be patched in, and the damaged areas along the wainscoting could not be readhered, so new paper had to be bought to cover the entire wall – as well as a section over the entry door.

The second and third photos show where the contractor had pulled the paper away from the wall. As you can see, it took some of the primer and the paint below it, too. I wish I knew what the contractor did to have this result, because when I stripped off the rest of the wallpaper, it came off easily and left the wall surface below it perfectly intact.

I suspect that he just yanked the paper, or possibly used heat or some weird chemical. The proper way to strip off wallpaper is to wet it, then separate the top, inked layer from the bottom, substrate layer, and pull the top layer gently off the wall. Then you take a sponge and bucket of water and wet the backing. Once that water reactivates the paste, the paper backing will come away from the wall easily and with little-to-no damage to the wall.

I also suspect that this paper was hung over KILZ Original oil-based primer, which was a superb primer because it stuck tight and because it was not affected or reactivated by the water used to soak the wallpaper backing. Unfortunately, the formula for that product changed due to EPA regulations, and wallpaper paste will no longer stick to it. These days, I’m using two alternative primers – both water-based, and I am curious to see how they hold up when wallpaper is stripped off them.

Back to today’s job … Once I got the paper off, I used joint compound (“mud”) to smooth over the uneven areas between the contractor’s stripping job and mine, then sanded smooth, wiped free of dust, primed, and then hung the new paper.

The wallpaper pattern is by Thibaut, and is called Bahia. It’s a non-woven product, and is designed to strip off the wall easily and in one piece when it’s time to redecorate. As you can see, neither the contractor nor I had success with that. The tried and true separate-the-layers-and-saturate-the-backing-with-water method was the solution.

Anthropologie Gem Stones on Dining Room Accent Wall

April 11, 2019

Talk about going from boring to bold! The homeowner likes geology, didn’t like the boring beige walls, and wanted to pull in some blue to this dining room, because she has dark blue accents in the adjoining living room. What a great choice this paper is!

The paper is by York, in the Antonia Vella line, and was bought through Anthropologie – but it is available via regular wallpaper retailers, too, like my favorite source (see page at right).

This homeowner purchased her paper before I came out to measure and, like many people unfamiliar with measuring for wallpaper, she ordered too little. So I had her order one more double roll… which, even though she requested the same run of #58, they sent run #88. I ended up needing that additional bolt for just the two short strips over the window, so the color difference between the two runs was not really very noticeable.

The dimensions in this room relative to the dimensions of the wallpaper were amazing. Because the two walls on either side of the window were symmetrical, and because the homeowners had a buffet and a china cabinet centered on each wall, I wanted to center the pattern in the middle of each wall. This meant that as the strips of paper met over the window, there would be a pattern mis-match. But since it was only 10″ high, and since the pattern was so wild, I figured I could disguise the mis-match fairly well.

What’s cool is, each of those wall spaces turned out to be just a tad less than the width of three strips of wallpaper (27″). So when I centered the first strip, and then hung one more on either side of it, only about 3/4″ needed to be trimmed off each side – and the pattern remained virtually intact. Meaning that none of the swoopy lines got chopped off vertically.

And then, as I was bringing the two pieces over the window together in the center of the window, it turned out that the width of the window was amazingly just a smidgen less than the width of the two strips of wallpaper. So when the two strips met in the middle, there wasn’t much of a pattern mis-match at all. Only about an inch of paper was lost, and the pattern was not disrupted visually much at all.

I don’t think I’ve ever hung wallpaper on a wall where the dimensions worked out so miraculously perfectly.

This home is in the Timbergrove neighborhood of Houston.

How Do I Hate Thee? Let Me Count The Ways…

April 10, 2019


This wallpaper is by Anderson Prints. It was more than a little difficult to work with. I hung it in two different colorways, and both were equally cantankerous.

~ Top photo – see the streak of darker color at the tip of my scissors? This defect ruined a 9′ strip of paper.

~ Second photo – look at the left edge of the toilet, from that corner up to the ceiling … see the darker color? Every strip showed a little darker color at the edges. Close up, you don’t notice it, but from a distance, there is a vertical line that catches your eye. This is on every seam, in both colorways. So, from a distance, you see this faint but noticeable vertical line every 27″, all across the room.

~ The substrate sucks up paste, enough so that after pasting and booking for a few minutes, by the time I got it to the wall, there was virtually no paste left to hold it up, and absolutely no paste on the edges. I tried several tricks – rolling paste under the seams, spritzing the edges with water, dipping the edges of the booked strips into water to keep them hydrated, unbooking and repasting, unbooking and spraying the back lightly with water to reactivate the paste, and finally, the best option was to paste the back as normal, but use a squirt bottle to add a bit of water, and then cut the booking time a little.

~ No matter which pasting technique was used, particularly on the tan colorway, in some areas where the ink crossed the seam, the paper wanted to curl back and leave a tiny gap.

~ The pattern matched in most areas, but dropped a little in some of the motifs, resulting in a mis-match. Then it would match up perfectly again as you went further down the wall.

~ The paper, particularly the silver colorway, twisted and warped horribly. I would butt a strip up against the previous strip, matching the pattern, then go to smooth the rest of the strip against the wall – only to find HUGE puckers and warps. OK, you can tease away minor wrinkles. But when you have several warped areas that are each protruding 1/2″ away from the wall, it’s really difficult to get that strip of paper to lie flat against the wall. I spent at least 20 minutes working and easing the puckers out of one strip and getting the paper to lie flat. To be honest, I’m astonished that I was able to do that. This particular wall had only three 7′ high strips … Because the warping increases as you hang subsequent strips, if I had had to hang many strips in a row, and taller strips, such as on a bedroom accent wall, I don’t think it could have been done without making some relief cuts or double cuts and resulting in some serious pattern mis-matching.

~ The tan colorway was reasonably durable, plus minor creases would pretty much disappear when the paste dried and the paper pulled flat to the wall. But the silver colorway was very delicate, and was prone to creasing at the drop of a hat. Don’t fold it, don’t wet-trim it, unbooking a pasted strip was very likely to cause a crease, and ditto when pressing the paper into a corner to trim … and working around that toilet was the prime area to put stress on the paper and cause more creases. This toilet was butted up against the wall, so it was impossible to slip the paper behind it, so it was necessary to cut the paper to fit around it. That’s hard enough to do with an electrical outlet that protrudes a half an inch from the wall, but veeery difficult when you have something as three-dimensional as a toilet. I must have spent the better part of an hour working the paper around and behind and under that toilet. Note to Self: Next time, make the homeowner pull the toilet out of the room!

~ The silver colorway had a metallic sheen, and every way the light hit it made the pattern look different. It was literally impossible to see the pattern match in some instances, particularly when turning a corner. What looked like a tan line on the right wall would literally show up as a silver line on the left wall. Look at all the horizontal and vertical lines in this design… It was virtually impossible to tell if I had the right line matching up with its proper partner. Trimming on the table (such as when I needed to split a strip) was equally difficult. I was just about impossible to tell design from shadow, and to know if I was cutting straight along the pattern.

~ Metal left marks on the paper. So I had to be very careful while using my straightedge, as well as other tools such as scissors, trim guide, etc.

~ The paper wouldn’t slide around on the wall as most do, so it was difficult to get each strip perfectly positioned.

~ It ate razor blades like crazy. The paper somehow dulled blades faster than even heavy vinyls.

~ When I cut a strip off the bolt, it wanted to stay rolled up. This made it very difficult to trim or paste the strip. So I had to roll all the strips backwards, until the paper relaxed and got rid of the “memory” to curl.

Most of these issues have to do with the substrate used by the manufacturer, but toss in the metallic ink and whatever engineer screwed up the pattern match.